We are about a third of the way complete with about 30 enthusiastic finalists completing the business assessment. We have twelve businesses attending the monthly webinars regularly with active participation and engagement.
Finalists were given the opportunity to complete a business assessment prior to the entrepreneurial business support programme commencing. Those finalists, who have not yet completed the assessment, there is still opportunity to do so. The assessment is a survey of forty questions covering the key business drivers in any industry. It is extremely insightful to the business owner as it asks thought provoking questions forcing the owner to think about business performance, risk dependencies, market share etc. Often the owner is so busy working in the business, operationally and not strategically, they don’t have time focus on these critical aspects. “Not enough time” is often the response when asked about the lack of strategic focus. One of the main aims of this programme is to help business owners shift away from this consuming mind set. It is envisaged to give them the tools with the guidance on how to build a business that gives them “Freedom of time”.
The businesses that are actively participating in the 12-month Business Development and Support programme are already seeing great value added to their businesses. They have gone through 4 webinars to date, covering Business Model Canvas, Business Strategy, Financial Performance and Growth Potential (Sales and Marketing). They enjoyed seeing their business model on one page by focusing and understanding the nine elements that make up their business offering to the market. For many of the businesses, it was the first time, they were exposed to Value Proposition and what it means to stand out in the market and differentiate one’s business from the competition. It will come with time and practice for them to properly articulate their value proposition. Most importantly they have already started to work on this. The greatest learning for many, when building their business strategy was revisiting and understanding their aspirations as the founder and owner of the business. Not all business owners want to build empires and in the same vein, not all business owners want to remain solopreneurs. Ooba Slime is one such example. The business started out as a fun activity for children. Owner, Nasima Kader is determined to build the business on a national level and is already exploring new markets.
We have also had successes with businesses that regularly participate on the webinars. These businesses are implementing what they are learning from the subjects covered thus far and from each other. They get an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences enabling them to learn from each other. The take away from the webinars are different for each business. For Abdul Razak from AEGM Solutions, an Engineering Consulting company, it was a greater insight into managing his financials and using accounting systems to achieve this. For Zakkiyya who owns an Arts and Crafts business “Zakkiyya’s Crafts” it was pricing strategy, including labour in her cost build up and catering for the different markets she wants to sell to. Pricing strategy was key for Sadhiya Mosam of Mesmerising Mixes, also on how to factor in the labour component and understanding her breakeven point. The same can be said for Faheema Bhikan at Paranos Gourmet Foods and Fathima Kathrada of Peppermint Creative Bakes.
The businesses are at different stages in their business life cycles. Some of the owners are very aware of business best practice and the key activities imperative to having a successful business while other entrepreneurs are not. There are those who are good at their craft and good at selling to customers but don’t know about business management or delegation skills. It is good to see our participants learning and talking about the all aspects of building a business.
The programme caters for all business owners irrespective of their experience levels and knowledge. For those finalists who would still like to take the business assessment and join the webinars, they will get an opportunity to catch up on the content already covered. We would easily be able to fit them into the programme.
A closed Whatsapp group has also been created to facilitate discussion around real business case studies. Articles of interest, podcasts and talks have been posted for the benefit of participants. There was heated debate on an article titled; “What went wrong at Jamies Italian?”. Another report on n “What’s gone wrong at Thomas Cook elicited some interesting responses. Here are a few of the comments:
“It is sad to see the demise of such an industry giant. I remember for a while they were trading as Thomas Cook Rennies Travel. For me it is adapting to the social behaviour of customers and how they use online self-help sites to build their own holiday packages and secondly their failure to adopt technology and digital platforms based on the customer change”
“Being in the travel industry, I completely agree. The travel industry is constantly changing and we need to keep on innovating or find a very specific niche. Adapting to the latest technology and digital platform is very important as the new generation books everything online.”
“It’s interesting how their rivals just added the cruise and hotel options to their clients, which is every holiday makers dream. To enjoy the best holiday by finding everything they need in one place. Thomas Cook didn’t improve the value they offered to their clients.
It is a privilege to be a part of each of the businesses. The owners share their challenges, areas they want to improve on and are eager to learn. At the conclusion of the program the business assessment will be taken again. This will allow for the measurement of the improvement for those actively participating and there will certainly be some shining stars …….watch this space!