Linda is a 38-year old entrepreneur who has made a positive contribution to the lives of a whole community through her business.
She started her business 15 years ago, selling traditional sisal mats and baskets to local and overseas markets.
The products are made by rural women in the southern parts of Zimbabwebabwe. Through Linda’s distributorship, over 30 women earn a decent living and are able to take care of their families despite regular droughts in their districts.
Linda is just one of thousands of women entrepreneurs who make a difference in the lives of other people. However, like many others, she is accorded very little recognition beyond her immediate circle of friends and associates.
March 8 was the International Day for Women. In many countries globally, celebrations are set to last the whole month of March in recognition of the achievements of women in all aspects of life. Women in Africa contribute immensely to the economic survival and wellbeing of their families through their entrepreneurial endeavours.
They manage to start small businesses that thrive despite lack of capital, inadequate training and education, an unpredictable economic and political environment, an uneven playing field in a world dominated by men and a harsh and mean business environment.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN SMALL BUSINESS: PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL
The majority of businesses in Zimbabwebabwe by numbers fall into the SME category. Despite their large numbers and their varying range of activities, they are all striving to become successful. A successful business is one that grows and generates the profit level desired by the owner, while providing her or him with work satisfaction.
The majority of small businesses in Zimbabwebabwe remain small and unsuccessful because of many reasons. However, through research, the most common reasons are known. These are also some of the reasons that hold back potential entrepreneurs from starting up.
When asked which attributes they thought were necessary for success, the majority of business owners surveyed by the research team agreed that it was important to have a business plan for the future, with objectives and goals.
The need for adequate business planning was singled out by entrepreneurs themselves as the main attribute which contributed to success.
Many believed that only by clarifying what the owner or director wanted to achieve, the company could plan for the future and develop a strategy or trading pattern to achieve the desired level of success.
Unfortunately, over half of the surveyed entrepreneurs admitted to not having a business plan when they started and having no clear goals and strategies for achieving them until some where along their business life.
This, they admitted, had resulted in their running their businesses “in an aimless way” and being unable to judge if they had been successful or not, as they had no performance targets or yardsticks to measure theirsuccess against.
I urge all potential entrepreneurs and those already in business to prepare business plans with clear goals and objectives of what they want to achieve in business, and keep these plans updated. I have added more articles and resources on business planning on my blog to help simplify the process. Details of our upcoming business plan writing training workshops are also available.
HAVE A SOUND MARKETING STRATEGY
The second crucial factor to small business success is a sound marketing management strategy. No matter how good your product is, people would not buy it until they know about it.
Marketing is one of those activities that is hated by many entrepreneurs, especially by those with technical or financial backgrounds. However, the reality of business is that at one stage, you would have to go out and sell your product or service. You need to develop a plan of how you would communicate your offer to potential customers.
You have to know your market and what exactly customers want to buy, and then develop marketing strategies to grow or maintain your company’s position in the market.
Without sales there would be no reason to be in business. I have put together a collection of useful marketing articles that every entrepreneur who needs to improve their marketing and sales should read. I would send you this collection upon an email request.
About the Author
Phillip Chichoni is a business planning consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org