I wish all our readers a Prosperous New Year. I am also hoping that our readers are “raring to go” and MSMES have started implementing those strategic resolutions we spoke about last year with zeal.
In this article I would like to suggest some of the New Year’s business resolutions that might grow our enterprises this year. And for all our Christian folk out there, I am hoping that those spiritual resolutions buoyed by 10-day fasts are already beginning to bear fruits.
At our church we learnt of a seven step process that is effective in ensuring that your New Year’s resolutions are fool proof. Among other things, some of the steps are: determining your current position (physical, emotional, financial, relationship and professional,) then deciding what one would like to change. The next step is determining your purpose while the last step is disciplining your personality.
This seven step process left me throwing my resolutions out of the window though weight resolution remains exactly where it was 15 years ago, as Resolution number 6. One day I will wear that stunning expensive red dress again — Watch this space!!!!
According to Marla Tabaka, a renowned Life Coach, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions will fail. However, despite this high failure rate, I strongly feel that MSMEs should still make business resolutions. Besides, it’s “the thought that counts”.
As usual I went around asking people about their New Year’s resolutions. Not inspiring answers out there. It seems like our MSMEs are a crestfallen lot, or are still reeling from the effects of January disease.
Resolutions were mostly geared towards business growth though methodologies on how to expand their businesses were mostly blurred. Amid this glaring pessimism, I found some noteworthy responses. Jason, a horticulturalist was going to explore the export market and produce for the outside markets. A young hair stylist, Rumbidzai was thinking of opening a new saloon.
Here are a few ideas that we should incorporate into our New Year’s resolutions.
Resolution 1: Make
reading a lifestyle
The online magazine Inc. notes the following, “There is a common bond that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and billionaires share and you can find it in your local library.”
Warren Buffet reportedly spends as much as 80 percent of his day reading. Oprah Winfrey credits reading to moving her out of poverty and says that; “Books were my path to personal freedom”. Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year.
MSMEs now need to develop a habit of reading “anything”. However, technical books should also be included in the line-up. To enhance my technical capabilities, I have decided to read books on Management and Leadership. I am also exploring new fiction and African authors as well and revisiting my A-Level literature set books from authors such as Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chenjerai Hove and others. For business I will also recommend one of my favourite documentaries “The Men who Built America”.
Resolution 2: Get
Again as MSMEs navigate this very complicated global business conundrum, there is a need to exude more professionalism. As I indicated in my article entitled “Business Etiquette” MSMEs need to improve on professionalism. There is a lot of information on the internet on how you can enhance your professionalism. A few suggestions are; getting a professional email, business cards, website and improving our image. Our working spaces also need some pampering. A dedicated phone and work address will also suffice here. Remember the mantra” Image is Everything”.
Resolution 3: Get
more climate savvy
According to studies conducted by Zurich Insurance Group “Climate change is a major concern for SMEs”. In addition almost 78 percent of SMEs expected risks associated with climate change. The first port of call especially for MSMEs in the agricultural sector will be to understand the effects of climate change on agriculture. This requires that SMEs also make efforts to understand climate change issues through participating in policy discussions.
The International Trade Centre at the COP22 in Marrakesh Morocco reported that, SMEs should build capacity in climate technology through well designed standards and certification programmes which will help “entrench sustainable production practises in the agricultural sector”. MSMEs can also acquire new and clean technologies. There is a lot of scope in starting businesses within the recycling space.
Resolution 4: Increase
MSMEs need to network more, through various means such as increasing social media footprint and joining relevant business associations and industry bodies that represent their interests. Social media is a cheaper way of advertising their products and their services. It’s also important to contribute to such social groups that you also get noticed as an expert in certain areas. In the same breadth, MSMEs should also consider how they can increase their Corporate Social Responsibility footprint. This has the advantage of increasing brand visibility.
Resolution 6: Put family first
Neville Isdell, former chairman and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Companyhas a book entitled “Inside Coca Cola: A CEO’s life story of building the world’s most popular brand”. He encourages CEOs to look after their families and not ultimately prioritise business over family. A quick lesson from Seventh Day Adventists will suffice here. These church folk are very strict with their Sabbath day and will rest from Friday sunset to Saturday evening. This is time spend strictly with family and God. Even so, I know a lot of Seventh Day Adventists that run prominent businesses. Of course we can’t all attend the Seventh Day Adventist Church but whatever religion you are, ensure that you do set aside time for family. (Ensure its quality time).
Resolution 7: Be
Research has shown that a sizable number of Zimbabwean MSMEs are not registered. From the research that SODECO has conducted, failure to register is purely perceptional. Overall, MSMEs have a belief that this process is very difficult. Though more awareness needs to be conducted, MSMEs can start by making enquiries at the Registrar of Deeds office to understand this simple process. Getting registered with the taxman and other regulatory authorities is an absolute must as well so that MSMEs can plug into the various opportunities that are available from government and Non-Governmental Organisation tenders.
Resolution 8: Prioritise
In 2019 I wrote about the importance of mental health to MSMEs. I find that with the high cost of medical care in Zimbabwe, prevention is indeed better than cure. MSMEs should aim to lead healthy lifestyles so that they can be more effective at work. Here are some ideas on how to keep healthy — eat more vegetables and pure grain foods. Walking and running are a cheap way of exercising. One can also join their local boozer’s football club. I will be playing golf courtesy of being co-opted into a Golf Development Board and some golf fanatics in the family. But I hear that a lot of good deals are brokered at the golf course.
Resolution 9: Enjoy life
A famous saying goes. “You should not look after money, it should look after you”. Though MSMEs need to foster a culture of saving there is a need to enjoy the “fruits of your labour.” Treat yourself to nice things such as a massage, pedicure and spoil your family with an outing at a restaurant or hotel outing once in a while. If resources allows, let’s promote local tourism and visit some of the interesting sites that the country has to offer. I know that in every province there are tourist attractions that people can visit.
In conclusion, not all New Year’s resolutions will come to pass but there is nothing wrong with trying. If you are not a New Year’s resolution kind of person, Marla Tabala recommends that you choose a theme word which will guide all the work that you are going to do this year. My theme word is Excellence and in everything I do I will ensure that I exude excellence.
Joseline Sithole is an SME Consultant and founder of Southern Africa Development Consultants (SODECO). For comments write to her on [email protected] or whats up 0773634062