In this case, a boy’s best friend
You have to give Vashi Dominguez credit: there was big competition in his small startup’s space.
The diamond industry is notoriously tough to compete in, populated by major players and allowing very small margins, but Mr. Dominguez was determined to give it a go. “In the beginning I had to travel to literally hundreds of offices around the world,” he told Europe Business Review. “I used to travel to Belgium, India, New York and Israel every month and ended up taking between 50 and 60 flights a year.”
He started out by wholesaling to jewellers and other dealers, quickly ran into credit problems, and created negative cash flow. Hardly a sustainable business model. He soon realized that selling online meant consumers had to pay directly, and with longer terms to pay suppliers his negative cash flow turned positive. And the process cut down on his need to travel.
DiamondManufacturers.co.uk was set up in 2007, but he attributes its success to all the in-person contacts he made in the early stages of the business. “It was a very good foundation to have run a diamond wholesale business,” he told EBR, “as a lot of people who try to launch a diamond business independently would not be able to do this.”
His other key offerings?
- Passing on savings to customers by cutting out multiple layers of middlemen and sourcing precious stones directly from a large supplier.
- Having diamonds sent to Mr. Dominguez’s head office in London’s jewellery quarter, bypassing huge supply chains.
- Offering diamonds of exceptional quality at considerably lower prices.
Head of Kenyan bank wins award
Dr. James Mwangi, the CEO and managing director of Kenya's Equity Bank Ltd., has been named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012, topping a list that included finalists from 51 countries. By customer base, Equity Bank is East and Central Africa’s largest, and the biggest African majority-owned company in the region. The bank has about seven million accounts representing more than half of all bank accounts in Kenya. “This is a global recognition for Africans who are embracing the power of entrepreneurship to change the economic and social state of Africa,” Mr. Mwangi said.
An approach that kicks it old-school
Frank Farwell, the founder of WinterSilks, argues in a Huffington Post blog post that entrepreneurs looking for great advice should turn to hard-copy biographies. “I found six or seven written by entrepreneurs in my chosen field that offered priceless information that helped guide my journey from a stumbling startup to an established, quite profitable brand,” he writes. He cites a list titled “20 biographies every serious entrepreneur should read,” pointing out that it would cost $400 (U.S.) to buy them all, and that the advice they provide would contain “$250,000 of consulting information.”
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Techniques critical to business success
The City of Niagara Falls, Ont., is hosting a two-hour market research and advertising seminar that outlines techniques critical to the success of your business. Marketing has many dimensions, including customer service, targeting, packaging, pricing, and e-marketing. Investing in a good marketing plan will generate excellent returns and provide long-term benefits to your business. The sessions, on June 19 and Aug. 28, run from 2 pm to 4:00 pm, and the cost is $20.
Can you afford to give back?
Small Business BC is hosting “how small business can contribute to the community: the triple bottom line” in Vancouver on June 14, from 8:30 am to 11 am. The triple bottom line refers to the many Vancouver (and beyond) name brands that have integrated sustainable community and environmental support into their products, services and experiences. Through time and money, companies have created brand awareness and positive brand enforcement through sustainable contributions to communities locally and internationally. When and how can small businesses afford to give back? Is this the marketing strategy of the future?
EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS
The appeal of fixed prices
Companies such as banks and natural-gas distributors have long understood the appeal of fixed prices, offering long-term rate guarantees as a hedge against inflation. The approach is starting to take hold in a range of other sectors, including infrastructure construction, energy retrofits and corporate legal work. Apple, for example, relies on a rigorous fixed-price strategy with its consumer electronics, and both Samsung and Sony this year adopted a similar approach with their HDTV lines.
FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES
Small businesses tap the oil sands
Alberta counts more than 5,300 small businesses that work in the oil patch; many of those make their livelihoods from the oil sands, whose hub is the Fort McMurray area. They carry water and scrub down trucks the size of houses. They run buses and million-dollar bulldozers. They drive piles and conduct safety courses. They are electrical contractors and housekeepers and helicopter owners and dry cleaners and financial-service providers. Read all about them in this feature from the April, 2012 edition of Report on Small Business magazine.
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