Monthly Archives: May 2015

How viable are Family Businesses?

Too much negativity exists towards the possibility of the success of family oriented businesses in Uganda and I presume most of Africa. This perception has arisen from observation of those that have made a go at it. One can list stories of family business failures caused by among others; Family member fall outs, Founder’s death, Mishandled succession, Polygamous settings, Lack of professionalism and Egos.

While the expressed fears have weight, I still believe that family businesses are very viable.

We live in a world where we are slowly abandoning what I will coin as the cobweb approach to success. The desire for instant gratification has made us forget that today’s success is a result of numerous actions strategically undertaken months or even years before. You for example can’t expect to have a healthy body if you do not follow a healthy life style. When disease sets in, we want to use medication to return us back to our original state of good health instantly. We forget that we might need to invest an equal amount of time and effort to undo what we did to get to the poor state of health we are currently in.

A spider builds a cobweb in an incremental fashion starting with a small center span which is expanded upon one layer at a time eventually leading to a large cobweb span that can trap insects for it to feed on. If you are serious about running a family business, you need to work towards it and not ambush your children or wife out of the blue into taking charge. It all starts from your family, how you run it, and the kind of practical skills you impart upon them. The key issues to consider here are;

Upbringing of the children: How do you raise up your children? Do they love to work? Do they appreciate work? Do they know what it takes to have money? Many parents especially those that lead a relatively comfortable life have this belief that the children should only study, eat food and get entertained. This has led to the raising of a generation that loves the nice and high life but isn’t ready to work hard enough to attain it. Some successful entrepreneurs must be literally weeping from their graves seeing how their children have failed to run businesses they left in a very comfortable state. Others have tried introducing their children to their businesses only to face dismal failure. Most of this can be traced to upbringing.

Family bonds: As a family, do you all have a sense of camaraderie? Does everyone look out for the other and ensure that all is well? Do you all relate cordially with one another (save for the occasional sibling brawls of course)? Get your family to bond. The children need to learn to love and respect one another at a very early stage of their lives. They should look at you the parents as role models. Don’t do what will make them question your ‘heroic‘ status in their lives. They should have interest in helping out one another. This is a big foundation and failure to achieve it can easily lead to bitter and violent fall outs in future. The Reliance Group suffered as a result of the massive fall out between the Ambani brothers who had inherited their father’s fortune following Dhirubhai Ambani’s death in 2002.

Spouse participation: If you are married or have a steady partner, try as much as possible to involve them in what you do so that you can both be in sync. Sometimes they may have no interest in the line of business you are pursuing but with steady and systematic gentle persuasion, you can get them to participate. This move is likely to have a positive impact on your children’s acceptance since they will see their parents operating in sync.

My then 5 year old son helping with the product display at a tradeshow

My then 5 year old son helping with the product display at a tradeshow

Early Stage involvement: It’s never too early to involve children in your business especially if it isn’t the very high end consulting type of operations. Trade related businesses are so easy to achieve this. A three year old child can count. Why not have them help you count the products as you pack your van for delivery? My next door neighbor at home has trained his two sons aged 6 and 8 years to run the family shop in his absence. Whenever I get a chance to visit an Indian operated shop, I always find the children especially during holidays or after school hours helping out. The operator of one of Kampala’s leading local restaurants operating under the Uhuru brand name did benefit from this kind of early exposure. Whenever he left school, he would spend the rest of the day helping his father in the business and ever since the father passed on, he has grown it exponentially. Borrowing from this, during holidays, when we have a trade show to attend and showcase the products of our family business, my wife and I carry all our children to the trade show and ensure that they do actually participate in the activities.

Financial Literacy: While a good section of parents are scared of exposing their young children to money fearing that it might spoil them, I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. The earlier children learn about money, the earlier they make the mistakes and the less costly the mistakes are. With a focused approach, you can have your children making prudent financial decisions by the time they are five years. Attributes like saving money, understanding what is expensive or cheap, appreciating that money is worked for among others are easily engrained in them during such early years. We have a goal at home to ensure that by five years, a child can tell the various denominations and by Seven years, they should be comfortable with making purchases on their own. Appreciating the value of money early enough will stem the temptation of wastage of money in later years as the children get engrossed in the family business which might then be generating good revenues.

Mock Entrepreneurship: As the children gain ideas on what to do, don’t tell them to postpone the ideas until they are done with ‘studies‘. Help them realise some of those ideas there and then. When our eldest son was Six years, he approached us with a proposal of setting up a shop in the house to sell to us basics like toothpaste, vaseline, soap among others since he had always noticed that we usually forgot to replenish them. We encouraged him to save money for the ‘business‘, topped up with some of ours and he stocked his ‘shop’ which was located in a corner of our sitting room. When his school class teacher eventually introduced concepts of commerce in class i.e. cost price, sale price, profit and loss, he was very comfortable with the subject matter. The skills attained doing this could later be tapped into by the family business.

The same can apply to your spouse, he/she may harbour an idea, instead of watering it down, support them to try it out. Let failure not be a reason for you to ridicule them but instead encourage them to try another idea next time after all, it’s success will be the family’s pride.

Day to Day Operations: Should you be operating the business with family members, find a way to pass on the message that working hours are times to operate professionally. Stamp this attitude among the family members especially the children from an early stage so that they know when it’s time to or not to play. The challenge arises when the children grow up without being ring fenced with some of these expectations and we try to exert them at a time when it is a lot harder to change their attitudes.

Family Fallout: This tends to occur. It could be between the spouses, parents and children or among the children themselves. As the head of the family, you need to exercise a lot of wisdom when handling such situations. Alot is dependent on how you have structured your family setup in the past. If it is siblings rivaling, taking sides is an absolute NO. If it is your spouse, chances are it stems from your personal relationship with them and this is the time to make tough decisions. However, in all this, make decisions with the greater good of the business in mind.

Parent to Mentor: There will always be a struggle of identities. When are you a parent to that child and when are you a business mentor to them? It becomes hard to separate the two and yet they all have their advantages and disadvantages in this process. Parenting tends to be a “Do This, Do That” affair borne out of the natural protective instinct we have for our children. We wish them the best and so we don’t want to see them make mistakes. However, you also try to play the mentorship role so they can learn the tools of the trade from you. Mentoring means that you occasionally need to leave someone slug it out on their own just to see what challenges they are likely to come across and how they handle them. This contradicts the parental instinct of protectionism.

Leadership: Start on this early enough. Train the children in leadership by entrusting them with various tasks that require them to lead teams, make decisions and justify their decisions. Encourage them to take on leadership roles at school. These could be Class Prefect, Team Captain or any other. Transform them from the “Dad what can I do now …” to the “Dad have I done this well …” kind of children. Empathy is key here too. Good leaders tend to be empathetic and so, have them develop that side of their lives. Remember they might progress through the business ranks as managers but their eventual destination is leadership at the highest possible level.

That Relative: Due to our closely knit society in most African and Asian countries you are likely to be swamped by requests from relatives who want you to help employ their children. To some this is a NO GO as a result of bad experiences they have hdd but if you must help, then consider taking them through the paces that your children have been through. One thing you have to make clear to them from the word go is that you make decisions in the best interest of the company even if that decision means having to relieve them of their duties. Erase any feelings of self entitlement they might have come with and treat them like any other staff member. However, as you take this move, be ready for anything including making enemies out of relatives.

Succession Planning: This is a very dynamic and complex area that many grapple with. Cross generational succession requires careful study since the mindsets tend to vary. As you age, your children may think you are no longer in touch with the times and would want to run the business in a different way. However, as the founder you probably know the foundation stones of the success of the business and are worried that the younger generation may not appreciate them thus turning your lifetime achievements into dust.

I believe succession planning needs to start even before you start ailing as the business owner. With good family bonds, you get a chance to understand your children, their passion and abilities. That’s why I begun with the core family attributes before addressing the other issues that are key to family business. Our nine year old daughter has repeatedly talked about wanting to help us run the business when she grows up. These are early warning signs to me and should not be ignored.

While I can’t authoritatively state that each family business MUST succeed, I believe they have as good a chance to succeed as any other non family business for as long as we nurture the foundation on which they are premised very well.

What’s your view?

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Assess Business Opportunities Soberly

Birds of a feather flock together. Being the type that loves talking about business and various entrepreneurship initiatives, I happen to interact with many like minded people. A good number of them are the employed corporate type who admire the grass across the river in the entrepreneurial world. They never tire to gauge opportunities in comparison to their employment benefits.

While their foresightedness is worth admiring, the biggest shortcoming in these discussions is when opportunities are considered worthy or non worthy of pursuit based on how much one is likely to earn.

One case under discussion consisted of someone who went into fruit farming on three acres of land and as part of his business decided to engage in the sale of seedlings. He currently has an annual turnover of 80,000 seedlings and a quick computation puts him at a potential annual income of Ushs 400 Million (Approx US$ 130,000) from the seedlings sale alone. Within no time everyone was all praises for the business and wishing they could get into it asap.

From a cautionary point of view, I always prefer that one takes time to understand the overall implications of engaging in a business before taking that leap. Revenue figures alone tend to be misleading. Key issues that tend to be swept under the carpet as we glorify figures include among others;

  • Setup Requirements

  • Availability of Expertise

  • Customer Acquisition

  • Vision

  • Unexpected Setbacks

  • Available systems to manage money

Setup Requirements: Some business opportunities despite having a lot of potential in earnings aren’t that easy to set up. They usually require making significant sacrifices that could be related to one’s lifestyle, finances, family, current employment among others. I know of cases where some people have had to part with their spouses due to business decisions, others have had to exchange high flying urban lifestyles for a calm and laid back rural existence.

Rice farming may be lucrative based on market demand but  has lots of demands.

Rice farming may be lucrative based on market demand but has lots of demands.

Availability of Expertise: There are opportunities you may pursue and find that the market is short of professionals that you can hire affordably as a start-up. When I was venturing into the Food Processing business, I wanted to have very good packaging material for my products. Unfortunately, what I found on the local market was basic packaging and matters worsened when I failed to come across a packaging professional to help me understand and procure what I needed. This entailed me venturing into self study on packaging using online resources. What I could have done within a month ended up taking over 6 months to achieve.

Customer Acquisition: Its one thing to have the product or service but another to get paying customers. One may be able to match the 80,000 seedlings that our fruit farmer produces in a year but fail to sell even half of them. It has taken that fruit/seedlings farmer ten years to reach his current state of business. Along the way, he has burnt his fingers and perfected his customer profiling. This is something you learn on the job. While you may have the capacity to produce 80,000 seedlings, getting them sold might turn out to be your biggest nemesis.

Vision: What is your vision for the business opportunity? Is it merely to make money? If Yes, then you had better think twice because the day that income stream attracting you dries up, your business might be no more. With a good vision, you can afford to engage a flexible approach such that as trends change, you change with them. When Uganda hosted the Common Wealth Head of Governments’ Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007, an opportunity seeker who had contacts with Government officials quickly set up a recruiting firm with the desire to partake of the large sums of money that had been budgeted for hiring staff. He flourished prior to the event but when it ended, it was evident that he had no clue how to proceed with the Recruiting business. He closed shop within six months after the CHOGM event.

Unexpected Setbacks: Pursuing business opportunities is akin to what Psalms 23 tells us in the Holy Bible, “… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil …” Anyone that has pursued the setup of a business knows that there are moments when you even start doubting yourself especially if what you are pursuing isn’t obviously decipherable by those around you. To make matters worse the script doesn’t usually flow as expected. Just when you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, a spanner is thrown into the works. A year into the Food Processing business I talked about earlier, we got a big setback when our sole provider of packaging material wound up and we had no other local alternative. It was such a setback considering that our flagship product had begun picking up. It took us over a year to arrange for alternative supplies from China with a lot of lessons learnt in the process. I also know of a tree farmer who lost over 200 acres of grown pine trees to a fire but he’s still soldiering on. When he starts reaping, while others will be admiring the size of his pay cheque, they most likely won’t have a clue what setbacks he faced.

Available systems to manage money: An armchair business professional will tell you to set up a software to manage your accounts, request clients to pay in the bank among other text book related solutions towards addressing this issue. However, in most developing countries, the economies are largely cash based. Bank transactions are at a bare minimum and it’s the advent of Mobile Money transactions that has lately increased the level of electronic financial penetration. Depending on what business you do, it is likely that the majority might be cash based customers. Whom do they pay the money to? How quickly do you get to know that money has been paid? Where does the paid money end up? How do you disburse money that is meant for business expenses? These are very crucial issues to look into. It’s hard to rely on trusting employees to remit all the money they are paid by customers. Without being in control of how the money comes in and goes out, your business might be a big earner but you’ll most likely end up bankrupt.

So, next time you’re discussing a business opportunity, don’t stop at admiring its revenue potential, lift the veil and look beyond the till. That’s where the real work lies.

Be Slow to Trust in Business

A short while back a friend of mine lost his grandmother and had to got to the village to attend her burial. This friend of mine runs a small business that records music and videos for customers in one of the Kampala Suburbs.

For the uninitiated, in Uganda, due to the social fabric we have starting from family to the clan (which is a collection of families) and then up to the tribe (a collection of clans), we always show respect by ensuring that we attend to others’ misfortunes within that social circle. Hence it is considered very selfish of one to hear of a relative’s death and not do anything about it.

Prior to departing, he decided to hand over his operations to a young man he has known for years and had reason to trust him. Having explained all the operational issues to him, he set off for the burial confident that business continuity in his absence was sorted.

Some days later, he returns from the village and on doing an audit of his business, he practically found everything messed up. There was no money from daily sales, stock was down to almost nothing, the computer hardware had been compromised with some parts exchanged for poorer alternatives. To make matters worse, this is someone he has known and been with for a long time.

This brings us to the subject matter, Trust in Business. This topic isn’t new to anyone that has had a stint in business. Trust is an issue when dealing with partners, employees and customers. I dwelt on the issue of selecting partners in this post and trust is one of those silent considerations that are always at the background of your decision.

On the part of customers, a raw material supplier to my food processing business had grown immensely and made a lot of progress in his business. Within a year of operation, he had become an exporter to Rwanda and the DRC. He had this customer who would buy his products in bulk. Ordering for a 4 tonne truck each time. Due to the seemingly cordial relationship that had come up between them, my supplier begun extending credit to this customer from Rwanda who would proceed to pay up once the goods were delivered. A time came and the customer ordered for three 4 Tonne trucks on credit and as usual my supplier went ahead to fulfill his part of the bargain. That is the last time he heard of that customer. This single move on his business crippled him and his operations ground to a halt.

Employees are another source of challenges when it comes to trust. We keep reading in the newspapers about employees of various companies and Government agencies defrauding their employers. Now for the big organisations, their financial might may be able to cushion these shortcomings. However for you that has that small Chicken rearing business, imagine if a staff member never administered the required drugs to the chicken and opted to sell them to other chicken farmers, this could eventually lead to the loss of your entire stock. Such a setback means a lot to a small business.

What do I think about this trust issue?

In life we relate with many people and as a result we have all reasons to trust or not trust them. However, over the years I have learnt that you need to have compartments of trust if you want to live a simple life. There are people you can trust to deliver when it comes to getting work done, others when it comes to keeping time, securing secrets, handling money and so on and so forth.

When you start relating with someone, it is always important to identify which compartment of trust you’ll place him or her in. Truth be told we each have our own areas of weakness as humans and so can’t be relied upon to be trusted 100%. This implies that someone that can be entrusted to deliver on a certain project may not necessarily be entrusted with handling the finances of that project. This saves both parties from the embarrassment caused by the potentially bitter fall out.

From my friend’s experience I learnt why some other shop owners prefer to close their shops entirely whenever they are going away. They are justified to do so since the thought of making massive losses in absentia outweighs the need to keep customers served throughout, at least for the moment. Now this may sound scandalous especially when you are hearing it from an MBA like me. The business books will always tell us one thing but in reality some modifications matter a lot. Most of the material one studies in business is oriented towards large operations with the expectation that small businesses can simply copy and paste.

If you are in a business that doesn’t need the 24 hour cycle to stay alive, you have the lee way to shut it down occasionally just in case you haven’t identified someone worthy of entrusting the operations with. However, for those that have business operations that require babysitting like in the Agriculture sector, it’s high time you worked out a solution towards ensuring that you bottle up your staff or partners in compartments of trust. While it may not bring down the potential losses to zero, it will create some sanity and avoid the kind of extreme circumstances my friend found himself in.

Am glad to conclude by saying that he’s getting back onto his two feet once again.

Is Upbringing a major letdown for SMEs?

The typical Ugandan family has always held the belief that Children need to be protected from any engagement or activity likely to divert their attention from the formal school studies as a way of guaranteeing them a bright future. While growing up, having lived in the Naguru area which was regarded as the sporting zone of Kampala, I loved watching the various sports activities taking place like Boxing, Cricket, Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis, Rugby, Handball and swimming.

I once approached my father and requested him for some money to buy a table tennis bat so I could play the game. His response was so negative that I never wasted my breath again asking for sports facilitation. However, I got to see many excel in sports having been given a chance by their parents among whom include Julius Omoding in Table Tennis who is now the CEO of Bank, Godfrey Nyakaana in boxing and currently a leading politician in Kampala City, Cedric Babu in Lawn Tennis and is the CEO of Kinetic Management Group, to mention but a few.

I have seen parents refuse to allow their children handle money or even try out some basic work for financial gain while still studying claiming that the money earned will spoil them. They prefer to provide 100% for the needs of their children and only when they reach University are they given some leeway to handle finances. Others aren’t even given an opportunity to carry out basic tasks in the home like compound slashing, cooking, cleaning up the house, feeding the backyard chicken, weeding the flowerbed or home garden with the expectation that their time is best spent revising school work and watching TV. This attitude crops out of the misguided concept that the children will graduate with honors from a leading University, acquire white collar jobs that will allow them to earn enough to pay for domestic workers among other things.

A young child being taught how to weed rice

A child being taught how to weed rice at the Doho Rice Scheme, Butaleja, Uganda.

While I can’t fully discount their fears, I must add that their perspective is skewed. You can’t complain of money spoiling a child when you have avoided the task of teaching that child financial management, however basic. Preventing a child from engaging in household chores is denying them opportunities of learning responsibility, leadership, planning and often times crisis management.

Fast forward to the corporate world. These children will eventually be spewed off the academic conveyor belt into the working environment and after landing that first job with very brilliant paperwork (first class degrees and the like), the employer gets disappointed in the fact that apart from appearing to have all the theory right, the recruit is nothing better than a paper tiger. Imagine a team leader who falls short in communication skills, financial planning or crisis management.

A good number of employees have some or all of the following attributes which can be traced to their upbringing;

  • Laziness: This is the tendency of wanting to do as little as possible despite having a strong desire for the money that is being paid. Employees that are lazy tend to avoid tasks they consider challenging and want to dwell on the ‘easy to do‘ work. Whenever a situation arises that demands them to unilaterally do work that is perceived as hard, they will be seen complaining even before making an attempt.

  • Lack Proactivity: The ability to take initiative is usually lacking among some employees. They are the type who will always wait for instructions even when they could figure out for themselves what to do next. Each time they are asked why they hadn’t taken action over a certain matter, the response will be, “I wasn’t told to do that.” Chances are, such a person was raised in a manner where they only did what their parents instructed them and the rest was done for them. They also tend to have the desire to always ‘play it safe‘ fearing to make mistakes lest they fall out of favour.

  • Grumpiness: For anyone who has run a start-up on a shoe strings budget, am sure you’ve noticed this. A delay in salaries by a few days leads such employees into creating a storm in a tea cup. Call them to work on a weekend in order to meet a client’s deadline and matters become even worse. Fail to provide them with lunch or transport allowance and they will sing tales of how other employers are better. However, you’ll be left wondering why they can’t go to those ‘better’ employers.

  • Lack Flexibility: Life is about constant change. This is one of the reasons the human race has been able to exist to-date. The work environment requires this attribute due to the ever changing nature of business and the circumstances under which it operates. Some employees are just not tuned for a flexible work environment and whenever the need for change occurs abruptly, they will be seen facing a hard time making adjustments. You might be a Sales or Marketing agent for that company but a time comes when you have to double up as a Client Relations officer due to some restructuring. One of the leading local TV stations underwent a restructuring process that saw people merge their roles. Those who were accustomed to only searching for news from the field were now faced with the task of editing that news and ensuring that it is ready for broadcast. Trust me, the complaints were many.

  • Honesty: A much needed trait in any employee, it is becoming a rare one lately. Many having grown up not knowing how money is made and only being on the receiving end of the finances didn’t have a chance to appreciate that those large figures of money they regularly received from their parents took time to earn. Others have grown up in homes where financial impropriety is idolised. Yes, I have heard some people brag before their very children that anyone who has a job and gets a chance to lay their hands on company money shouldn’t be a fool not to steal. Such employees are easily noticeable if one keeps a keen eye on the staff and closely monitors the processes in place to handle finances especially. Often times, due to the breadth of work available in the organisation, such people thrive illicitly and it takes a major incident for them to be uncovered.

  • Self Entitlement: These are the type that feel they are doing the company a favour to be employed by it. They believe they deserve more. They always want to see the company fall over itself to please them even when the circumstances don’t demand so. This is one of the most poisonous trait for any employee to have and as a business owner, if you ever identified this and the culprit isn’t willing to change, part ways immediately. Such tend to come from families where they have been excessively idolised due to one reason or another.

As a small business starting up or already operational, you need to watch out for some of these traits and much more to ensure that you can maintain a proper balance between your resource potential and business growth. The last thing you need is a culture that breeds negativity, it eats everyone around you right from the marrow and can lead to total business failure.

Want a Business Partner? Think Carefully

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[12:46PM, 01/05/2015] ‪+256 772 xxxxxx: There’s this dude that I am entering into a joint partnership with

[12:47PM, 01/05/2015] ‪+256 772 xxxxxx‬: We agreed to start a project together
[12:47PM, 01/05/2015] ‪+256 772 xxxxxx‬: We acquired the land
[12:48PM, 01/05/2015] ‪+256 772 xxxxxx‬: Now we took loans to build chicken houses and start off
[12:48PM, 01/05/2015] ‪+256 772 xxxxxx‬: Yesterday I found the guy cruising in a Germany made machine

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The above is a true discourse a member of an Entrepreneurship WhatsApp group am subscribed to shared with us on Labour day. She had this goal of setting up a business to guarantee some side income. Conveniently, she had this friend who used to talk positively about doing something similar. Before long, they agreed to work together and set up a poultry project. This led them to borrow money to start the business and unfortunately even before they could see the first return, her partner chose to use the money borrowed from the bank to buy a top of the range car.

Without going into details as to who is to blame and what she could have one better, I want to admit that this kind of experience is common to most entrepreneurs. Infact chances are very minimal that you will find an entrepreneur who hasn’t been disappointed in a similar manner.

A Cassava dealer at Kafu Bridge in Western Uganda.

A Cassava dealer at Kafu Bridge in Western Uganda.

You might be planning to start a business or are already a going concern and you’re actively looking for partners. My advice to you is to take a step back, assess your needs and challenges, verify whether you do need partners and for what specific purpose before announcing to anyone who cares to listen.

A friend of mine that runs a Recruitment agency once told me that one of the biggest lessons he has learnt in his entrepreneurial career is never to get partners on board because of their money. Often times as an entrepreneur, you narrow down your problems to ‘lack of money’ to; expand, import equipment, acquire stock among others. This then leads you in a rush to get someone who has money and when they come on board, their demand for a quick return to their money begins to bog you down. Before you know it, conflict arises and you’re forced to close the business or borrow elsewhere to pay off this partner and reclaim your peace.

Alignment of vision is another serious challenge when partners are coming on board. Years ago, some young men I knew had started a successful Import business and were making some good money. While one of them wanted the company to grow and extend its tentacles to the entire East African region (having identified some particular products of interest), his partners begun pushing for the instant sharing of profits so that they could buy cars and other property of their choice. They lacked the patience required to re-invest the money in the business, watch it grow for a while before beginning to take out money. Despite it’s potential, the company wound up operations within a year.

Partners are not a bad addition to any business. Infact their presence helps in;

  • Beefing up skill sets. Starting businesses usually cant afford to hire people to carry out the various work demands. However, someone in exchange for equity could offer to avail their exceptional skills to the business.
  • Brainstorming. Without doubt, a new business requires a lot of brainstorming. Most times the way things are done especially market discovery in start-ups doesn’t follow the conventional route that most MBA lectures are likely to chart out. Having partners can help in this process and prevent a promising businesses from experiencing a still birth.
  • Pooling of Finances. The typical small entrepreneur is usually devoid of cash and we all know that you can’t totally avoid spending cash in business. Having partners tends to spread out this hurdle. When we were setting up our first business, I recall a bank requiring us to open a business account with the equivalent of US$ 1000 and the business registration required close to US$ 400. As young fresh graduates with hardly much to show for financially, this was a big constraint that we only overcame by sharing the bill.
  • Networks. We all don’t have access to the same networks. Business largely tends to be a game of networking. A customer can be a friend who recommends you to a friend who recommends you to a relative of theirs and the linkages grow organically. The presence of partners has the potential of doubling, tripling or even quadrupling these linkages there by offering your business greater sales opportunities.

To avoid the experience of that WhatsApp complainant, invest as much time in studying the kind of partners you want to bring on board your business. Sometimes you are better off prioritising Skills and Knowledge Contribution over Money. But above all, alignment of vision is very crucial.