Mar 14

Our top 10 MUST READ/ MOST READ articles of 2016

Last year 2016, we published a number of articles and reports on this here BLEGSCOPE Business Blog. Whereas we may understand how content management and marketing works, our interest is to portray our thought leadership with our shared experiences and written down analysis to assist our clients make a better business/ development decision.

Listed below are our #Top10 must read/ most read pieces of original BLEGSCOPE thinking based on visits to our Business Blog and through our social media platforms of Twitter, Email and Facebook.

The takeaways?

Looking at the list, it’s clear that you, our audience, were hungry for perspectives on the deeper analysis of how the Ugandan economy is performing, as well as ways to enable your businesses to grow in the existing economic situation. From career tips for professionals to  understanding stress, dealing with difficult times will require some unique strategies that we took time to write about and share with you across a wide range of topics.

Here are the #Top10

  1. An analysis of the 2016/17 National Budget – June 2016

As expected from last year’s ambitious budget rising from 18Trillion to 23 Trillion, our public debt has grown from 24 Trillion UGX to 29 Trillion UGX within its expected gain. A huge majority of this debt has been generated from local borrowing through Treasury Bills and Government Bonds so as to manage the liquidity position of the economy ably handled by the Bank of Uganda. Read more…

  1. Ugandan economic slowdown’ Reality or perception – October 2016

In the world of African economies which seem to always slow-down after or rather during an election year, it is paramount that a nation’s Central Bank takes centre stage in ascertaining control of what it can in an economy and with its strong control of monetary policy, it uses this as a measure of controlling the level of liquidity in the economy. Read more…

  1. The 7 steps through which the sales process can increase your sales – October 2016

With my own experience through observation of many sales professionals, different line managers and leaders, I have realized that the ability to sell something to someone; be it a product, service or an idea is the fundamental skill at the core of many jobs in the business world. Read more…

  1. Networking Part 2: Practical ways to improve your network and networking – March 2016

We all have 24 hours in a day and sometimes they feel too few and other times they feel too many! It is possible to answer the question above and you can do this by asking yourself one simpler question… “What is one simple thing I can do quickly to refresh my network and make new connections?  Read more…

  1. Formulating a strategy for your business – April 2016

Strategy formulation is the first step in strategic management and must be handled well to achieve the benefits of strategic management. Strategy formulation is an action plan that identifies the organisation’s long-term direction and guides resource utilisation to achieve its goals. Read more…

  1. Introducing Business 2 Business Marketing – September 2016

Very often, marketing is narrowed down to only mean communicating a company’s products to the general public or targeted client. This is only half true; marketing refers to everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Read more…

  1. Unmasking the 7 areas of focus and key metrics in manufacturing businesses – March 2016

It is evident that the manufacturing landscape like other sectors is experiencing an unprecedented technologically driven collective shift which is not expected to end. Ranging from consumer demands, the nature of products, and the economics of production and distribution are all evolving. The gap between manufacturing and technology on one hand and manufacturing and retail on the other is diminishing at a fast rate. Read more…

  1. Career tips for professionals – February 2016

Whereas the choice of career can many a time be also accidental, for those who are successful in their career choices, the decision to do what they are doing has been formed out of a few clever options and realizations’ and above all making the most of a situation. For you to favourably compete in your chosen career choice or a new career choice you should be able to realise that this current situation needs to improve, but above all you must be willing to do something about it. Read more…

  1. Using strategy to go ahead of your competitors – March 2016

With a rich history of strategy, the area of study has evolved overtime and is not only instrumental in business but notably also in military and biological sciences to mention but a few. With an interest in corporate strategy, a leading strategy guru, Michael Porter, refers to it as a means towards achieving competitive advantage through being different – delivering a unique value added to the customer, having a clear and exactable view of how to position yourself uniquely in your industry. Read more…

  1. Stress, know more about it and manage it better – September 2016

The ability to take on what life throws at us varies from person to person. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Whereas one person would get overwhelmed by a situation, another person would remain absolutely calm and collected. Stress management, therefore, cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Read more…

Summarized by Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry.

You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

Mar 07

8 Tips For Improving The Financial Management Function In Your Business.

Financial Management means planning, organizing, directing and controlling the financial activities such as procurement and utilization of funds of the enterprise. It means applying general management principles to financial resources of the enterprise. Many small businesses understand the relevance of having a good financial management function in their organisations such that growth and finances are well managed. Most however still struggle with strengthening this function in their business. Financial reports are used in decision making for organisations, however, poor financial reporting is the bane of many businesses that don’t have experienced accounting departments. Today, we share some tips to improve financial reporting and the accounting function of your business.

1. Develop a financial strategy to ensure financial sustainability;

Many companies focus on a human resource strategy, marketing strategy etc., however little attention is paid to the financial strategy. A financing strategy is integral to an organisation’s strategic plan. It sets out how the organisation plans to finance its overall operations to meet its objectives both now and in the future. A financing strategy summarizes targets, and the actions to be taken over a given period to achieve the targets. It also clearly states key policies which will guide those actions. Your financial strategy should answer key questions such as;

  • Where are we now (financially)?
  • Where do we want to be and
  • How do we get there?

What policies are guiding your operations in regards to financial management?

2. Align your financial capacity to the organisations strategy and operations;

Your company may have the best financial strategies but if it is not aligned to your overall organizational strategy and operations, it may as well not yield the much needed results. Your organisational operations depend on your financial capacity as a company. It critical to assess your financial capacity and ensure that it is in line with the financial strategy, your operations as well as the company budgets.

3. Planning and Budgeting;

Planning and budgeting are essential for any business control. Effective planning and budgeting require looking at the organization as whole and making key decisions that help maintain optimal use of resources. Planning finances and budgeting for needs such as marketing, salaries, production costs, office expenses among others and tracking these expenses from time to time e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually should be key for any business. Budgeting largely involves identifying, prioritizing, acquiring, and allocating the resources needed to carry out the plan. Budgeting is an inclusive activity that should involve all individual departments for it to be comprehensive enough for the organisation.

4. Develop strong internal controls; an internal control is a business practice, policy or procedure that is established within an organization to create value and/ or minimize risk. In relation to accounting and financial management, internal controls are policies and procedures put in place to ensure the continued reliability of accounting systems. Internal control procedures in accounting can be broken into several categories, each designed to prevent fraud and identify errors before they become problems. Internal controls are a clear way to manage company finances, especially cash.

  • Do you maintain receipts for every transaction?
  • Do you take record of all transactions?
  • Is petty cash kept in a safe?

A subset of internal controls, are designed to ensure that the technology used for financial management within the organization operates as intended, that data is reliable, and that the organization is in compliance and regulations. Click here for a more detailed article on internal controls. Tips on internal controls over cash for SMEs

5. Embrace technology in your financial management;

A number of mobile applications have been developed for personal financial management for individuals. Luckily, financial management for organisations has not been left out. Standardized accounting systems and software have been developed to ease the accountant’s roles. Systems such as QuickBooks and Tally have simplified the accounting function by ensuring accuracy, speed and convenience for accountants. For smaller companies, where such applications may not be an affordable option, developing simple accounting templates internally or through a service provider may be a more realistic approach. However, one thing to remember even as we embrace these systems is GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Your financial reports will only be as good as the information you input into these systems.

6. Commit to finding a dedicated staff to handle the accounting function; small businesses are challenged when it comes to handling finances. In many cases, the owners are keener on handling their finances rather than hire someone to handle this. This, in many cases causing mixing up of personal and business finances, and yet business and personal finances must be separated. A dedicated staff will support the owners focus on suggesting better business-focused decisions. Financial reports will then be more objective and the department becomes more independent. Click on this link to read more about separating business and personal finances

7. Develop a clear accounting process; Finance is one of the interrelated functions which deal with the HR function, marketing function, production function and research and development activities of the business. The accounting function rarely starts in the department. So, the organisation must have a clear process for accounting. The accounting process answers questions such as:

  • What transactions and how are they entered into your books?
  • Who does what in regard to finance and accounting in the organisation?
  • What source documents do you use?
  • Who reviews and oversees the finance and accounting function?
  • Who do we share our final reports with? Among others.

8. Utilize financial reports for decision making; financial reports are meant to guide decision making. The first step here is to determine what the decisions centers in your organisation are. Next is to determine what financial reports are prepared in your organisation, and in what frequency. Managers at all levels, whether with an accounting background or not should be able to interpret financial information presented in these financial reports whether it is an Income Statement, a Statement of Financial position or the Statement of cash flows. They should be able to tell what this information means for the organisation and how it can be used for the betterment of the organisation e.g. do we need to scale down our marketing budget? Should we maintain foreign markets? How are we serving our debts? How can we manage our cash flows better?

Financial information is useful in for decision making in organisations. Managers and key decision makers should therefore maintain a robust level of familiarity with the organisation’s financial reports at all times. Accuracy and reliability are paramount in developing financial reports. The quality of decisions depends on the quality of information presented in these financial reports. Without accurate accounting records and reports, managers cannot make fully informed financial decisions.

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Business Analyst . She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 3 years’ experience in consulting for SMEs and in the service sector. She is keen on strategy, finance and procurement. She has previously worked for Riham Foods and MTN. You can follow her on twitter >> @achirosarah

 

Mar 06

One Key Success in Business Lies in the Ability to Align Strategy to the Organization’s Capacity

One Key Success in Business Lies in the Ability to Align Strategy to the Organization’s Capacity

Strategy is a word often used by business leaders. Whereas many of them have a fair understanding of what it is, a good number of them will also struggle to explain what exactly it is. Moving to business strategy, Michael D. Watkins a professor at IMD defines it as a set of guiding principles that, when communicated and adopted in the organization, generates a desired pattern of decision making. Strategic management therefore involves the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the major goals and initiatives taken by a company’s top management based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organization operates.

In a broad sense, organizational capacity is about having the internal support and resources needed to effectively manage your business operations. It encompasses three major categories;

Human resources like number, quality, skill set and experiences of staff.

  • Physical and material resources like machines, land and building.
  • Financial resources like cash in the bank and credit facilities.
  • Information resources like a pool of knowledge and databases.
  • Intellectual resources like copyrights, designs and patents.

With many business executives attaching enormous significance to strategy and how it can be implemented in their businesses, often times they quickly get bogged down when it comes to the nutty-gritty of its implementation. It is therefore imperative to note that strategy is largely resources and more specifically how people in the entire company should make decisions and apportion resources in order accomplish key objectives.

Every time a strategy is being formulated, the big question should always be Do I have the capacity to deliver on the activities to reach my desired goal? A good strategy therefore offers a clear road-map, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions and resources people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in the finance & banking industry, MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Feb 27

Business Tip – Leverage on your strengths

No enterprise exists without challenges; industrial or those unique to the business. It is very tempting for organisations to focus more on bridging gaps and handling challenges when in fact they can instead focus on leveraging on their current strengths. Certain business strengths become unique competitive advantages for business to not only survive, but also thrive in this highly competitive business environment today. Every business possesses unique strong points which can be translated into a financial boost for the business if carefully considered. It is almost impossible for businesses to leverage on their strengths without a clear understanding of what these strengths are and intentionally choosing to build on these strengths to grow the business.  Here are strategies to leverage on your strengths;

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis …objectively

A SWOT analysis involves an understanding of an organisations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal while opportunities and threats are external. When conducting the SWOT analysis, it is important to engage all your employees to provide a more objective and comprehensive view of the organisation as a whole. 

  • Strengths describe the positive attributes, tangible and intangible attributes, internal to your organisation. They are within your control. What do you do well? What resources do you have? What advantages do you have over your competition?
  • Weaknesses are factors that are within your control (internal) that limit your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive edge. Which areas might you improve?
  • Opportunities are the external factors that your business can tap into to exist and prosper. What opportunities exist in your market, or in the environment, from which you hope to benefit? What factors are potential threats to your business?
  • Threats are unfavorable factors beyond your control (external) that could place your business at risk by deteriorating revenues or profit.

As an organisation, what are your strengths; is it your highly competitive team? The strategically focused directors? Is it your networks and connections? Or your unique innovations? With the comprehensive knowledge of what your strengths are, you can, as a business, develop a plan on how to use your strengths to better take on existing opportunities in a way that is beneficial to the company.

2. Understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of your employees and leverage on them

Management should be in position to know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. As much as it is key to support staff improve in their areas of weakness, management should focus more on engaging staff in their areas of strength or on their positive characteristics as this provides more positive results for the organisation. During recruitment, employers should target on the unique strengths of potential staff and ensure their strengths fit strategically with the organisation.

Engaging staff in their areas of strength have a higher productivity, commitment and there is a higher potential for retention and longevity in the organisation

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Business Analyst . She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 3 years’ experience in consulting for SMEs and in the service sector. She is keen on strategy, finance and procurement. She has previously worked for Riham Foods and MTN. You can follow her on twitter >> @achirosarah

Feb 21

Success Tips to Time Management: Work smarter

Over the course of your career and personal life, you could have taken a time management class, read about it in books, and tried to use an electronic or paper-based day planner to organize, prioritize and schedule your day. “While, with this knowledge and these gadgets,” you may ask, “do I still feel like I cannot get everything I need done?” It is at this point that you need to understand what time management means, but before you even think about time management, you need to understand what the word time means.

“Time” simply refers to the period when a particular thing happens. There are two types of time: clock time and real time.

Having known the two types of time, you may still ask yourself the kind of time in which you live. The good news for you is that real time is ideal. It is mental, you can create it bearing in mind that anything you create, you can manage.

Much like money, time is both valuable and limited: it must be protected, used wisely, and budgeted for. People who practice good time management techniques often find that they:

  • Are more productive
  • Have more energy for things they need to accomplish,
  • Feel less stressed,
  • Are able to do the things they want,
  • Get more things done and
  • Relate more positively to others

Finding time management success tips that work best for you depends on your personality, ability to self-motivate and level of self-discipline. By incorporating some, or all of the tips below, you can more effectively manage your time.

1. Set priorities

You could be that person that is very well organized and works hard, yet spend all your time on unimportant tasks. If you are this person, then you could be efficient but not effective. To be effective, you need to decide on what tasks are urgent and important and to focus on them. This is called prioritizing. Completing the most important tasks first is the golden rule of time management. Each morning, it is important that you consider at least two or three tasks that are most crucial and begin with those. One of the easiest ways to prioritize is to make a “to do” list. Whether you need a daily, weekly or monthly list depends on your lifestyle. Just be careful not to allow the list-making to get out of control and do not keep multiple lists at the same time. Rank the items on your “to do” list in order of priority (both important and urgent). Having a prioritized “to do” list allows you to say “no” to activities that may be interesting or provide a sense of achievement but do not fit your basic priorities.

2. Get organized

Most people find that disorganization results into poor time management. Professional organizers recommend that you first get rid of the clutter. This can be done in a commonly used method of separating all your activities into 3 categories that is: keep, give away and toss. It is important that you throw away all the items in the toss category. The items in the giveaway category are usually those that you would want to delegate, discontinue and offer or even sell to someone. It I also important that you find a way of eliminating these items one by one.

 3. Schedule time appropriately

Even the busiest people find time for what they want to do and feel is important. Scheduling is not just recording what you have to do (e.g., meetings and appointments), it is also making a time commitment to the things you want to do. Good scheduling requires that you know yourself. Using your time log, you should have determined those times during the day when you are most productive and alert. Plan your most challenging tasks for when you have the most energy. Block out time for your high priority activities first and protect that time from interruptions

4. Delegate

Delegation means assigning responsibility for a task to someone else, freeing up some of your time for tasks that require your expertise. This begins by identifying tasks that others can do and then selecting the appropriate person(s) to do them. You need to select someone with the appropriate skills, experience, interest, and authority needed to accomplish the task. Delegating helps you takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

 5. Avoid multitasking

If you are multi-tasking so much that you are just not getting anything done, then is important that you focus on just one key task at one time. Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Recent studies show that multitasking does not save any time. In fact, the opposite is true. There is always a lot of time wastage in switching from one task to another thus less productivity. Daily multitasking leads to less concentration and loss of focus when needed

6. Stay healthy

It is very important for one to know that the care and attention you give to yourself is an important life investment. Scheduling time to relax can help you rejuvenate both physically and mentally, enabling you to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily.

You may feel you are working too much and maybe planning to head for a burnout and have lost your enthusiasm and creativity. It is time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around “not having enough time,” or today not being “the right time” to start a business or manage your current business properly. Poor time management can result in fatigue, moodiness, and more frequent illness. To reduce stress, you should reward yourself for a time management success. Take time to recognize that you have accomplished a major task or challenge before moving on to the next activity.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline  joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

 

Feb 14

5 things you and your CEO are expected to know about digital technology

A few years ago, while I worked in a leading business and management consultancy firm, I became a huge fan of Management Guru – Peter Drucker. In one of his books called “Innovation & Entrepreneurship’, he articulated that the future is happening now and if you do not believe it, look around for yourself and see how many so-called traditional things are being challenged on a daily basis by new innovations.

One of these so-called traditional things being tested is the business marketing model. In a previous article on this blog, we learnt that marketing refers to everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as marketing.

So the question to ponder over then becomes, with this increasing advancement in technology, is #InYourFace marketing still going to be as effective as it used to be?

At BLEGSCOPE, we have learned/learnt to embrace innovation whether it is generated internally or is comes from an external source as long as it seeks to improve efficiency and the way we relate with our staff and clients. In our quest to improve our outreach, we stumbled upon digital marketing and as mentioned earlier by Peter Drucker, the future is indeed happening now.

Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of your online marketing efforts. Various institutions whether commercial businesses, governments and non-profits) leverage digital channels such as Google search, social media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers and stakeholders. Whereas in the early 2000s, marketing was clearly done and seen to be done on billboards and print media particularly in hard copy, there has been a strong shift in having a lot or marketing being done online. If you had not noticed, technology has allowed you to communicate faster and more affordably across the entire globe and this has led to a lot of shared information and lessons from different economies on how they can make strides in business.

The reality is, people spend twice as much time online as they used to 15 to 20 years ago. And while we say it a lot, the way people shop and buy really has changed, meaning offline marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be. Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means that you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on the internet.

Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media and differs from traditional marketing in that it involves the use of channels and methods that enable an organization to analyze marketing campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t – typically in real time. Digital marketers monitor things like what is being viewed, how often and for how long, sales conversions, what content works and doesn’t work, etc. While the Internet is, perhaps, the channel most closely associated with digital marketing, others include wireless text messaging, mobile instant messaging, mobile apps, podcasts, electronic billboards, digital television and radio channels, etc.

Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Here are 5 critical things you and your CEO are expected to know in order to compete in the era of digital marketing;

The digital technologies underlying these competitive thrusts may not be new, but they are being used to new effect. Smart mobile devices make that information and computing power accessible to users around the world.

Digital capabilities increasingly will determine which companies create or lose value.

ONE> New pressure on prices as many platforms are extremely affordable

Digital technologies create near-perfect transparency, making it easy to compare prices, service levels, and product performance. This dynamic can commoditize products and services as consumers demand comparable features and simple interactions.

TWO> Communication is all the time and is borderless

Digital media is so widespread that consumers (and your competition) have access to information any time and any place they want it. Gone are the days when the messages people got about your products or services came from you and consisted of only what you wanted them to know. People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized and relevant, and offers tailored to their needs and preferences.

THREE> the war for talent is ever more present

In the digital space, software replaces labour. Now the focus shifts from extremely talented specialists to having digital analytical skills. A key challenge for senior managers and business leaders will be sensitively reallocating the savings from automation to the talent needed to forge digital businesses. One local company, for example, is simultaneously planning to cut a large employee base and instead add to its digital business. Moves like these, will have significant social repercussions, elevating the opportunities and challenges associated with digital advances to a public-policy issue, not just a strategic-business one.

FOUR> Converging global supply and demand

Digital technologies know no borders, and the customer’s demand for a unified experience is raising pressure on global companies to standardize offerings. They have come to expect payment systems that work across borders, global distribution, and a uniform customer experience.

FIVE> Business models are changing at alarming speeds

Finally, digitization is creating online platforms that bring efficiency and speed to production and cross-border exchanges. Thriving e-commerce platforms allow greater and faster flows of goods and services to new markets and help smaller players participate in expanding global trade. It is now certain that in the financial eco-system, of the numerous end-to-end processes in banks (e.g. opening an account or getting a small loan), more than 65% have been fully automated; just look at MTN’s Mobile Money lending platform MoKash which has a credit evaluation process that lasts all of 4 minutes. Diagnostics are being done at the speed of light thanks to the ability to scan and store massive amounts of extensive research and customer data.

Regardless of your role/position at your organisation, it is important to keep in mind that digitization is a moving target. The emergent nature of digital forces means that harnessing them is a journey, not a destination and thus a rare opportunity to reposition your company for a new era of competition and growth.

The marketing game is changing, and it is pulling businesses along with it. From the need to automate and take a data-driven approach, to relying on consumers for brand awareness, businesses are faced with the stark choice of evolving or being disrupted. The new face of marketing is a harsh but rewarding place where only the nimble survive only and only if you continue adding value.

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund Kamugisha Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ years of   management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

Feb 13

Role of the Board of Directors- Business Tip

Different business executives and scholars have different on views about the roles and responsibilities of a board of directors (BOD). However, most of them have a lot in common. In simple terms, a BOD is a group of people legally charged with the responsibility to govern a corporation. In a for-profit corporation, a BOD is a group of individuals that are elected as, or elected to act as, representatives of the shareholders to establish corporate management related to making major or strategic decisions on company issues and control in terms of policies. In a nonprofit corporation, the BOD reports to stakeholders, particularly the local communities which the nonprofit serves. Here below, we share with you the 5 most important reasons why you need a BOD.

1. Nurtures Independence and Accountability

Boards are (or at least are expected to be) independent, act only in the interest of the organisation, free from conflicting interests that can compromise their judgment and be able to take a solid stand in times of difficulty. From a legal perspective, directors have a dual mandate of advisory and oversight. They are collectively or in rare cases even individually accountable for your company’s performance, compliance and risk mitigation strategies.

2. Development Strategic Direction

BODs have the utmost responsibility of establishing the organisations’ strategy. The level of involvement of the Board however may vary depending on the size of organisations. Rather than just being a “rubber-stamp”, engaged Boards take a lead role in devising Corporate Strategies, ensuring that the company and all its departments are aligned towards its Strategic goals and organisational capacity at the same time monitoring proper implementation and execution of these Strategic Plans.

3. Enhances Credibility and Legitimacy

An effective BOD depicts integrity and availability of balanced objective advice which minimises or eliminates risk. Funders, financiers, Investors and other partners view it favorably, which effectively lowers the cost of capital financing for organisations. Customers, employees and vendors view it as a safeguard of their interests. The vital safety of interests of various stakeholders of an organisation due to the existence of BODs further enhances the credibility of the business.

4. Supports Effective Corporate Governance

An organisations’ Corporate Governance structure is critical for its successes. Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community. They are guidelines as to how your company can fulfill their goals to enhance value.

5.  Attracts Skills and Expertise

Many organisation (especially small ones) may not have all the skills competencies and experiences needed to operate effectively and continuously in an ever-changing environment. A BOD helps the senior leadership to step back from the daily operational grinds and focus strategically on its business. Directors bring expertise from Strategy, Human Resources, Operations, Finance, Legal, Marketing, ICT and specialised industry related skills are almost always sought after. Other directors can bring along business contacts and networks, especially relevant for start-ups and high-growth companies. BODs also stand to gain when they have Gender, Demographic and Cultural Diversity.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in the finance & banking industry, MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Feb 07

The 6 step guide to developing a marketing plan for your business

In our previous article “how a well-developed marketing plan simplifies your everyday marketing job”, we defined what marketing is and its importance in the day to day growing of your business. Today we share with you the guide that could help you develop an effective marketing plan for your business.

Marketing can take many forms and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts depends on an integrated approach. Remember, your written plan is only as good as the thought and planning that you put into it. Therefore, you should see the development of your marketing plan as an opportunity to gain an in –depth understanding of your customer so that all future decisions are based on the profitable provision of what your customer wants. It is important that your marketing plan is customer-driven rather than promotion-led. In other words, you need to get to know your customers first and then plan how you can best deliver what they need.

There are many different approaches to building a marketing plan. There is no single common approach, but there are essential elements which every marketing plan must have.

Originally created in the 1990s by writer and speaker PR Smith, the SOSTAC framework has built an authoritative reputation as the framework of choice for different scales of business including multinational and startup organisations across the world. SOSTAC is a widely used tool for marketing and business planning that is rated among the top marketing models. SOSTAC literally stands for the following: Situational analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Control, and this is how you can apply them to develop an effective marketing plan:

1. Situational analysis: This gives an overview of your organisation that is; who you are and the kind of products or services you offer. There are various numerous potential customers in most markets, for your business to succeed faster and better, you must study the market broadly and determine the behavior of its best target customers, but before you can do all this and set out your objectives for the year(s) ahead, you need to find out what is happening in the market place and how fit your business is to meet the challenges for the year(s) ahead. This helps you to answer the key question: “where are we now?” and to answer that question you need to research the key trends in your sector, find out how you perform relative to your competition in the eyes of the consumer and you need to figure out what your key strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you to do a good SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

2. Objectives. “Your marketing objectives are a clear expression of what your business wants to achieve in marketing terms in the future planning period.” As a company or organization, it is important that you figure out the core need that your products and services will meet.  You should be able to tell if: the product will help your customers get through the day more easily, be respected and admired by friends, and help them to carry out their job more efficiently. Thus your offerings to the customer should be well designed to solve clients’ problems or meet customer needs in a more effective way than the competition available can provide.  Each objective should be Strategic, Measurable, and Attainable, relevant and time bound.

3. Strategy. Strategy means how you plan to get there in terms of fulfilling the objectives set. The strategy section should also identify which segments of the market you aim to target with your plan. However much you may produce a high quality product or how good the service you provide may be, there is always high competition for your target customers on the market. Small businesses rarely consider spending time to study their competition in depth, or determine the competition that may be outside their industry but are just as capable of luring the customer away. This can be done by finding out who they are, what their competitive advantage is and how they will respond to your offering. This will help you figure out strategies to handle such losses. The strategy should be based on the 7P’s that is; pricing, product, place, people, promotion, process and partnerships.

The strategy section should also identify which segments of the market you aim to target with your plan. You should be able to state down a simple declarative sentence of how to meet customer needs and beat the competition.

4. Tactics. Tactics cover the specific tools taken in implementing your strategy. These actions comprise what is to be done, in what order, using which tools and personnel. You may employ a number of tactics and involve many different departments and people in this effort to reach a common goal. These tactics include; the kind of communication tools to use and how they can be used, the kind of message to be communicated and consistency across the different tools and messages, and the necessary resources and budget.

You may even recruit service providers to accomplish your objectives. Tactics typically requires the involvement of the organization as a whole.

5. Action. Telling the world about your organization’s new brand direction requires a sound action plan. This is mainly about the 3 M’s; Men (men and women and their expertise to do different activities), Money (the amount of money required to carry out the activities), Minutes (the time schedules and deadlines of completing the activities).

It is also important that you appoint the person taking up a particular activity, know when it is to be done, determine the resource allocation, the key performance measures and how performance will be measured.

6. Control. The final stage is to lay out how you plan to monitor and measure your performance based on the objectives set. Having considered the actions, then your control section is providing you with a series of dashboards tailored for each action. To keep proper control of your marketing plan, it is important that you do action performance measurements relating to the objectives, determine the responsibility for measurement and then review the measurement.

Whether you are a small company or a large corporation, one of the primary keys to your business’ success lies in preparing and implementing a good marketing plan. You can have the most awesome product or service to offer but without a plan in place, you may flounder for direction and waste a lot of time and energy as a result. Consider that your marketing plan, which is separate and apart from a business plan, is an essential element to the success of your company. The plan should contain data and specifics pertaining to your company’s goals, the product or service you are offering, how you intend to market it and a means for measuring your success.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline  joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

 

Feb 06

Need for compliance: Business tip

The concept of compliance is to make sure that corporations act responsibly. Compliance comprises of the statutory, company or organizational regulations on lawful and responsible conduct by the company, its employees, and its management and supervisory bodies. Compliance with regulations may be a complex issue, and with the regulations constantly changing, it may be hard to keep up-to-date. Most organisations are usually busy and usually spend time focusing on different issues thus fail to give all aspects of the business the attention they deserve. As a result, procedures and processes become out of date and this too brings serious complications in running businesses. What you need to note, is that Compliance can be broken down into two areas.

1. Statutory / Regulatory compliance, which is making sure that any business or action conducted by a company, is within legal parameters and/or that all “reasonable” actions have been taken in order to prevent incidents. These include taxes, licences and standards among others.

2. Internal Compliance is the other one. This often goes by a multitude of different names but they all concentrate on internal policies and standards and ensuring that a company operates according to its own created culture.  A good rule of thumb is to set internal standards higher than the regulatory standards. These may include preparation of monthly financial statements.

The three major reasons for compliance are;

  • Avoidance of Criminal Charges

This could probably be the most beneficial importance of compliance to an organisation. No business wants to face criminal charges for not adhering to the law. Depending on different countries or sectors, there are many regulations and laws in regards to how a business should be managed. This ranges from its employees, advertisements, production processes, quality levels, safety and many others. With a proper compliance kit and proper compliance management a company can stay on the light side of the law.

  • Building Positive Reputation

A company’s image is very key factor to propelling it to success. Stakeholders always shy away from enterprises which are known for not meeting basic expectations. When a company starts facing several court cases, the general public will lose their trust in the company and sales in products and services will eventually drop. Compliance enables a company to uphold a positive image and build stakeholders’ trust. This also helps build consumer loyalty, since customers are more likely going to return to a service or product from a company they identify as trustworthy. In the same way, it also helps with sponsors, advertisers, and government requirements.

  • Higher Productivity in an organisation

Internal compliance to safety, wages, employee benefits, compensations, and employee protection will create a positive environment in the work area. Employees are more passionate to work when they feel that that they are well compensated for their efforts and that they are safe within the business’ reach. It is important that internal compliance is adhered to, since it will ensure that employees are satisfied and that all complains or issues are monitored and addressed properly before they grow and affect the entire corporation.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in the finance & banking industry, MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Feb 03

Looking to grow your business? Here is how to develop lean business model.

Many startups and SMEs struggle with the concept of following a business plan. Most of them either do not know how to develop one and do not see the relevance of having one for their businesses. Most of them also struggle with getting the ideas out of their heads and onto paper with the fear that their idea may be stolen and implemented by somebody else. All fears aside, planning for your business is key and the common saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail” is not new to most of us. All your ideas and plans for your business need to be documented in a business plan.

A business plan is a critical business document that highlights the profile of a company, communicates its goals and how the business intends to reach these goals. A business plan clearly highlights and details key elements that ease the operations and specific functions of the business itself. Your business plan should have key elements such as the company profile, a marketing plan, human resource plan, operations plan, risk analysis, SWOT analysis among others. A business plan should be functional, accurate and comprehensively cover all elements of the business.

One of the most critical elements of a business plan is the business model. All businesses exist to make money and without it none of them can survive. A business model is therefore very vital for business because it shows the business how and when it is going to make money. The business model answers key questions such as:

  • What value do you deliver?
  • What customer challenge do you solve?
  • How will you generate revenue?
  • What is your cost structure and profit margin

In summary, your business model is focused towards profitability of the business. With the continual and rapid forces of disruption in today’s economy, businesses need to develop and regularly update their business models to avoid being kicked out of the highly competitive market.

The business model canvas is a relatively new phenomena and approach to developing business models that was first proposed by Alexander Osterwalder in his work Business Model Ontology. This approach has been adopted by new and existing business both large and small. Today, I share with you the 9 building blocks (from the business model canvas) to developing a lean and strategic business model for your business;

1. Identify your key activities

What are the key activities in your business? Is it managing the supply chain, is it manufacturing products? Is it providing knowledge? Is your focus driving down costs? The key business activities are the most important activities required in executing the company’s value proposition. Once the key activities have been identified, identify how you can streamline and restructure these activities to cut costs and increase profitability to the business.

2. Who are your key partners?

Today, the success and failure of an organization can depend on the quality of its partners, partnerships and strategic alliances. Business enter into alliances for reasons such as support in marketing, or brand reputation, geographic expansion, cost reduction, manufacturing, and other supply-chain synergies. Strategic alliances allow organisations to meet their objectives, while maintaining the flexibility to adapt quickly by switching partners, as appropriate. In many markets, strategic alliances are no longer a choice; they’re a necessity. Businesses therefore need to identify who their key, what key activities they perform, what new potential partners they are looking at and how they can build mutually beneficial relationships with them.

3.  What are your key resources?

Every business requires resources and it is only through them that the company creates value for the customer and ultimately profitability. A company’s resources can be physical (infrastructure, motor vehicles, stores etc.), intellectual (brands, patents, copyrights etc.), human (people) and financial. Once you have identified them, it is important to understand how these resources are creating value for you and your customers and how they can better be managed to sustain and support business growth and profitability.

4. What is your value proposition?

In a highly competitive market, it is every business’ desire to offer the product of choice in the market and attract a large number of buyers. This requires innovations and continuous improvement, offering of satisfactory services and designing unique product features to beat the competition in the market. The value proposition element describes what products your business offers to the market, it explains how your products solve customer problems or improves their situation, what benefits your product provides and why they should buy from you and not the competition.

5. How do you segment your customers?

A business’ customers consists of a diverse group of individuals and companies. It is therefore essential that a business divides these customers into groups with similar characteristics, interests and buying patterns in a process called customer segmentation. Ask yourself what are your key customer clusters/segments? Which is the most important segment where the company drives its highest profits? How can we uniquely satisfy the needs of each customer segment in a manner that derives the highest profits and benefits for the company?

6. How will you maintain customer/client relationships

Customer relationships are essential in offering the desired product/service, ensuring repeat purchase and receiving feedback about the products are services offered. In developing a business model, your focus in this area should be on how to get, retain and grow your customers, building mutually beneficial relationships with your customers, establishing the cost of maintaining these relationships and identifying how the business intends to relate with their customers in their segments in a way that blends with the overall business model.

7.0 What distribution or marketing channels do you intend to use?

A well thought out distribution channel can become a unique competitive advantage for your business. A company can chose either direct (personal selling, online selling, emails etc.) or indirect distribution channels (retailers, wholesalers, agents/brokers etc.) for its products. The choice of distribution channels depends on factors such as number of customer segments, amount of investment required, amount of control by the business and the relationship with the distributor, in case of indirect channels. In deciding what channel of distribution to use, consideration should be put on the customers’ preferred channel, channels being used by competitors, the most cost efficient channels and the most appropriate channel, depending on the type of product/service being offered.

8. What is your cost structure?

For any business to make a profit, the revenues should exceed the costs at all times. A company’s costs can be divided into fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs do not change however variable costs change from time to time. Ask yourself what are the most expensive activities? What resources are the most expensive? What elements of your business can attract a cost reduction? How can you reduce your operational costs without compromising the quality of your products?

9. What are your revenue streams?

A business needs to generate revenues/cash to support its day to day operations. What products does your business offer? What are your customers paying for? What pricing tactics are you using? These are only a few of the questions you need to ask yourself in regard to revenue streams. Revenue streams are more concerned with cash flows than with profitability. Is your company making money through selling products/assets, advertising, brokerage, subscription fees, renting etc.? How can you widen your revenue streams to generate more cash to run business operations?

The lean business model answers key questions in regard to the overall operations of any business. Whether you are in manufacturing (read our article on lean manufacturing) or in the service industry, developing a unique business model will allow you to focus key areas in your business to ensure efficiency, cost reduction, revenue generation and profitability.

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Business Analyst . She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 3 years’ experience in consulting for SMEs and in the service sector. She is keen on strategy, finance and procurement. She has previously worked for Riham Foods and MTN. You can follow her on twitter >> @achirosarah

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