Okay, I am sure that all of you will be surprised to see this blog, as most of us think that there are thousands of books that talk about starting businesses and teach the mechanics of it, in terms of having an idea and the capital to introduce the idea to the world. Also most of the universities and colleges teach the ins and outs of what the business requires, and most of the laws in the country cater for these requirements. Contract law was established 100’s of years ago when the contracts were established between two or more people verbally and required a witness or two so that both parties to the contract fulfil their obligations properly. The witness will serve as a go between or a conflict resolution factor. Contract law was the first ingredient for any business, as all businesses engage in a sale of a product, a service or both.
However, three things are not taught in business schools. How do I know this? I am a breed of business schools and a lecturer too at many business schools. Hopefully one day you will be studying in my business school to witness the fun of my teaching.
Firstly, the capital, how do we know that a certain business requires a certain capital? And when do we know that what we had calculated is not enough? Now and after running the business for almost 9 years, I can tell you with absolute certainty that starting an SME on a shoe string is not a fantastic idea. The capital requirements need to take care of the rent, the staff, and other costs of the office, advertising and marketing and also needs to take care of you and your family. Thus if you had calculated that the business will breakeven in 1.9 years, and you didn’t take into account your personal expenses, then the breakeven is wrong. Many people struggle to make the breakeven point and many wrap up prior to even starting to make the money. So first rule is add up all your costs and do not be conservative. Most of the SMe’s start making money after few months, when a lot of their capital has been spent on advertising and promotions. Panic starts to tick in, as one sees that the bank account is draining with more debits and fewer credits. Of course it is important to note that the number of people buying your product or service depends on how you approach your clients. Merely having a corner shop and hoping that people will pass by to buy is not intelligent marketing.
Secondly, the price, of course here you will have to follow the market price or what the market can take. however if you find that the price you are asking for is higher than that due to your high capital input, or high return required, then differentiate yourself. Say that you are the best and be the best. One of the hairdresser ladies charged a higher price for haircuts, her adverts always insisted on the high quality and care to her clients. We went there and witnessed it, and continued to go despite her higher price. So differentiate yourself.
So far maybe nothing is new; however my third rule which is not taught at all is the ethics. You must run your business in a very ethical manner. Ethics my friend is the main ingredient to any successful business. What do I mean by ethics? Do not lie to the clients, people are very intelligent, one day they will find out, and one unhappy customer will tell ten. Always remember that the food on your table came from that customer, so be sure that what you are putting in your stomach is money earned in an ethical way (we say halal money) as every cent of illegal earning will affect your body and your children for generations to come.
I hope I haven’t upset anyone in saying this. I am writing this blog because I have witnessed unethical behaviours from many companies and banks. If you see that our company is doing something unethical, I urge you let me know to change course.