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Anurika Azubuike: Most entrepreneurs enter the business space with wrong assumptions

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Anurika Azubuike is a Customer Attraction expert, Business Growth strategist, speaker, author, mentor and trusted professional advisor in the areas of business strategy, marketing, branding and communications. She is the Founder of Customer Attraction Academy, a Community and Business Growth School for Entrepreneurs and Professionals, with an online community of almost 5,000 members. Through the Academy, she expresses her biggest focus on helping businesses grow. She has fulfilled her passion for over 17 years and has spent the past 12 years in Business Development, Strategy, Communications, Marketing and Brand Management, working with global organisations such as Google, Etisalat, Intel, Diageo, Unilever, General Electric, Airtel, SAP, Mouka Limited, among many others, helping to create transformational and sustainable results for their brands and business profits. The author of two books, ‘Customer Attraction,’ and ‘The Profits Blueprint’, lover of great food and traveling, she tells TOBI AWODIPE why many businesses fold up quickly, how to avoid those pitfalls and why she started her Self-Love Campaign For Women.

How does one choose the right business model to maximize growth of a business or enterprise? 
In my experience and work helping businesses achieve sustainable success and growth, I believe the right business model is one that has a mechanism unique to an enterprise for generating revenue and profits. The right business model should be able to describe how an organization runs in creating, delivering and capturing value for its customers. It begins with answering key questions about who the customer is, what he/she values and how that business can deliver that value as a solution at an appropriate cost. There are basically two parts to look at a business model that is right for an enterprise. The first part includes how a business delivers on its expertise through production, designing, packaging and others. The second part deals with how businesses are able to sell, distribute and deliver that expertise.

Many times, a business model is interchanged to imply business strategy. While both are really important for the success of a business, they are two different concepts which add value if understood distinctly. A business model describes the breakdown of the business and how it should all fit together. On the other hand, a business strategy focuses on how to dominate a segment, compete favorably in the marketplace and disrupt the market. At the core of a business model, is the customer of the business. A business that does not identify its target customers is on a slippery slope. Businesses have to tailor their business and marketing strategies based on who their target customers are for optimum results.

What is the Customer Attraction Academy all about? 
It is a social impact project and a community I started to help businesses avoid the mistakes that can cost them money, time and effort. The academy allows for me to teach, train and mentor business owners, managers and professionals on what they need to do to attract the right paying customers with tried and tested strategies tailored to fit their individual business needs. One biggest motivation in starting the academy was the lingering fact that many business owners grow themselves in their areas of expertise, but when it comes to successfully packaging and selling that expertise to earn sustainable income, that is a completely different ball game. And that is where the Academy comes in, to stir the level of awareness needed to know what’s missing and provide the right knowledge, an action plan for helping them overcome their business growth challenges, and helping them reach their goals faster and smarter. In only 18 months since we started, the academy currently has over 5000 entrepreneurs and professionals in its online community eager for knowledge, growth and practical skills on how to run a business sustainably and profitably.

Who qualifies to be in your Academy? 
Specifically, the academy helps business owners and professionals in the product and service business space find clarity about their businesses, and craft strategies that deliver maximum results for gaining the most from it. Sometimes, we are too close to our own work to see what we’re doing wrong. That’s why almost everybody who’s made something out of nothing would tell you about the guidance, personal development, coaching or mentoring they got at some point in their life to help them break boundaries. I have worked with business owners in various industries, ranging from fashion to education to personal care, among many others. Interested individuals can join the Academy’s community for free online. In the community, they get access to free webinars, resources, tips and strategies that can help them in exponentially growing their mindsets and businesses. These persons can then decide that they want higher level access to even more resources, online classes and a personalised mentorship platform that offers a hand-holding and walk-through of the different activities that need to be done to get them specific results and allows them track their progress. This leads them to upgrading their membership by getting on the paid levels via Light Bulb, the one-on-one mentorship platform.

What was the major factor that led to you setting up this academy? 
Years ago, I had a seemingly great business idea I expected would grow and make me a lot of money. I went on to develop the idea by getting the necessary professional training and certification, setting up the business, renting an office space, creating my business collaterals, websites, business cards, hired employees, and the likes. Even though I had trained to grow the professional expertise of the business, I hadn’t quite grown the business expertise I needed to run that business successfully. In an interesting turn of events, that business didn’t quite take off the way I expected. With the benefit of hindsight, I realised that I assumed a lot of things. Those assumptions led to wasted time, energy and huge losses running into millions of naira. Coincidentally, many business owners today enter the business space with the same kind of assumptions. Learning those lessons, with a 17-year hands-on business experience and a currently thriving practice, through the academy, I help to teach practical, proven and result-driven strategies on how business owners can avoid costly mistakes, build a sustainable business and expand their business income and profits.

What has been the prevalent critical incident start-up businesses experience? 
There are many reasons why the idea of starting a business is attractive to people. These reasons vary from the biggest motivator to be independent workers or as is commonly said, be your own boss, to the feeling of accomplishment in offering a valuable service to their customers, to the desire to becoming a solution provider to a problem, to the opportunity of being able to make more money especially if their current job does not offer enough income, to the reason of making ends meet due to unemployment, to the desire to impact people’s lives and society at large, and even to a chance of time freedom. These list of reasons for starting a business is in-exhaustive. However, a good number of these businesses do not survive. Against popular belief and misconception, the skill to run a successful business is not in-born; it is a learned, tried and tested skill. The most common reasons why businesses fail include a lack of experience, lack of paying customers, poor customer service, insufficient capital, poor location, poor credit arrangements, personal use of business funds and a lack of growth.  Another reason for business failure is poor cash flow where a business owner starts with his personal savings and if sales are slow to pick up, the business tends to run out of capital. The survey conducted by Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) in concurrence with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) also discovered that SMEs rely heavily on personal savings due to poor integration into the financial sector. Only 69% of SMEs have business plans, which reveal inadequate planning and accounting, and 95% of SMEs have no form of insurance, which leaves them defenseless in the event of disasters or accidents. They also tend to focus more on finance, provision of infrastructure and supply of power and water. The long-term plan of where they see themselves going is not properly thought out and broken down to goals, leading up to their ultimate vision. In my experience and work helping other business achieve sustainable success and growth, possibly the chief reason why businesses fail is where they focus their energies on the products or solutions that they are taking to the marketplace without considering how it connects to what customers want. With the declining economy Nigeria is experiencing right now, how does a business owner keep a level head while struggling to run a sustainable business?

In your opinion, is success and true wealth all about money? 
I will start by saying that success means different things to different people.  It is about the comfort of living a fulfilling and satisfied life. For some, success means achieving a significant career or life milestone. For others, it is seeing the result of their societal contribution and its impact. While for some, it is the acquisition of luxurious material items and showing them off. However, I must say that money does help in getting one that fulfillment, satisfaction and comfort and opens door for life-changing conversations. As Zig Ziglar once said, money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen.

What is the new trend in business and entrepreneurship? 
I think the trend is connectivity. The world has become such a global village everybody is connected. Businesses and entrepreneurs aren’t left out. They are connecting in numerous ways. Businesses are stepping out of their single-minded profit-oriented strategy to put themselves in the shoes of the customers. Entrepreneurs are connecting with the market, telling their stories and creating more value because now they know, play and live among customers. All this is powered by digital connections. The world today is constantly evolving, and so are the fields of business and entrepreneurship. They are two separate but intertwined concepts. On one hand is business. On the other hand is entrepreneurship.

What makes you passionate about Nigerian women?
I am very passionate about women and what we represent. In my experience, when women discover and rediscover themselves, stick together and pull each other up, they have more fulfilling businesses, careers and personal lives. When women support women, amazing things happen. We are extraordinary beings and we have the capacity of living the very best version of ourselves. Women across the world face challenges but the African woman faces the greatest of them all, in my opinion. The more complex problems are cultural and religious practices of female genital mutilation, child marriages;
health problems such as vesico-vaginal fistula, high rate of infant and maternal mortality rate due to poor health facilities, among others. There are many others like the societal pressures to get married at a certain age, have children, and even act in a certain manner. There is also the issue of domestic violence and generally violence against women. These, among many other factors, are what makes women become timid and withdrawn. Many women just come and go through life without doing what they were born to do. This is the reason I started my ‘Self-Love Campaign for Women’.

This platform helps women understand that there is more to life than merely existing, and gives
them the boost of confidence they need to first love themselves by regarding their own well-being, and then loving others, including other women, as they love themselves.

What would you tell women?
These are my words to every woman out there who might be struggling with any part of her life: You are awesome. You are intelligent. You are blessed. You are extraordinary. You are so much more than you think or imagine. You are capable of anything. You first have to believe that you are capable. As long as you believe in yourself, you can achieve your goals.

Find others who believe in you. As much as you can, minimise time with people who let you think less of yourself. Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity.


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