GETTING STARTED - DEFINING YOUR BRAND DNA
I'd had so many ideas along the way and they were everywhere: in old note books, in my head, in the ether, stored in boxes, pages torn from magazines and I had to trawl my cupboards, drawers, old notebooks, files and mind to reclaim them. Some were found in places as obscure as my bank statement file.....don't ask. One of the things I missed most and have not stopped missing was the Personal Assistant that I had gotten used to over the past decade and more. It was like having a wife. I know, poor me; welcome to the real world Maleka.
Planning out ideas
I bought flip charts with the 'post it' adhesive and covered one wall of my home office with these big sheets. I titled these boards: Ingredients, brand USP's, distribution and cost shares, packaging, SKU's/Benefits & Claims, Product names, Brand tag line. With a set of coloured pens and markers (took me back the my childhood joy of getting a brand new set of coloured pens) I set to work. Over the coming days and weeks, I added, eliminated, amended - sometimes getting out of bed in the middle of the night to work on it so that an idea was not lost in sleep. I felt quite creative. Looking at these ideas and adding to them would make me smile with pleasure. The DNA of my brand was developing and the term Integrative came through
loud and clear, time and again as did Effective. Of course Merumaya is a skincare brand so, after considering very many alternatives, Integrative, Effective Skincare seemed to sum up what we are and thus our tag line was born. The brand name, MERUMAYA is a combination of the first two letters of my Father's, Mother's, mine and Sister (and now daughter's) names. It was an emotional choice in that my father would have called a business Merumaya had he found the courage to start a business. I carefully considered it because the name could be seen to being ethnic and therefore not serious. I sent this out to many people to get opinion and got the approval of the vast majority.
This digresses me to the point of where I worked when I was still living my corporate life. A home office is the most cost effective option when you have a spare room. However, working from home requires immense discipline if you are used to working in an office or field environment. That discipline does not come natural to me and I realized how my fast paced, choc-a-block days with a PA organising me and my life, had compensated for this. When setting up the consultancy, I found it excruciatingly difficult to write the copy for the website and would distract myself with any number of other tasks. In the end, I hired a serviced office (for what ended up being only a couple of months). This way I would be able to simulate the 'going to work' feeling. In that plain office environment, with a lack of distractions, I was able to get into the mind set to apply myself to the tasks that gratified me the least. I was able to write the copy for the website. If, like me, you find it difficult to write about yourself and your achievements, get someone to help you. Another great way to get content is to ask for testimonials. See how easy it is to move off the subject in hand?
On the wall I stuck any inspiring cards and little notes my friends sent me to encourage me to stay on the path. While in corporate life, I'd had a 360 evaluation done and my colleagues were asked to provide an anonymous review. My coach @strategic awareness then wrote the words they had used to describe me on a flip chart. I kept this flipchart and hung it on the wall to provide me the gumption to continue in those dark moments when I doubted yourself, when my day did not go to plan, when I wondered if I should carry on. Oh yes, that will happen. Your past relationships are critically important so cherish them as I have.
Lesson - collate, update and display your ideas where you will see them everyday. Remember also to protect your IP (intellectual property) by limiting who goes in your office. Ensure that they are not visible to people during Skype calls. Display inspiring pieces on the wall where you will see them every day
Lesson - Keep a tight control on finances and do not spend money on anything that is not critical (offices for example), if you can help it. You will need that money to support your cash flow later. So many businesses fail because of cash flow, ironically, after the orders start coming in.
5P2aHL - build relationships wherever you can throughout your life. When the time comes, there will be people who take your breath away with their support and kindness. Recommendations; buy post it flip charts and a pin board. Keep these pages in your 'rocking chair treasure chest (I have had one for years and years) for posterity