Monday, March 28, 2011

Learning to Do Business as a Woman

I attended a wonderful program last week for female entrepreneurs. It was especially fortuitous for me because my sister and I recently took over a family-owned bookshop and just the week before I had wished out loud that there was a program somewhere that could give us some guidance on this whole ‘managing a business thing.’

Then, Viola! It happened.

The Corporate Governance & Leadership Training was organized by Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ) and the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and delivered all it promised to be and more.

Going in, I wasn’t quite sure what ‘corporate governance’ meant exactly, but figured that based on the course outline provide, the program would help us with some of the foundations of running a business.

The 3-day training sought to help small businesses and organizations build their capacity for successful growth by covering areas such as Institutional Frameworks; Leadership; Internal Control and Audit; Business Image Building and Ethics; Information Technology for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); Human Resource Management; and Accounting and Financial Management.

Aside from the amazing facilitators, it was an amazing opportunity to meet other women who run their own businesses (some of them also family-owned) and explore opportunities for partnership.

Some key things that I learnt were:
- Pay yourself first: Many business owners don’t do this and pay their staff, while failing to make themselves priority as they should - because if there was no you, there would be no business to start with). In addition, by not paying themselves, they under-estimating the true expenses of the business.
- Give your self a job description: Again, many (not all) entrepreneurs write out expectations for their staff, but fail to do the same for themselves.
- Know your business: For some women, their business is something to do, to pass time, to make a pretence of having a career. And these motivations come through in the way they manage their companies i.e. they are mostly absent and when they are there, they do not ask questions about the performance of the business, sales, customer trends and revenue earned. Even among women for who this business is their source of livelihood, they might not know their products or the ins and out of their operation as well as they should and so do not know the right questions to ask.
- Having good staff starts with recruiting right: This means knowing what type of person with what type of skills you need. Very often we focus more on the skills and the brilliant CV and less on the personality that might be best suited for the position we are recruiting for.

I learnt so much more and I am willing to share for a small fee. Alternatively, I recommend that you attend the next iteration.


Amaka said...

Ah ah, the four tips are already wonderful enough. You mean there is more? And you want us to pay? Haba! Love is sharing..

Ore said...

;) Might share some more over some blog posts then.