Red Monkey Tales – look for problems

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Red Monkey was perched high in a tree observing his surroundings. He scanned downwards through the trees and from time to time looked far off into the distance over the treetops.

“Hey, Red Monkey what are you doing?” John, the small business owner asked.

“I’m just looking around to see what’s going on, “Red Monkey said. “Wait there John, I’ll be down in a minute.”

“So what were you looking for?” John asked.

Red Monkey Jamie came towards John, ambling along, showing no urgency at all. “You don’t know how it is. We red monkeys are dependent on the forests for our survival. It’s you humans through your habitat destruction that destroy our forests and leave us with no fruit-bearing trees.”

“Well, you know I’m not one of those. If I had my way they would be no cutting down of rainforest or any other forests for that matter.”

“Maybe. So what’s on your mind John?”

“I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamt that I was tired and weary. It was night. I climbed into a small bed-like ledge high up in the mountain and was about to go to sleep when I looked up and saw the rocks above were crawling with snakes.”

“So what did you do… in your dream, I mean?”

“I jumped out of the rock bed on the side of the mountain and woke up scared out of my wits.”

“How did you know those snakes were dangerous? They could have been harmless snakes and would have just kept you company for the night.”

“Yes, I know. Maybe you’re right. I’ve had so much on my mind lately”

“Is your business still troubling you?”

“Yes, it seems like I can’t come up with any new ideas. You know our these in this economy.”

“Why don’t you look for problems? Think of that farmer who recently heard about whose lambs were being killed by jackals and caracals. He had a big problem on his farm in the Eastern Cape.”

“But that solution he came up with to put solar-powered cats eyes on some of these ewes so the light would chase away the jackals and caracals when the ewes got up or turned their heads at night chased away the predators but he’s not made any money out of it.”

“But that’s not the point, John. The farmer had a problem and he came up with a solution that has cut down losses of these lambs. At least he didn’t go for traps, poisoning or hunting to chase away the jackals and caracals. He’s not going to make any money out of his idea but he’s going to save a lot of money on his farm.”

“Yes, it’s not an idea that he may want to sell to other farmers but it does show how important it is to start with problems when looking for new business ideas.”

“Now that you’ve got your creative juices flowing, perhaps you will come up with something that may help you in your life and could perhaps help others with similar problems. All this talk is making me hungry. John, I’ve got to go unless there is something else you wish to talk about.”

“It’s good seeing you again Jamie. You always get me thinking in a new direction. I wish you would come down more often. ”

“Stay down here with you humans. Not a chance. I’d rather be high in the rooftops of the Rain Forest eating berries and fruits and fooling around. See you sometime.”

The Red Monkey Tales is a series on a small business ideas and the spirit of enterprise where monkeying around is tolerated, encouraged and prized, all in pursuit of right-brained thinking and fun.

Where do you find new opportunities?

You’ve got to stay current. It’s no use using the information you’ve got in your head when it’s out of date. You’ve got to seek out new information, fresh insights, and new concepts that are relevant for today and that people are using right now.

One thing that is standing out in these rough times is how strong the demand among consumers is for bargains. On a recent Saturday morning I went to rate charity book sale, which is held once a month. My interest is in the reading topics whether it is on knot splicing, coastal fish, lighthouses and even marine art. Continue reading “Where do you find new opportunities?”

Online crowdfunding making fractional property ownership a reality for small investors without betting the farm

Chesney Bradshaw
Chesney Bradshaw

Renting a property whether a flat, townhouse, cluster or free-standing home is a necessity for many people but it doesn’t bring you any closer to ownership. It might seem a no-brainer to buy rather than rent but not everybody is in a position to buy property. You may not have enough to put down a deposit for a home. It’s all very well for guru property investment advisers to encourage you to buy a property but if you don’t have the money, what can you do?

Yet property makes up an important part of building wealth. When you have learned how to identify and structure property opportunities and acquire a poverty for yourself, you can get into generating income from tenants paying rent. The returns are higher than interest paid by savings accounts and paper investments such as unit trusts or mutual funds because you get a monthly return, not annually. Continue reading “Online crowdfunding making fractional property ownership a reality for small investors without betting the farm”

Facing the brutal truth about money anxiety can force you to act

debt-new-coverIt’s a touchy subject. Not for the squeamish. It’s a lot harder to get by these days. If you don’t tighten up and plan your expenditure, you can find yourself in trouble. Running out of money before the month end, puts stress on you to go cap in hand and ask family and friends. But they too are just managing to get by. It’s easy to see why so many people are over their heads in debt.

Spending beyond your means, not planning for unexpected expenses, failing to anticipate rising costs, all work together to land you in deep water. Not only do you become indebted to others but you stand to lose the love of those closest to you. How can those close to you respect you when you are always running into money troubles. Loss of your self-esteem is one thing but you also carry guilt. Why, the reason is simple. You see, when you can’t meet your obligations to your loved ones you feel a lesser person in their eyes. If only… if only… you could have done things differently. Continue reading “Facing the brutal truth about money anxiety can force you to act”

Picking the eyes out of a failed business

English: Ringwood : Royal Mail Postbox One box...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One publisher was so fed up with the collapse last year of the Post Office services that he has vowed never to use them again. For his subscribers he set up a door-to-door delivery service and deliveries via POSTNET.

The complete breakdown of the postal service showed how quickly a going concern can die because of poor management. It’s ironic that the executive managers were patting themselves on their backs over and over about how “sustainable” the business was when they completely lacked a plan to deal with changing circumstances. Continue reading “Picking the eyes out of a failed business”

Have you ever made anything yourself?

gkr1tbkmw3m-stefanus-martanto-setyo-husodoWhat have you made yourself? Did you make anything when you were young? Have you thought of making something recently?

If you answered yes to any of those three questions, then you will know what excitement happens when you make something of your own for yourself. When you make something for yourself and you can also find a market, or you have thought about the market before you even made your product or service, you will know how satisfying it can be. It puts your destiny in your own hands.

It’s by no means an easy route to take. I’m not talking here about going into full-scale manufacturing but coming up with something that you can initially do on the side and may lead to bigger things. There is a compelling case for making something of your own. We still live in a world where we sell our expertise and time to someone else. But a growing number of people both young and old have started to make things for themselves. You only need to look at the app developer market to see how many young people have got involved in making apps for smartphones.

I have visited many morning markets around the country and have discovered that both young people and old are making things of their own. Products that have stood out for me recently have been a line of specialised skin creams, smoked products, organic coffee, specialised “cage” dolls beautifully made by a sculptor, and a kitchen sink board for preparing vegetables and salads. Here I am only scratching on the surface because there are so many wonderful products that people have come up with.

Yet, it is tragic when someone comes up with a good idea but is unable for various reasons to execute it or, simply put, put it into action. I came across the example of a school teacher who is retired recently and decided to open a kindergarten. But months later she has not got off of the ground and has been forced into going back into teaching at a school for delinquents in a rough area. You see, this is a typical story. By not taking your life into your own hands you end up settling for second best. This is where you get kicked in the face, where takers steal and confiscate from you and others pass the pennies at the end of a hard year of working. Perhaps this schoolteacher will get her kindergarten going eventually.

If you have never come up with something on your own whether it be a product or a service, meaning either a physical item or an intellectual concept or service, then they are ways to bridge this gap. There are ways to come up with ideas on your own that you can make viable. The is a process for product and service development. Find a system, a method a process that works best for you.

PS Disclaimer: I have started five small businesses from scratch, one of which failed and four which were successful.

Find your golden monkey without tricking your brain (warning: your “rational” brain may resist)

Golden Monkeys of China
Golden Monkeys of China (Photo credit: afrowolf)

You tell your mind to come up with a new idea… and nothing comes. Minutes flick by. Then hours. Perhaps days.

You’re walking somewhere, could be around the block in your suburb in the evening, and a solution hits you. You could be cleaning the dishes and suddenly an idea pops into your head. Or, you could be driving in the traffic and an idea just springs out from your brain seemingly from nowhere.

Ever heard of the monkey mind? Some call it the mosquito mind. Often you find your thoughts running all over the place, distracting you from what you really want to think about.

Continue reading “Find your golden monkey without tricking your brain (warning: your “rational” brain may resist)”

If forced to sell shampoo, would you pull up your nose?

Ex-Bafana boss sells shampoo.
Ex-Bafana boss sells shampoo.

I saw this newspaper post headline while driving in Johannesburg this week:

 “Ex-Bafana boss sells shampoo”
I wondered if Joel Santana, the former coach of South Africa’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, was out of luck. 
But I couldn’t imagine him walking the streets with a sample case of shampoos, selling door-to-door to ladies. Not after earning a reported R300,000 ($30,000) a month when he coached the national soccer side.
Like I said, I was driving so I had no way of knowing the former Bafana coach’s involvement with selling shampoo. Continue reading “If forced to sell shampoo, would you pull up your nose?”

Would you listen to small business advice from these tee vee xspurts?

English: Johannesburg from the top of the Carl...
Johannesburg from the top of the Carlton Centre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m probably going to get rapped on the knuckles but I’m going to say it anyway: beware of the advice that “thought leaders” dish out to small business owners on reality tee vee shows.

The advice sounds so sensible on the show but when you realise that each and every business is different, you can take it at face value – superficial generalities.

Modify your offering to suit customer needs, look for gaps in larger business offerings, compete on value for money rather than low price, create partnerships with allied businesses and think strategically about your online strategy – that’s the typical pearls spouted on these tee vee shows.