Last year’s ‘$20 Challenge’ was a very fulfilling experience for me and I learnt an abundance about different business techniques, social entrepreneurship and good, old-fashioned hard work! I have compiled my wisdom into a brief assemblage entitled, Business Techniques For Dummies.
Choosing a product or service
-Try not to pick something that a million other people are doing. Take cookies for instance. If you bake cookies, your cookies are no different from anyone else who bakes cookies. To the consumer market, cookies are cookies, why should we buy yours? What you seek is called competitive advantage or a point of difference; it’s how your product different from the rest so that it gets noticed in the market.
-If you are stuck trying to come up with an original idea, you could take an old idea and give it an innovative twist. For example, BoobieCakes were plain vanilla cookies to start with; nothing special about that. After a coat of coloured glaze and a fondant nipple, those plain vanilla cookies became the newest breast cancer icon!
Market for a specific target market
-Make sure you know your target market. Specify and stick to it. It is much easier to come up with a sales pitch and sell your product if you know whom you are selling to. With BoobieCakes, our target market were middle aged women, because they are the main set of people affected by breast cancer, and were therefore more sympathetic to our cause and thus more willing to contribute to the cause.
-Get to know the kind of people you are selling to. While talking to them about your product/service, observe them. Appeal to their nature. If they seem impatient, or in a hurry, don’t bore them with a lot of dialogue, get straight to the point. To give a specific example, if you are selling to an elderly woman who appears kind, suggest that she buys your product for her grandchildren (granted it’s child-friendly) to support young social entrepreneurs. Moral of the story is to evaluate each customer on his/her own merits and hone your sales pitch to each individual. That’s good sales technique.
Selling your product
-Speaking from experience, it is a wise idea to create a sales pitch. Not a rehearsed speech, but more of an idea of what exactly you want to get across. Never memorise it word-for-word, because you will bore your audience, but you NEVER want to be at a loss for words.
-Be confident; believe in your product and in yourself. Your audience won’t believe in it if you don’t!
-Smile. No one is interested in what a teenager with a scowl has to say, but they are however, more than delighted to listen to a positive individual.
Choosing a Charity/Charitable Cause
-Pick a well-known, legitimate cause. People are much more willing to support a cause that they know of than an unknown which may make them wary of being scammed.
-Try to relate to the people. Pick a cause that they can relate to. Cancer is a very prominent issue nowadays, and many people have lost loved ones to the terrible disease. Therefore if your choice of charity were the Barbados Cancer Association, for example, you would have a large quantity of people who would be sympathetic to your cause because of their losses.
Start Right Away!
-Procrastination is your worst enemy. The sooner you get started, the more time you can allow yourself to work on it.
-Time management is key. Never waste time, as you will be scrambling at the end.
-Remain positive. The $20 Challenge is hard work and it may seem tough, but it is extremely rewarding in the end. Just keep your end goal in mind, and say to yourself, ‘I can do it!’
*Ariela St-Pierre-Collins is the 2011 Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s $20 Challenge Competition winner.