First Cred Limited, a microfinance company that targets the unbanked in Botswana and across southern Africa, has some advice for the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) that wish to grow their ventures.
“Financial decisions that are taken in the early days of your business are critical,” says Ambrose Batsalelwang, First Cred Chief Operations Officer (COO).
Sharing tips with small businesses through a press release, Batsalelwang says the conception stage of a business is the most critical because it gives direction to the business and how successful it will become.
“Mostly, the success of the business can be mirrored on the principles applied by the individual – the thirstier and more principled an individual is, the better their chances of attaining business success,” says Batsalelwang.
He notes that SMMES are of four types and may undergo four stages. “These are pre-start-ups, start-ups, small businesses and small to medium sized businesses,” he explains.
While each stage is essential, Batsalelwang says chief among the first considerations is prudent financial management and that business owners who use their personal finances will have a good chance of managing their business finances well.
“The pre-start-up phase, which is also known as the idea stage, needs the owner to consider questions such as: Are your motivations in the right place? Have you formulated a business plan and financial projections? Have you consulted the relevant experts, e.g. lawyers and accountants? Is the business plan coupled with a marketing plan?,” he points out.
“Sufficient research should be conducted in the field that any business owners desire to venture into and this research should produce a business plan that is created under the guidance of an expert,” he says. “No business plan is complete without financial forecast. This determines the viability and profitability of the business.”
Start-ups must remain focused in order to manage the first stage leading to the second phase, which is implementation. “The questions entrepreneurs ought to ask themselves are how they will manage their daily cash flow,” says Batsalelwang.
“Have you defined their organisational structure? What financial aids are available to your business? How are you keeping the costs of the business at a minimum? Managing cash inflow and cash outflow is critical in helping the business stay afloat and maximising on profit by keeping expenses low.”
First Cred emphasises the importance of having a reliable workforce because that can either build a business or blow it to smithereens. Small businesses are also advised to be prudent in cash management, which is vital to lure investors.
“When the business grows beyond being a small business, it becomes a small to medium sized business (growth stage),” says the COO of First Cred. “Here entrepreneurs have to consider whether their resident accountants are overseen by a suitably qualified finance manager.
“Are they holding consistent meetings with the finance manager and stakeholders to review the business plan? Do they need to explore alternate revenue streams? Are the risks the business may face being considered and addressed? Stakeholders will need regular audits for assurance of their investments and business’ performance.”
According to First Cred, starting a business also requires the right mentality. First Cred encourages small businesses to seek expert advice which offers tailor-made support for them. “These advisory firms can aid at every stage of the business’s development, thus enhancing chances for maximum advancement,” says Batsalelwang.