Business owners have been advised to inculcate employees in devising solutions for the challenges that have hit operations as a result of the impact of the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Founder & CEO, Women’s DNA Fund, Female Entrepreneurship and SME Development Expert, Dr. Amanobea Boateng, this is one of the surest ways to ensure that all critical stakeholders would be onboard, understand and buy into why new measures being taken to ensure the survival of the business and the sustenance of livelihood.
Speaking at a Business Webinar event organized by Bank of Africa in partnership with Glitz Africa for SME Business Owners, Business Managers and Entrepreneurs on the topic: Managing Your Business to Recovery During Crisis, Dr. Boateng noted that, the stakeholders, especially employees would play a critical role in keeping customers and all other stakeholders aligned to the goals of the business and guide them to follow the part of survival during and after COVID-19.
“The times are bad for everybody; Yes, our business may be in challenges, but our customers have problems of their own, our employees are facing different problems; life is uncertain for everybody. So, lets engage with these different people, our employees our customers our stakeholders. Let’s talk to our customers and find out how we can make life better for them. What can we do so that they feed us with good ideas that would fit into our scenario planning and opportunities for the future.
Let’s talk to our employees and be open with them about the situation that we are in, the difficulties that we are confronting and make them part of the solution. This is because, they are the people at the rock face of our businesses, they are the people who work on the day to day activities, they know the business; so, lets involve them in finding the solutions rather than just making them bystanders. If we have their buy-in they will be with us and stick with us long into the future” Dr. Boateng said.
On the part of the CEO, Busara Africa, Leadership Trainer and Certified Executive Coach, Taaka Awori, the sort of leadership exhibited during these challenging times would determine the sustainability and growth of a business. Disruptive, networked, collaborative, agile and inclusive are some of the leadership attributes that can ensure the survival of business operation, especially SMEs during the COVID-19 storm.
For her, disruptive leadership is a leader who is able to think outside the box and see opportunities in challenges. These times would also require leaders who crate good business network with players in and outside their sectors, locally and internationally.
She is sure that collaboration would be an important feature for a leader to survive COVID-19. The collaboration should be internal, with staff and stakeholders and also form strategic partnerships outside to move businesses forward. Agility, the ability to quickly and easily change a business model to connect with the new normal, would also play a key role to ensure businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Executive Head, Risk Management & Financial Markets & Risk Management Expert, BANK OF AFRICA, Akofa Dakwa was strong on the prudent management of cash and advised business owners to base their decisions on cash flow. According to her, mangers must be integral in cash flow issue to ensure business sustainability. For her, COVID-19 will present some opportunities and the revenue base of a business would determine if it can take advantage of the opportunities or not.
She further advised businesses owners to review the business model, cut away all waste and focus on only essential. Price optimization should also be given great attention; all new expenses that go in production or operation should be factored into pricing products. There should also be more focus on convenient payment methods to make things easier for customers. Three to six months’ buffer is critical to ensure smooth running of operations.
The Managing Director of Bank of Africa, Kobby Andah in his closing remarks was impressed with the all-female panel and expressed delight at the solid advice churned out to help the business community sustain their operation. “We decided to choose the SME segment for various reasons; first of all, it is a prime of the BOA group.
The group has a 3-year strategic plan; the whole group in all the countries; and our emphasis is to shift 25 percent of our business to SME over this 3-year period. You look at Ghana; we have 80-85 percent of business being SMEs; SMEs are said to support about 70 percent of the economy.
Unfortunately, SMEs would not have the clout that a multinational or a big corporation could have to learn how to navigate their ways out of COVID. With the big group, you have a lot of support and there is research going on and you get the guidance. SMEs don’t; and therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide them that opportunity” Mr. Andah said. The Business Webinar is part of the Sustainable Development Banking Series of Bank of Africa.