Jun 12

BUSINESS TIP – Adapting Digital Marketing

In this changing world, hardly anything has stayed the same. As Peter Drucker put it, the role of business is to create a customer. Today, we are putting forward a business tip in this regard. Marketing like other spheres of business is also changing as it responds to the business environment. The biggest change is the emergence of digital marketing which has become a big force, no one can afford to ignore. For example, according to Hubspot 2016, 73% of people say that they use Facebook for professional purposes.

Digital marketing is not merely developing a nice website. It is a lot more than that and involves setting clear approaches that are intended to bring potential clients to your website and convert them to customers. Millions of people are using the Internet each day to search for things they need. People in your community are searching for the products and services you provide. Internet marketing makes sure that when someone types a keyword into a search engine that is relevant to your business, your website appears at the top of the search results. 

Digital marketing is undisputedly a dominant force in business today that you can use to reach out to your customers and prospects. It empowers you to interact directly and converse with potential customers, this tool can be far more effective than traditional marketing. Key to note however, mastering digital marketing is not easy, and take a lot of commitment to enjoy full benefits. You may employ services of an expert to come up with a winning strategy. Without a strategy, playing around with a blog, Facebook or Twitter will be useless. With the right strategy, these tools can bring new customers in and create loyal followers from present customers

 

 By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is an entrepreneur and business advisor. He is also the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has close to 15 years of business advisory experience notably in the financial services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, real estate, infrastructure, and agriculture among others. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Jun 05

BUSINESS TIP – Financial Management for SMEs

World over, just like it the case here in Uganda, many business are started every year, and only a small fraction of them survive till the second birthday, in case they made it to their very first birthday. Many reasons may be advanced, but it all boils down to one thing; there is little or no cash to sustain the business and it thus becomes inevitable to close shop. Therefore finances are very important for the survival of any business and thus must be accorded due attention. This brings us to the subject of Financial Management.

Every business especially start-ups should be aware that financial decisions even when made at an early stage can be the most important, as well as the most difficult to make. The ability to raise the right finances, putting in place the right controls, and planning financial matters effectively are key ingredients to supporting business growth and enabling adaptability to the ever evolving business environment.

Businesses need to keep all financial records and later produce financial reports. These reports serve different purposes for both control and planning. Important to note is that small businesses who prepare their own financial statements often need the support of professionals to address financial and business issues including cash management, debt advice and management structures. When these businesses grow, they may find themselves subject to a statutory audit requirement as turnover increases.

Small Businesses owners should also be aware that whereas it may not be mandatory to conduct an audit, one should consider having an external assurance assessment of their financial information in order to build confidence with other external stakeholders such as tax authorities and banks.

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

May 30

Interpersonal skills: The attribute many organisations are missing out on creating team synergy

In our previous article, we defined interpersonal skills and explained how they can be practiced the right way. In today’s article we share with you how we can use the same interpersonal skills in creating and instilling team synergy.

So many organisations today have faced challenges due to a lack of teamwork. Numerous workers have failed to understand and appreciate each other for the work others have done, and have instead resorted to conflicts based on misunderstandings, which has in turn contributed to poor performance of many organisations. Apparently, research indicates that 85% of the reasons teams struggle while working together is due to poor interpersonal skills and the 15% is due to other technical reasons.

Interpersonal skills are very important and healthy for every organisation and the following are some of the ways in which people with interpersonal skills can help improve on its performance:

  • Provision of good client service
  • Proper conflict resolving
  • Ensuring effective communication
  • Ensuring team work
  • Conveying professionalism

Prior to the above advantages, it is important that people who work together play certain roles within teams so as to create team synergy and these roles include:

  1. Respect fellow team members: It is well known that every person has a different unique talent and way of learning and doing things. Therefore every individual should respect their fellow team members in all aspects of life such as viewpoints, religion, lifestyle, physical ability and many more. In every team, it is important to know that an environment in which members are treated with respect and dignity promotes team synergy thus better productivity.

  1. Open communication and honest feedback; Open communication and sharing of ideas in an organisation is very important for a successful team work to be in place. For an effective communication to take place, team members should have an open mind, participate in active listening and have a better and clear understanding of the organization’s goals. It is also important that every individual develops the will to accept any criticism and provide genuine feedback.

  1. Interdependence: The degree of interdependence in an organisation arises from several sources including the differentiation of roles, the distribution of skills and resources, and the manner in which goals are defined and achieved, and the manner in which performance is rewarded and feedback is given. Team members need to create an environment where they can contribute far more together than as individuals. A positive interdependent team brings out the best in each person enabling the team to achieve their goals at a higher level. Individuals should promote and encourage their fellow team members to achieve, contribute, and learn.

  1. Proper team composition: This is very essential in the creation of a successful team. Team members need to be fully aware of their specific team role and understand what is expected of them in terms of their contribution to the team and the project.

  1. Commitment to team processes especially leadership and accountability: Every team member should be accountable for their contribution to the team. Every individual should be aware of team processes, best practice and new ideas. Effective leadership for each individual is essential for a team’s success including shared decision-making and problem solving.

In conclusion, all the above roles are extremely important in both creating and maintaining team synergy, and once put in action will help doing away with conflicts and misunderstands in organisations, thus leading to excellent performance

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

Apr 04

Practicing interpersonal skills the right way

Anyone can master interpersonal skills and communication; however there are some people you and I know who are naturally good at it. For most people, it takes conscious effort and practice to master this skill, while for those who appear naturally good at it never seem to struggle. In today’s world, we are much more aware of instances of bullying, harassment, intimidation and threats. Sensitive people experience more intense emotions that are more easily aroused and that last longer than those who are not emotionally sensitive. We react faster with greater emotional intensity that lasts longer. Our emotional reactions can be triggered by television shows, magazine articles, places that trigger memories, anniversaries and other events.  Interpersonal issues are one of the most challenging areas for us.

In my article today, I share with you on how to practice/ improve your interpersonal skills, but before i introduce you to the topic, it is important that we understand the meaning of interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are those pertaining to relationships with people. Interpersonal skills gauge how good you are at interacting with others. For example, the interpersonal skill of knowing how to respectfully communicate with someone is called “active listening.” Interpersonal skills are composed of many different important soft skills, which include:

  • Mentoring
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation

Working on interpersonal skills and ways to manage emotions in relationships can help you reduce the suffering you experience on a daily basis. Below are some of the steps you can follow to help you achieve interpersonal skills in your day to day life:

Self-awareness: it is important that you discover and know how best you currently communicate. You may seek feedback from a trusted friend or relative or professional colleague on your non-verbal behavior. This helps you to realise what you could be missing. If you fail to know, gather feedback from various places or even appraisals so you can know your strengths and weaknesses. Use the rest of this list to help with your self-assessment.

Keeping the other person in mind: For any instance involving interpersonal skills, you should plan out your approach with a certain person ahead of time. Considering the other person is always important. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what might be their mindset, sensitivities, and how they may receive your words. Effective interpersonal skills can only happen if you understand where the other person stands.

 Determining your desired win-win outcome: The outcome of any conversation must be a “win-win,” but not all outcomes you desire are good for the relationship. For example, you may want to prove that you are right, but that would mean the other person needs to be proven wrong. You may win the argument, but lose the relationship. That is not a good outcome.

Listen as much as you speak: Effective interpersonal skills is a two way street.  It is advised that one  should spend at least 50% of the conversation listening. We are sometimes prepared so much that all we focus on is talking. You can lose the listener quickly that way. Pause after a few sentences so the other party can respond. That way you can adapt your communication based on how they react. Sometimes it takes fewer words than you think to achieve the “win-win” outcome.

Do not expect anything:  You cannot control or change anyone else. This is an easy concept that is easy to forget. After all this work, you put into structuring an interpersonal skills, there is no guarantee about how the other person will react. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. All you can do is play your part the best you can, accept whatever you get, and adapt your actions from there.

At the end of the day, the key to effective interpersonal skills come down to practice. We interact with people every day. Some interactions can go well, while others may not. That is part of the process. As long as you put conscious effort into improving, you will become effective at interpersonal skills over time.

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

 

 

 

 

Mar 28

What you are not told about being an internal customer!

In a very candid and open discussion with one of my cousins, we broached the subject of how certain restaurants in our country always look lovely on the outside, but somehow always fall short on key things like warm welcomes, mixed up orders and delayed service. In our deeper analysis, we wondered whether having excellent customer service is a sure sign of a good product/ service.

We realised that customer service is an external-focused arena and it is geared towards somebody offering you some form of payment for your service/product. External customers have choices and if they feel your product / service is below par or that your actual customer service is weak, they can take their business elsewhere.

An internal customer on the other hand is anyone in the organisation. It can be a co-worker, a service provider whose products/ services help you achieve your own deliverables for the clients or a department in your organisation that works with you. In simple terms, an internal customer has no choice. A simple definition of an internal customer is anyone within an organization that, at any time, is dependent on anyone else within that organization. This internal customer can be someone you work for as well as someone who works with you. For example, if the business development department doesn’t like the finance departments credit policies, they can’t fire that department and hire another.

Excellent customer service creates customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer retention. So really, what is the fuss about internal customers, especially when retention isn’t an issue?

Outstanding internal customer service is simply good business. Internal customer service can flourish only in high communication environment. To create positive internal customer service, all departments work together cooperatively, agree on processes and procedures, and negotiate expectations. Like gears meshing in sync, interdependent business units meet each other’s needs, work productively together to meet common goals, and deliver high quality products and service to the external customer.

Everyone within your organization affects the outside customer, and virtually everything you’ve read or learned about customer service in general applies to the internal customer. What is not mentioned however frequently you notice it and discuss it quietly amongst your colleagues is that for an internal customer system to work with good harmony, a good enough atmosphere must be created; a sort of roundtable atmosphere where everyone is keen on sharing and helping the other and in essence being an internal customer of each other.

Whether you are a subordinate staff, mid-level manager, senior officer, director or business owner, it is imperative that you do not take being an internal customer for granted and pay attention to the following tips aimed at creating the above talked about harmonius ambience

Here are some tips for creating that atmosphere:

1. Start with your own perspective: Regard fellow employees and other departments as your customers. Understand that helping your colleagues do their jobs more successfully helps your organization and you. Therefore they are your customers. Treat them almost like VIPs without feeling like you are kissing their behinds

2. Set clear expectations. As an internal provider of service, you are responsible for setting clear guidelines about what internal customers can reasonably expect. Last minute requests are typically due to poor planning on the part of the internal customer. However, if someone reaches out to you with a request while you’re working on something time sensitive, talk with them and identify how important his or her task is relative to yours.  If they have unrealistic expectations, explain your workflow, priorities, processes, and timelines. Then, reinforce your goal to provide top-notch service for them

3. Get to know your teammates/ fellow internal customers. Go to lunch with co-workers in other departments or schedule quick calls just to check in and see what’s happening in their department. At BLEGSCOPE most of our team works on select projects in small teams, so it has become relatively easy to get to know each other. If you are in an organisation that has its staff working remotely, it may take a little more effort most of your colleagues, but it is worth it.

4. Understand the “big picture.” Develop an understanding of how the whole organization works. How does what you contribute fit into the big picture? What do other departments need from you to meet their goals? Think outside of you, your function and department.

 5. Always keep customers informed on project progress.Nobody likes to be blindsided by delays or last minute requests for additional information. I like to err on the side of over-communication. If you’ve finished a portion of the request, let them know the status, and when you plan to complete the rest of the project.

6. View interruptions not as nuisances, but as opportunities to serve your internal customers. If someone interrupts you to share gossip, that’s a pothole. If someone interrupts you to ask for sales figures she needs to analyze sales team performance, that’s a necessary lane change that will get your company closer to its destination. Learn to identify every real need from a colleague as a “necessary lane change,” and think of them as an opportunity to move your organization closer to its goals.

 7. Exceed your internal customers’ expectations. When someone exceeds your expectations, how do you feel? Most people feel delighted, excited, upbeat and very, very positive about that person and his or her organization. Think what you can accomplish in your organization by exceeding the expectations of fellow employees

8. Make your co-workers feel valued. Recognize them with a smile and call them by name. When someone approaches your desk stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and be attentive to what they have to say.

9. Develop a positive attitude. Your attitude is reflected in everything you do. It not only determines how you approach your job and your co-workers, but it also determines how they respond to you. Avoid complaining. Do whatever it takes to get the job done—and done right.

10. Identify and anticipate needs. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

11. Say thank you. A simple, genuine “thank you” goes much farther to create an atmosphere of sharing and helping than two such small words would suggest. Even when it is a person’s job to provide information or a product to you, tell them “thank you” when they have done it. Express your appreciation of their timeliness in providing it. Explain how it has made your job much easier. Show them your delight when they exceed your expectations.

All in all, your willingness to help others get their jobs done will lead them to readily assist you when you need it.

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 16

6 ways to instill initiative in your team

Are you a manager grinding out results at your form of employment? Are you a Business Owner who works in your business as a Leader/ Director?

When things stall, are you constantly wondering who you can assign the mantle too, or is there somebody who is always at your door with some keen initiatives?

Taking initiative is essentially assuming the risk of a possible failure. When doing so, you put yourself out there and things don’t always go as planned. But the alternative is choosing to be inactive.

If you are a leader, it is vital that members of your team make the right choice between doing nothing and doing something. For a healthy, forward-looking operation, they should want to choose action — and this begins with the encouragement of a proactive leader. On the flip side, you may be proactive and still not yield to having members of your team doing something or nothing at all.

For you to inculcate some form of arrangement that makes your team share their thoughts before you ask (as well as come to you with their own ideas) is no mean feat. And for this to happen without them feeling like they will be shut down is even better. Here are some suggestions

1. Start by creating a supportive environment.

Team members need to feel comfortable in their workspace. They should know that while they may strike out, their ideas will be heard and taken seriously by leadership. If the office isn’t a safe place to do this, new ideas will no longer be shared — or conceived at all. Make an effort to tell employees you are excited to hear their thoughts.

You do not have time to sit down and discuss ideas face-to-face? Create a process for workers to submit and share ideas. Even set up a unique email address for this exclusive purpose.

2. Get to know the diverse ways in which the team process ideas and thoughts.

This was borne out a realisation that in any group of individuals, their likes are diverse and helping them appreciate the different likes is a huge challenge. Bring up different scenarios and situations that can be done by them as ONE team to bring them out of their shells but not force them into a bottle.

3. Kick people out of the office for a day or two.

From time to time, encourage your teams or units to meet separately outside their normal work environment. Our firm, BLEGSCOPE did this at the end of the year, and we always make an attempt to do this on a monthly basis on the last Thursday of every month. Members of the team meet off-site for the latter part of the day and share their own goings-on about what they think of the world, the economy and it helps us appreciate each other’s diversity. These thoughts may not have surfaced had the team members met in the same workspace they occupy day to day. Sometimes, all it takes a change of scenery for less vocal employees to come out of their shells and share ideas.

4. Preach volunteering and spearheading. 

Initiative comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to mean highhandedly taking on a new project. Someone can volunteer to help another person who is already on a committee, team or project and support that individual any way he or she knows how. Remind employees that it’s not all about coming up with the idea but also helping to move it forward is valuable, too. If you praise volunteers as potential thought leaders, everyone will realize he or she has an important part to play.

5. Let history speak for itself. 

Looking back on the past, one can find evidence of great things coming from those who take initiative. Breakthrough ideas, inventions and processes exist today because someone recognized a problem and sought a solution. Your employees may not change the face of the future with their work, but there’s a message to be learned from history: No matter how worthy the goal, a person may be unlikely to succeed on the first try. In sharing stories of people in similar industry or job position who eventually succeeded after many attempts, you may be providing the encouragement members of the team need. It may not negate their risk of failure, but this human spin might shift their mind-set toward taking action versus sitting back.

6. Tell employees the truth.

The best, most transformation ideas do not usually come from the top. Many times the best ideas come from individuals involved in an organisation’s day-to-day business. They see the organization from a different perspective, which can be very valuable. If a team member waits to be called upon, however, the positive transformation will tend to be dependent upon a leader’s prompting.

The easiest way to encourage team members to take initiative is to simply enlighten them accordingly: If they know their ideas are not only wanted but also needed, they may find the extra time to develop them.

We’ve all heard leaders say they want new hires to have go-getter attitudes. It’s easy to forget that this approach can be found inside everyone. Often it’s a matter of encouragement. By simply opening up communication and creative freedom, you may find that you’ve had a team of thought leaders on your side all along.

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 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