the small business (I): the cradle of opportunity
By Nilooka Dissanayake
Starting a small business is the beginning of a long unending journey.
Now that you have gone through the travails of a start up business,
how do you go about achieving business growth and development? That
is what we will discuss over the next few weeks.
seeking to develop you business, you need to look inward as well
as outward. Looking inward means paying close attention to several
internal factors. These include the objectives that made you start
a business, your abilities, management skills, access to expertise,
systems within the organization and your current products and services.
respect to your products and services, you will need to take a fresh
look at how they are made and packaged, and distributed to your
were your objectives in starting this business? Did you start it
to make a quick buck or because you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Were you having a vision that you needed to realize through this
business? Did you start this business merely because you were sick
of working for others? Did you start because you saw a way to fulfill
a need in the market that was not being filled by someone else?
What ever the objective was, are you on your way to fulfilling your
ambitions? What do you want to achieve through business growth?
will mean change. How are you and your organization going to make
way for those changes? Just as an athlete analyses her strengths
and weaknesses before practicing for a major event, you too need
to cast a critical eye on your personal and organizational strengths
is no point in setting big goals if you are unable to achieve them.
All your efforts at growth can go waste if you or the organization
cannot meet the demands of change.
the next weeks we will discuss how this is done. It is equally important
to look at external factors. The business environment can make or
break a business. This is especially true for small businesses.
Your business environment is a cradle of opportunity.
you match your competences with a market opportunity successfully,
you may not achieve the growth you seek. You may also need to counter
threats from the environment. Before thinking of strategies for
development, you need to look at the business environment. You need
to look far into the future as well as to keep an eye on immediate
you cannot gaze into a crystal ball, the closest thing to knowing
the future is to study trends in the market.
If, for example, you are in the business of providing uniforms to
school children, the changes in birth rates and the number of births
and the number of new entrants to schools over the past decade and
projections based on these can provide you with very reliable statistics
for planning for the future.
studying trends, you need to look at other factors that may not
be so straightforward. Taking the school uniform example further,
you may need to guess which governments will come into power and
what will be their policy towards providing school uniforms.
the other hand, what is the trend in new entrants to international
schools? There, the parents will be better able to afford tailor
made uniforms. You could even hitch your wagon to a few international
schools. All these trends and the possible changes in your environment-which
could be political, economic, social and cultural-may affect your
future. And if you don't know which route of growth you wish to
select-and there are many-you need to really keep your ear to the
ground and learn intimately the current market situation.
do you stand vis-à-vis your competitors? What is your market
share? What do your current customers think of your product or service?
What new technologies could make you or your competitors more productive,
uncompetitive or obsolete? Are you trying to grow your small business?
What issues do you face day to day in seeking for business growth?
We would like to hear from you. Send us the issues you face and
help us make the articles more meaningful to small business operators.
You can contact us on email@example.com or on 5-552524
writer is the Managing Editor of Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa (Athwela
Business Journal), the only Sinhala management monthly targeting
the small and medium enterprises and its English version, Small
Business International magazine and www.smallbusiness.lk, the bilingual
small business website.