Unlock Answers

Impact sector professionals are some of the most anxious and lonely people in the world. Who can help me develop this product, what is the research available, how do I work on this budget, what are the compliances, the questions and doubts are endless… and we often try to figure it all out on our own.
But what if you had someone to turn to, a friend and a mentor, who can give you expert advice and tips on just about any topic or issue you have?
Unlock Impact brings you ‘Unlock Answers’, a Q&A section and your own safe space to share, learn and, sometimes, well, vent.

Which customer segment do I focus on?

The main customers for my social enterprise are low-income students, but sales to this segment is very slow. Meanwhile, I have businesses who are interested in our services and are willing to pay for it. Should I focus more efforts on the customer segment that is growing or the one I really want to target and impact?
You might want to dive deeper into why your low-income segment is not converting – is the value proposition clear? Is the price affordable? Do you have the appropriate financing methods? Is it the last-mile distribution?  Or is it simply that there needs to be more awareness that the segment ‘must have’ this solution to solve their pain?
Coming to your higher-income segment customer – how much of your solution are you changing? Both segments are quite different, so understand the resources needed. If you are earning revenue that is keeping your venture afloat or you see the demand growing, then is there a cross-subsidy model you can pursue? Ultimately, it depends on what you want the business to focus on. If both segments are  important to you, then put relevant resources for the two. Given that your low-income segment is the one that is yet to see value, you must prioritise that if that is want you want to grow.


How do I fire the non-performer?

As founder, I have hired a team of 3 for my small and growing startup. We are bootstrapping and every team member needs to pull their weight. While my team is passionate and committed, one member has been constantly performing poorly.  Despite regular warnings and support, there has not been much change. The team member is very passionate about the startup and is working hard but unable to produce the results we need at this time to bootstrap and be very results driven. I am finding it hard to fire the person. What should I do?  
One of the toughest things you will have to do in your startup journey is let go of loyal team members. We understand your predicament. However, if you are bootstrapping, and there is someone who is not pulling their weight, then you must do what is necessary. Pleas ensure that you give formal notices, track performance through deliverables, and go through a review period. You can ask for their inputs through the review period on helping the person progress. But if you see no change, then have a sit down with this team member and go over these in detail and give reason for your decision to let them go. Sadly, as a CEO/founder, you will have to do this more often than you like.

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