Heri is seven months going eight. He is in a hurry to do the things adults do. He wants to walk, talk and drink from a cup. Like every seven month old, he cannot even stand.
This does not stop him from trying to walk, so he crawls and gets to his target. Guess what, he always gets to his target. Not as fast as he’d like to, but he gets there.
Now fast forward to my entrepreneurship class. I asked my students to form groups and come up with business ideas and then identify a business opportunity. They did very well.
They came up with wonderful businesses that they would launch. Next I asked them to position it by identifying the target market, how they will serve that market and what they will need and draw up their expenses (both start up and operational) then price the product and calculate target profits.
The business ideas were good but the group had not given serious thought as to where there’d get the money. However, they are better than many of us who would not dare think up some business idea because of a lack of money.
What to do? The maxim of thinking big and starting small while observing the basic business objectives is always a good way to go when you are beginning. However, what most aspiring entrepreneurs often forget is that enterprise growth is a cumulative process that sums up the efforts an entrepreneur makes daily.
Consider three basic objectives: One; Profitability is one of the most basic business objectives. Strive to keep your profits growing. Did the enterprise realize profits today?
The answer to this question is either yes or no. Each of the answers raises various evaluative questions that must be answered before the following day. If profit was realized, was it at the projected level. If so, it might be necessary to raise the bar for the following day or period.
Where the profit is lower than the projection or even a loss is realized then harder questions must be answered to avoid a repeat. Establish where you may have gone wrong and make corrections.
Two: the product. Is it still relevant as per the needs of the customers? A prudent entrepreneur always strives to increase sales while keeping costs to a minimum, to increase profit levels. Enterprise growth is intertwined with customer satisfaction. Remember the only justification to be in any business is the presence of a need to be met.
The more your enterprise or products satisfy this need, the higher the possibility of growth. Look back at the events of the day and see if you did your best to meet this business objective.
For instance, were the quality of products and customer care practices adhered to?
The level of business activity is also an indicator of growth. Is level of activity today the same as that of yesterday? Are you feeling under pressure to increase the level of workforce or even to open a new branch to decongest the business area?
These are indications that something is working out and we must discover what it is so as to capitalize on it for more growth. A regular evaluation effort shall help in realizing what is working and what is not.
Thirdly, as regularly as possible gather as much market intelligence as possible to know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and lay strategy, or else become irrelevant overnight.Persistence is key to your businesses growth.
Like the baby learning to walk you must be ready to crawl. Just don’t forget your objective which is to walk and run.
Sam Kebongo is a skills development and business advisory consultant.