What is Business Sense? (1)

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What is the principal thing you need to succeed in your business today? Money. Sure, you need it, but it is not the main ingredient for success. People. Of course they are necessary, but having them may not guarantee success. Excellent products or services. Well, this is a must to succeed. But you may have them and still not succeed. Promotions, visibility, marketing. These factors lubricate your business activities for success. So what is the principal thing?

Take this from the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore get wisdom. And in your getting, get understanding. Riches and honor are with me. Enduring riches and righteousness. Translate this into your business, you get what I call Business Sense. As we progress into year 2007, it is necessary we refresh our minds on what this sense is all about. That is the mission of this article.

So what is Business Sense? How you do your business. Not really. Strategies for doing business. Well you may be correct, but not quite. Doing business with the sixth sense. No you are off the mark for though Business Sense has something to do with feelings, it has more to do with wisdom.

But what exactly is Business Sense? It is the application of wisdom for today’s business, or simply put, common sense in business. It is more than knowledge, facts, and figures. It is copious use of storytelling for business, the use of ideas especially those that are so simple, ordinary, or basic that they are disregarded. It is insight, the ability to interpret developments and the business environment differently, and to see, discern, and use differently and profitably, what others see but ignore because they look so ordinary or appear foolish. If you put your attention on those simple issues and things about they way you work and live, and use them for business, you are operating with business sense.

Business sense. Two words, So profound, readily available, so simple to learn and apply, yet largely ignored. You can call it common sense. Though it readily abounds, it is not so common in acquisition and application among the professional and managerial class who rule the corporate world.

They have studied in the best schools locally and abroad, acquired the latest technology and skills, and apply the best management methods, but are still struggling with the challenges in the marketplace. It is as if the more degrees, diplomas, and certificates our professionals acquire, the less they make use of common sense in business.

Not so for traders at the Alaba International market in Lagos. What they lack in formal education they make up with a copious supply of business sense. Little wonder, virtually all the banks flock to wherever these traders cluster to set up branches

No economic sector or concentration of businessmen/women or professionals who exchange value have been able to attract such corporate attention from the financial services sector in Nigeria. These traders thrive while many other sectors are complaining. Do not blame the banks for chasing the traders. They badly need the cash which these traders generate daily. That is why they gravitate towards the traders. No other group maintains such a gravitational pull on a sector as formidable as the banks.

A teenage boy who moves into this market to learn the trade begins from the fundamentals- book keeping, retailing, pricing, and delivery of goods. Within four years, he has polished his negotiation skills and with the dexterity he has acquired, he can sell coal to a tourist form Newcastle in the UK. He is well equipped to deal confidently with consumers who are becoming very articulate and demanding. The hard times has made them to be very price sensitive and value conscious in their purchases. Patriotic messages may not move them anymore to vote for your brands with the dwindling value of their money. Neither will promotional hypes do that anymore. These boys are very good at storytelling too.

What business sense tells you is that consumers want more promotional information to guide them in their purchases. You can do this with brand storytelling. Two decades ago, a nursing mother in Nigeria would hardly glance at the nutrition facts on a tin of baby milk. Today, before she buys, she picks up tins of SMA and other brands of baby foods to determine the one that offers the best value for her money. Now you can understand why Nestle Nigeria Plc mounted a promotional campaign to teach consumers Nutrition Facts. That beverage and baby foods maker has caught the vision of business sense.

What about Guinness Nigeria Plc. Its premium brand Guinness stout says: Guinness brings out the action in you. But what the brewery has failed to do is to explain how the consumption of Guinness will galvanize consumers into action. The brewing company can do this with storytelling to sell more.

Take this from Oceanic International Bank. Its lighted billboards in Lagos metropolis send the corporate message in two words: Experience peace. Good promo. But in these days of consolidation, banking distress and all, Oceanic Bank will definitely make more impact if it sends out detailed promotional messages ( via storytelling) on how a relationship with the bank guarantees peace. This is the latest trend in corporate communications, a shift from promotional hypes to information loaded promotions which communication experts call corporate storytelling or infomercials.


Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com

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