Prosperity of our country depends on having strong and sustainable economic growth. This will not be possible if we do not provide a business friendly environment to new entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Economic growth has to come from the grassroots level as large local business houses and multinationals, put together, will not be able to provide enough employment or generate enough quantum of revenues to help put the country back on track.
Recently my brother started a small business under the name of “Big Thick Burgers” with a mission to make the best ‘home-made’ charcoal grilled burgers in town. I spend an inordinate amount of time advising him and his team on how to make the new start-up successful and sustainable. Much of this advice can be reapplied by other start-ups to increase their chances of success, such as:
Find a unique niche: As a start-up business never try to do everything. Firstly you cannot afford it and secondly your organisational capacity will not be able to handle it. Concentrate on a fairly narrow market offering where only you have an innovation. Stick to what you can do best and make sure you differentiate your product offering from others to stand out.
Have a clear vision: Always start with the end in mind, don’t plan to grow incrementally. Although you are small but think big, only then you will ever achieve greatness. Set milestones to achieve your vision as that will allow you to track your progress and intervene when needed.
Corporate reputation is the key: Future success of your business will depend on your reputation, quality and service provided. Always remember the age-old adage “First impression is the last impression” and from day-one strive for quality and excellence in whatever you do. You will not get a second chance with a customer who walks away unsatisfied.
Business owner’s role
Passion & competence: Pursue a business for which you have true passion and in-depth knowledge. Don’t pick an idea that someone else has been successful with, unless you have some unique insights. Many fail as they copy paste ideas. Your passion and competence will help you overcome hurdles, break down barriers and survive through tough times.
Role model appropriate behaviours: Employees will look up to you for setting the example. They will emulate you and if you display a culture of honesty, trust and hard work that is what you will get in return.
Be open to criticism: Always listen to your customers. Admit your mistakes. Encourage your employees to talk honestly even if it proves you wrong. Be brave and be a good listener.
Work smart not hard: As an entrepreneur you have limited resources, use them smartly. Plan everything in detail and live the famous adage “90% preparation and 10% implementation”.
Culture needed for success
Drive fairness: To achieve sustainable success, be fair in all your dealings. Create a strong value-driven culture. All decisions and policies should be fair and transparent. Treat your employees fairly (even if the market practice is unfair) and set transparent policies for performance and promotion. Everyone must display honesty, competence and ownership behaviour. Such culture at start-up will be a force multiplier driving cost lower, improving focus and delivering better results.
Bring to life a set of values: No words, no actions and no management assurances will have as much of an impact on business success as a simple set of values ingrained into the company’s culture.
Be flexible: Business environment is dynamic and competition can change the paradigm very fast. You will need to be flexible with your plans and strategy.
Don’t be discouraged by failures: Despite failures, believe in your idea and continue on. Your people can feel your passion and they must never see you waver. Failure is a part of life, learn from it but never make the same mistake twice.
Your success is a function of your competence, your belief, your passion and the novel new idea that you plan to pursue. Never compromise on executional excellence and in having right people, systems and processes in place and tested before start-up.
To get economy on track and to help new business owners, the government must create an environment where innovation is protected, security provided for personal assets and intellectual property and regulatory institutions help business owners, else our economy will remain in dire straits.
THE WRITER WORKS IN THE CORPORATE SECTOR AND IS ACTIVE ON VARIOUS BUSINESS FORUMS AND TRADE BODIES
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.
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