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Your dream team

A business unit that has stood the test of time usually has a secret; its employees are good at what they do and that just one side of the coin – the other side being the fact the necessary conditions of service to ensure the continuity of business growth are ever present.

We are well familiar with global brands and the nature of their ascent to the top of the corporate ladder.

Some of them carefully laid the solid foundation and gradually built upon it; others crawled for so long at a stagnant pace and then, out of the blue rose to the heights they presently enjoy.

READ ALSO: Preparing for the job market

The sudden rise could be traced to several reasons amongst which are a huge financial input, an overhaul of operations, or the taking of a far-reaching decision that could make or break their fortunes into smithereens.

In all these, the fact still stays that the employees are the bastion of strength at the workplace; other factors like conditions of service or availability of working equipment are quite distant.

Your employees are the live wire of your business. Paying attention to their comfort, and invariably their output should be supreme on your mind.

The burning desire, taking into consideration this all – important resource at your disposal, should be how to effectively maximize the input of your team, so as to ensure that they perform as you want them to.

How to build a solid team requires no rocket science; you can easily do that with the strategies outlined below in mind:

  • Constant communication – information is necessary to help you stay ahead of the pack. There is the urgent need to create an aura of ease of information flow in all corners of your business, so that commendations, concerns and constructive criticism can be utilized for efficiency. Lack of appropriate information flow causes stagnation.
  • Elimination of bureaucratic procedures – We have all come to love simplicity. A bureaucratic setup moves at a slower pace as compared to one from whose processes for execution of duties constantly require fewer steps. The courage to lift up a telephone to speak directly to your employer would be a welcome relief for staff, as against booking of appointment dates long before for the same reason, assuming we can eliminate the abuse of such a privilege at the workplace.
  • Create group brainstorming sessions – 21st century business giants prefer talents and ideas to the old order of doing things. The ability to rock the boat, and come out with an idea that could propel your business to higher heights greatly benefits your business. Some businesses are afraid of taking risks, and so to play it safe, would prefer to stick to old – fashioned methodology, forgetting that innovation moves at a great speed. A brainstorming session creates more room for ingenuity and assists your business in several ways. The old adage still applies – “Two heads are better than one”.
  • Listen more – Yes you are the boss, which is well – known. Yes, you are the one in the position to issue directives, which is understood. But it really pays more to listen carefully to what your team has to tell you. Lend a listening ear to them, and you would be amazed at what you could learn from them. Success rests on team effort.
  • Hard work and sacrifice – Unless with a well – formed motive in mind, employees hardly out – perform their bosses in terms of decision – making or execution of duties. The one above needs to go that extra mile to ensure that tasks are performed as responsibility falls on such an executive if things don’t go as planned. Give your subordinates that impression of hard work and sacrifice on your part, and they would be tempted to follow suit; a temptation that would really work in your favour.

Leadership has always been about motivating your subordinates to, with a team spirit reach a destination with you.

Get to work on the suggestions listed above, and watch your business soar.

READ ALSO: Maintaining a balance

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An employee every employer desires

Getting a job is usually the first step of a long journey. The entirety of the trip is rolled out for you when you fit the capacity in which you are expected to operate.

Fitting here relates to being that kind of employee whose services are needed, simply because there is enough evidence to prove that you are indispensable.

This then brings to fore the necessary expertise one should be endowed with if such an employee desires longevity in the office.

READ ALSO: Office automation in the 21st Century

Modern trends in employment demand that a wannabe employee should be as versatile as possible, though calls for specialization in a particular field cannot be ignored.

Your potential boss is looking for someone who can bring in more than is taken out; that is to say, the cost of hiring you should be superseded by the revenue gains you would bring to the business.

Anything short of this, and you could be “just another employee”.

Granted; you have passed the necessary interviews and tests, and you are ready to begin work.

The first few months could be rather “suffocating”. There is a brand to promote and project to both new and existing clients, as well as several other standards to be maintained.

That initial impression you give your boss could be your ticket – to either the higher echelons of power or to your way out.

Your two options – either firing on all cylinders in a bid to prove your worth or gradually worming your way into the “way things are done here”, would invariably determine your fate.

The ultimate aim of every job seeker is settle in an organization that would provide an enabling environment for maximum output.

This stems from the need to be tagged as productive in the workplace, as such a trend of events would culminate into the ultimate dream – reaching that office, earning that salary or driving that car.

At the end of the day, it is your boss, upon whose recommendation you may reach that height.

But then, there is a catch. You are definitely not the only one with such a desire; there are probably several others in the same unit, department, office, company or even industry with such a yearning.

How do you rise above the crowd? The answer is as short as the question – do what no else does.

There is a thin line between stepping on toes to get to your destination and truly rising above the masses with a clean slate of conscience.

The balancing act between impressing your boss for personal gains and maintaining that bond with fellow workers requires an innate skill few can exhibit.

Knowing how to play your cards right can propel you to heights previously thought of as unattainable.

READ ALSO: Your dream team

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Office automation in the 21st Century

The 21st century brought with it advancements in technology that have transformed the world further into an interconnected unit that spread out far and wide.

With a number of electronic gadgets at your disposal, it is possible to transact business across the world.

The internet, working in union with a number of hardware devices enables the corporate executive to, in the comfort of the office, execute tasks that would have, in previous times, been possible only by physical contact.

READ ALSO: Side-stepping Conflict of Interest at the office

Modern equipment like computers, telephones, printers, scanners and photocopy machines provide a heavy dose of relief to the corporate worker since they enhance the speed of work, efficiency and an overall increase in output.

A recent innovative strategy is to network a number of these devices to form a Local Area Network (LAN) that would enable one to work with a sense of coordinated speed.

A typical networked corporate unit with several branches spread across the length and breadth of a country, a continent, or even the world, puts in place modern electronic devices that assist in the performance of duties.

Various forms of software and hardware are employed when it becomes necessary to link up all departments or components of an office; programmes like Microsoft’s Office Suite with its components come in handy to help in office duties.

Depending on the nature of work done in the office, levels of complexity of electronic gadgets vary from business to business.

A sole proprietor may need a phone, a computer, internet access and books to record transactions.

These basic assets could assist the entrepreneur to propel the business to higher heights.

Other forms of equipment may come in as time goes on, but those become auxiliary since they only come in to complement the tasks that the previously listed items may execute.

Getting an office in shape could happen in various ways and at different times.

Taking into consideration the urgency behind the acquisition of equipment, a business unit may either choose to completely furnish its new office with items to assist in work, even before business activities start or it could, as a matter of urgency, get the basic necessities before work starts, so that other items are acquired as the business makes progress.

Either way, attention to business and the needs of clients should be held in high esteem, regardless of available devices.

Customers may switch attention to competing products and services when they come to realize that, behind the initial enthusiastic note work started on, are signals for the return to drab ways of doing things.

The customer is king, and as such pays little attention to the reasons behind the dismal performance of an office unit; excuses such as unavailability of tools to get work done might not assist the goodwill of the business; they may switch attention elsewhere. Getting an office in shape for business requires less of flamboyance and more of practicality.

The customer who is sufficiently impressed with efforts to please despite obvious challenges may stay, as compared to the one who believes in being underserved despite apparent resources that could enhance output.

READ ALSO: Wanted: More leaders; less managers

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You know you are an entrepreneur when…

Entrepreneurship is the current buzzword in the business community. With several reasons to give upon request, many have saddled themselves with the responsibility of trying to create something new; something that would stimulate one form of reward or the other.

The onerous task of designing a preferred future, as a product of entrepreneurship is fully realized when one understands all the intricacies of the task ahead.

Entrepreneurship becomes a pleasure when the daunting task ahead is executed with a degree of optimism, knowing that the risk-return factors would pay off in the end.

READ ALSO: Will the customer keep you in mind?

The decision to start and maintain your own business should be the product of a series of observations and conclusions that could pave way for your financial independence.

We all wish to be rich, retire young and basically live a comfortable live. That desire may be realized when one has passed the basic litmus test of entrepreneurship, which amongst other issues stimulates responses to the under-listed questions:

1. Are you ready to fully commit yourself to the task in mind or you wish to work part – time?

2. Are you ready to primarily commit personal resources (whether financial or human) in a bid to realize your dreams?

3. Are you ready to accommodate others and their opinions in the course of business?

4. Are you ready to share profits and losses with others you work with, as they come up?

5. Are you ready to patiently wait for months or even years, before that which you have in mind is reflected in reality?

Attempting responses to these questions and several others indicates your desire to take charge of your life and act when and how you want to.

The core task of an entrepreneur is to identify and maximize opportunities that are hidden in hitherto untapped avenues of commerce and industry.

Entrepreneurial opportunities are often described as limited because there seem to no new or unique ideas to exploit, and that stance presents a paradox; ignorance of an opportunity vis-à-vis disinterest in venturing into a seemingly mundane area of activity.

The obvious truth is that inasmuch as there seem to be no new opportunities (which is far from the truth), your ability to present your option as unique from the rest available to the potential client sparks an interest in your line of work.

The basic details might be just as is known in the market, but then there is something special about yours.

21st century thinking calls for ingenuity. It demands from an entrepreneur a strategy that can push the business to the apex in the industry.

It calls for alignment with modern trends that should prickle the interest of the customer.

You can’t afford to be like the rest; It is too dangerous a decision to make.

READ ALSO: Funding your business; options available

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Will the customer keep you in mind?

Your customer is the prime reason you are in business. This is the driving principle that fuels success in any line of trade, since revenue from sales would definitely add to the growth of the business.

It then becomes imperative to do everything possible to keep the customer. Keeping your customer focused on you alone, with regard to what you are engaged in, calls for a skill that few entrepreneurs possess; it is that same skill that aids their climb to the top.

No matter the kind of business, there is a potential patron out there. Making available to the customer what is needed in a stress – free manner shoots up your status amongst your peers.

READ ALSO: A burning desire; the case of the African entrepreneur

Your customer prefers comfort; certainly not the grueling stress one has to go through to get simple items, and that is where your trump card comes in.

Simply give them what they want at their own convenience, and they would find you wherever you are.

Consumer psychology is a science that is still at work today. We all have a soft spot for comfort; we always wish we can get all we want with as little effort as possible.

The smart entrepreneur is the one who takes advantage of this notion and perfects it to stimulate opportunities for business.

You would always be your customers favourite if you obey three simple rules: Quality goods and services, low prices and purchasing convenience.

Even with the most mundane of wares available for sale, your customer would find it difficult to switch attention if you play to their comfort.

The quality of what you have to offer would play a key role in your general outlook of your business.

Good quality ensures protected goodwill for your business; “quality” would always be associated with what you have. In that sense, whatever you represent is described as the right choice.

Pricing is a key determinant of business success. Knowing how to price your goods and services would decide your fate on the market.

The consumer is definitely price – conscious and, depending on your target market, you can either fail or succeed in your bid.

Some customers revel in being associated with luxury items which usually command high prices; other would settle for rock – bottom prices because that is what they can afford.

Purchasing convenience relates to the level of comfort the customer enjoys when patronizing your wares.

Do they have to walk to you or do you deliver it at their doorstep?

Do they have to endure long sessions of bureaucratic procedures when accessing your services or they can deal with all you have to offer in a number of minutes?

How fast can you get products and services they need, but you don’t readily have?

After sales services?

Your customer would always think of you first if you place their needs at the top of your priority list.

With a little effort, you can attract and keep the desired customers for what you have to sell.

READ ALSO: Funding your business; options available

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The nitty-gritty of business contracts

Every business unit, from sole proprietorships to fully-fledged public corporations usually comes into contact with one form of contractual arrangements or the other.

Once another individual or even business assumes a role in the setup, there is usually the need for a type of contractual agreement, usually in order to either establish precedence with regard to the execution of duties or to clearly define a manner in which every aspect of the business is to be carried out.

Contractual relationships come in many forms and types and it’s imperative that ground rules are set prior to the invitation of another party into the business.

READ ALSO: …and the merchants came to town

A contract in very simple terms is “an agreement intended to be legally binding and supported by consideration”.

It’s simply “an agreement that legally binds the parties”. This accounts for the reason why an affected party could pursue justice in a court of law if there is enough evidence to prove that there has been a deviation from the pre-arranged terms of the contract.

A contract becomes valid the moment there is an OFFER and an ACCEPTANCE. This implies that once both parties have agreed to pursue a business agenda, a contractual relationship materializes, even if the agreement hasn’t been documented.

This brings to light the expected prerequisites of a contract. There is a need to ensure that:

  • There is consensus (or agreement) between the two parties
  • Both parties are in the required capacity to execute the deal. By capacity, it implies that neither of them is 1. A minor or infant 2. An alien 3. Drunk or mentally – disordered
  • There is consideration, which is the act of giving out goods and services in exchange or money or a promise. Consideration is “the price for which a promise is bought”.
  • The contractual arrangement is formal. This relates to the fact that it should be a carefully worded agreement, but not one that is merely “exchanged” without caution with regard to the details.
  • It’s legal. An illegal contract is never enforceable in a court of law.
  • Intentions are clearly spelt out. Any omission that is later brought up in the course of operations is deemed to be void, since it tends to change pertinent elements in the contract.

Any formal business contract without any of these six elements fails to live up to be description of a contract, and as such becomes voidable.

Once you decide to start a business, or even accept employment in an existing business unit, care must be taken with regard to the minutest detail, lest you are

caught in a whirlwind of legalities you may not be prepared for. Contractual relationships are all around us; it behooves on us to carefully analyze and make prudent decisions when the need be.

READ ALSO: The task of taxes

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Side-stepping Conflict of Interest at the office

One of the primary reasons why people seek employment is to support the basic economic functions they need to perform.

Some desire a consistent source of income to assist in the upkeep of a family; others need money to acquire basic necessities in life, but all in all, a form of employment serves both needs for many.

Once at the workplace, the employee is tasked with duties that aid in the progress of work, and this effort is appropriately rewarded at the end of the month or any other pre – arranged time frame.

READ ALSO: Wanted: More leaders, less managers

Under normal circumstances, the terms of remuneration are explicitly discussed prior to the commencement of duties, hence one knows what to expect when time is due for payment.

With such a mechanism in place, the employee, deemed to be appropriately remunerated as per rank and other factors, is expected to exhibit characteristics that would ensure the promotion of integrity at the workplace, and one setback to this line of action is a typical conflict of interest situation one may find him or herself in.

Conflict of interest (COI) is simply the blurring of the line between what is personal and what is professional in the execution of duties.

This arises when there is a tendency for the promotion of personal interests either at the workplace or in the line of duties or both.

The employee; before, during or after employment may be linked to other instances that may corrode the quality of input at the workplace.

COI appears in three forms: Actual, Apparent or Potential. Actual COI refers to a real or existing case where the employee finds him or herself embroiled in cases like nepotism that may affect the quality of decisions at the workplace.

Apparent COI creates the impression that there is the likelihood of a typical COI situation, though it may not have actually happened yet.

Potential COI relates to the existence of private benefits that may create opportunities for COI if the employee in question decides to take advantage of the situation for private benefit, but it may not have happened yet.

COI situations often arise because the individual appears to be trapped between two opposing decisions of either professionally executing pre–assigned duties or bending low to serve a personal gain.

This relates to workers in both private and public enterprises as they both have various opportunities to bend their actions to serve personal interests that may arise in the line of duties. Several examples of COI exist, and outlined below are a few of them:

a. Using official advantages or opportunities for private gains

b. Using confidential information for the promotion of personal interests

c. Using one’s official capacity to influence the decisions of co – workers in a bid to realize personal gains

d. Either using or allowing the use of public property for private gains.

e. Soliciting for, and or accepting gifts that may influence decisions to be made in official capacities.

The official duties required to be performed at the workplace are separate and distinct from private activities that may direct some forms of benefits to the worker.

And this behooves on all and sundry to ensure that any act or set of activities that would negatively affect official duties to be carried out are done away with, as the provisions of employment did not create room for such private activities.

COI is so real and prevalent in several business units, both private and public, and it is in that regard that caution should be exercised wherever one is engaged ion in work, lest the unexpected occurs.

READ ALSO: Your dream team

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Wanted: More leaders, less managers

Corporate culture usually demands an adherence to laid – down procedures with regard to rights, privileges and responsibilities.

There is a clear chain of command and roles are explicitly defined. The nature of synchronization between the superior and the subordinate more often than not spells out the output of the firm.

The added flavor comes in when the superior is able to implement strategies that would encourage the subordinate to go the extra mile at no extra cost.

READ ALSO: Your dream team

That is the thin line of definition between the balancing acts of leadership and management. The concept of management expects the salaried employee to

do exactly what is expected to be done, to wit: respect a typical nine – to – five working schedule, adhere to rules and regulations, follow the accepted

dress code and advertise the business in any professional capacity you find yourself in. Leadership strives to, in addition to the above, influence the subordinate to clearly understand the prime objectives of the business unit and assiduously work, at any point in time in line with corporate goals.

• Just what is it that would cause the employee to go all out to add an extra bit not expected by the employer, but all the same duly appreciated?

• Exactly what would compel an employee to work at odd hours just to get work done?

• And what is it that would drive an employee to ambitiously target and plan to achieve preset agenda?

Leadership scholar Dr. John C. Maxwell defines leadership as influence. Top – draw management experts opine that management is “getting things done through

other people”. Juxtaposing the two proves an edge of leadership over management, and it’s only the smart superior, who seizes on such an advantage and diverts it into overall good.

Corporate Ghana has within its ranks brilliant leaders who have, are still and would continuously contribute their quota to overall growth and development, and the

glaring evidence of their efforts are so obvious for all and sundry to see; more of such gurus and we are indeed designed to advance in leaps and bounds.

READ ALSO: Preparing for the job market

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A burning desire; the case of the African entrepreneur

It is usually welcome news when one decides to stand out and do something different, especially when that action is directed at alleviating a pressing challenge.

The 21st century has experienced a growing trend of entrepreneurial activity, especially amongst the youth, who, as if to assuage the effects of unemployment in several countries around the world, have decided to take it upon themselves to do something beneficial.

The entrepreneur, after making such a bold decision, then goes ahead to initiate a series of activities that would translate the dream into reality, and this is where several obstacles come into to mitigate the efforts of the (group of) individual(s) in question.

READ ALSO: Funding your business; options available

From financing to legalities to implementation to several other potential hindrances, the path of the entrepreneur is littered with challenges that seem to be designed to bring out the best in those involved; it is at this point that the true entrepreneurs with a mission to accomplish are identified.

The African entrepreneur consistently faces challenges that most at times have the tendency to kill dreams, unless survival strategies are adopted.

Despite the availability of opportunities that could be transformed to successful businesses, support appears to be a constant shortfall.

The African entrepreneurial climate appears to pay little attention to startups since the unwritten rules of business suggest that the risk factors associated with starting a business in Africa, especially with little or no start-up capital are too great to ignore; confidence in such enterprises is usually low.

The situation is further worsened when the entrepreneur appears to have no written business plan, and as a result acts as per current trends demand, a situation that scares every rational potential client or partner.

But then there is a leeway; ideas have been put across to assist in this regard. There are a number of business incubators, business that advertise assistance services to start – ups and a number of government institutions that have been assigned with the responsibility of ensuring the comfort of wannabe entrepreneurs.

So then it remains a puzzle that in spite of all these arrangements, a sizeable proportion of individuals and groups with entrepreneurial prospects still remain in the dark, and are unable to access basic support services to kick – start their dreams.

The long road that one travels in a bid to realize burning ambitions in Africa could be shortened if bold steps are taken.

There continues to be that chasm between the entrepreneurs and the sources of funding.

Those sources that can even be readily accessed have several strings attached to them, leaving the entrepreneur bewildered, and wondering when and how a breakthrough would ensure the survival of the dream.

Africa has come a long way. Our economic journey has evolved overtime. Theories have been suggested to assist Africa move out of obscurity so as to take its appropriate place on the global platform.

What is needed now is less of talk and more of practical measures to ensure that those theories work.

The bulk of that transformative strategy lies with Africans. Foreign intervention may be of help, but the pursuit of a long term picture of economic independence in Africa lies in a well – packaged economic revolution.

That revolution would be complemented with the efforts of the entrepreneur, and it is in that regard that urgent measures are needed to assist those who are ready to pay the price, in order to ensure that Africa reaches an economic status we can all be proud of.

READ ALSO: Africa’s tourism story; a well-kept secret

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Funding your business; options available

Money is the live wire of every business unit. Every entrepreneur seeks to primarily maximize returns on investments in a business.

Sourcing for funding for your business has currently become a nightmare for various businesses due to the risk factors involved.

In this issue, we would share ideas on various sources of funding for businesses, whether startups or already established entities.

READ ALSO: Top tips for starting your own business

One major source of funding that usually comes to mind is a loan from your bank. A primary prerequisite for successful business operations is to open a bank account.

You can always rely on your bankers for fast loans, as your account, as well as other details can adequately serve as collateral.

The risk here is the interest rate charged on the loan. Banks are profit-making entities that source monies from various areas, including other clients like you.

The difference between the principal you receive from them and the final amount you pay represents the interest charged on the loan as per the terms of the agreement.

Bank loans are not usually good options for startups as the interest rate as well as other factors could cripple such a business.

Again, one can also request for overdrafts from banks, which are simply the difference between your present bank balance and the amount you request for, that is, if the requested amount is in excess of what you have in your account.

If approved, overdrafts leave you with debit balances on your bank account.

Another source of funding is venture capitalism with angel investors.

The principle here is simple; you would as per pre-arranged terms of the agreement give a portion of your business to the investor in exchange for immediate funding.

Angel investors are usually entrepreneurs with monies to spare, and their prime aim is to carefully invest in seemingly profitable ventures so that they can reap returns.

Again businesses can source funding from grants. Grants are free funds released to assist a business to execute its tasks.

Grants are usually from organizations that are inclined towards social work, so if your line of business falls in the category those that are helping to provide a need or assist in community development, you may qualify for a grant.

A business can fuse its operations with a similar business unit, and the two can attract more revenue, than when they operate as single units.

The practice of mergers and acquisitions has been a smart strategy for funding for so long.

The disadvantage here relates to the fact that either one of the businesses is “swallowed up” by the other or there is a mechanism for parity in sharing that may not go down well either one or both parties.

A smart way to have enough more to spare is to re-invest your returns into the business.

Ploughed–back profits or retained earnings assists you to consistently pile up resources for future use.

This is a gradual process, and it usually brings in bits at a time.

Certainly, it’s a preserve for businesses already in operation, because, you need to earn before you can reinvest.

Projects or programmes like launchings and promotions could also boost your business finances.

In fact, this mechanism kills two birds with one stone for you; it generates enough publicity for you, as well as bringing in some monies as a result of improved sales.

Some business ideas are shaped up in business incubators, and the organization putting up this mechanism usually provides seed capital for the idea.

It’s a great way for start – ups to jumpstart their ideas, but then the only catch is a correlation in idea between the new idea being formulated and the core goals of the organization putting up this mechanism.

In a bid to generate more capital, individuals and firms buy stocks and shares from companies; owning a number of these gives you a right in the decision – making process of the business in question.

It also ensures that you are eligible to receive dividends in the event of the company making profits and declaring their dividends at the end of an operational year.

By far, the smartest way to start, maintain and build a successful business is to fall on the safest strategy to fund your business.

Personal and family resources are a long-cherished means that guarantee the best outcome for the financial health of your business, as all income and expenditure “stay inside” the business.

There is a personal bond with the task, and it provides a stress-free scheme to raise money, as you are not really required to broadcast to any external source, the financial health of your business idea.

It’s also the most difficult form of access to funds as startups with ideas usually have little to jumpstart the business.

But at the end of the day, the choice falls on you the entrepreneur to determine which of these and more mechanisms you could fall on to kick – start the entire process.

READ ALSO: 10 businesses you can start in Ghana right now

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