In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The value of going niche
- Why recording employees’ knowledge creates a better workplace and can be a valuable resource for clients
- How to balance unpaid promotional work with profitable client work
The Entrepreneur’s Challenge: Replicating Success
Mike began his entrepreneurial journey 13 years ago as the founder of Cerebra, Africa’s social business authority. In 2018 he made a change and started Beyond Binary, a company that helps business leaders make decisions around complex tech ideas and trends.
Mike sets a high standard for his entrepreneurism, and much of his working philosophy is influenced by the complex political, commercial and social situation in South Africa, his home. Mike doesn’t want to just achieve commercial success. He wants to create work that is socially meaningful and pushes the boundaries of his field.
“We’re realizing more and more that making money at the expense of people is an unsustainable way to grow a business.”
Mike adds that the world of entrepreneurship is making positive strides in that direction.
In the early days of Cerebra, Mike discovered the company’s niche by looking at areas of social media marketing that no one wanted to do.
Going niche is important for entrepreneurs. Mike explains that in the early days of advertising, just speaking to a customer was a win. But today, advertising is much more accessible — anyone can do it, to a degree. So, it seems the barrier to entry for creative content is low.
“. . . when everyone is able to [advertise], that sets a new standard for mediocrity and opens up an opportunity for laser-like excellence.”
Where mediocrity abounds, excellence can thrive even more. The way to excel: Go niche and become a specialist.
Find Out What Your Team Knows
Mike shares one question that helped Cerebra attract big clients. Together he and his team asked: How do we know what we know?
“There is so much wisdom in so many agencies that’s wrapped up in people and not necessarily codified or published or shared in any way.”
Mike’s intervention: Codify that knowledge. Mike said that regularly sitting down and inviting employees to share useful information that they’ve learned helped develop a culture of learning.
The benefits: Employees feel valued and you can use the information they share to produce literature that explains to prospective clients why your company’s services are unique and excellent.
Additionally, meeting and talking about work as a team can help entrepreneurs process what they’re learning in the midst of blazing new trails.
Mike says sticking to “Stopforth’s Law” has been key to his success:
“In the absence of a given expert in any field, the person who puts up his hand first becomes the expert.”
To be a good entrepreneur is to be a good translator. Just because you don’t start out an expert doesn’t mean you can’t become one. As Mike says, the combination of hard work and ability to make diffuse concepts easy to understand makes all the difference.