Get out of the little leagues
By David Sijenyi.
In my 16+ years of experience in business development and sales, I have watched businesses of different sizes and have come to one conclusion. The African market is in trouble because many businesses are playing in the little leagues and refusing to graduate to the big leagues.
The local market in Kenya for example seems crowded and the little boys and girls are having to jostle for business with the bigger players making the competitive environment very difficult for the start-ups and SMEs. While the term SMEs is yet to be clarified for our market, in my opinion, some businesses should be operating in regional and global level but are still dealing with village-level issues both within and without.
As a business development and strategy consultant in this market, it becomes very difficult to challenge the smaller business to see bigger opportunities when the bigger businesses they look up to seem comfortable with what they are achieving and have no qualms quashing the little businesses when they meet in the market.
I believe that some of our economic challenges as a nation and a region is because there are too many medium-sized businesses, I use the term loosely for purposes of this article, are too comfortable jostling for the crumbs with the little league players, startups, and new entrants as opposed to opening up more markets and increasing inflows into the country. We would rather eat one another and kill our own than go hunting in deeper bluer waters and claim new territory.
In this manner we cannot create new products, we are not challenged to innovate or refine our product offerings because we are the chiefs in our markets, and we are okay with that. The African Continent is still a virgin but we, the bigger businesses would rather stay in our comfort zones and leave the virgin territory to the Global players from other continents who understand what opening new territory means. Worst still we complain about an invasion and unfavorable market conditions.
I do not take these realities for granted but what are we doing to build more resilient businesses? What systems are we putting in place to ensure our businesses can grow and scale? Why do African business owners feel the need to die at the helm of their businesses, waking up every day to go to that office and slow down everything for everyone instead of entrusting it to able men and women who can take those businesses to greater heights?
What we do not realize is that while we think we are preserving ourselves and our businesses from destruction we are slowly losing ground and the very destruction we think we are averting is imminent. It's just a matter of time. If we do not start thinking global, we may as well cease to exist and pave the way for global thinkers and global doers.