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Entrepreneur Diaries: The art of smart spending
Brett Smyth, founder and CEO of EngageME.
October 1, 2013 3:49 by kippreport
The life of an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster ride; it’s frenetic, exciting, frightening and invigorating all at once. You dip and dive through the full spectrum of highs and lows on what seems like a daily basis. Sure, it’s not always easy and saying goodbye to that reliable monthly cheque can sometimes seem like an exercise in poor judgment, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You see, there’s something about controlling your own destiny that gives you a rush. Unlike the corporate world, in which you’re constrained by your superiors, budgets and colleagues, your only limit as an entrepreneur is your imagination (and that all-important cash flow).
Of course, there’s a steep learning curve involved. I’ve worked as a consultant for years and even completed a fancy pants MBA, but I’ve learnt so much more in the three short months since launching EngageME.
It is lightning-fast business education on the go. You confront the unexpected on a daily basis and somehow have to find a way to navigate around it. There are no ‘For Dummies’ books to fall back on here – all you can do is be constantly ready to adapt and evolve as you go, and a good attitude always helps.
Through this Entrepreneur Diaries series, I’m going to share some of what I’ve learnt with you (some of it the hard way), and I look forward to taking you on this whirlwind journey.
Start smart spending
One of the first obstacles confronting any entrepreneur is a financial one. Unless you’re the heir to some sort of Rockerfeller-esque fortune, chances are you’re relying on your savings and a bank loan to get you through the first few pivotal months. But how do you allocate your precious borrowed dirhams?
Should you rent a fancy office space? Perhaps all your cash should be poured into a recruitment drive? Maybe it’s marketing you need most? After all, how is anyone going to seek you out if they don’t know you exist?
Ok, breathe. There’s a lot to think about here, but it’s important to remember not to run before you can walk. A fancy office is great, but achieves very little if you don’t have clients walking through your imported mahogany doors.
Top talent? Yeah you’ll need that too, but not until you have some work for them to do. Marketing? It’s best to park that until your product or service is 100 per cent ready for an audience.
So where do you allocate your initial spend? I’ve found investing in these areas deliver maximum bang-for-buck value:
In the digital era, it’s your website rather than your office space that acts as your company’s showroom floor. So you’d better make sure it’s well decorated and easy to navigate. Your website will ultimately act as the global face of your business brand, and represent what you stand for in a worldwide audience. For employees, customers and even journalists, it’s most likely to be their first port of call and you know what they say about first impressions…
So don’t be afraid to pay top dollar for a world-class website. After all, with the most recent stats indicating that there are upwards of 4.5 billion websites currently in existence, it’s worth going the extra mile to make sure yours stands out.
Social media might seem like one of those ‘nice to haves’ – something to prioritise at a later stage. But before you strike this from your entrepreneurial agenda, think about this. Your audience – whether they be business leaders, teenage consumers or stay-at-home mothers – are more than likely spending at least a part of their day on Facebook or Twitter. And they’re using these networks to not only to communicate with friends and colleagues, but also to find out more about new and interesting brands.
Increasingly, marketers are targeting these channels to get their messages out – and with good reason. Think about it, how many people do you know that read a newspaper on a daily basis? How many still have monthly magazine subscriptions? Not many, I’d imagine, but I bet they all have Facebook accounts.
The good news is that a little goes a long way when it comes to social media. So don’t be afraid to throw a few dirhams behind a targeted advertising campaign, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your page can catch fire.
So you’ve put some cash into your social media campaign, thus ensuring that your posts aren’t just read by only your mother and a few close friends. But what are you actually putting out into the public arena? Capturing an audience is one thing, maintaining it is another matter entirely.
So put thought into your content. Make it unique, quirky and relatable. Think about your audience and do your best to serve their interests. You’ll also need to ensure that your brand content is well written. After all, it only takes one misplaced comma or a single misspelt word to call your company’s reputation into question.
If you’re not a writer yourself, make sure you invest some of your initial business spend in employing someone who is. It’ll do wonders for your credibility, and ensure that both potential and existing clients take you seriously.