Doing Small Business The Smart Way


Although they are all classified differently as micro, small and medium, with size of capacity-utilisation and staff strength as parameters, but fundamentally they are pooled together as small businesses. And the beautiful thing about them is that they are the stuff of which multinationals had their origin. And if they are cultured and managed properly, rather than going into extinction or becoming stagnated, such small businesses of today are indeed the big businesses or multinationals of tomorrow.

And being smart in this wise demands of those who run the affairs of small businesses to be really clever. Even though small businesses in their hands, but managers of such ventures should have it at the back of their minds that they are up to something great. And this means, on their parts, there is the need for a marked re-orientation. And this is speaking to the fact of the matter that, not only are they helping to create more jobs and growing the economy, but that also, the businesses are not in the least really small as they would grow big eventually. That kind of mental perspective is indeed the stuff of which modern-day clever managers are made of.

In today’s modern day economy, the free market is a fundamental feature. And quite remarkable too is the fact that it is knowledge-based, and if a business would do well in such an environment, there is a need for those charged with management to be skillful. And skillful in the area of being versed in the ways and manner in which modern day businesses are run. And what readily comes to mind here is a deep and sound knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Again, in this horrible tide of economic melt-down which is yet to abate, a good manager in the world of small businesses would need more than his five senses. And this being the case, it calls for a sixth sense, the profound ability to think outside the box. For no other roadmap exists to resolve the issue of cut-throat competition for survival in the market place except the adoption of unusual business strategies that borders on super, uncommon intelligence. These are all the hallmarks of a good, quick brain.

In the murky waters of business in which the only meaningful word is profitability, I am afraid if the manager of a small business would not go down under the feet of sharks in the market place without some element of ingenuity. The service he offers to consumers, and even the products, need some measure of innovativeness. And this has to be reflected in a corporate package that used to be the underlay of an unusual, uncommon brand.

Is there anything comparable to a classified information, in the course of waging a war in the market place, if only to take the battle to your competitors in order to extenuate their market share, or possibly wipe them off the market? Yes! Entreprenuers with capitalist orientation do not suffer fools gladly. And their main weapon had always been intelligent information that borders on the knowledge of competitors and competition in the market. Managers need to effectively study their industry, gather a body of information that need to be reviewed and upgraded from time to time.

Managers, if they must manager smartly the men and materials at their disposal, would have to go beyond the call of duty, not only once but at all times, to take their environment into the big picture as well.  At no time should it be abused, as it is supposed to be bright, clean and new-looking at all times. For as the Japanese would say, a good product comes from deep thinking. And one would like to add that if they must come from the area of the mind, such product need to enanate also from a clean environment.

Whatever the level of staff, be it the white-collared ones or those from the blue-collar category, they have to be appreciated by their principal. And such motivation is one of the crucial ways by which small businesses can be smartly managed. For product or service would be non-existent but for the grace of productive staff under a competent manager. Time and again, we have always stated that customers are kings; and that they are always right. But it can also be argued that not only are the staff kings as well but also, their opinion should be crucial in the management of small businesses. And giving them their dues as at when due by the management in a way that smacks of cocky disposition as if doing them favour is not in the least, a smart way of doing business. Giving them wages that would make them able to look good and feed well, to the extent of being able to maintain and sustain their families, is the hallmark of a small business looking ahead into the future for a visionary expansion to the configuration of a multinational.

With the advent of the Internet and social networking sites, opportunities abound for brand projection and market visibility of products/services. But managers of small businesses who would be smart enough to take advantage of these multifarious opportunities on the worldwide websites have to ignore the conservative judgements of the old-school managers of yore. For the world now is a global village and the visibility for products and services is unlimited if business managers would dare to look for opportunities in the new technologies that are unfolding everyday.

It would do well for a manager to be quick and alert. And this entails snapping up opportunities as quickly as they emerge. For on a very serious note, the status of your business is a fundamental function of your attitude towards these latest avenues for future growth and expansion. Make no mistake about it, your product/service does not need to be perfect before getting to the market place. It is better to get there and continue to work on the processes and system that would ensure a perfect product/service with the developments in the market as a guide, otherwise you will be beaten at the game by some more alert competitors with ferocious disposition.

It is not the way of a smart manager to lose focus. And honestly speaking, losing sight of the vision and mission statement of your business can occur as a result of intimidation from businesses operating in your industry. Simply be severe in the way you manage the resources at your disposal. It does not really matter whether such resources are little or big. But always do well to appreciate this paradox: The biggest business does not necessarily control the lion’s share of the market place. Businesses, be they big or small, if technically managed in the most efficient way, would always take control of the chunk in the market place.

It is worthy of note to sound a note of warning here that being smart in managing your business, whether small or big, should not in anyway, connote dishonesty. If now, you are on that path, you will soon discover that on the long run, you have taken a destructive path. And your dream of turning a business to a legacy for a future generation would suddenly turn into a nightmare and the whole dream blowing up in your face. In this era of Good Corporate Governance, a sound business ethics is a culture that needs to be cultivated in your organisation.

“Smart diplomacy!” That was the simple phrase Hillary Rhodam Clinton gave her Mission Statement as she settled in the office of the American Secretary of State early in 2009. And this entails managing the American resources in such a way as to always sustain the American No.1 spot in the global politics. If managed smartly too, your own small business can attain that No.1 spot, if not now but surely in the foreseeable future, in the national economy of Nigeria.

•Bayo Babatunde writes from Lagos

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