By King Kaka |Standard Digital
Sometimes we forget to count our blessings, yet the very things we’re looking for are right next to us. In business, as in life, appreciating the little things will eventually give you a mentality that enables you to grow. This is a lesson I was taught by one of life mentors, who happens to be my mum. She raised three boys with a small fruit kibanda. We were talking last week, and she pointed out that she believed in her business even though it was small.
Attitude is everything when you’re in business. When you’re self-employed, you know your profits and you know your losses, and the numbers can sometimes get discouraging. Even for my mum, there were days she wanted to give up. But then she’d come home to us and be reminded that she had a reason to wake up the following day and keep at it.
I have mentioned in past articles that passion is a strong pillar that will help your business stand tall. There were so many times my mum would come home and say it rained the whole day, so no sales; or she was arrested by city council askaris and spent the whole day in City Hall cells, so no business; or the Government demolished the mabati hotels that served construction workers, which meant no business for her. I didn’t go to business school – in fact, I majored in accounting.
It’s only last year that I went back to school and now study business. All the companies that I’ve launched were fully based on instinct and passion. Eventually, I took over mum’s fruit empire and expanded it. Most lessons that I learnt came from that business, especially since my free time most weekends or during holidays was spent being her assistant.
It’s 2018, the fruit is the same, but times have changed. I took over her business and made ‘modern’ changes to it. In the beginning, the changes brought on plenty of debate, but she now understands my vision. This got me thinking about how family businesses are faring in the face of generational change. Some of the challenges came out after I spoke to a friend who’s now heading a family business that’s been around for years.
Business tactics change with most generations, as do consumer patterns. The problem comes in when you want to convince the family that the old ways won’t be effective in the future, and they don’t need to wait for the crunch to change the course of the ship. This has been a point of dissent and brought on major family disagreements in many businesses. However, keep in mind that the older generation may just be afraid you’ll kill the business with your new ideas.
Traditional to digital
We have to admit that the older generation is struggling with the new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to the Internet. Yet, the larger percentage of the new generation is spending almost every waking hour online. So before making drastic changes, learn your business and its customers to see if a transition will advance or hurt sales.
Timing is important when it comes to family and business. The two need to separate. The moment there’s a discussion about business at the dinner table, then there’s going to be disagreement, not only in the workplace but also at home. If there’s need to discuss a burning issue, then call for a family meeting. But we have to admit that the family business is one of the best platforms to learn. I’ve been to many shops owned by Indians and found young children either handling the money or being mentored.
What that has taught me is that we need to integrate our families into the businesses that we do. And early. Why look for alternative opportunities for them yet there’s one readily available. They can choose their own path later in life, but learning from the family business builds a strong foundation for them. No matter how small the business is, there’s room for a class.
The writer (King Kaka) is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.