Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In Business, to be fore informed is to be fore warned

In Business, to be fore informed is to be fore warned

By Joseph K. Kanyua

Competition is something you cannot get rid off if you are in business. Entrepreneurs need to realize this and hence strategize to remain competitive in a market flooded with duplications. It is for this reason that the serious Entrepreneur needs to identify the weak points of the competitors so as to build sustainable competitive advantage. It is a fact that most people in business are plagued by multiple blind spots. This erodes their potential to improve their market niche and build customer loyalty.

I will examine some of the known weaknesses that can have massive impacts to an entrepreneurial venture. It is said that it is better to risk than coast along with the status quo. Is it also not true that if we risk not, we risk more?

The first group of entrepreneurs suffers from the ‘Not Invented Here Syndrome’. Simply because the current trend in the market was not hatched in the firm’s premises, they decide to shield it. These entrepreneurs will cling hard to their modus operandi like a courting couple. Other risk takers go ahead and embrace the new techniques, gain market share and reap much from this. Consider a local example. Post Bank Kenya has been reluctant to install Automated Teller machines for their customers. On the other hand, other commercial Banks have cashed in on these machines. This blind spot can spell devastating effects to a firm. Internationally, we know how IBM adopted the GUI technology from Apple and went ahead to make a kill out of it. If you suffer from this syndrome, it is a high time you sought a cure before the syndrome becomes chronic. Furthermore, the cure rests in your decisions!

Then there are those entrepreneurs with the ‘Skim the market blind spot’. To them, selling their products/services at exorbitant, inflated prices is the only way to maximize profits. They target the wealthy people with high purchasing powers leaving the middle class and low class cadres unattended. Skillful entrepreneurs realize the magnificent market left unattended and capitalize on it. An example is Tusker Mattresses which has risen from a very humble background to challenge the big guns. They have a passion for the back streets yet they are raking in huge profits. The Nakumatt chain of supermarkets actually suffers from this blind spot.

The third category suffers from the ‘Technological Tunnel Vision’. These are the diehard adherents to archaic means of conducting business. When other companies are busy making acquisitions for Computer Network equipment, they are busy hiring messengers; and purchasing files. With advancements in technology, those keen to change their modes of operation gain sustainable competitive advantage since they are able to meet the customer needs better. If integrated properly, technology can really alter the way a firm conducts its business which in effect means more profit. Technology can create a compression of the sales cycle, better customer relations as well as cut down on personnel requirements. Which modern, pragmatic manager would not like to hear such?

And lastly, there are those worst hit by the ‘Maximizer complex’. To them, singularity of products/services or rather specialization is alien. They will try their hands on virtually any product yet succeed not in none. A serious entrepreneur should always make a decision to deal in a particular product or service and aim at making it better. Consider BAT Kenya, It deals only with cigars yet it is one of the most profitable firm in the country.

Conclusively, your future performance in business rests squarely in your hands. You can do something about it and change your fortunes.


Entrepreneurship: Business Entry Wedges

If we all have the keys to success, the locks must be changed. Marc Dollinger-an author of undisputed fame observed. I present briefly the means of new business start ups that have been found to be applicable and appropriate.

A business entry wedge is a means of trying to set foot on a new venture. There are three major wedges. A person who comes up with a new product or service is exploiting the new product or Service wedge. This entails coming up with a product or service that is not offered by a competitor. Safaricom Kenya Limited is a good example. Being the first company to offer Mobile telephony services, they have a huge customer base and the profits they are raking in are substantial. Moreover, being a leader in an untapped market gives you magnificent competitive advantage. By implication, you also develop isolation mechanisms cushioned by the First mover advantage. Isolation mechanisms are methods of shielding the effect of competitors. Celtel have born the brunt of this. They have found out that acquiring market share and loyalty is not easy in the market. Their strategies are laudable though!

An entrepreneur who enters an already existing market is said to be exploiting the parallel competition wedge. Such a person is well versed in the prevailing market but is determined to input innovation and creativity in his/her modus operandi. Most businesses are started in this manner. It is not difficult to think about a business venture that has been started this way. To succeed in this manner, you must have a very calculated approach to desist from the ‘norm’. You must do things differently much to the satisfaction of the customers.

Then there is Franchising. A franchise is a business venture started as a duplicate of another which has been tested and found to be lucrative. The buyer of a franchise (franchisee) benefits from the repute of the franchisor. Entry costs are kept at a minimum. This is the best way to start a business. Usually, a license fee is paid to the franchisor. Nandos is a good example of a Franchise. The parent company is in South Africa.

There are of course other minor wedges that you might want to get accustomed to. Exploiting underutilized resources is a way that can give you a foot in the market. There are also government regulations that can raise an opportunity for business. We all know how companies dealing with speed governors made money when the government made it mandatory for PSV’s to install the gadgets. You can also exploit partial momentum by making a witty Geographical relocation of an idea. Customers can also make you think about start a business venture. You can listen to people and learn what they want and it is not available in the market. Or better still, it is available but it is not satisfying them. Another minor wedge is a spin-off which is a business venture started by a person vacating employment to go start up a business venture in the same field. The individual here is actually using the business knowledge got from the parent company. This wedge is also regarded as parent company sponsorship. It is up to you to smell the environment and establish viable entrepreneurial ventures.

Next release: Why entrepreneurs fail in their quest for success!

Joseph K. Kanyua The writer is a Software Developer at Ascribe Plc.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Printer Trays Hell, View Pro and Vb 6

Hi Everyone,

I am a Windows Applications developer.

Have you come across hell when trying to specify printer's Paper Source Trays from Vb6 application? I have actually been to hell!

VB 6
exposes a Printer object, which points to the currently active printer for the current user profile in Windows. You can manipulate this object directly and set the printer trays with easy. However, if you use a third party tool called ViewPro you may experience problems.

ViewPro hides the printer object and at times it passes the wrong values for the printer trays.

ViewPro exposes a property called 'DefaultSource' which is an Enum, whilst the printer tray Ids may not lie in the Enum definations

Print jobs may not always print to the correct trays. You have to find ways of circumventing the ViewPro and print directly to the printer.