With Patrick Achitabwino:
Humans are silos of ideas but by and large, their wealth of ideas gets ransacked by the weevils of self-doubt, the appetite to complain and inability to be innovative in transforming the dreams into reality.
The greatest weakness with humans is that we prefer to walk the road that others have walked and expect that we will make a difference. To see your dreams take off in life, you have to make a once in a lifetime offer to your customers. These could be internal and external, in general sense, key stakeholders that would be the launching pad for your dreams. The moment you have their buy in, your take off starts.
The person who pioneered the privatisation of telecommunications in Africa, Miko Rwayitare, noted that the sector was highly regulated in Africa and in his Zaire as well. He hired an army of lawyers to find a gap in the law. But while he was working on the legal front, a battle he anticipated to be bruising and long, he did something unthinkable that had never happened before in the history of mobile telecommunications.
Rwayitare explains: “In the first 12 months, we offered service free of charge, just to show that it was feasible. People fell in love with the cellular phone. Our first handheld phones, which were Motorolas, had about 30 minutes of talk time, had no memory, and they could only recall the last number called. They weighed as much as a bottle of wine, yet they were a huge success.”
That was the game changer. The 12 months free trial period was a great success. He made it a point that he accords the phones to people that could impact positively on his licence application. The phones were sent to government officials for six months trial on the basis that if they would not be happy with service delivery, they return them back. Guess what, after six months he got the licence and that marked the birth of Telecel in Zaire, now DRC, and that made it the very first time that a mobile phone call was made in Africa.
When you have a dream, be prepared to go to an extra length to have it achieved. Defy the status quo and develop your own operational model. That is what will make a difference.
One of Malawi’s life coaches, Estelle Nuka, long noted that coming up with a once-in-a-lifetime offer makes a difference. She knew that popularising her EWN Consulting firm would be too expensive and not easy. People had their preferences on life coaching. She did the unthinkable. She invited top executives to a hotel during the launch of her consulting firm and offered a free training during that event. Your guess is as good as mine. The attendees were impressed and eventually she broke all the barriers that would have restricted her market entry.
Do not just concentrate on the illusion of concentrating on profits first. Be prepared to offer even free services for the sake of market testing. While we complain of unemployment, there have been a number of people that offered to work for some companies and firms for free just as a means of having work experience. To a greater extent, they ended up being the best in their volunteering period and in the end, management could not let them go at the expiry of their volunteering session. Volunteer for services and provide the best.
Humans have an affinity on those that sacrifice limbs in coming to their aid or providing services. Whatever skill you have, find a different means of broadcasting it to potential buyers. Have you manufactured a product that you believe can shake the market? Be prepared to sacrifice. Link it to the aspirations of the people. Find means that would make them embrace the product. The moment you have their buy-in, you have made it. Offer free taxi rides. Any wonder that top hotels would offer free wi-fi within their complex? It is that simple. They know you want to be connected every time. The more you are connected on your laptop or mobile phone, the more you will stay long at the hotel and the more you will buy coffee, meals and other drinks. Since they have offered you the convenience, that hotel will always be your second office and even to some the first office.
To make it great in life, you have to do a trade-off. Develop a once-in-a-lifetime offer.