Steps to Creating a 21st Century SME

Namibia’s efforts to boost the small business sector need to be commended. However, the bigger challenge the country faces is to create SMEs that meet the needs of the 21st century. This is the view of FNB’s Acting Head of the SME Division Joram Naove Ngutjinazo.

“Before the start of the 21st century, discussions on SMEs were rhetorical but currently the subject is firmly on the national agenda because economic hardship is forcing individuals and the government to explore alternative sources of income or economic growth. Significantly, the SME agenda is gaining prominence during a phase in which businesses are increasingly under pressure to adapt to the needs of 21st century consumers,” said Ngutjinazo. He added that there are a few key attributes of a 21st century business which one should keep in mind. These include an online or virtual presence because even though the decision to operate physically or virtually largely depends on the type of business, online presence is a must in the 21st century. The benefits of being accessible online far outweigh the risks of not having any online presence.

Ngutjinazo continued that another key attribute is “Don’t just offer a service, offer a lifestyle. Consumers are more likely to be attracted to something which complements or improves their lifestyle. Ensure that your business complements the lifestyle of your target consumer.”

Furthermore, Ngutjinazo said innovation is something that is encouraged by businesses in general but very few actually follow through by rewarding employees for brilliant ideas. “Rewarding innovators encourages them to do more than their prescribed share,” he said.

Ngutjinazo also aised entrepreneurs to employ or partner with people who share their vision. He said people are more attracted to something they believe in, rather than the short-lived lure of a better pay cheque.

He continued aising SMEs to be agile and accessible as all clients would rather not wait to get service. “If your business has an opportunity to offer a particular service faster and efficiently, do it. This could be your business’s competitive edge,” said Ngutjinazo.

“A single customer complaint on a social networking platform such as Twitter or Facebook has the potential to jeopardise years of hard work. Even though it is impossible to make everyone happy, every complaint should be addressed efficiently to set a better impression of the business,” Ngutjinazo added.

His last word of aice for SMEs is to adopt a ‘local but global’ business philosophy as becoming a global or a multinational player does not always require millions of dollars, especially if there are no physical assets required. In this case virtual networking could easily place one’s business in a position to operate across different markets.

“It is without a doubt that Namibia has the capability to create SMEs that meet the needs of the 21st century. The message we need to instil is that our SMEs need to address the needs of the 21st century consumer,” concluded Ngutjinazo.

Source : New Era