16th December, 2010
Although they are all classified differently as micro, small and medium, with sizeÂ of capacity-utilisation and staff strength as parameters, but fundamentally they areÂ pooled together as small businesses. And the beautiful thing about them is that theyÂ are the stuff of which multinationals had their origin. And if they are cultured andÂ managed properly, rather than going into extinction or becoming stagnated, suchÂ small businesses of today are indeed the big businesses or multinationals ofÂ tomorrow.
And being smart in this wise demands of those who run the affairs of smallÂ businesses to be really clever. Even though small businesses in their hands, butÂ managers of such ventures should have it at the back of their minds that they are upÂ to something great. And this means, on their parts, there is the need for a markedÂ re-orientation. And this is speaking to the fact of the matter that, not only areÂ they helping to create more jobs and growing the economy, but that also, theÂ businesses are not in the least really small as they would grow big eventually. ThatÂ kind of mental perspective is indeed the stuff of which modern-day clever managersÂ are made of.
In todayâ€™s modern day economy, the free market is a fundamental feature. And quiteÂ remarkable too is the fact that it is knowledge-based, and if a business would doÂ well in such an environment, there is a need for those charged with management to beÂ skillful. And skillful in the area of being versed in the ways and manner in whichÂ modern day businesses are run. And what readily comes to mind here is a deep andÂ sound knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Again, in this horrible tide of economic melt-down which is yet to abate, a goodÂ manager in the world of small businesses would need more than his five senses. AndÂ this being the case, it calls for a sixth sense, the profound ability to thinkÂ outside the box. For no other roadmap exists to resolve the issue of cut-throatÂ competition for survival in the market place except the adoption of unusual businessÂ strategies that borders on super, uncommon intelligence. These are all the hallmarksÂ of a good, quick brain.
In the murky waters of business in which the only meaningful word is profitability,Â I am afraid if the manager of a small business would not go down under the feet ofÂ sharks in the market place without some element of ingenuity. The service he offersÂ to consumers, and even the products, need some measure of innovativeness. And thisÂ has to be reflected in a corporate package that used to be the underlay of anÂ unusual, uncommon brand.
Is there anything comparable to a classified information, in the course of waging aÂ war in the market place, if only to take the battle to your competitors in order toÂ extenuate their market share, or possibly wipe them off the market? Yes!Â Entreprenuers with capitalist orientation do not suffer fools gladly. And their mainÂ weapon had always been intelligent information that borders on the knowledge ofÂ competitors and competition in the market. Managers need to effectively study theirÂ industry, gather a body of information that need to be reviewed and upgraded fromÂ time to time.
Managers, if they must manager smartly the men and materials at their disposal,Â would have to go beyond the call of duty, not only once but at all times, to takeÂ their environment into the big picture as well.Â At no time should it be abused, asÂ it is supposed to be bright, clean and new-looking at all times. For as the JapaneseÂ would say, a good product comes from deep thinking. And one would like to add thatÂ if they must come from the area of the mind, such product need to enanate also fromÂ a clean environment.
Whatever the level of staff, be it the white-collared ones or those from theÂ blue-collar category, they have to be appreciated by their principal. And suchÂ motivation is one of the crucial ways by which small businesses can be smartlyÂ managed. For product or service would be non-existent if not for the grace ofÂ productive staff under a competent manager. Time and again, we have always statedÂ that customers are kings; and that they are always right. But it can also be arguedÂ that not only are the staff, kings as well but also, their opinion should be crucialÂ in the management of small businesses. And giving them their dues as at when due byÂ the management in a way that smacks of cocky disposition as if doing them favour isÂ not in the least, a smart way of doing business. giving them wages that would makeÂ them to be able to look good, and feed well to the extent also of them to being ableÂ to maintain and sustain their families is the hallmark of a small business, lookingÂ ahead into the future for a visionary expansion to the configuration of aÂ multinational.
With the advent of the internet and social networking sites, opportunities aboundÂ for brand projection and market visibility of products/services. But managers ofÂ small businesses who would be smart enough to take advantage of these multifariousÂ opportunities on the worldwide websites have to ignore the conservative judgementsÂ of the old-school managers of yore. For the world now is a global village and theÂ visibility for products and services is unlimited if business managers would dare toÂ 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 upÂ opportunities as quickly as they emerge. For on a very serious note, the status ofÂ your business is a fundamental function of your attitude towards these latestÂ avenues for future growth and expansion. Make no mistake about it, yourÂ product/service does not need to be perfect before getting to the market place. ItÂ is better to get there and continue to work on the processes and system that wouldÂ ensure a perfect product/service with the developments in the market as a guide,Â otherwise you will be beaten at the game by some more alert competitors withÂ ferocious disposition.
It is not the way of a smart manager to lose focus. And honestly speaking, lossingÂ sight of the vision and Mission Statement of your business can occur as a result ofÂ intimidation from businesses operating in your industry.Â Simply be severe in theÂ way you manage the resources at your disposal. It does not really matter whetherÂ such resources are little or big. But always do well to appreciate this paradox: TheÂ biggest business does not necessarily control the lions share of the market place.Â Businesses, be they big or small, if technically managed in the most efficient way,Â 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 managingÂ your business, whether small or big, should not in anyway, connote dishonesty. IfÂ now, you are on that path, you will soon discover that on the long run, you haveÂ taken a destructive path. And your dream of turning a business to a legacy for aÂ future generation would suddenly turn into a nightmare and the whole dream blowingÂ up in your face. In this era of Good Corporate Governance, a sound business ethicsÂ is a culture that needs to be cultivated in your organisation.
â€œSmart diplomacy!â€ That was the simple phrase Hillary Rhodam Clinton gave herÂ Mission Statement as she settled in the office of the American Secretary of stateÂ early in 2009. And this entails managing the American resources in such a way as toÂ always sustain the American No.1 spot in the global politics. If managed smartlyÂ too, your own small business can attain that No.1 spot, if not now but surely in theÂ foreseeable future, in the national economy of Nigeria.
â€”Bayo Babatunde writes from Lagos