Between Nepotism And Merit In Staff Selection

Image courtesy Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy:Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of all the resources available to a business organisation, the most crucial and major determinant of the success or otherwise of the business, is indisputably the human resource.

If you agree with me then you will also agree that the effectiveness of every other resource depends on the caliber of the human resource available in an organisation.

If you agree with my assertions above, then it becomes a settled issue that staffing – recruitment, selection and placement of workers – is one of the most delicate functions of the human resources department and by extension, the most delicate steps an organisation can take.

The human resource is just like a driver of a vehicle with every other resource on board the vehicle as passengers. So, their fate simply depends on how well (or not) the driver does his job.

Last Saturday  I watched a TV talk show where computer (my second love after Business Management) experts analysed the current trends in cyber crime. One of them then said something, which actually gave me the inspiration to do this post. He said a good percentage of the computer graduates we have these days cannot write a simple program !

In my 18 years of working, I have come across all sorts of workers – the good, the bad and the ugly. Some years ago an ex-colleague was fired for incompetence. Imagine an Accounting graduate that cannot reconcile a simple cash book with a bank statement. In fact he was caught with a text book on his laps. Another accounting graduate I once worked with could not prepare a Trading Account. How did they get their degrees ? Beats me! What do you expect from these members of staff?

They are not alone on this. I had to dump a particular mobile network because of a very arrogant Customer Care Officer who attended to me once when I had connection challenges. I am not the only one who has done this.

The worst cases are those staffers who are at the top echelon of business organisations. It is often said in business management, that the Management of any business organisation “dictate the atmosphere in an organisation.” If they are creative, excellent decision makers, intelligent, have foresight, innovative, excellent planners, motivators and up-to-date with current business trends, it will reflect in the affairs of the business. The reverse is sadly also true. Imagine a manager who is so old fashioned, disorganized, bad decision maker, unintelligent, acts before thinking, bad motivator, bad planner, knows next-to-nothing about creativity, innovation and current global management trends !!!

So many businesses are facing serious challenges today. While some are stagnant, some are moving at snail-speed, while some have even collapsed because of the choice of workers, especially at the management level.

A friend once told me that the major reason why one of the banks in Nigeria(name withheld) was doing so well was because of its deployment of sophisticated technology. Then I asked him a question “can technology, no matter the level of sophistication, come on board or work without human effort?” It’s simple – employ the right staff and enjoy the benefits; employ the wrong staff and watch the consequences unfold. It’s just a matter of time.

It is not different in public governance. In my opinion, one of the major reasons why the Governor of Lagos State(Nigeria), His Excellency, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, has performed so well is partly because of the caliber of men and women that makes up his cabinet. The other day, I watched the impressive achievements of his administration in all sectors of the economy of the state and I was so astonished because I was not aware of many of them. It’s simply a case of someone who cherishes outstanding performance gathering an outstanding team that can help him achieve his dreams for the state. Thumbs up for His Excellency and his outstanding cabinet.

My advice? Read the story of the outstanding names we have today in business (the owners and their businesses) and public administration. I do that a lot.

It’s just a matter of decision making…a matter of choices.

Thanks for your time.A

No financial records!!!?…that’s stone-age business practice!

courage-compu.jpgI once asked a business owner how much profit or loss he made in the previous year. The expression I saw on his face was typical of a mathematics class where a student is asked a question and the question becomes a serious source of confusion to the student.

His answer was expected – “honestly, I don’t know.” I asked him that question because over the years that I have known him, I have never seen him record any of his sales (I belief the same happens to the other transactions). If he does not record his sales, it will be a miracle if he is able to tell me how much profit(or loss) he made last year, or any other time for that matter.

I have also witnessed him taking delivery of stock items. Similarly, he does not use to do any recording. I call this “stone-age business practice.”

Refusal to keep record of financial transactions is common place especially among small and medium scale enterprises. Usually, their excuse has always been the same – lack of funds to employ an Accountant. This is partially true. In addition to limited funds, experience has shown that the unwillingness to separate the owner’s private purse from business’ purse makes the need for too much recording unattractive.

Another reason is the convenience that comes with not keeping proper records – just sell and dump the money some where; and simply spend without stressing your self to do any calculation or recording.

But these are surmountable. As for the problem of cash, the business owner can outsource the accounting work to an outsider, without necessarily having to employ a full timer. All that the Accountant would do is to prepare accounts that reflects the near-status and needs of the business/owner.

As for the second problem, I have always stressed the fact that a business whose purse is inter-locked with that of the owner would definitely experience retarded growth, conflict of interests/priorities, occasional financial challenges on both ends and even collapse in severe cases.

As for inconvenience, a simple book keeping (recording of financial transactions) practice is a good starter.  More complex recordings can then be introduced over time.

As I moved around everyday, I see so many business that have either remained the same year in, year out, or are just struggling to stay afloat. Get close and you discover that their likely problem is mostly reckless and i-don’t-care financial management attitude !

But the fact  is that good financial record keeping assist businesses to :

*determine profit or loss
*determine the profitability or otherwise of products traded upon
*plan ahead
*monitor and control expenses
*forecast sales
*monitor quantity of stock items
*determine total sales value
*determine the amount of debtors and creditors
*determine the total value of assets
*run costs-benefit analysis for proposed investments
*monitor your income and bank account(s)
*reconcile cash book balance with bank statement balance
*check fraud
*prove their seriousness to customers and other stakeholders.
*negotiating with workers on salary/wage increases….the benefits are endless.

What a business owner loses by not keeping proper financial records is simply the reverse of what you have read above.

No doubt, the consequences of not keeping proper records greatly outweigh the “benefits” of not keeping proper records.

So, my advice ? This is the 21st century. Move with global business trends. No matter how small your business might be.

Thanks for your time.

Related posts:

It pays to separate your private purse from your business’ purse

First impression in business

Business start up 

Small business’ practices and the issues of stagnation and collapse 

Decision making : The most far-reaching function of a manager

 

It Pays To Separate Your Private Purse From Your Business Purse

I have often been accused of allowing my Accounting and Business Management background to affect me in the way I reason, plan, and generally take decisions. One of the most popular being my often critical analysis of expenditures. They say those who have accounting background are stingy. Awww. That’s not fair !

Well, I have always argued that the quality of my actions and inactions, rather than my background, should be of top priority.

I once had an issue with a thriving business owner many years ago. It had to do with a 31-point memo I issued him upon his request. I actually did a business survey for him as he was experiencing a lull in his business. He was very impressed with all but one of my recommendations – the one that had to do with proper financial accountabilty.

I was of the strong opinion that one of the strongest enemy of his business growth, and the number one reason why his business was facing difficulties, was his refusal to strictly follow the “business entitity concept.” So many businesses, especially the SMEs (small and medium scale enterprises) are grappling with this problem.

This is an accounting concept that requires a business owner(s) to see himself as being different from the business, and that the Accountant should treat them as such. It sounds stupid for someone to tell you this. Isn’t it? Well, this is a major problem for countless businesses across the globe.

It was no surprise to me later when I heard that the company later developed serious financial problems, so much that they could not meet up with jobs given to them. Settling bills and payment of salaries became impossible and at the tail end of its crisis, the company went underground. It collapsed !

All the owner needed to do was to separate his business bank account/purse from personal bank account/purse. It also required strict recording of ALL financial transactions. That way, he would have been in constant touch with the realities of his business, and thus be able to know when he can and should not “deprive” the company of scarce business resources. It simply required financial discipline. Sadly, he was very comfortable with “the system that puts all the money on his table”.

What this translated to was for him to fix a particular amount that he can draw as salary. Salary ? Yep ! Every other money then belonged to the business – his business! Sounds odd, but financial discipline is one of the major secrets behind the enormous growth experienced by most businesses. And certainly, financial indiscipline or recklessnes is a major reason why so many businesses are experiencing stagnation, slow growth, fianancial stress and in extreme cases, business collapse!

So its a matter of choice ! Financial discipline Vs Financial indiscipline.

Thanks for your time.

 

Related posts :

Small businesses practices and the issues of stagnation and collapse

Decision making : The most far reaching function of a maanger 

Outsmart your competitors or they will kick you out of business

 

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First Impression In Business

Image courtesy adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Few days ago, I needed to have a hair cut. I was so reluctant to use my regular barber. He is popular in my neighborhood because his cut is the cheapest. I did not want to go him because, even though his services were the cheapest, his customer relations was very poor. He always carried himself as if he was doing his customer a favour rather than the reverse being the case.

And so, I decided to try out the new guy in the hood. As soon as I entered, I could feel an atmosphere of “customer appreciation.” I was greeted with a warm welcome spiced up with a smile and visible respect for my person. He even helped me fix myself properly on the seat – something the other guy would never do.

He asked me the style I wanted; I told him and he got to work. All through the cut, he treated me with maximum respect and care. He even cared to ask if the clipper was hurting me. He gave extra attention to every detail involved in the cut.

The summary of my experience is that he was conscious of the fact in business “the consumer is king” and should be treated as such. He treated me like “if I don’t use this oportunity well, he might not come back.” As if he read my mind. My going there was actually a test. He passed big time.

Guess what? He’s now my first choice. I don’t find myself going back to the other guy again. I prefer a place where I will not only get value for my money, but also find an ambience of “excellent customer relations.” Nobody wants to go to a place of busines where the owner wears a facial expression that makes you go “is he/she annoyed that I came?” I would not like a place where I would be afraid to ask questions or to touch something.

There can never be two first impressions in business. The first impression I get goes a long way in telling me what to expect in future. It comes only once. It is either used for or against the business.

I leave you to draw your conclusions and make your deductions.

Thanks for your time.

Related post :

Customer loyalty : A condition for business survival

Business start up : Step by step tips

 

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Business Start up : Step By Step Tips

Image courtesy M - Pics/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy M – Pics/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I once heard a friend say he needed money to start up a business. To him, starting a business simply involved having a fat bank account and hiring people to work for him. But experience over time has proved that notion to be “quite easier said than done.”

I got the inspiration to write this post after witnessing the “collapse” of a business that was barely six months old. What could have gone wrong?

A number of factors could be responsible for business failure at early days of existence. In most, if not all the cases, owners of such businesses did not take some basic start-up issues into consideration.

The first thing in business start-up should be identifying a need to satisfy. This is compulsory as the main purpose of setting up a business is to make money; and to make money you need to sell goods and/or services that people are willing to buy. So, there must be a need. Where you chose to sell what is not needed by the consumers, it would take a lot of effort to attract people.

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg said  when he lunched “Thefacebook,” that “everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard.” He also stated his intention to create a universal website that can contact people around the university.

Zuckerberg was able to identify a need which had to be filled. Today, Facebook has over one billion members !

Once this is settled, the next question should be “can I fix this need? Do I have the ability and skills to fill this need? So many businesses have collapsed simply because their owners were mediocres in their chosen line of businesses. Most successful businesses are those whose owners are producing/rendering high quality goods/services to the consumers, because they have the skills and expertise to do so. Zuckerberg (and many orhers) did not stop at seeing a need; he had the skills and also gathered capable hands to work with him. Blackberry, Nokia, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, LG, Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Honda,  Facebook, Tweeter, Yahoo, Google, Forbes, CNN, BBC, MTN, Globacom, Etisalat…… These and many more have consistently retained customer loyalty, and hence remained on top, for being synonymous with TOP QUALITY products.

With the twin issues of need identification and ability to deliver settled, it is very compulsory to find out the feasibility of the venture. It is necessary to find out the viability of the business. It would not be worth putting so much money, time and energy into a business that would be profitable only in the short-run ; or a business that will take “forever” to recoup the start-up capital. A critical analysis of the proposed business is necessary here. A lot of research is compulsory. This must be thorough as wrong decisions and steps taken could be far-reaching.

In order to have a business identity, it is necessary to have a business name and register it too. Care must be taken when choosing a name. Apart from not choosing an already existing name, it is good to choose a simple

ts: savings, loans from financial institutions, disposal of properties and many more. For a new business, the options are not as many as existing businesses. Capital will also be dependent on the scale the owner wants to start off – small, medium or large.

Another crucial factor to consider is the location of the business. Businesses have to be located where its customers can easily find them. By extension, some businesses are not suited for some areas. For example, locating a school in a very busy area might not be a good idea; while it will be suitable for a cyber cafe, dry cleaning or trading business. A wrongly located business is like having a very beautiful garden on the last floor of a high rise building that people hardly go to. It’s as good as the garden does not exist at all. In this circumstance, the owner(s) of the business have a lot to do in terms of creating awareness for both the business and its products, using a lot of advertising and personal selling.

Once a suitable location has been found, the next thing would certainly be to put the place in order. Office furniture, electronics, equipment and fittings speaks a lot about you and your business. They give a first impression about you and the business. In fact, it might determine the economic class of customers that would eventually be patronising you later. The rich love going to shops and offices which match their economic status. So, do not be surprised if they prefer the shop or office of a competitor if yours is of low standards. The poor get intimidated by an expensive-looking shop/office. But everyone loves a decent place of business. So the choice is yours.

For a business that is in the service industry, you are good to go. The issue of hiring someone or not is entirely up to you to decide. However, for a medium sized business, you might need to hire someone to reduce your work load. Be careful here because a lot of businesses today are either facing serious problems or have collapsed because of the choice of staff they employed.

For a trading business, it is time to get your supplies and start business. Care must be exercised here too to ensure that you chose reliable suppliers – in terms of quality and timing of supplies.

To cap it all, aggressive promotional efforts is needed at this stage. Advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and public relations activities are needed to :

* Create awareness for the new business and your products

* Win and build up customer loyalty

* Grab and build a share of the market

* Give competitors an early fight

* Impress everyone that has something to do with your business (stakeholders)

A lot of options are available for each promotional effort. Choice is dependent on funds available, nature of product, competitors’ activities, among others.

In the coming days of the business everything has to be done to build up a customer base as well as customer loyalty. It is also necessary to be conscious of practices capable of causing business stagnation and collapse.

However all of these require a lot of patience, determination, resilience, foresight, planning, guts, tolerance, wisdom, and like I always add …..prayers. I cannot do (or advice anyone) anything without God’s direction, involvement and assistance.

In Michael Jackson’s words, “…all is possible, if GOD is on my side…”- (Speechless, Dangerous album)

Good luck to you and thanks for your time.

Related post :

Customer loyalty : A condition for business survival

Small business’ practices and the issues of stagnation and collapse 

Decision making : The most sensitive and far reaching function of a manager 

Take good care of your employees…

Outsmart your competitors or they will kick you out of business

Its Cheaper To Confirm Sensitive Text Messages Than To Be Scammed…

Image courtesy Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A lady’s handbag which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet etc., was stolen.

Twenty minutes later, she called her husband, from a pay phone telling him what had happened. The husband then said, “I received your text asking about our pin number and I have replied a little while ago”.

When they rushed down to their bank, the bank staff told them that money had been withdrawn.

The Smart thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text the husband in the contact list and got hold of the pin number and within 20 minutes has withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

NOTE:
There is nothing really wrong in disclosing relationship between you and people in your contact list. I AM NOT ADVOCATING FOR OR AGAINST the use of names like home, honey, hubby, sweetheart, dad, mom, etc

What’s important here is, when sensitive information is being asked through text, “confirm” by calling back…let’s be wise and sensitive. Thank God recharge cards and call rates are more friendly and easily gotten in recent times.

Also, when you are being sent a text by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that all message came from them. If you don’t reach out to them, be careful about going to places to meet “family and friends” who text you.

SHARE WITH FRIENDS BECAUSE I JUST DID.

…..it’s worth sharing

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Customer Loyalty : A Condition For Business Survival

As the Manager, Administration/Accounts, of a medium sized technical services company in Lagos, Nigeria, I had had to contend with one of the most challenging functions of a manager, namely ensuring customer loyalty. One fact is indisputable – customer loyalty is the key to business survival, irrespective of the size.

As easy as the task appears, it requires a lot on the part of any business-minded organisation. Ensuring customer loyalty involves doing everything to ensure that the customer ‘’sticks’’ to your business i.e., that there is repeat purchases. It involves creating a devotion or attachment to the business by your business.

In a world where no single firm engages in a line of business, this can really be a demanding task. It therefore requires that businesses have to do everything possible to edge out one another in a bid to retain their customers.

So many businesses have had to be eased out of the market simply because of constant loss of customers to competitors. One big mistake businesses normally make is to assume that the loss of a customer ends at that single loss. But often times, the loss of a customer might lead to the loss of other customers/potential customers connected to the lost customer. Thus, customer loyalty is a task that must be achieved if a business must survive. Once your customers are loyal to your business, repeat-purchase/patronage can be assured. It will not be wrong to say therefore that in the world of business the consumer is king.

Here are some simple and cheap tips which I applied, which yielded excellent results :-

*Regular phone calls – The popular saying that ‘’out of sight is out mind’’ is very true and also applies     in the business world. A simple courtesy phone call to a/the manager or an owner of a business goes a long way in both showing you care and indirectly saying ‘’ please do not forget us/me.’’

*Branded gifts – Branded gifts is also a good way of attracting customer loyalty. These are gifts with stickers showing your business details on it. Everyone likes and appreciates freebies. It is also a form of advertisement for the business. Branded gifts usually travel far, thus creating more awareness and a has a reminder effect.

*A warm welcome and treatment – this is one of the no-costs things you can do to ensure customer loyalty. A simple smile can have a very powerful effect on a customer.  Everyone feels good when warmly received and treated. It makes the customer want to come back again and again, and even recommend your business to other people.

*After sales courtesy –this involves showing concern over the satisfaction of the customer after purchase or after rendering the service. This gives the buyer the impression that you are not only concerned about the money, but also their satisfaction.

*Courtesy visits – do not wait until your customers come to you before you see them. Do not practice sit-tight business. Pay regular visits. You could pick up deals in on some of those courtesy visits.

*Attend customers’ functions – find time to attend functions organized by your customers. It makes the bond between two of you to be stronger. You can even strike new deals there or even make new customers.

*Organize customers’ fora – here you and interact, receive complaints, suggestions, and you generally feel their pulse at such gatherings.  It gives your customers a sense of belonging in the business. Thus, you make them feel that your relationship goes beyond just buying and selling.

*Have branded work tools and materials – having branded materials like stationery, packing materials, delivery vehicles, receipts, invoices amongst others, has an effect of constantly ‘’announcing’’ your presence in the market place.

*Give bonuses and discounts – bonuses and discounts are powerful tools in business. Every customer wants cheap but good quality goods and services. Once in a while, grant discounts – cash, quantity or trade discounts. Quantity discounts have been known to attract customers more than the other forms of customers since it impacts directly on the quantity bought. Bonuses also encourage repeat purchases. A buy-one-get-one-free sale will certainly attract more customers and bring them back again. Festive occasions should not be the only time for granting discounts or bonuses.

*Give urgent attention to customers’ complaints – many businesses have lost customers because of their inability to handle complains. In some cases attend to the problem personally (for small businesses) rather than send your staff or junior officer (big businesses).

*Always say thank you and I am sorry – it costs nothing to say thank you to a customer who has patronised you. It costs nothing too to say ‘’I am sorry” where a customer deserves it.

*Never allow a customer to leave with annoyance. You may never have his patronage again. He could even discourage other potential customers from coming to you.

No doubt, no matter how good a business may be in terms of staff competence, high quality products, good location, best connections, highly skilled management team or strong financial back up, it takes purchases and patronage for businesses to survive. Customers determine whether the business stays or collapses. Their patronage determines whether a business is small, medium or large. No business opens its doors for employees to buy its products. they look forward to the patronage of customers.

In business, the consumer is king. So we have to do everything to get their LOYALTY.

Thanks a lot for your time.

Small businesses’ practices and the issues of stagnation and collapse

Image courtesy jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been very fortunate to have worked in all sorts of businesses: small ones, medium sized ones, blue chips, collapsing ones, and very solid ones. As a University of Cambridge Advanced Business studies lecturer, I have had to carry out series of studies on business failures and successes. The combination of these experiences is basis of this blog post.

There is no generally acceptable definition of a small business. It is safe to say that this very important element in every economy can best be defined by their peculiar features.

Small businesses are known for the following features:-

*Small startup capital requirement

*Operates without a staff or one or two staffers

*Small office space

*Small stock up – for those businesses involved in buying and selling

*One-shop set up – no branches

*Very small assets value, including bank account

*Uses less of modern equipment and tools, especially the internet

*Inconsistencies in business practices

*Low turnover

*Low profits

The list above is inexhaustible. No doubt, there are many small businesses today which have become global players. Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Apple Computers (and a host of other global names), did not start from the top; they all started from the scratch.

If these businesses can be this successful, why is that many small businesses never leave their starting point, or worse still, later collapse. The following are my findings (it is important to note that for some businesses, a combination of these factors could be their problem; for some, a single factor could be their their problem):-

Inability to raise good capital:- Capital is the life blood of the any business. Where it cannot be sourced, or where enough cannot be sourced, then there is a serious attack on growth. This is because, every additional investment that is made in a business is a potential for future growth.

Modernization has made the issue of business financing less stressful and diverse. Here are some finance options open to small businesses:-

*Loans from friends and associates or micro finance banks.

*Thrift and credit societies for soft loans.

*Credit purchases.

*Equipment leasing from firms that are friendly to small businesses.

*Debt factoring.This involves selling of debts to finance firms like banks

*Ploughed back profit or earnings.

*Selling of disposable properties.

*Soft hire purchase arrangements. This is also an alternative to buying properties.

 An analysis of these options will have to be done before a decision is made. The terms of each option are usually a major guide.

One of Mark Zukerberg’s secret of success was getting good capital to push his dreams further. In 2005, Accel Partners, a venture capital firm invested $ 12.7 million into Facebook, which at the time was only open to Ivy league students. This led to a huge expansion of the network.

Giving priority to huge profits as against growth:-  I am one of the very strong followers of the late Apple boss, Steve Jobs. I have read many articles on him and I love listening to him because his words always contain strong meanings and implications. He once said that ‘’being the richest man in the cemetery does not matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful ‘’ is ‘’what matters to me.’’- (Craig Biddle -theobjectivestandard.com) Doing something wonderful would certainly require you to do something, not because of the money, but because that is what you really want to do. It also means you are not following the crowd to do what they are doing. This helps you to stay focused and always wearing your thinking cap. When this happens, all your efforts tend towards success and growth, dwarfing the motive of money-making.
Not having a Sellable product:-  Not every product is sellable. Surprised to read this. Every product has its time and location. A wrong time and location will surely jeopardise growth and may eventually snuff life out of a business.  Wrong timing of product release and location of small business has been a major setback for so many of them.  It slows down growth and if the situation becomes severe, it may lead to a collapse of the business.

Closely related to this is the issue of quality. It is a matter of time when even the less privileged ones in the society will turn their backs on sub-standard products. They do not last long. Food items might lead to health issues. This causes a drift to another product, no matter how cheap. The cycle continues. Growth will be a miracle in this situation. And when stagnation persists for so long, collapse cannot be ruled out. High quality is a major reason for the huge successes recorded by the small businesses started by Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Page, Filo, Yang and several other blue chip companies worldwide that started from the scratch.

Not surpassing your competitor in what you are selling :- The world of business is premised on the principle which recognizes the fact that for every business you want to go into other people are either doing it or will join you in that line of business later. So, survival is the order of the day. Surpassing your competitors is like a game of football where you have to get the ball pass all the players and goal keeper and then score. That means you have to very outstanding in your business practices. A great achiever, Steve Jobs, has this to say in this respect: ‘’ the only way to do a great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking….And like great relationship, it gets better as the years roll on.’’ – (Craig Biddle –www.theobjectivestandard.com). For small businesses, this could be, and has been an uphill task.

Very poor record keeping, especially financial records: – I liken the very poor record keeping habit of small businesses to the AIDS virus!!! Why? On the face of it it looks as if all is well with the business. But unknown to the business, a problem exist which is unknowingly affecting many aspects of the business. Poor record keeping is the major reason why :-

*A fraud can occur and the entrepreneur may not  know on time or may never know

*There might be a stock out and it is not known on time

*The entrepreneur may not be able to take sound investment decisions

*The entrepreneur may not be able to control expenses

* He may constantly have reconciliation problems with creditors and banks

*The entrepreneur may never be able to state his financial at any  time

* He may never be  able to know whether he is  running at a profit or loss

*The entrepreneur may never be able to tell how much his turnover in a year is

*The list goes on and on

Meanwhile all seems well with the business. A close examination of the practices above will show that each of them are clogs in the wheel of progress of any business for that matter, worse still , if the business is a small one.

Having incompetent or inexperienced assistants/partners/workers:- Human capital is the most crucial of the resources an organization can put together. No matter the kind of sophistication in your business machines, very high quality goods and services, fantastic business ideas, wonderful location, and the like, it takes human beings to transform all of these into business growth and success. The success stories of   Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zukerberg (Facebook), David Filo and Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) and Steve Jobs (Apple Computers), cannot be complete without the mention of some names of some very brilliant people and reputable organisations. Thus, slow progress or imminent collapse may definitely creep in where a business is made up of people or organisations that cannot drive the business towards growth.

Lack of foresight:-One key business skill is the ability to predict the market. Inability to do this creates constant shock-effects on the business. This is similar to the same effect a shocking situation has on a human being.  Too much of this shock-effect can be every inimical to a business. Having foresight enables the entrepreneur to plan and prepare ahead. It reduces too many stop-go situations. This is a situation where an unforeseen event creates a serious problem in the business which requires a complete change in the business, and starting a new line of practices becomes inevitable. If this happens often, progress will be deterred and imminent collapse cannot be ruled out.

One of the strongest points of Microsoft was that Bill Gates’ career has been marked by his incredible vision. Microsoft beat out the competition largely because they were always looking one step ahead, to the next revolutionary idea. The lesson is: if you want to get ahead in business, think ahead.

Inability to move with the times/changing global events: – Global events are changing at a very fast pace. Business techniques, methods and practices are fast changing at a per-second-basis. Information on better ways of doing business is being updated on a per-second-basis. The internet has made things even more difficult for small businesses that cannot have adequate access.  The result is that businesses that cannot meet up are put at a disadvantage, with the resultant consequence on growth and overall business success.

Poor marketing skills:- The whole essence of marketing is to bring about a sale. Marketing activities are very wide. Poor marketing skills slows down growth to a very large extent. Some of the marketing activities/practices expected of businesses includes :-

*Product issues – proper packaging, right colour, right size, right quality

*Pricing  issues – setting the right prices

*Distribution issues – excellent distribution plans

*Promotion issues-choosing the right type and mix of

promotional tools.

*Excellent customer relations.

Poor staff relations:- Lastly, where the business can employ a staff, the staff MUST be well taken care of. The entrepreneur must have a good relationship with the staff. Staff welfare must be a priority. A happy worker is more dedicated to his job, loyal, and less prone to criminal tendencies. Where the reverse is the case, the business suffers for it. The staff sees himself as a salary-worker who only works for his salary, with nothing at stake. He is less dedicated and more prone to criminal tendencies. All these and much more adversely affects the business.

A careful study of the above research findings will not only be very useful to small businesses, but the following businesses:-

*Failing business, i.e., businesses going through difficult times

*Medium scale businesses that want to grow

*Big businesses that have been facing challenges.

*New businesses or those coming on board

Good luck to us all and thanks for your time.