Monthly Archives

June 2015

Think global. Start local.

Thinking globally but starting locally is a good mantra for nearly every business unless you are building a colony on Mars. The principle comes from the story of the tower of Babel about 6000 years ago. The people wanted to build a city, a tower and a name for themselves. They thought globally. They however decided to start locally with the small pieces. They said “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Genesis 11:3 NLT

An international journalist recently told me that in a recent trip to Trinidad and Tobago, the businesses she spoke with were so focused on being global that they even sneered at the thought of dominating their local market. It’s not just the Afro-Tobagonian’s who have this mindset and I know this is a generalization but it happens more often than you think. Everyone wants to be an international star instead of a local champion. Any investors reading this will concur.

In summary I’d like to suggest that as an entrepreneur, your domain expertise of your nation or local community is almost always an advantage so use it. Milk that local expertise and insights thoroughly and then export it. Keep your eyes on the global picture while your hands are building the local foundation.

Now on Itunes: Episode 1 of Growing Startup’s Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Manu

Check out the podcast on Itunes

Check out the podcast on Itunes

In today’s podcast Emmanuel Quist interviews Marketing lecturer, Consultnt and Tech Entrepreneur Jeffrey Manu on how to grow a business using the systems that increase customers and revenue.
Ever wondered why one business in the same industry is making 10 times more than others in the same economy?

Find out why running a pharmacy, provision store or supermarket can use the same rules of retail.

Find out how to sell 10000 Ghana cedis worth of bread in a month.

Which questions to ask before you fire or hire your marketing manager or if you even need one right now.

Are you selling features or benefits?

Find “Growingstartup’s Podcast” on Itunes here!

For Rss click here!

If you have any questions please email me at or leave comments on Itunes or the box below

The Man From Zara book review: An entrepreneur’s perspective


The Man from Zara: The Story of the Genius Behind the Inditex GroupThe man from Zara by Covadonga O’shea

I promised to share a book review often, especially from the perspective of an entrepreneur. This week I will share what I got from The Man From Zara. This is the story of Zara and how the world’s most successful fashion retailer was born. I usually look out for topics such value creation, marketing, sales, culture and innovation. My notes are usually written as TO-DO’s. You can get the bookThe Man from Zara: The Story of the Genius Behind the Inditex Group here!

Zara is the world’s most successful fashion retailer and Amancio Ortega has done an awesome job of building one of the strongest brands in the world. What I appreciated most about the book is Ortega’s focus on producing beautifully designed clothes at affordable rates. I also found it interesting that he has dominated the world in fashion retail without having to learn to speak English or move his headquarters to any of the world’s fashion capitals.

What made Zara successful?

      Investing in the latest trends


        A quick turn around on production: Stock turnover twice a week


          Create a limited supply


            Excellent location of shops


              Focus on the customer


                Extremely careful merchandising


                  Good quality clothing


                    Exquisite customer service


                      Effective logistics and distribution


                      Learning from their mistakes

                    The book is not as deep into the story of Amancio Ortega or Zara as it could have been. You may end up skipping some paragraphs as the author talks about her experiences. However to her credit, Covadonga O’Shea seems to be very observant and this shows in her monologues.

                    My notes according to the book
                    Zara believes in studying human behavior and trends. Their speed and efficiency is novel.
                    Bringing well-made clothing within the reach of a large proportion of the population has worked well for Zara.
                    In what fields can I be an expert? Amancio Ortega is an expert at fashion merchandising.

                    What am I a force of nature at?

                    Zara targets middle class women and that’s 78% of their income.

                    Pull and Bear is owned by Zara and that brand is supplying casual clothing to under young people under 25 years old.
                    Massimo Dutti; another Zara owned brand targets customers of both sexes in the medium to high income bracket
                    Berskha’ another Zara owned brand for disco frequenting teens

                    Fun fact: For years Ortega refused to take pictures, even with the author of the book because he prefers a quiet life. He did not want to be the billionaire who cannot walk down the street because everyone knows him.

                    One of Zara’s strengths comes from their vertical integration. This plays out in textiles, fabrication, logistics, marketing, construction, real estate, finance and power generation.

                    Gap and H&M are competitors who design and sell but do not manufacture unlike Zara.
                    Benetton designs and manufactures but sells through franchisees.
                    Ortega leases some stores.
                    Four points to note : flexibility of supply , instant absorption of market demand, response speed and technological innovation.

                    Zara’s marketing genius is that their strategy has re-educated a customer who was used to buying late to adapting to a climate of scarcity and opportunity. Zara shops are stocked twice a week in Europe so the fear of missing out works in Zara’s favor.

                    One of Zara’s greatest innovations is actually an immense benefit for the customer. The status quo was two collections a year. Ortega did as many as he could for the customer.
                    Decisions are made by those closest to the customer and Ortega picks which strategy works best.
                    Cutting was done in the factory and given to workshops or women in flats who work on individual parts of the outfit.

                    The Man from Zara


                    The book talks about Castellano’ Ortega’s former right hand man. Ortega has deep insight in commercial, product, merchandising and retail ideas. Castellano was a genius at the financial and corporate side of the business. This strengthened my belief that most entrepreneurs need to partner with someone who is well versed in corporate, sales and financial matters if they themselves are not.
                    Focus on the business. Focus on excellence in standards. Have ambitious goals greater than everyone else.
                    Fun Fact: Ortega is a giver and the book professes that he is a Christian

                    You always mess up the competition when you give the market what they need.

                    China, Korea, Singapore,Vietnam, Boston,Washington,Chicago, San Francisco were the places he was interested in at least partially
                    Eastern European women like clothes more than anything. Slavic women like to show off. What’s the mentality of my target?
                    Combined manufacturing, the shop, logistics and design



                    The book does not flow as seamlessly as I would have liked it to and there could have been more insights into how exactly they market the brand. It’s a good book and I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

                    P.S Here are some Advanced strategies for growing a business.
                    Special thanks to @mradjaye for giving me this book.

                    The Method I Use To Read A 300 Page Book in 2 Hours Without Speed Reading.

                    Reading a 300 page book in 2 hours

                    Yes. I can teach you how to read a 300 page book in only 2 hours without speed reading.
                    Yes. You can do this with ebooks as well.

                    An old buddy reminded me to share my insights on how to read a 300 page book in 2 hours or less using strategic reading methods. I was taught these principles a few years ago and it has greatly improved many parts of my business. Thanks to a gentleman called Tommy Offe. I have also personally shared these methods with people of varying ages and even languages on 3 continents. Thanks to John Mark Gladstone Jr for reminding me to share these. I also recorded a voicenote for him that I will share here. Click this link for the voicenote.

                    Below is the simple template that I and many others use. It is based largely on Inspectional reading. I will go into more depth on this in a later post but you can check out Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)How To Read A Book. It will give you a primer on some reading methods.


                    Strategic and Value Driven Reading Template

                    Name of Book/Article/Blog:

                    1. Purpose/Goal
                    Why are you reading this book/blog/article? What can you use this information for? (Please list your reasons)

                    Eg. I am reading this book gain insights on sales and marketing ideas I can use for my business.
                    2. Quantitative goal

                    Eg.i am going to retrieve 80% of this book in 2 hours.

                    Please tick off each section below as you complete them

                    2. Copyright Date
                    3. Number of Pages
                    4. Look at the Cover and Back of the book
                    5. Conclusion and Introductory paragraphs
                    6. Content page/Table of Contents
                    7. Headings, Sub Headings, Pictures, Tables, Equations, Charts
                    8. Trigger Words/Index -Look through the index and curate between 20 to 30 of the most frequent and important words throughout this document.
                    9. Summary-What is the writer’s main argument? In your own words, why did the author write this book?


                    10. 10 Points of interest
                    Read the 10 interests that fit your purpose based on Number 6 in the Preview.(These pages have to be of interest to you)


                    Extra:To Do

                    What can I do with this information? How can i apply this information to my life? What are the principles? What are the examples that I can improve upon?


                    I always write down my To-Do’s because you are only wise if you use the knowledge you have acquired. Just having a lot of information is not very useful.

                    I will explain in later posts, other details that will help you read at least 5 times faster than you currently do and still comprehend what you just read.

                    Did you find this useful?

                    Please comment below.


                    An Entrepreneur’s book review of :Made In America-Sam Walton part 1


                    I tend to read books for lessons that will improve my business or the business of someone else’s. This focus primes my mind to look out for the parts of a book that are of value to an entrepreneur. I don’t really care for the fluff and many of the personal opinions of the writer. I will be sharing book reviews every week starting from today and I promise to only share the parts that will be of value to an entrepreneur who wants to grow his or her business. First book will be Sam Walton’s Made In America. In a latter post I will teach you how to read a 300 page book in 2 hours and how to take effective notes.

                    A little while ago I met an entrepreneur who was not embarrassed to say he did not know what was working for his competitors. He did not even know what their prices were. I am still cringing. He obviously has never read Sam Walton’s Made in America. One of my favorite quotes from the book is
                    “Check everyone who is our competition. And don’t look for the bad. Look for the good. If you get one good idea, that’s one more than you went into the store with, and we must try to incorporate it into our company. We’re really not concerned with what they’re doing wrong, we’re concerned with what they’re doing right, and everyone is doing something right.”


                    The foundation for Walmart’s success comes in 3 parts. They are
                    1. A Retail concept that works +
                    2. A professional management team +
                    3. Systems that support growth.

                    Here are some of the insights I got from the book. Some of them are direct quotes and most of them will help most retail entrepreneurs.

                    1. Hire people you can live with not just managers.
                    If a man can manage his own finances by saving, he can manage a store.
                    Have promotions of a lot of items at one time but discounted in store or in front.
                    Have a greeter outside.—Having a greeter outside curbed theft and also improves the customer’s perception of the brand.

                    Samples: giving samples is a way to get customers into your store or introduced to your product or service.

                    Merchandise driven people are always looking for how to promote something. Operations people are good at reducing expenses and improve efficiency. You need both people in a retail business especially at scale.

                    2. On buying trips, expenses should never exceed 1% of purchases. This was Walmart rule at the time.
                    His one true passion is what he studied all the time and that was discounting: Develop your passions till you can be the best at what you love.
                    Encourage happiness by taking care of customers, taking care of the stores and taking care of the store staff so their happiness will make an impression on customers.

                    3. Goal Setting: Set goals and pay the price it takes to get there.
                    Figure out your pricing and study how to have effective distribution.

                    4. Networking: Sam Walton joined an association for retailers and this led to him learning about computers and how to use them in retail. This later gave Walmart an edge that many of their competition have yet to recover from. It’s important to join an association of like minded people who are as ambitious as you are.

                    5. Personal education: Enroll in classes that advance technology or innovation in your field.
                    Copy and Improve: Take the best out of everything and adapt it to your own needs.

                    Make employees question their decisions before giving them money so they think harder about what they use money for.

                    6. Own a majority share of the business and give equity to managers and others.
                    Walmart saw that a lot of business would come from small towns. He saw that in many States, most people moved from the suburb to the cities and ended up commuting from the cities to the suburbs to work.

                    Dominate a lot of little tribes of people or towns or schools or places that people don’t respect and you’ll have a lot of small stakeholders. Small groups or the unloved respond very well to attention

                    Merchandising, finance and distribution are important areas in retail.

                    7.Put stores in places where tourists visit before you move to where tourists live.
                    See which way the population is growing and put the store in the way.
                    Stores on the outskirts of cities were a day’s drive from the warehouse.
                    Study development patterns because it will inform your decisions on where to place stores.

                    Have you read Made In America? What were your thoughts?