Startups (Image credit: entrepreneur.com)
Ever since we entered the electronic era it has become increasingly part of the global business culture to search for products and services online and make transactions. It’s therefore crucial for any business looking to thrive that a virtual version of the company, particularly for new and small businesses, is accessible on the web.
Establishing an online presence for your business means that your company has 24/7 visibility. It’s also the most innovative way of building your brand, engaging with your existing clients or potential customers, and creating networking opportunities. In addition, being online extends your business’ reach beyond your physical geographical location and allows you to access markets you may not have been able to otherwise.
Furthermore, you can cost-effectively promote your offerings beyond borders and create a demand for your products or services in previously inaccessible markets, giving your business unlimited growth potential.
The importance of establishing your business on the internet
The internet democratises commerce due to its anti-monopoly nature which gives startups or small businesses the opportunity to create far-reaching impressions and the chance to compete with larger and more resourced corporations on an even playing field. However, to gain competitive advantage online is not a matter of simply just creating a generic web page in hopes that customers will come flocking because if that’s the assumption then you’re unfortunately mistaken.
The Digital Economy Survival Toolkit is a book that highlights why being online is important for startups and small businesses. It gives insight into why any business should invest in having an online presence. It also covers the key elements that make a website effective and how to successfully launch a new product and fund a startup.
Knowing what it takes to be successful business on digital platforms is important and every startups should learn why strategic networking is truly the nexus between entrepreneurs and success. In today’s world of remote working, knowing how to use virtual staffing to better your business has become vital. Communicating with customers via webinars and understanding the importance of branding your webinars is also key to successfully launching a profitable online business.
In terms of growing reach and traffic, entrepreneurs need tools that enable them to ensure their businesses have competitive SEO rankings because without brand visibility there’s no way to drive large volumes of traffic to a website. Other crucial aspects that give online entrepreneurs the edge include knowing how to combine email and social media to maximize the impact of marketing campaigns.
So before you introduce your company to the world of internet users, which according to Internet World Stats is roughly just under half of the total global population and set to significantly increase over the coming years, you need to have a clear strategy outlining your objectives as far as what it is you hope to achieve by establishing your company’s presence online.
Setting up your digital real estate
Having a basic web penetration strategy allows you to have an idea of what to expect and to estimate the rate of return for the resources you will invest in setting up your online presence. Most small businesses and startups do not always have access to large budgets which can be allocated to this however, it should be encouraging to know that the prices for building a decent website are fairly reasonable depending on the scope and you can get started by simply:
- Picking a unique domain name and selecting a hosting service package – you can get free web hosts and portfolio sites online but it’s best to have your own domain name which you can personalise for your business.
- Finding a design that best fits your brand – with almost an unlimited number of website designs available, you want to find one that gives your users the best experience and reflects your aesthetic.
Key elements that make a website effective
There are several actions you would need to take in order to give your startup the edge it needs to successfully compete in an extremely competitive world. A good website should incorporate some, if not all, the elements listed below:
Every website should clearly communicate your business offering to potential customers from the start. It is therefore important to have simple but impactful headlines. Your headlines and subheadings should describe what your business does in a straightforward manner. Remember, first impressions are everything and if your content is not engaging from the get-go customers will most likely bounce off your site.
Comprehensible value propositions
Once you have briefly outlined what your business offers, the next step is to show your audiences why what you do matters. Here you should focus on showing the benefits or advantages of your products or services by explaining the main features.
Since the internet is inundated with sites promising consumers all kinds of benefits, it is crucial that you show why customers should choose your products or services over the competition by proving how those who have already chosen your business have benefited. This is also an opportunity to gain the trust of any potential customers.
Resources and content
Customers tend to initially visit websites with the intentions to find out more information and not necessarily to make immediate purchases, which is why most startups or businesses are enhancing their offerings by providing potential customers valuable content relevant to their products and services.
Ultimately, the purpose of your website is to convert visitors into customers. To do this effectively, it is imperative that you include a call-to-action on your site. For maximum impact you can have one at the top of the webpage and another at the bottom. Good call-to-actions are designed to inspire an immediate response from your audiences with the most popular ones being “call now” or “visit our store today”. You can also use call-to-actions to generate sales leads by including a “find out more” option where website visitors would be prompted to submit some basic personal information such as email addresses in order to access more comprehensive content.
Optimising your website
Creating a compelling website which functions effectively is the next step towards cementing your company’s presence online. In order to achieve this you need to ensure that your newly created website is optimised. This allows your webpages to be easily discoverable in search engines and rank higher in search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves adding valuable content to your site and using keywords to drive organic traffic to your website.
To make your website search engine friendly and for best performance, there are several areas you could focus on including:
These are essentially topical words or phrases that are used for emphasis. They are also words used by search engines to find relevant pages on the web. Startups or businesses should aim to create content around topics pertaining to their business offering which can help them rank higher in search results so that people looking for information related to those keywords have a greater chance of landing on their webpages. Your choice of keywords should help visitors and potential customers understand the purpose of your page.
For your website to gain prominent visibility online you have to create content that is well-written and error free. Producing great content not only helps your website rank higher in search results but also keeps your audiences engaged and establishes you as an authority in your desired sphere of influence on the internet. Above all, make sure you create quality content that gives readers value.
With more people accessing web content via mobile devices in comparison with desktop computers, it is crucial that you use a responsive or mobile optimised design for your website. Search engines such as Google also recommend responsive design since it makes it much more convenient for visitors to have a single URL. Setting up your website in this way helps web pages load faster because your website will not have to be redirected to another page for a mobile device.
The secret to success for small businesses and startups
Now that you know why it’s important to set up a presence for your business on the internet and understand the importance of online participation, as well as what it takes to have a functional website, you can rest assured that you’re not lagging behind the competition.
The secret to succeeding in the digital era rests simply on knowing how to utilize the web to your company’s advantage. What’s great is that the internet acts as a great resource for finding techniques to enhance your business and because the developments on how best to thrive online are ever evolving, you too have a fair chance of boosting your business prospects and no one can claim to have the upper hand as long as you stay updated on the developments.
For a comprehensive list of descriptive links to free resources, tools, platforms and apps that you need to set up an income generating business on the internet also check out The Digital Entrepreneur Manual.
Author: Heath Muchena
Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa
Image Source: rupixen.com
It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.
He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.
The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.
“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.
He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.
Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora
As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”
Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)
According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.
A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).
When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.
The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa
So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.
We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.
Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.
The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.
Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.
When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.
As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.
Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)
North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.
The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.
“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.
The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.
“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”
Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.
Legacy Premier Foundation Congratulates New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Head Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images
The entire team at Legacy Premier Foundation hereby congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
With a proud heart and jubilation, we salute our quintessential woman of many feats on this global call to service.
This is a perfect example of a narrative that says “when opportunity meets preparedness success is inevitable”. Madam Director, you are an epitome of this simple quote. Over the years, you’ve carefully built a track record of competence with your records very visible in the public domain.
We are very pleased to send our warmest congratulations on your appointment as the seventh (7th) Director General of the foremost World Trade Organization, also making history as the first African and female to hold this prestigious position.
At this time where the world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual return to normalcy, there are still some undulating terrains in the global trade landscape. We believe with you at the helm of affairs coupled with 25 years of diplomatic dealings and demonstrated leadership as a World Bank executive, you will saddle the affairs of the WTO and the entire global trade economy through these sensitive times.
We wish you much success in your new post and we look forward to the pleasure of working with you, in the place of making our African continent prominent in the scheme of world trades, and much more rejuvenation of hope that an African has all it takes to get to the zenith of his or her career without any equivocation.
We wish you a resounding success with legendary actions for global impact.
Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Former VP, Bank of America and Founder, Legacy Premier Foundation