Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
Conducting business in these times is like driving in many of Africa's major capitals. It can get crazy! You have to adapt your driving skills just to remain sane, or survive on the road daily. Despite these road challenges, we continue driving anyway - steadily and cautiously - until we reach our destinations.
In many respects, business is the same. Whilst these are often challenging and daunting times, they can also be exciting and full of great possibilities and opportunities, if you know what to do.
The more unpredictable the environment, the more opportunities you have to innovate.
Many businesses cancel innovation projects when times are hard as part of their cost-cutting measures - yet, this is a mistake you can’t afford to make.
Whilst cutting back on non-essentials and tightening your belt is necessary during tough economic conditions, do not be tempted to cut costs on everything - you still have to maintain a culture of innovation.
You can strategically invest in key areas such as new products and services, business models and channels to reach customers, so as to better position your business for success when economic conditions improve.
This is the time for survival and finding alternative solutions because customer needs are changing.
Remember, tough times can also produce the motivation and thrust for new developments, or general improvements to your offerings, or indeed greater efficiencies.
Here is one such example. How do you sustain your Microfinance business in tough times when people are losing jobs or not taking up loans? The answer is, you innovate. You may want to introduce affordable microfinance loans, or focus on other related products, or introduce a different business model that may appeal more to customers during this period.
Consider Grameen Bank’s business model for instance - the average loan size was less than $20 when it first started. This is the Bank that has enabled many poor women to engage in income-earning activities over the years. Today, there are more than 17,000 microfinance operations that are variants of the Grameen concept around the world.
Ultimately, any kind of downturn or uncertainty creates new opportunities - so, you need to get out of the office and go listen to what your customers need.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn