By An Executive Editor
Speaking on October 15, 2021 at the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA)-convened summit dubbed e-Bomba Ya Business, Ruth Biyinzika, who was a panelist addressed at least 5 things that a business leader must do to ensure that the enterprise thrives during the pandemic. Biyinzika is the Head Skills Development Facility at the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).
Plan for risks
Biyinzika says businesses must plan for risks.
“A day will come when you no longer have parties. A day will come and the bars are closed. Ask yourself, if I was running my bar for the last 2 years, during Covid-19, what would happen to me? Do you know what is happening to school owners? If for two years you are not earning, meaning you must diversify.
Diversify (Diversification of products)
Giving examples, Biyinzika is almost sure that Coca – Cola launched new products – Bushera and flavored milk after hotels closed and the number of wedding guests cut.
“With Bushera and the flavored milk, even when a child is at home, I can still take it. In a business, you need to think like that. We need to think a little bit more,” Biyinzika says.
For businesses, more than ever, Biyinzika says “you need more skilled workers.”
“I need somebody that I can say Michael is able to market. Michael is able to drive the truck and deliver the product. It’s not only that she is only very good with customer care. You should be able to have an accountant that is also able to sell. That is also able to go online and this for me is very critical,” Biyinzika adds.
More than ever, Biyinzika says businesses need digital skills.
Things have changed, she says “It’s no longer about sending email or chatting on WhatsApp. Businesses that utilize IT made a lot of money and it won’t stop. This time has taught has that actually….(I talk to a lot of young people) and when their shops downtown were closed, they said what can I do). I said you know what. You know how to use the internet, how to use WhatsApp, you can use your Facebook. The digital era has come and it will not stop. It is not going anywhere.”
One of the other critical things, Biyinzika says, is having a good relationship with bankers (or financial services sector).
“Things changed. If you know your banker, it is easier,” Biyinzika advises.
Challenges Vs Opportunities
Whenever there is a crisis or a problem, Biyinzika says, “you turn it around.”
She explained her point thus: “There are teachers that have been home for two years now. They have not been earning but there are teachers who made a decision and said I am going to learn tiling because the construction sector never stopped. I know a teacher who is now fitting tiles. I can tell you, 20% of the teachers will not go back to teaching because what they are doing now is making more money. There are so many teachers now who come to our homes and teach our children. I have a teacher that has a schedule daily. She comes to teach your child, you pay between 30, 000 to 50, 000 per day and she has about 4 homes in a day. That’s 30, 000 average times 4 homes. That’s 120, 000 in a day. Meaning in 10 days, she is already earning 1.2 million. There are people who have come up with digital learning. So, businesses should be like that. If things are not working. If it is harder for you to do something or sell a certain product, use this opportunity and turn it around.”
According to Biyinzika, this is the time to look at yourself and say, “did we have unnecessary expenses? Did we have unnecessary workers? This is the time to say to Tom, I know you are my friend’s son but I don’t need you during this time. We need to take time and say do we have the necessary workers that fit into our budget? Am I located on a premise that I have to pay a lot of rent and I don’t need it?”
She says you don’t have to be in Kampala anymore.
“People are learning that you can actually operate in a suburb, pay less rent and then you are able to actually make more profit,” Biyinzika says.
Personal finance management
As a business owner, Biyinzika says it’s about personal finance management and as such, she says, “This business is for you but a number of times business owners touch and remove money from their…. (that’s why they default on some of the loans anyway) because…. This is the time as a business owner not to compete in expenditure but to compete in innovative turn-around ideas that can help you transform your businesses.”
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