BUSINESS CONTINUITY AND SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR

I do hope you are enjoying your weekend wherever you are. Of course I know that millions of people worldwide are working over the weekend. Not bad at all, as the world has to be kept running in one way or the other. Don’t you think so? Goods and services have got to be produced for people, travelling needs have to be met, medical and emergency services are required etc. So don’t curse yourself when you find that you are busy over the weekend while others are relaxing at the beach. Isn’t this how the world is? Every individual has a day and an opportunity to work and relax also. Again, when you don’t seem to have your relaxation day, it could be your portion under the sun. Take it easy!

Now, back to our agenda for today, let’s have a quick look at some vitals for start-ups. If the world had a single online register for all business start-ups I think the register log would be an interesting site. Likewise would be the register for business failures.  I believe you know that there is a very high rate of failure of start-ups. Central and local government departments, business mentors, central bank governors, development economists etc are always echoing this fact, and sometimes crafting various policy guidelines to deal with the challenge. Why? Very obviously businesses once started and developed grow into big enterprises with many positive multiplier effects. The reverse is automatically a concern and headache. Today I’m addressing the entrepreneurs who fall under the category of ‘start-ups’.

Candidly, what can you an entrepreneur do to ensure your new enterprise lasts or stands the test of time? What are some of the critical issues you must think of and address to ensure you stay afloat? How are you going to avoid being part of the number of scores of failed businesses that are a constant headache to development economists worldwide? Do you plan to be still an operational enterprise in the next ten to fifteen years or not? Are you going to make a difference and avoid coming down as fast as you came up? OK – if you desire your enterprise to be built to last, let us try and consider some of the critical issues that cannot be ignored. You might have your points, but just permit me to say mine even if you don’t agree with them. Are we set to proceed?

  • Planning properly and adequately for an enterprise at the initial stage is critical. There is the common saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. You cannot afford to be very mindless and disorganized in the way you do your enterprise things, if you want to last in business. Don’t you think so? In planning, you are simply having more detailed thinking about and organizing your enterprise along the various components be it production, buying, selling, human capital, money etc, towards achieving your business goals. In planning you are considering scenarios and options, logical steps and sequences, how to assess your progress from one stage to another and many other things. Planning is intelligence, and helps you prepare for and predict the future of the enterprise you are starting. A business plan is a map of your business journey. Isn’t this vital Mr. Entrepreneur? Come on. Starting an enterprise without a plan is like leaving home on a journey without knowing what transport means to use, not knowing your destination and what time you will arrive there, not knowing that the journey is long and you might need to eat on the way etc. Very interesting. The notion that people succeed in business by chance or good luck is one of the most dangerous notions a start-up entrepreneur should avoid. Period. I know some of you will tell me others succeeded without planning – you can even name them – but I’m certain that you will learn unforgettable lessons along the way if you ignore this piece of advice. Planning enshrines your business mission and vision. It’s better to lack physical sight than vision.
  • Knowledge is another must-have. My friend, you have to find out as much as you can about that business before you jump into it. Have you ever wondered why most people who start as apprentices end up being successful in their field? The opposite is true for catastrophic start-up failures – lack of basic knowledge. Look at this scenario. You quickly mobilise capital, build structures and start raring chicken because your colleague in the office is raking in millions from his chicken rearing business. You have no idea about the feed consumption per day per chick, the appropriate feed for different stages of growth, common chick diseases etc. On day one you might feed those poor creatures on what egg-layers should be feasting on. Or you simply starve the hell out of them by under-providing feeds in their trays. The chicks might start having health complications that require attention within 12 hours while you take three days searching for the telephone contact of a good vet. You can predict what happens in the next two weeks or months. Now, you need to know your game to win. You need to understand your business line, the challenges and common problems, the market and various market forces, your competitors, your operating costs, the capital requirement, your selling price and your profit, the break-even operational level, the manpower you will need and their costs etc. Mr. Entrepreneur, consider all the elements from materials, machinery, manpower, money – the 4M’s. How about the P’s – proposition, process, profit, people, product, price, place, promotion, purchasing etc. I’m not telling you to research until you grow old without starting your business – get me right please. That would be taking it too far. Information is power, so better get that power to stay on Mr. Entrepreneur. Better be over-informed than under-informed.
  • The execution culture I think is another critical aspect. This is simply the ability and capacity to get things done rightly and in a timely manner to achieve results. Execution enables you to take charge of your enterprise’s destiny. The execution culture brings your plans into action. It makes you set realistic goals and targets and bring them into fulfillment in a consistent and disciplined manner. With execution culture, non-performers will find your enterprise too hot a place to stay because building a start-up enterprise is never a comfort zone. Do you get what I mean here? It’s about responsibility and accountability and adaptation to rapidly changing situations and yet not losing focus of the fact that you are growing a business with big plans. Don’t mind those lazy entrepreneurs who take forever making decisions, and again take ages implementing them. They exit the business world faster. If it means sourcing for funding, just do it. If it means marketing like the world is about to end, just do it. If it means firing an incompetent staff, just do it. Sir Richard Branson says, Screw It – Let’s Do It. I love that.

As I conclude for today, I know you might be wondering why I haven’t talked about capital, passion, business proposition, strategy, entrepreneurial discipline etc. I think the above are weightier matters for start-ups though passion is another critical driver for business longevity. Even if you talk about capital, good planning and knowledge of your business will help you attract capital. Isn’t this a true saying? Someone help me here! Haven’t you seen some vision-knowledge-action packed entrepreneurs who will make you raise venture capital in the twinkling of an eye? I leave the rest to you.

Till then,

The Wise Entrepreneur

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