Olagoke and Abimbola Balogun both have a lot to share about getting a business back up from crisis. As cofounders of popular fresh food chain SoFresh, the couple has pulled their company out of near-collapse and steered it to tremendous growth over the past few years.
Starting as a struggling food store in Lagos, SoFresh now has ten outlets spread across two cities. These stores serve and deliver healthy, fresh and nutritious meals to numerous customers. It’s built a niche for itself in a tough market and is expanding at a pace that not many enterprises have matched.
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But just seven years ago, it was looking set to close down.
Olagoke told the story of the business’s revival in a series of tweets.
“In June 2013, I called my wife and business partner, Abimbola,” he said, “and told her we would have to close our fledgling and failing business after sinking about ₦15 million for 3 years with no returns”.
Besides a faulty business model, he noted another apparent cause of their enterprise’s poor performance: the location wasn’t easy to access.
“By June 2013, things were looking dire with no future. We were practically stalled, low sales, no growth, no profit, rising cost and no way out.”
While it seemed like closing down was the only possible end they could arrive at, Olagoke and Abimbola decided to hold off on it. Instead, they would scour their records and seek all the answers they could to help their store turn a corner.
This move saved their business. They were able to figure out ways to improve their operations, and push up through the growth ladder.
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How Olagoke and Abimbola Rejuvenated their Company
Here are the steps that Olagoke says he and his cofounder did to pull their business from the brink and put it on the path of growth.
- Evaluated their Strategic Narrative
- Dug into their data and made sense of it
- Explored opportunities within their value chain
- Learnt more from existing customers’ feedback
According to Olagoke, these steps revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the business, and allowed them reshape the business for much a better performance.
“We quickly found out what was working, what was not working around our product, customers, processes, people, location, business model”,
Here’s a bit of detail about the steps they took, and how you can apply them to your business.
1. Evaluate Your Strategic Narrative
Your strategic narrative is a story about your company: what it is, why it exists, how far it’s come, and where it’s going with its mission.
It’s a powerful marketing tool. In today’s world, you may need more than just a brief note about your products and services to attract your target audience. Maybe there’s a passion for which you’ve established your business, or there’s something unique about your product or service. Let that drive your strategic narrative.
For SoFresh, it’s about giving people a healthy alternative to fast food, and battling the odds to achieve this great goal.
Come up with your strategic narrative, and make it ring through your messaging to your target market.
2. Dig Into Your Data and Make Sense of It
Olagoke notes three things you should be looking at in particular:
- Buying patterns
Your customer demography refers to the income brackets or economic status of your customer, the age groups they belong to, their gender, occupations, marital status, etc. You want to know if you’re reaching the people who are most likely to buy what you’re selling.
Also, look at the volume of sales you record within given periods.
Examine the purchases that customers make from your business. Do you see patterns of peaks and troughs around specific hours of the day, days of the week, months of the year, or particular seasons? Could specific events have impacted purchases positively or negatively? Can you tell the reason for these patterns?
This could help you find out the things that contribute positively or negatively to buyer traffic.
3. Explore Opportunities Within Your Value Chain
Are there other parts of your industry’s value chain that you could integrate into your business or shift your investments to? You should consider this if there are some underexploited segments in other parts of the value chain.
For instance, if you are a farmer and you’re growing cassava, you could boost your earnings by venturing into cassava processing. Or if you sell locally produced milk, you could invest in milk production by partnering with existing producers or setting up your own ranch.
4. Learn from Your Existing Customer’s Feedback
No matter how good you think your plans are, you may still be groping in the dark with them if you’re not looking at your customer’s feedback.
Find out what they think about your products and services, and if there are aspects they would like to see improved. If you’re looking for ways to do this, you can find them here.
Remember, unless you are satisfying your customers, your business will struggle to make sales. And if you’re not making sales, you won’t grow.
Olagoke believes that these tips could help struggling businesses find their feet, especially during and after the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I dare say it’s been an interesting roller coaster ride with a lot of learnings and experience along the way”,
Both co-founders are also willing to share their experiences with other business people. They are doing this with a program, the Blueprint to Business Recovery. It includes a webinar, coaching, and resources to help entrepreneurs rebuild following the difficulties of the present times.
If you would like to find out more about the Blueprint to Business Recovery, click HERE.
Featured Image Source: Bella Naija
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