Time flies when you do what you want most. This defines our journey as aspiring entrepreneurs of this age. Where many events (both positive and negative) have come along the way and we adjusted. The most important thing is that we have managed through these turbulences. Most of us will refer to these as “Hard Times”.
As the year comes to an end looking forward to be bigger in operational capacity, market share and revenue generation we do so with a 360 degree self-introspection. Especially through evaluating our achievements so far in relation to what we projected when the business idea was first launched.
Globally it is widely known that SMEs are challenged in all aspects from general operational skills, to managerial and business longevity. This calls for us to be revolutionary in our strategies from time to time (New Year call for the same).
Some have quitted along the way but that is not a solution as we once agreed for that bravery which qualifies one to be an entrepreneur (it is not a game for the weak to say). Soldiering on with regular adjustments should be part of the overall entrepreneurial strategy. Where revolutionary branding becomes a continuous practice.
Remember that people will always search for brands rather than mere products and services. In that way year 2023 going on into the future our brands should re-define the way we do business. Covid-19 came same with various Structural Instruments (SIs), national/global laws and all the VUCA related but we managed. It shows that we have the power/potential to become even bigger and greater. In this edition we then look at some of the key considerations for a revolutionary brand by our home-grown entrepreneurs towards immortality.
To start with is the character of an enterprising brand/business. Which even goes down to the SME owners and their employees. If you haven’t yet defined your own it is high time to consider in this revolution. Character matters most as it attracts any critical stakeholder to do business with us. In some of our previous editions we talked about brand personality.
Of course it relates to this focus. Most business are surviving in highly competitive/aggressive markets not because of product/service supremacy (myopia) but as defended by a showcased desirable character detected/seen in the served markets. Imagine when a customer fight with whoever out there to protect your brand in absentia. Looking into this perspective a good/favourable brand character should build customer loyalty.
Some of us ill-treat customers in one way or another. We shout at them, not live the promise, falsify our presentations to them and shift the blame them for a wrong we have done ourselves. Lest we not forget that we are building a character as we treat and mistreat (that’s a brand you are building). If you ignore/fail to define your own character the market will do it for you.
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And if so it will then be a surprise for your brand (not in the way you would want/expect as a successful entrepreneur). There is goodwill in a character where it becomes a collateral tool for success/failure. Even suppliers will discount you and accept to give you credits of any magnitude. That is when you have built trust through a character. Let’s ride on this cog in re-defining our operations now and into the future.
Customers will also advance deposits of their monies in your products/services before they receive it in their hands. Just that they have confidence you will deliver as promised. Look at Apple iPhone of which customers pay for in advance just to be the first one to receive a new version to come.
That’s is when you will say it is no-longer business as usual but character rewarding. At the same time our SMEs will then be able to attract highly rewarding partnerships and venture creations. People invest where there is a real sustained followership (people follow people). In the same sense we even escalate our brand publicity freely through these character engagements enhanced to partnerships. It is all about a desirable and friendly brand character as needed and perceived by the markets.
Through some trials and errors by now we should appreciate that our customers always expect more and better from us. They see our brand(s) as a source of comfort/care as they will not think anything else besides our promise(s). Here as revolutionary brand we should think of going an extra mile beyond the usual as provided by us and any other. Wowing!!!
Should be the drive to the hearts and minds of our customers as we see them all the way towards and beyond after sales services. Inviting customers for personal talks, events and new product/service launch should be part of the comprehensive strategy.
Simple add-ons matter most is brand longevity. They do not only please that customer but help in inviting others through word of mouth to consume, engage and be advocates. Especially in this digitalised social media era where appreciations/likes can spread from one pole to another through a click of a button.
Of course in various previous discussions we alluded to the power of Human Resources (HR) for sustained enterprising. We have to attend to this matter seriously as we revolutionise.
The first person to know that your business if heading towards failure/closure is your employee. Yet we are always treating this as liability in our break even analysis and appreciation. If well attended to the human resource becomes a source of continuity as they will safeguard the business/brand as if it’s theirs (accelerated sense of ownership).
It is not only about salaries/wages but empathy even helping the employee map a career path through promotions, talent management and trainings for personal development. We are not supposed to be big for us to take this mode. #it begins with us!!!
Lastly, real brands do not eat capital. I have discovered that most of our enterprising businesses do not afford the owner. The owner is too expensive to be sustained by the business. This should be a NO! We as the founders/owners of SMEs overburden our businesses as we become a liability to them even to accelerate premature closure.
Think of a baby as a business you feed, invest and take well care of until it grows to be a standalone and even be able to financial support the owner. We are on a record of misappropriating funds, living luxury and overspending at the inception rather than reinvesting continuously until the business pays us from real profits.
Most of our enterprises are busy cooking their books of accounts and ledgers balances for what I call an own created profit rather than real. Remember what goes around comes around. Such that we will at the same be preparing our own recipe for closure/failure. As we get into the New Year 2023 with new prospects let us introspect and be revolutionary brands towards extensive branding for sustainability.
- Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His doctoral research focused on business administration (Destination marketing and branding major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.