A Simple Framework for thinking about your business
People often ask me, “how do you see the year going? Will it be a good year or a bad year?”
I respond with a shrug and say, “Whether it’s a good year or a bad year for everyone else, we’ll make it a great one for us.”
This is the message I gave my team at SCG. To drive the message home, I put my own spin on the famous John F. Kennedy quote: “Ask not what the year can do for you – ask what you can do for the year.”
Here’s what you can do to succeed in business this year:
To build a business in Ghana, you need a dogged spirit and a determination to do what is necessary to succeed. Why? Well, we have an uncertain economic situation and government policies that change without notice. We also have a banking crisis that makes accessing credit more difficult than ever before.
Building a business will be hard in these tough times and take years of effort. So, how do you build a business that gets better and delivers the result you want, regardless of the state of the wider economy?
My approach is to use a simple high-level framework, which I call “C-D-A-F”, to think through my business. C-D-A-F stands for:
- C – competition
- D – differentiation.
- A – advantage
- F – forward thinking or looking to the future
When I think of business, I look at the “C” factor. I try to assess the competition. Whatever you want, a million others in Ghana and further afield want the same thing. As a result, you must compete to win. I think a lot about the competition and ask, “what are they doing?”, “what are their strengths and weaknesses?” I also look at the competition that might come from other countries.
To improve my position, I consider the “D” factor; how I can be different from the rest. I search for ways to differentiate from the competition. I test the best differentiators and plan how to achieve them. I then proceed to execute the plans. Some differentiators are easy to achieve, others may take a longer time.
Next, I think of factor “A” – advantage. How can I get an advantage in the short and medium term? The “big four” accounting firms are dominant in the public accounting business in Ghana. I will often start from a weak position compared to the big four. I find ways to reduce my immediate disadvantage and get stronger in the medium term.
The “F” factor is all about the future. Be aware of ongoing developments that will affect your business. Think about where you want your business to be and plan how to get there. To illustrate, let us take an example from the accounting profession.
An example of looking to the future:
In the accounting profession the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain are part of the daily conversation in the advanced economies. However, in Ghana, these concepts may not be on the mind of most practitioners. Aware that these developments will have an impact here, we try to understand and do what we can about them now. We adopt such tools early to get an edge on the competition.
Imagine the future and consider those “C’, “D” and “A “factors. This will lead you to search for ways to strengthen your business. Continuous improvement is the way you position to reduce the effect of a bad year and to achieve superior results in good years.
So, will it be a good year or a bad year? I wish you a year in which your attitude is “whether it’s a good year or a bad year for the rest, I will make it a great one for me”.
Written by: George Katako
George is the managing partner of SCG Chartered Accountants.