Category: Grow Your Business

WINNING IN 2023: STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.

read more

How to stay motivated as an entrepreneur

They say entrepreneurship is a lonely and hard road. Remember the long hours you have put in and the times when people doubted you—even those closest to you? Most entrepreneurs are all too familiar with the rejection, and the hard work required to keep things moving.

Amidst everything, you must continue pushing, and believing.

Here are five tips to help you stay motivated:

1. Set goals and refer to them every time you feel like giving up.

Why did you start? What did you want to achieve? Write down your reasons for starting. Sometimes it is not a single reason. Some people will tell you they started because they wanted to solve a problem in their community as well as work for themselves. Be clear on why you started and refer to it when you are demotivated.

2. Stay inspired by celebrating the small wins

Celebrate the small successes. Breakdown your goal into smaller goals and steps so you do not get overwhelmed. Each step is important and contributes to the bigger goal. Therefore, take time to appreciate your accomplishments however small. Remember that each step is a part of the bigger puzzle.

3. Cultivate a support system

Invest in relationships with people that bring you joy, people that support you and inspire you to keep going. Seek out and establish friendships with like-minded people. These may be fellow entrepreneurs. In these you will find supporters and advisors.

4. Create a routine to help you realise your targets

Establish a routine to help you manage your time, better structure your days, and to build momentum. A routine will ensure that you do the most important tasks of the day and give you a sense of accomplishment. This will help you build momentum making it easier to persist.

 

5. Indulge in activities that bring you joy

Stay motivated by engaging in activities that bring you joy beyond your enterprise. Work without play will not only make you dull, but it can also result into resentment. Take time off to do things that make you happy. Indulge in a sport you love. Spend time with people you like. Doing things you love will give you the fuel you need to keep going.

5 strategies to help small businesses preserve cash flow during an economic downturn

This article is a part of our Surviving the economic downturn: tips for small businesses.

In the article, we share five strategies that you can use to preserve your cash flow.

  1. Limit expenditure on new product and service development

What product or service is doing really well and has the capacity to continue making you money? This is what you need to focus on. This is not the time to be pumping money into a new product or service whose return on investment you are not certain of. Your focus should be on promoting products and services that you know will do well.

  1. Be creative with your marketing budget

In another article, we noted that an economic downturn is not the time to cut back your marketing. However, it is a time to be creative with how you market so your marketing budget can take you further. Going digital with your marketing is one way of ensuring that you stay on top of your customers minds. Increase your presence by regularly checking in with your customers, follow up with potential customers, and create offers that are irresistible. But do not just market, also be genuinely interested in your customers. Every one is having a hard time and letting them know that you are standing by them might win you more loyal customers.

  1. Plan your finances

Your profit margins are likely to reduce due to the economic downturn. It is therefore important to carefully plan your finances. Cut back on non-essential spending and where possible, source for cheaper inputs that do not compromise your quality, and where possible, negotiate for discounts.

  1. Look for financial assistance

Research and apply for grants to help cushion your cash flow.  If grants are not available, look into cheap credit. When looking into loans be careful that you do not sign up for a product that you cannot afford. This is the time to consider soft loans from businesses and family.

  1. Adjust to the new reality

This is the time to reflect deeply on your business process, identify what works and what does not. Identify strategies to realize efficiency. For instance, consider bringing in a service provider for non-core processes that your team is struggling with. Reserve your team’s time for tasks that deliver the highest returns on investment.

Share with us your experiences. What has worked for you?

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

5 tips for marketing in an economic downturn

Businesses are generally experiencing increased costs of doing business mainly pushed by rising fuel costs. To make matters worse, customers are not spending us much as they used to and a higher cost of living means they might further cut expenditure.

But, it is no time to cut back spending on marketing. As a small business, you should do more marketing.

Here are five tips to help you market better:

  1. Market to existing customers: Research shows that it is cheaper and easier. Keep in touch with them by thanking them, giving them exclusive offers and requesting them to recommend you to other potential customers.
  2. Clean up your brand: This is the time for you to invest in organising your social media pages. This means clearer pictures and well written descriptions for your products. Get yourself a business name so people can take you seriously. Remember, you have a lot of competition and you need to stand out.
  3. Change your offer: Think about whether your offering is still relevant and make changes accordingly. Focus on changing up your offerings to better meet the needs of your customers.
  4. Listen to your customers: Give your customers opportunities to give you feedback on where you need to improve. This will demonstrate that you are committed to giving them your best and that you care about their experience. This is a key step in building customer loyalty.
  5. Evaluate your marketing: Evaluate on a weekly basis whether you are getting the results you want. Marketing is expensive both in terms of money and time. Therefore, you want to know if the strategies you are using work. Therefore, it is important that before you make the investment, you are clear on the results you want to see.

Share with us your experiences. What has worked for you?

 

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

How this Ugandan entrepreneur turned a CoVID-19 solution into a money-making idea

“Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Mistakes are the most important part of growth. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t know what needs to be improved.”

Jackie katanga
What do you do when you are faced with a challenge? It depends— if you have an enterprising spirit, you see an opportunity to create a money-making solution. As the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic increase, many entrepreneurs are creating solutions and some of these are becoming viable businesses.
Jackie Katanga is one such entrepreneur. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was followed by calls to observe prevention procedures including constant handwashing with soap. For Jackie whose skin is fairly sensitive, regular handwashing resulted in extreme drying out and peeling of the skin because the soap she was using was too harsh on her hands.
Unfortunately, efforts to find gentler options did not yield results. She later realized that she was not the only one facing this challenge. Many of her friends were going through a similar situation.
This is when an idea struck!
“Make soap that, no matter how many times you washed your hands, they would remain moisturized, soft, and smooth.” Jackie’s journey into the cosmetics industry began.
Jackie shared her entrepreneurial journey with us in the following interview.
Collage: Who is Jackie Katanga?
Jackie Katanga: My name is Jackie Katanga, and I am a creative. Since 2012, I have deejayed at events, produced music, won a fashion modeling contest, a rap battle, and a scholarship to study Multimedia at Aptech Computer Education. I have taught life skills, Bible class, and even drama to primary school children. I have been to all four corners of Uganda, doing documentary photography, I have made music and music videos, and I have directed a documentary about bodabodas in Kampala. All this in 6 years. In 2018, I entered the new and exciting world of fashion design, making cloth accessories and on December 1, 2019, I accessorized an entire fashion show.
Collage: When did you start Umuti Beauty and what drove you?
Jackie Katanga: When COVID-19 hit, we were encouraged to wash our hands to prevent it from spreading. Washing my hands so many times a day dried them out they started to peel. I realized that the soap I was using was too tough on my hands. I decided that I wanted to make a soap that, no matter how many times I washed my hands, they would remain moisturized, soft, and smooth. This was the birth of Umuti Beauty.
Collage: What products or solutions are you offering?
Jackie Katanga: I have two main types of products. Products for oily skin, that solve problems such as persistent acne and products for dry skin, that solve problems of skin sensitivity and eczema. I make soap, lotion, oils, body butter, and exfoliating scrubs. I am currently working on an organic deodorant and perhaps later, a range of organic perfumes. I am dreaming, and I am dreaming big.
Collage: How is the journey so far?
Jackie Katanga: I have been getting great feedback. People send me thank you messages and tell their friends and families about the products. It is this encouragement that pushed me to get into lotions and oils and body butter. It’s quite exciting because I never thought I would be here. Before June of 2020, I would have laughed at the suggestion of making skincare products, even though I had horrible skin and no product had worked for me.
Collage: What have been some of your achievements? What have been the challenges?
Jackie Katanga: I received two offers from investors, but their terms and conditions were so unfavorable, and even though I had no capital to grow the business, I trusted that God would bring partners like College who respect the collaborative entrepreneurship process. It is exciting to see that my venture is being recognized as something worthwhile to invest in. That is a great start.
Collage: Where do you want Umuti Beauty to be in three years?
Jackie Katanga: In three years, Umuti Beauty will be a household name. Is it possible? Absolutely. I believe that when something is good, it catches on, and Umuti Beauty is that good. Of course, I am working crazy hard too.
Collage: Where can people find your products?
Jackie Katanga: If you live in Kampala and surrounding areas, you will not find the products. They will find you. We deliver to where you are. This is because of the way the products are made. We make the product in response to the client, often encouraging an appointment to figure out exactly what your specific skincare need is before making your product and sending it to you. This ensures that the product always works for you.
Collage: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Jackie Katanga: Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Mistakes are the most important part of growth. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t know what needs to be improved.
Ask for feedback. The customer may not always be right, but at least you will know what they think of the product or service that you offer. It’s scary, but it is worth it, especially if you want to be in business for the long haul.
Ask for help. There’s someone out there looking for some way to give back. Let her help you. Mentoring, sharing a Facebook post, even making the product itself.

This story is a part of Collage’s documentation series that is showcasing Uganda’s makers and entrepreneurs. You can read more stories here. Visit our shop to see and support our work and the work of our makers.




Are you interested in learning more about Umuti Beauty and Jackie Katanga? Follow Umuti Beauty on Instagram @umutibeauty, on Facebook @umutibeauty and Twitter @jackiekatanga. You can also contact Jackie on +256784983197

Thinking of diversifying your business? These tips are for you.

Business diversification is about growing your business by getting into markets and offering product and/or services than what you are currently offering. Many businesses have been forced to diversify due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As markets continue to shrink, businesses must think outside their normal offerings for survival.

Before the second lockdown, Violet used to run a bakery and a small laundry service on the side. When the country went into lockdown, she realized that it would be hard to continue running the bakery because raw materials were scarce. She decided to put more effort into the laundry business by adding pickup, delivery, and pressing services.

Violet’s model of diversification involved building onto an already existing service. The path you choose will depend on your circumstances and the kind of business you run. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Reflect on the value-add

What value does your new product/service bring to the consumer? Take time to assess whether your new offering is actually needed. This will determine whether you will get customers or not. One way to do this is by looking at customer feedback on your current offerings. What needs and gaps have they expressed and how can you address them? Would a new product/service respond to those needs?

2. Do your research

You need to be well informed on the kind of products/services and markets that you want to venture into. This involves finding out who your competition is, similar products already in the market, who is likely to buy your products, and what you must do to win over customers.




3. Look into the resources you need

Carefully analyze what you will need in terms of expertise, money, connections, and time to bring the product or service to market. This will help you assess whether you have the core resources to start production or service delivery. As you plan, think of what resources you are missing and where you can get them from. For example, are there local experts that you could tap to help you start?

4. Plan operations

Operations involve production, sales, and marketing, among others. It refers to everything that you will need to do to make the business work. You need to figure out how the business operations will run. If you are going to rely on existing systems, what impact will that have? Will it strain human resources? If you decide to use the team that you already have, consider briefing them and ask them to provide feedback about the proposal and how best it can work.

Like Violet advises, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

We hope these tips will help you on your diversification journey.

We would like to hear your thoughts on business diversification. Follow us on Facebook here and on Instagram @afcollage

If you are interested in Violet’s service contact her on 0771983594 0r 0704923616.

IT Professional Turned Carpenter on Why We Should Never Give Up on Our Dreams

For many young people, a career in Information Technology (IT) would be a dream come true. Not for Herbert Lwanga. From a young age, he loved to draw and curve things. But he did not get a chance to explore his artistic talents until much later in life. One of the reasons: family expectations.

“My guardians wanted a degree in something straightforward. I went on and acquired a diploma in information systems and a degree in development economics,” Herbert said.

With prior experience in data clerking, Herbert went on to work for several information technology firms both in Uganda and Rwanda for several years. But, he knew that his passion was elsewhere— in art.

He said, “I missed curving and sculpturing. Whenever I got a chance, I would visit my cousin who ran a furniture mart and do a bit of woodwork. I would curve a few things.”

It is this love for art that pushed him to get a degree in industrial later and to co-found Latimate Furniture with his cousin.

Since 2015 when it was founded, Latimate Furniture has taken on residential projects, restaurants, and hotels.

Latimate Furniture at work.

On doing carpentry differently

Like most trades, carpentry is viewed by some in society as a last resort. Herbert explained, “People think this is something you get into when you have failed at all else, which is wrong. Carpentry is a profession but carpenters must work hard in order to command the respect that other professions command.”

Herbert noted that one way or commanding respect is by bringing quality products to the market. Quality products require that carpenters do not take shortcuts that can compromise the quality of the product. They should also endeavor to use good raw materials. This will also help carpenters to compete favorably with imported products.

Herbert’s commitment to quality has opened many doors.

“I have made many connections which I will soon use to take my products beyond Uganda. Also, I make a comfortable living. Most importantly, I am able to work on something I really love.”

Lessons that he has learnt

Herbert’s most important lesson is that “if you decide to go into business do it with your whole heart and if you are not ready to do that, do not start.”

“Also you must dedicate time to your business. This will help you to research and to study market trends and what others in the same business are doing differently.” Herbert advised.

“Importantly, you must leverage internet to grow your sales. Your survival will depend on it.”

Herbert Lwanga is one of over 35 Ugandan makers supported by Collage to bring their products to the market. One of his beautiful pieces can be bought here and here. Learn more about what Collage and send us a message on 0782960558 for more information.

2021 Prospects: How We Are Forging Ahead Amidst the COVID-19 Turbulence

If there is anything that 2020 has taught us, it is that businesses must always be willing to reinvent themselves. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have been enormous, more so on micro and small business that typically run on small budgets. We have seen the market for non-essential items shrink as many potential consumers lost jobs, took pay-cuts, and generally became more cautious about what they spent their money on. For most, basic needs took precedence.

But there is a silver lining. For starters, we have been challenged to rethink our businesses models in ways that we had never imagined possible. At Collage, we have had to migrate our training programme to Zoom-based classes. Zoom-classes, whereas they have their own shortfalls, they are capable of making training more affordable and content can be leveraged across digital platforms.

Despite all the 2020 gloom, we continued mentoring and handholding makers—driving process and product innovations. Targeted marketing strategies helped us to double our sales and to strengthen our brand visibility. We sold more than 1600 products, had more than 50 entrepreneurs benefit from our training and mentoring activities and kickstarted our reseller program which will see us expand the market reach of our products whilst boosting livelihoods for re-sellers and their families.

We recognize that there is more that we need to do to be able to realize the impact that we seek. For example, we must expand the reach of our credit facilities, especially now when micro and small businesses are fighting hard to bounce back. We need to bring on board more makers, and for the existing ones, we must continue to support them to improve their production processes and offerings. We are hopeful that through our 2021-2023 strategy, we will be able to lay a firm foundation that will enable us to address some of these gaps.

Our Ambitious Goals for 2021

The focus of our 2021-2023 strategy is to increase the company’s value through sustainable strategies that drive social impact as well as profitability. Through this period including 2021, we will work to realize three goals:

1. Strengthen internal systems/structures and the capacity of our team to deliver efficient service. This will include hiring one additional full-time staff, outsourcing book keeping functions and ensuring that our licenses and other legal paperwork are in order.

2. Expand sales through our innovative reseller program and further diversification of our product and service offerings. To realize this we will recruit, train and empower resellers with a range of tools to help them activate and drive demand for our products. We will also look into bringing new products to market through collaboration with our makers. We will leverage our training and mentorship program to design innovative and high-impact learning experiences. We recently started offering branding services to our makers, we hope to reach more makers with this service soon.

3. Grow our brand visibility and presence through our website and social media channels. For us to compete effectively, we must invest in brand visibility and presence. This will mean organizing and participating in activities that bring us closer to our potential customers. Importantly, it will be necessary to establish feedback loops to help us deliver better and efficient service.

We require a significant amount of resources to deliver on these goals and will need the support of our customers, makers, partners and shareholders, among others, to get to where we want to go.

Your support has already gotten us so far— it has enabled us to bounce back stronger and better. For this, we are eternally grateful.

We hope that 2021 brings you peace, joy and fulfilment.

Much love from all of us at Collage,

Happy New Year!

Collage Go Digital Training Series: Learn How To Sell Online

Presentation from the Selling Online Training held on the 21st Nov 2020.

“The Training was really useful, well thought out and put together.” One of the participants.

“Thank you so much for the training. I can’t wait for the next class.”

One of the participants.

Interested in signing up for upcoming trainings, send us an email at rhelmzrt@gmail.com or a WhatsApp message on +256782960558

Download the presentation

Business Survival In A COVID-19 Era: This Restaurant Owner Changed Her Business Model To Remain Relevant

We first interacted with Maria Assumpta in April 2020. She was inquiring about interior décor products for her restaurant that she hoped to open in May. The excitement in her voice was infectious.

Maria Assumpta

 

We took her through a series of options and after a long chat, it was clear that she was smitten with the baskets. She informed us that she would get back to us in a week’s time to deposit the order.

A week later, there were no signs that the lockdown would be lifted. It was also clear that even after the lockdown, it would take a while before things got back to normal.

This was a big blow to Assumpta who had “already identified and paid for premises for her restaurant, bought equipment and even assembled a team of employees to support her.”

She explained, “We had to deal with a lot of spoilage which resulted into losses. We were practically making losses before we even started. It was a crushing time, not just for me but for the other people that were involved in the project.”

Assumpta was aware that she needed to come up with a solution and fast. A week into the thinking, an idea occurred to her. She realized that she could do the cooking out of her home, advertise using social media networks, and deliver to customers wherever they were in the city.

“I started advertising in my WhatsApp group and to my contacts and before I knew it, orders started trickling in,” Assumpta noted.

Re-imagining Businesses

Assumpta is one of many entrepreneurs who have had to rethink their business models to match the changing times. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainties. This is compounded by the fact that there is no near end to its spread, at least not until both a cure and a vaccine are discovered. This, therefore, means that entrepreneurs are going to have to innovate around the harsh realities that are coming if not already here.

Entrepreneurs may need to reimagine the kind of services and products that they offer. With limited incomes, families and individuals may have to cut back expenses, especially the non-essentials. It is therefore important that whatever you are offering contributes some kind of value.

In Assumpta’s case, she makes it possible for her customers to get great meals within the comfort of their homes.

How are you innovating during COVID-19? Share with us your hustle and we will spotlight it on our social media pages.

show