“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
As a consultant who operates in the business space, I know that entrepreneurs are the worst hit in this tough business environment. I was with a business leader recently and we discussed the state of the economy. Businesses are passing through challenging times. The dwindling value of the naira against the USD, inflation, and the volatile environment are major factors that affect cost of production. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, inflation stood at 22.79 per cent in the month of June 2023.
These situations naturally affect projections, turnover, and the going concern of businesses. A company that has a fixed monthly salary of XYZ Naira is still expected to pay bills, even when sales figures are going down. This is what the employers of labour go through.
Many employers in the private sector have continued to carry on in this challenging environment without downsizing their workforces. It takes more than competencies and a thick skin to be an entrepreneur in today’s Nigeria. I think it takes a miracle!
We should commend this segment of employers. I suggest we take a few minutes to appreciate employers of labour. A lot of them are just keeping on in business.
I listened to my friend, the business leader, as he explained how salary went up (because they had to cushion the effect of the recent removal of fuel subsidy) and sales came down. Imagine increasing salaries when sales performance is going down!
Be prudently creative, show empathy
I recently told a salesman who was complaining that his company increased his salary, without increasing fuel and sales activities expenses. I simply told him to rethink his daily sales activities and find ways to be more efficient and result-oriented. This is the time to go the extra mile for your organisation.
This is the time to find-cost effective ways to reach your target market. Technology should be explored – use phone, email and social media platforms to support your sales activities. This is the time to explore sales automation to reduce cost. This is the time to ensure you confirm appointments before setting out. Salesmen should go to places that are necessary and avoid movements that won’t add value to their sales targets. Be strategically productive.
Most employers are on BP medication because they think a lot these days! A lot of these great men and women think of how to pay salaries and meet up with other responsibilities each passing month. Professionals should be at their best to save the situation.
Be efficient, go for results!
As we already know, the business arena is struggling with several challenges and this situation may not end soon. At the time of this writing, you will need N1,010.00 to buy one USD in the parallel market! You already know the chain effect of the weak naira. A lot of things can discourage the Nigerian entrepreneur but the spirit of the entrepreneur makes him to move on.
Sales professionals should find innovative ways to be productive, while reducing cost for the organization. People in the production department should embrace efficient production models that will bring cost down. This is the time to embrace cost leadership model. Every department in the organisation must develop what I call “ownership mentality”. This is where the employee thinks like the owner of the business. This is the mindset that gets outstanding results.
The right environment
One of the main functions of Government is to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The CBN should urgently come up with policies that will save the naira from this freefall.
I think government should do more to encourage businesses in Nigeria. Businesspeople are not asking for too much. They are just asking for effective security management, constant power supply, good roads, a sane environment, and improved ease of doing business.
According to the World Bank annual ratings, Nigeria ranked 131 out of 190 economies of the world on ease of doing business. I think we can do better in this area.
Any economy that toys with the Private Sector is planning to fail. In an event to celebrate 2022 world MSMEs day in Abuja, the SMEDAN boss disclosed that small and medium-sized enterprises employ 87.9 per cent of the labour force in Nigeria. What incentives do the managers of the economy give to this segment of employers that employ over 87 per cent of the labour force?
It is true that government has no business in doing business, but this does not take away the responsibility that government should ensure that the right environment is in place for businesses to thrive. The drivers of the economy should help the private sector. Businesses are suffocating! A lot of businesses have gone down. Some are on life support. Only a few businesses are thriving. Urgent intelligent actions are needed!
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