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When you start out in business one of the most important things that you must do is to choose a good name. This is something you and your partners should do very carefully:
- It must be original, as far as possible;
- Have the ambition to make it global. Think ahead to when the company is no longer just in your country but has gone to other countries__ will this name you have chosen still be good?
- Keep it simple, clean and effective. Get professional advice.
Econet Wireless was originally called “Enhanced Communications Network”, a banker friend changed it to ECONET. I later added Econet Wireless. After many years I went back to ECONET because we have other businesses in the group, which are not wireless communications.
Getting professional advice is very important. Don’t take names and logo designs as something you just prepare yourself:
Initially I worked with a friend who was an advertising expert, and he taught me amazing things about names, and colours, and brands. He later set up his own advertising agency, and later moved to work in America. He is highly gifted man. I always, always paid him for the work he did for me. This too is an important principle: if it’s valuable you MUST be willing to pay for it!
Having a good name for your company is not what gives you a “brand”. This is a highly complex subject. For a start just remember that when you register a company, it becomes a “legal person”, which acquires a unique personality and characteristic just like a real person. It’s amazing how first that personality mirrors the founder, and in time also its workers.
At Econet we say we are “Inspired to change your world”…. It has been more than 20 years since we adopted that.
Advertising and sponsorship of events like this NBA game is one of the ways we try to promote and give visibility of our brands. Big companies spend billions of dollars. You don’t have to be a billion dollar company before you invest in the visibility of your brand. When I started out I always looked for the most innovative, and cost effective ways to market our brand. I sponsored school sports grounds, bus shelters, street signs.
A good entrepreneur must understand marketing of not just products, but also the values of the brand.
If you are serious about building a business, then you must have budget for advertising and promoting your brand and it’s values. This is not just about advertising to sell a product.
You must be careful what you associate your brand with. Before we agree to sponsor anything for instance, we sit down and enter into written agreements which cover the expectations of either party, as well as expected conduct.
For instance I once authorised sponsorship of a certain sport organisation in one of our markets. The complete disregard of the agreement by the sport’s governing body was quite astounding. For me if someone does not respect an agreement or undertaking I will never do business with them again. We decided to stay away from that sport, and it’s governing bodies.
Imagine if you bought a nice cow, and it produces a lot of milk, but all you do is milk it, but you never feed it… What would happen?
Know it sounds strange, for me to say this, but there are a lot of people, that actually do not invest in their businesses! I see it all the time, and it never ceases to surprise me:
There are people who own stores, that they never even put a coat of paint on, from the day they opened, for the first time. There are people with factories, that never bought new machines, or carry out regular maintenance on those they have, until they break down.
They are many, many businesses, that simply do not invest sufficient resources into developing new products, or expanding their capacity.
Now, that I have mentioned it, just look around at businesses, that you know in your community, and ask yourself the question:
“Do they have a policy of “continuous” investment, in their business?
No matter what business you are in, and no matter how small or mundane, the activities, there must be “continuous” investment in it. A successful business, is one in which the owners, are constantly ploughing back the “majority of the money”, back into the business. They must be constantly investing to create new services and products. They must be constantly pushing to improve what they have.
I emphasise the word, “continuous”, because it should not be in “fits and starts”, but “continuous”: every single day, you must be thinking what you can do to improve. If you think about what I am saying it does not really just apply to businesses. It applies to everything, even the public sector. It applies even to NGOs. This is a challenge to any of us, particularly those in business:
We must invest “continuously, and incessantly”.
Personally, whenever I meet investors, I always tell them, that I try to invest as much as possible back into the business. If they are just looking for short term profits, then, I am not their man.
The interesting thing, is that those who really understand, expect it, and invest. When I consider buying a business, one of the key things, I look for in their financial statements, is to establish how much they have been investing in the business, both to maintain and improve what they have, and also to expand.
Finally, let me even add, this: Even your home, and your car…needs continuous investment, if you are to uphold its value.
Don’t wait until things break down, before you feel it is time to invest. It will cost you more. Think investment. It’s important.
Dr Strive Masiyiwa