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Building a company for longevity

Article provided by ABSA

You’ve done it. You took that first step, raised funding and ventured into the world of entrepreneurship. Operating in our current environment though is not easy. With growth in emerging and developing economies likely to remain slow, other possible challenges such as late payments impacting your cash flow and/or lacklustre demand from buyers – building a business requires boldness and resilience.    

Moreover, the playing field is fiercely competitive, you live your business day in and day out – and to set your company up for success requires you to reflect, familiarise yourself with challenges and opportunities, and to come up with a game plan. 

Let’s consider a few important aspects to help you along the way:

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business:

Challenges are unavoidable and in many instances out of your control. Make sure you are backed by a trusted financial partner that understands you and your cash flow needs.   

Get your business out there:

To build a thriving business requires an inherent understanding of the client you serve, their needs and the product or service you’ve developed to meet that need. Simple? Not quite! The challenge is to convince potential clients to choose and stay with you. Developing an effective marketing strategy is therefore key to remain top of mind:

  • Now that you’ve identified your target market, be clear on what makes you different from your competitors.
  • Rethink your personal and business brand – it must jump out and connect on an emotional level with the market you are serving.
  • Research fit-for-purpose media for communicating your brand and how this would fit into your budget.
  • Sustain recurring business by creating amazing experiences during sales and service engagements, constantly communicate using your chosen channel, provide feedback loops and listen.
  • Consumer behaviour is fluid, as such revisit and reinvent your marketing plan to remain relevant.      

Hire slow:

This does not mean that you have to take weeks or even months to bring someone into your company. It simply means taking your time to onboard people who are competent and fit the culture of your company and your team. To try and change an unsuitable employee will just lead to unnecessary frustration. A good team that shares your vision and that you can trust is an important bedrock for a thriving company.   

Working hard and having a good attitude:

Eighty-two percent of respondents in a recent Retail Capital survey on SMEs in South Africa – Roll with the Punches – said hard work is among the three most necessary components to running a business, followed closely by having a good attitude.

“Hard work is important, but working smarter is more so,” says Mike Anderson (CEO and Founder of the National Small Business Chamber) in the report. “If you keep going and never give up you will arrive where you want to be. If you are passionate and take a knock and you come back again” Having resilience and a good attitude you will keep going, Anderson says. “If you have a bad business model or it isn’t working, change direction. There is no straight curve, and it’s important that business owners understand that.” 

Choosing the perfect business partner:

Are you struggling with the workload or have you reached a limit in your creative flair? Perhaps it’s time to consider a business partner. Choosing an appropriate business partner introduces several advantages such as expanding your network, stress-testing and refining ideas as well as bringing a new skill-set to the table and someone to hold you accountable. 

But, exercise caution when introducing a business partner. Your partner should share in your vision and your burning desire to succeed.

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