How to Monetise your Passion with Raja Skogland

On March 27, we launched our digital series on ‘Business Startup 101‘ to see join more segments in this series click here.

The first segment in this series was on “How to Monetise Your Passion” with Raja Skogland. Raja Skogland is passionate about entrepreneurship and hardwired with a drive to see people succeed. She believes that as people, regardless of where we come from, we can re-write our stories and positively accelerate our lives if we have the right tools and resources. She has recently become the CEO of TheFactory Academy.

TheFactory Academy provides online courses and coaching that will allow entrepreneurs turn their idea into a profitable and scalable business! This offering also promises to provide you with the tools you need to secure your first customers, grow your company and Get Investor Ready! Within TheFactory Academy is the Grundr Academy – a FREE offering that was launched with the intention of supporting anyone, anywhere in materialising their ideas and turning it into a profitable and scalable business. TheFactory team believes that by supporting entrepreneurs to level up with the startup ecosystem, they can enable them to create great startups. Resultantly, they have decided to provide people access to the same opportunities. 

We asked Raja many questions at this session, which she so graciously answered. Below are some answers she provided and also a video of the segment. Enjoy!

What key skills have you been able to transfer from the corporate world to your entrepreneurial journey?

I would say that in my case, understanding how large companies work, especially banks, has been vital. I worked for 4 years in private banking and I am all too aware of the inherent slow decision making process relative to startups, perhaps due to the lack of innovation. Today, we work with  many of these large companies, and there’s an ease I feel in the process because I speak their language and understand them.

The skills transfer from corporate to startup is also evident in the very valuable network that one can access. The people you work with, the clients you have, the suppliers you have –  these are people from your network you can start something with or get support from. Your boss who knows how serious and committed you are, could, for example, become an investor in your company or open doors for you.

What are the common mistakes people make when starting a business?

There are many. To mitigate these, we have created TheFactory Academy to help entrepreneurs avoid these mistakes

When you are passionate about your idea, which is absolutely necessary to keep pushing and making progress, the risk could be that entrepreneurs spend a lot of time focused on building it, instead of executing on the sales. 

  1. The risk is that most people don’t start, they dream, they talk too much and don’t execute enough, they get scared, or fear what others would think or say. They fear their inability to sell. They fear the “nos”. They fear failure. So they come up with excuses and want to wait until the product is “perfect”. The truth is that the product will never be perfect, your product is supposed to evolve, adapt to the market, to your clients’ needs. If you wait, if you don‘t start selling (yes, you can sell something that does not exist yet) you are jeopardising your business.
  2. Some entrepreneurs tend to also build, build, build, add more features. They focus too much on the design. This process could be reassuring to them, they feel in control, that it’s safe. They invest lots of money, lots of time, while they should be selling and improving their sales pitch. The only thing that can really decide whether their idea is great and their business viable, is the market. The only way to know is to talk to the clients.

What does it really take to turn an idea into a business?

First you need to solve a real problem; there should be a need for your solution and people should be ready to pay for it. Don’t fall in love with your idea, you might be the only one wanting it. So find out if your solution is solving a problem that people would pay for.

Also, as soon as possible you need to be clear on why you are doing what you are doing, what are you offering, how, when, to whom, with whom.

If you are not clear on why, how, what, when, where, you won’t be able to onboard new clients, team members, partners or investors. It’s the base of your communication.

It’s an exercise you should do. Write down why you are doing what you are doing, and go beyond the surface: what is the story behind your ‘why’? This is what will make you different from others. You make it personal and relatable.

And what if it’s not a unique idea, and there are players in the market (knitting, coaching, etc), how can people still grow that business and secure customers?

I never look at the competition, I stick to my vision. If there are others doing the same, it’s a good sign. It means that there is a market for it. What you need to do here, is to be unique, be yourself, be transparent and share your journey. Give insights, do things that others don’t do. Build relationships, a community and be personable.

How might one go about securing customers?

Start getting in touch with them and listening to the challenges they are facing. Basically, listen, adjust and adapt. The sooner you start, the better. Grab the phone. You need to get out there (and also utilise the digital tools available to you).

So we all know that the best way to find out if your idea is marketable is to test it and see if someone will pay for it. But how exactly can one go about testing it?

Find your potential clients and get in touch with them. Build a community, leverage facebook groups or host online events. One strategy that works well is to give, give and give before you ask. I have done that in the past, advising entrepreneurs for free, hosting tons of free events to build a community and get in touch with people. Create awareness, then engagement, then you can monetise. That is a marketing strategy. To create awareness you can do a lot: create content. Now is the time, you have no other choice, everyone is online.

Most people struggle with pricing their product or service. Do you have suggestions on how people tackle this systematically? What should they consider in the process?

You give the price that hurts. When it hurts and you feel uncomfortable, that’s the right price. We tend to underprice ourselves. Also, what is the value you create, can you quantify it? 

Of course, have a benchmark, know what the competition is doing in terms of pricing, but do not get stuck on it. You can create more value than the competition and you can price yourself higher.

For people who are not freelancers, a team is essential to survival. But also having the right team or the lack thereof can make or break your business. So, how can we build sustainable and qualified teams? 

   When building a team, think of it as a marriage. You have to date to see if you are compatible. There should be a courting period. You should endeavour to ensure that you are marrying someone with the skills and values that compliments your own.

a. Do you hire before or after revenue?

    You can hire before and this is when your vision and communication are important, so you can “sell” that vision before you have a product to potential team members, clients, partners and investors.

b.  What are the different ways to compensate your team especially when short on finances?

You can offer a network, a great work experience, references, or the opportunity to be part of something innovative. Of course, when the company is set up, you can give shares to your team members if you work well together and want them for the long term. 

In your experience, why do new businesses fail? 

Fear. They fear failure. They should execute fast, fail fast and keep on going.

While business ideas and required tools and resources can be different, in your opinion, are there key items/tools that all businesses need, regardless of which sector they fall into?

That’s what we created at Grundr Academy. Modules relevant to all entrepreneurs and covering the necessary grounds for them to create a profitable business. You will have access to go to market strategies, business templates, contract templates and guidance on how to structure your company. In addition, I am one message away should you need additional support. 

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Chisom Udeze

Founder of Diversify, Diversify Consult, HerSpace & The Annual

Chisom is an Economist, a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Strategist, and a 3 times founder of impact driven companies. She has over 14 years of experience working with organizations like the European Commission, The United Nations, ExxonMobil and The Economist Group. Chisom is analytical and a data enthusiast. She is passionate about interrogating the cross-sectoral relationship between society’s inhabitants, resources, production, technology, distribution and output. She efficiently and effectively unlocks complex systems, interprets data, forecasts socio-economic trends and conducts research.

Having lived and worked in 7 countries across 3 continents, she is highly adaptable to different circumstances and people, and thrives in uncertain environments.

As the founder of Diversify and Diversify Consult, Chisom and her team work with companies, institutions, governments and civil society to develop sustainable DEIB strategies and embed measurable diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and society. In addition, in 2022, Diversify launched the Diversify Nordics Summit, the largest conference in the Nordics that gathers cross-sectoral stakeholders to amplify DEIB in the Nordics and beyond.

In 2020, she founded HerSpace, a diverse and inclusive co-creation community for all genders, with particular focus on women and non-binary people. In 2022, HerSpace launched HerTech, Women in Tech incubator, for women-led companies, with a focus on the inclusion of diverse founders. 

Chisom is a thought-leader in DEIB and a passionate advocate for mental health and wellness. She writes often on DEIB and justice related topics, some of her work is published on Forbes.

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