90% of start-up businesses fail within the first year and there is absolutely no surprise in that. It is a widely accepted global statistic after a study of the number of start-up companies that fold within a year was done.
Thousands of successful businessemen and women would attest to the fact that they have failed many times before they could taste success. In fact an average millionaire has been close to bankruptcy three times, a fact that underscores that running a successful business is not only about the acquisition of capital and production.
It involves an array of factors that we will unpack today specifically to try and assist young budding entrepreneurs to avoid common start up mistakes. While some of the factors are conventional wisdom the MoneyMind perspective is acutely different.
The long heralded belief that a business is different from its owner at least in terms of the legalities has every ounce of truth in it but most of the time a business reflects the characteristics of its founders. The strategic direction and the philosophy of the company in many ways reflects the wishes, ambitions and aspiration of the founders. In view of the above that is why it is important that entrepreneurs must personally develop themselves and their characters and habits to empower themselves to run successful businesses.
Before you think about running a business you need to self- introspect and work on the set of skills that will enable you to be a successful business person. If you don’t the lessons will be taught to you in the University of Hard Knocks in your businesses journey.
In essence it will be very difficult not to transmute your habits into your business especially when you are a sole proprietorship or a single shareholder. If you have good habits that is good inter-personal skills, you are persuasive and you are on top of your numbers then bravo! The problem is if you have bad habits you are likely to transmute them to your company especially financial imprudence. Below are Money Mind’s’7 ways of avoiding business failure for start-up companies
7 ways to avoid business failure for start-up companies
Personal Development Entrepreneurs never stop developing themselves. It is important for a would be entrepreneur to develop and prepare themselves for the world of business. Being an entrepreneur requires a key set of skills that will assist you in meandering through the intricacies of the business world. Because the world of business is changing every day and re-engeneering of processes is as frequent as ever anyone at the helm of the company need to be on top of his game.
Coaching and Mentoring The best performing athletes have engaged personal trainers, coaches, and dieticians to name a few. They know that their success hinges on getting the best advices from professional experts. The same can be said for young entrepreneurs; they need coaches and mentors to guide them on how to successfully run a business. Mentoring and coaching take place over a long time lasting months and years and possibly even your life time. Bill Gates still has Warren Buffet as his mentor. If you have a coach and mentor you have somebody who have been through the journey and are alive to the pitfalls. Find a mentor or coach in a similar industry and avoid common mistakes.
Networking Successful business people have robust and powerful networks of people that add value to their personal and business lives. They join networking association which gives them access to people who can give business opportunity. Networking associations provides you with free access to a variety of people with unique skills that you may need from time to time including free counsel. Furthermore network associations are good as ports for referrals.
Build a team Microsoft and Apple thrived from building teams that share the same vision and ideals. It is important that a business build a team that is clear on its mandate. Every member of the team must fully comprehend their importance to the team. A team moving in unison is the greatest asset to any entrepreneur. Build a team based on the principles of accountability and ownership will create a great working environment.
Financially savvy The idea behind the business is to push the profit margin and this is generally done by pushing sales and lowering production costs. Entrepreneurs need to have a basic understanding of key financial indicators. You need as an entrepreneur to have a finger on the pulse of your company and there is no better way than be able to read your financial statements.
Decisive Be decisive as an entrepreneur because procrastinating to take remedial action when needed may only exacerbate the problem. This also true when you need to make decisions on new opportunities. Decisiveness is one attribute that entrepreneurs have; they are never in the middle and know exactly what they want. Take a decision now than later. They say indecision is a decision in itself.
Selling skills Everybody is in sales, so you need to be a good sales person to be able to sell yourself and your company. Entrepreneurs are very persuasive and gifted with a great ability to make others sees their vision. Your employees need to buy your vision and the market needs to buy your products and the best way is to be a good salesman.
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This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”