Imakando Musho emailed me this morning in the heat of inspiration, with a post he felt you’d love to read. In it he answers the question of why so many businesses in Zimbabwe (and world-wide) fail. The timing was perfect because I’d just sat down to write something, but he saved me the effect. Here’s Imakando…
Everyday the news reports of major businesses that are closing shop or being placed under curator-ship. On an unnoticed level of the small business are even major shakeups and closings. Some would blame the economy, tough operating conditions, stringent budgets and growing general customer disinterest in their goods and services. However, the real reason why businesses fail is not because of these but because of one big word, TRANSFERENCE.
Transference in psychiatric terms is defined as the active process of active clinging to an outmoded view of reality. M. Scott Peck defines it as a set of ways of perceiving and responding to the world which developed in childhood and which is usually entirely appropriate to the childhood environment but which is inappropriately transferred into adult environment. For example a fifty year old man who is ‘stuck’ in their twenties fails to grow in his career and personal relationships.
In business, transference may be defined as the ability to move with the times. Getting stuck in an old set of doing things that we fail to realise that our patterns no longer fit into the modern patterns. A few weeks ago, Max Soutter wrote on this blog about an ineffective Ad Campaign that made its way into media recently. The problem was not the idea or the service being offered but rather failure by the marketing department of that company to adapt into the new way of doing things. Sadly most people realise this when it’s too late. They only start thinking of what they could have done better when the creditors are on their necks or customers have moved to a better competitor, “If only we had cut our spending, remunerated our employees better”. But as the old adage says, it is better to prevent than cure because recovering a business is harder than setting up a new one.
The Museyamwa Syndrome
There is nothing wrong with idea of Museyamwa businesses. In actual fact is that Museyamwa businesses are the way to go if we are so beat on emancipating our African brothers. However most of these businesses man fail to adapt into the professional world. Step brother of so and so’s mother-in-law of the third cousin is employed to run accounts department (if it actually exists). Their qualification? They did accounts at Ordinary Level. Putting inexperienced people on a job not only Compromises the credibility and performance of your company but also affects the service that you render to the customers which is the sole reason why businesses exists; to serve clients.
The Museyamwa businesses also fail because of the failure to convert their business into professional entities. Most of the businesses remain personal entities. There is a certain level to which people are willing to support a personal entity but there is a certain level at which that ends and that is usually within our circle of friends, family and customers who are always looking for discounts. Bringing in investors enables you to grow your busyness into the level with which you want. Take in Mr. Strive Masiyiwa or Mark Zuckerberg. I personally don’t think that they could have made the billions that they have made had they made their business about themselves, selfishly thinking that everyone is out to get them out of their growth. There are a lot of investors who are willing to invest in business that are full of growth potential and these investments can be used to advertise, improve the quality of service or get more employees so as to increase production.
I am particular about the places I get my services. Recently I walked into a restaurant I had never been in and inquired with the girl at the counter. Without even looking up she gave a detached answer. Short of dropping the ‘f’ bomb on her I walked out of the restaurant and went to their next-door competitor. Now imagine if the average meal cost $10 and a hundred people do that in a day. That is $1000 lost a day. And not many businesses are making that much a day in Zimbabwe.
Customers want to feel needed. My brothers bank with these particular bankers because they have friendly tellers and are given seats while waiting to do their transactions. I on the other hand am moving from my current bankers because of the long queues I have to endure every time I want to take my money out. Forget about internet banking because they do not offer that service.
Even if you can see that this person cannot afford your products, make them feel needed. When they finally can afford, they will come running to your step. They may stumble on diamonds in their backyards
Employee training programs should be fully implemented to make sure that the employs do not transfer their emotions from the outside world onto the customers. An organizational priest or counselor may be hired as now is the trend in the Americas to counsel people
Failure to move with the times
As mentioned above I am moving from my current bank because among other reasons they do not have internet or cell phone banking. I do not live in the city and have to travel a five dollar journey to get to the city. However sometimes because I want to do a tiny transaction it becomes useless and illogical for me to travel to the city for only that transaction. I would love to transact in the comfort of my home and therefore a bank that provides quality internet banking service is where I am headed.
Ask yourself what the current trends are and implement them as they long as they do not interfere with your co-values. For example the trend is advertising on twitter and Facebook and the maintenance of blogs but most of our local businesses are not active on these forums which are not only free but also give businesses exposure to a very wide market.
Our parastals have become bankrupt and are chewing on the public funds because they failed to move with the times. Telone failed to see the future of mobile communications, ZimPost failed to see the future in email and internet services and ZBC? Well let’s live it to that.
Of course it is rather stupid to be jump on every wagon that comes despite the fact that it may be gong far or not. It is however wise to carve out your old wagon so that it becomes a tough-to-beat competitor against the new players.
That now is where the analysts come in.
Imakando Musho is the founding president of The Arch-Angel Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to gather collective effort from every member of the society to help in alleviating the trouble and poverty of others. Imakando is an author, music writer and a theater enthusiast. He blogs at www.imakandomusho.com/
- Prophets Get Paid More: Why Strive Masiyiwa Earns More Money Than You (bizsetup.wordpress.com)