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Profitable businesses are sustained by strategies – Azubuike, business growth expert

Christine Onwuachumba

Anurika Azubuike wears several caps in the business sector. She is customer attraction expert, business growth strategist, an inspiring speaker, author, mentor and trusted professional advisor in the areas of business strategy, marketing, branding and communications. 

Azubuike is the founder of Customer Attraction Academy, a community and business growth school for entrepreneurs and professionals with an online community of over 5,000 members.  

For more than 12 years, she has been helping businesses grow in the areas of strategies that let them become visible, profitable, strong, recognisable brands in their fields. 

Daily Sun spoke to her at a women’s conference in Lagos recently. Excerpts:

How does one choose the right business model to maximise growth of 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 organisation 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 ways 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 favourably 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? 

The Customer Attraction Academy is a social impact project and community that I started majorly 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 big 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 Customer Attraction Academy comes in to stir the level of awareness needed to know what is 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 5,000 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. That is why almost everybody who is 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 Customer Attraction Academy community for absolutely 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. Light Bulb comes in three different levels, Classic, Premium and Elite.

What informed your decision to set up this academy? 

Years ago, I had a seemingly great business idea that I expected would grow and make me a ton of money. I went on to develop the idea by getting the necessary professional training and certification, setting up the business, renting 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 had not quite grown the business expertise I needed to run that business successfully. In an interesting turn of events, that business did not quite take off the way I expected. With the benefit of hindsight, 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 peoples lives and society at large, and even to a chance of time freedom, among others. However, not many of these businesses survive. Against popular belief and misconceptions, 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 in its findings that SMEs rely heavily on personal savings due to poor integration into the financial sector. Only 69 per cent of SMEs have business plans, which reveals inadequate planning and accounting, and 95 per cent 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, how does a business owner keep a level head while struggling to run a sustainable business? 

Building a business can be a great experience. Yet, it can also be a challenging and frustrating one, if business owners are not sure of what to do. They can wake up excited about the prospects of the day and then go to bed feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. And in that state, it can be hard to find the right way to go about getting the results they need. When in that situation, the mistake that many business owners make is to lose focus and begin to do other things just so they can make up for the money that their current business is not making. The first thing for business owners to do is to stay true to themselves and remember their core values as individuals. If you value honesty, integrity and loyalty to your customers, make sure you remember to apply these virtues every day. 

Another thing is to persistently remember that a business is set up to solve problems. Business owners need to understand the problems they are solving, and must be willing to go all out to show this solution by becoming visible in the marketplace. Stay innovative; innovation does not mean re-inventing the wheel. If you have ideas that work and they work well, then don’t waste time trying to fix something that isn’t already broken. Instead, focus on areas that you know can use improvement.

Is success and true wealth all about money? 

I would say that success means different things to different people.  It is about the comfort of living a fulfilled 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.

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