Let’s talk about sustainability.
The dictionary tells us that sustainability is “The ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself.”
If you have started or are thinking about running a business, are you designing it to stand the test of time? Are you planning to have your business last the next 5, 10, 15 years? And if that’s your plan, what are you putting in place to make that happen?
A question I often get asked is: What key elements does a business that wants to stand the test of time need to have? Let’s look at 4 key things your business must have to stand the test of time.
- Your business must be digital: Technology has changed the way we work, do financial transactions, socialize… Today, people are spending more time and money online, which has shifted business emphasis to digital sources of revenue and digital channels. If your business is only offline, you’re not going to be able to fully maximize the potential for growth.
- It must flow with the demographics of the market: Over 40% of the population in Nigeria is between the ages of 16 and 65 which is termed the useful economic age range. How are you positioning your services/products to address this market? Are your products/services designed to grow with this demographic?
- You must understand market trends: There’s no point being the best producer of a product/service no one needs. It also doesn’t help to focus on a market segment that’s declining. Know your market!
- You need to understand how a business is run: Beyond the product you’re bringing to the market, you need to have an understanding of what it takes to run a business. The daily grind of running a business including:
- Staffing: Deciding how lean/large your team should be. What sort of culture do you want to have in your business?
- Funding: How you’re going to keep the business running while trying to grow ypur market share?
- Legal: What legal structure will your business take: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company? Do you need to have contracts with your partners/employees if you have any? These and more need to be thought through.
- Accounting: How are you tracking your cash flows – money coming in and going out? This is a key area to look at, especially because it’s one of the areas that business owners tend to find challenging. It’s also a focus area for anyone looking to invest in your business. Take advantage of the solutions available to make this easier to manage.
- Marketing: Your business shouldn’t be kept a secret. Picture the total population of your target market: how do you make sure everyone in that segment knows about your business in a cost efficient way?
These are a few things to think about while developing the business of your dreams. Here’s a short clip of a talk I gave recently to 3,000 start-ups on creating a sustainable business.