Manyara Chigunduru, Managing Partner of Marianhill Chartered Accountants
Ever wondered how all these big businesses started and how they came to be what they are today? The likes of Econet Wireless, Delta Corporation and British American Tobacco in Zimbabwe; Sasol, Standard Bank and MTN. I believe each of these companies has a story to tell, and from those stories we learn a lot about running a sustainable business. To some people business is all about making money, to some it’s all about fulfilling a calling, to some it is all about providing solutions to the current problems, be it social or economic ones.
Today we find a lot of businesses providing any of these solutions and it is important for you as entrepreneurs to make sure that these businesses are not just like any of those ‘fly by night businesses’ which are here today with a good branding, but they disappear into thin air tomorrow or just die a natural death. As entrepreneurs we have been able to pass the first huddle, that is, ‘to simply start a business’. Many of us have had the passion and the perseverance which have seen us to where we are today, but the big question which comes to mind is whether our businesses are sustainable both in the short term and the long term.
Sustainability can be in terms of cash flow, which is the life-line of any company; business systems and processes, which are the instructions, the manuals and the steps which we should follow or use when we are doing business in-house or externally; and internal controls, which are there to do the checks and balances of all the activities that we do as we grow our businesses so as to position them in a highly competitive market place.
As business people we need to give cognisance of the fact that a business without systems (be it in Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, Research, Sales etc) is as good as dead, for its survival is always on the edge.
Our businesses can only grow and be bigger brands of tomorrow if we appreciate the importance of business systems and processes. Business systems and processes should form part of your competitive advantage as these foster sustainable business activities and enhance adequate cash flows even through very difficult times. Just appreciating these systems is not enough - there is need for us to then ‘walk the talk’ so that we actually document these systems and processes and actually apply and implement them. Bruce Lee, one of the Kung-Fu martial arts legends once said that, ‘Knowing is not enough, we must apply’ and ‘Willing is not enough, we must do’, and thus as entrepreneurs we need to be the movers and the shakers when it comes to building sustainable brands, but this can only happen if we do what we say we must do.
So many strategies have been put in place, so many documents have been written, so many process manuals have been done, but the greatest weaknesses of all these was that these were not accompanied by the necessary actions, to actually implement. Hence forth these documents were nicely designed, printed, bound and shelved away. We now need to take that action to ensure that robust systems which can help our businesses are actually put in place (ACTION) so that our businesses can forge ahead and survive us as the originators of those visions. With systems, we can control movement of information in the business, with that control we are able to plug any revenue leakages which if not dealt with will lead to high cash outflows and inevitably lead to our business closing shop. Thus as entrepreneurs it is a journey that we need embrace and travel, but it is a journey that needs determination and courage, yet above everything else a fulfilling one.
Manyara Chigunduru is the Founder and Managing Partner of Marianhill Capital (Pvt) Ltd & Marianhill Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe, offering financial advisory services, corporate finance, entrepreneurship development, and project finance to companies and individuals. Manyara, who is a Chartered Accountant (Zimbabwe) and a Registered Public Auditor has over 15 years’ experience in financial management, accounting, auditing and taxation. For views and comments send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.marianhillca.com