The popular saying that “If you don’t train them, don’t blame them.” scream at us whenever we see or hear it but, have you taken time to consider this saying in regard to your business? A lot of employers, especially the SMEs complains about incompetence and waste by their employees who have little or no work experience and got employed after graduating from a university that never prepared them for the challenges of a workplace.
Hmm…You are thinking about on-the-job-training? I guess! If that is sufficient, why do you think big corporations spend millions on training their workforce? If your argument is lack of funds, you definitely have a point there but you could encourage your staff on what training/certification to take and augment the fee with whatever the company can afford.
I once worked at a small company where the employer always blamed the employees (fresh graduates) for their mistakes and ignorance. This employer is a learned and very intelligent individual who worked for a big organisation where training and staff development is very important. How did he ever miss the point? It’s a wonder that he kept ranting about how useless his employees were especially whenever he wanted to create an impression when he never spent a dime on training and development. The bitter truth is that he had on his hands a lot of unrefined gold which he never took the time to polish.
Working with untrained employees does a lot of damage than help your business in that you spend more wasting time, resources and energy. You also lose their goodwill in the process as you get angry and lose your temper, you gradually become a terror to them using ‘swear’ words, writing queries and sacking people who find it difficult to understand what they did wrong. In the process, you damage their self-esteem and make them feel worthless and senseless. They get tired of the job and begin to make more mistakes because they no longer understand how to please you and what they can do to upset you while all they have been doing is to put in their best to see your business grow.
The end result of all these could be business shut down! How, you may ask? After investing a lot of money and borrowing from the banks to pay salaries, rent and the overhead cost, there may be a wide margin between your profit and expenditure in that you may not be making enough profit to cover your running cost and the process may get worse as you pay double for the mistakes made by your employees (and maybe your own mistakes too), this may become the inevitable end.
Getting a professional to help you through the growing years will go a long way to ensure growth and proper nutrition.
There are free classes like Covenant Capital Business School (CCBS) http://covenant-capital.org/?page_id=2048 that you can attend and also The Covenant Capital Business Clinics http://covenant-capital.org/?page_id=2034 where you can be advised on the various issues concerning your business.
Ensure that you implement all that you learn through these training and voila! You are on your way to become a giant enterprise. .
Remember, not putting the right process in place is deadly. Don’t be like the cook who after adding ingredients to a pot of soup discovered that it was still tasteless and with the intent of getting the right taste, he held on to the spoon and kept tasting the soup from it while adding more salt to the pot of soup thinking that the salt isn’t enough. What a disaster it was!
A business that plans to grow should learn to give, accommodate, develop and accept the discomfort involved in growing just like everything start from the bottom. You are climbing a ladder, remember to pull people up in the process. The end will always justify the means.
© Toosin Adewuyi (2019)
The sheer ingenuity of how some people seem to be smiling to the bank in this recession while others seem to be falling into depression, compelled me to share these 4 tips that have helped me make money in the current economic condition in Nigeria. I hope that these tips help you also to make some big bucks in this recession.
1. Trim your expenses by trimming your personal staff
My Indian friend and I always make fun of how we live like queens in a third world country. However, at one point, I realised that I had several people in my house on my payroll, people who contributed to the reduction I noticed in my monthly income.
I had a security guard, a gardener, a house help, a nanny, a personal trainer and a driver. I soon discovered that not only were this people contributing nothing to my household income, they were in fact contributing to my weight gain. Therefore, I decided that I needed to review the functions and usefulness of my domestic staff.
So the first thing I did was to let my driver and personal trainer go. I started driving myself and spending more time playing with my children as a form of exercise. I downloaded Google map and joined a car pool. As a result, I was able to cut down my car expense by about 60%. My need to meet up activity time with my children made me realise that doing some activities added more value to my weight loss plan than the bi-weekly kick-boxing I spent my hard-earned money on. Therefore, up next was my house help and gardener. Thereafter, the security guard had to add gardening and car wash to his duties to remain on my payroll.Needless to say, I have not been this trim financially in years.
As a business, there are several things and people on your payroll that are not needed especially for a small business. Why would you have an office assistant as one position and a cleaner as another position? Why have an employee as a permanent staff that you only need at certain times in the month or year? It would save you a lot in staff costs if there is a review of your business payroll to determine who to retain and who to let go. In the end, your business will either sink or swim in a recession depending on the actions you take.
2. Put down the Internet
The cell phone has become a major expense for most people. The money you spend on airtime and data would make sense if it improved your business in some way. I as an individual decided that I would research and do mobile packages that gave me the best in terms of airtime and data at the lowest cost. Then I prepared a schedule of how I would spend my time on the phone. So I not only have more time to focus and to do things that brings me better return on my investment, I also save money.
For a business, all telephone service provider have a cheaper plan for businesses that you can take advantage of. Also, evaluate if you need a 30G monthly data for all members of staff in your company if you are not an e-commerce company. Would it perhaps be better to have individual Wi-Fi for each staff member? It may help to monitor how much data and airtime each person uses.
3. Say No to that equipment
Most start-ups in Nigeria start out by buying all sort of things they do not need. Such items like renting an office space, buying furniture and electronics. Why do you need an office space for a two-man company when you have a 3-bedroom apartment with only you as the occupant? Why does your company have an office car if your company is an IT company? Do you really need a 20kg packaging machine that costs thrice as much as the 5kg machine?
If you would just say “no” to the cravings of shiny new items at the start of your business and focus on growing the business, you will reap the benefits. Therefore, you should be focused on putting your profit back into your business at least for the first three years.
4. Backward integration cannot be over-emphasised
Backward integration is a business model whereby a company takes direct control of how its products are supplied. For example, a company may buy another company that previously supplied its raw material. That is, a butcher may own a ranch so that he does not have to buy slaughtered animals from an outside ranch. Another example is a bakery business having a wheat farm where it uses the wheat to make the flour for the products in the bakery.
Most businesses in Nigeria need to start exploring the possibilities of backward integration. There is so much cost savings potential here. For example, producing the raw materials you use in your business instead of importing them will save you import duties and the associated costs and also spare you the head ache of looking for foreign exchange. Patronising local producers in Nigeria is also another option to explore.
In summary, as a business you must be aware of your business operations and processes to enable you to spot opportunities for cost cutting in this recession. Also, recognise when to invest more money into your business and when to hold back. This would save you and your business a lot in the future.
By Eyitayo Ogunyemi
Has it happened that you intended to communicate a point but your client interpreted your message wrongly? This usually happens when written business communications are vague, morose and without a sense of simplicity. The end result, more often than not, is that potential clients “move on” to the next service provider. To take your business to a bigger level, you must write with clarity in such a way that your potential clients easily get your point. When you achieve this, your clients become happy to engage you, because they understand your terms and their own obligations. Below are five hints to write to win both existing and potential clients:
1. See your words as PRECIOUS GEMS, you won’t give them out carelessly, so write what you mean and mean what you write.
2. Prefer the positive expressions to the negative expressions. I like the way Deborah S. Bosley gives the picture of how our brain reacts to words we read in her article Positive language makes our brains happier
Your selling point may be connected to the use of certain negative words (drug industries for example capitalises on the use of negative words and then tell potential clients how their drugs cure those negative vices), one of the solutions in such instance is to use as few negative words as is possible.
Another arm of this lesson is to avoid using double negatives because they make the readers engage in “mental gymnastics”. See for instance the following statement:
“You may not disengage from the terms of this Agreement unless….”
The challenge with the above example is that, like the rule in mathematics, two negatives make a positive, so where you have “not” as the first negative and “dis” (from the word “disengage”) as the second negative, you have a positive statement which will communicate a wrong intention. It could have therefore been put this way:
“You may disengage from the terms of this Agreement if…”
To conclude on this, greater chances are that when you write in the positive sense, you will use fewer words.
3. Your choice of words should be determined by your likely readership. For instance, your colleagues will probably not patronise your business because they are your competitors, so why write as if you are addressing a colleague?
Potential clients easily get worn out trying to know what you mean when you use technical words (which only your colleagues are licensed to understand). What you must therefore do, is to put the technical words in simple contexts.
One last note- if you must use technical words, make sure that you create a portion to interpret those words in the plain English sense. If you are preparing an online article, link those tech words to other sites where they are exhaustively interpreted.
4. Avoid the repetition game. Many people do this because they are afraid that they have not been heard. For whatever reasons, the thing about repeating yourself is that you become boring.
Here is an example from my archive:
“ON no ground whatsoever or howsoever shall we be liable….”
You will notice that one of “howsoever” or “whatsoever” could have been sufficient, or a more simple word could have fit in perfectly.
5. Engage your clients in the active voice:
“Active voice” is when the subject of a sentence performs the action in the verb, while “passive voice” is when the subject has the action performed on it.
In elementary school, we were taught that when the passive voice is used, it means something is being done for the actor, but active voice puts the actor in charge. When you apply that explanation to your business, you will realise that passive written expressions make you look frail, while active expressions give a sense to your clients that you are in charge.
You don’t say: “The account will be audited by us”
You should say: “We will audit the account”
Communicating in the active sense helps you to be clear on your thoughts and also clear on who should do what, and what is to be done.
Investing time to communicate to your clients with clarity and simplicity is an act that should be taken serious when preparing your marketing strategies. The Businessperson that engages his/her clients with simple written expressions has a good chance to have the most clients (observe the trend for instance in Insurance companies). The days are gone therefore, when it is assumed that the black man appreciates the content of a book by its cover.