A global entrepreneurship survey recently ranked Uganda as the world’s most entrepreneurial country on earth.
Uganda was voted one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world by a Brookings index. The report, however, said the businesses also registered the highest mortality rate not surviving to their first anniversary.
Mr James Kanaabe, a businessman, runs two supermarkets stores in Mutungo and Kisaasi.
He says running both businesses was tough when he was starting out and he had to quit his salaried job to focus on the business for it to pick up.
“I make sure that I am the one buying new stock which is barcorded before it is displayed.
After, the cashiers have to balance the amount of money they have made with the goods sold,” he says.
But this alone is not enough as some workers occasionally change the codes on items and connive with customers to defraud their employers with the difference made.
Mr Kanaabe says sometimes he must be away from the business, leaving him worried of making shortfalls and losses.
Mr Charles Ocici, the executive director Enterprise Uganda, says the subject of being a present business owner has been narrowly understood.
“People imagine that they have to be present in business in order for the business to succeed, which is entirely wrong,” he says.
Ugandans need not to assume that they need to start a business after retiring or resigning from a job because you can still run your business without necessarily being present.
“If you’re operating a bus company and you have three buses going to Nairobi, Dar es Salam, do you need to move with the busses to make sure that the company is running smoothly? You don’t need to be present at the businesses for it to succeed,” he said
Mr Ocici says the success of your business does not depend on whether you are present or absent but on the process you go through to choose the business and establish what you want to start.
He says the nature of businesses you venture into will determine whether you have to be present and how far you can go.
“If you’re a full time employee, you have to avoid businesses that have too many transactions. Such businesses like petrol stations, restaurants, and many other services businesses,” Mr Ocici says.
Mr Ocici cautions that such businesses with a ot of money exchanging hands can be tempting for your workers.
Rules of engagement
Experts argue that you should be disciplined to successfully run a business without necessarily being present.
Mr Ocici says you need a professional book-keeper who manages all your records and takes note of all the aspects of the business. You must also study the records.
“Records, they tell you the state of the business, if you need to restock, then stock up,” Ocici says.
He also said you must keep records by noting now your sales for the day, stock levels and purchases to know whether your books of account are balancing or not.
Build a culture
Connecting with your virtual employees must be done when beginning your business.
Mr Lincoln Mali, the head of card and emerging payments at Standard Bank’s Group, with more than 18 years of experience, in his keynote address to human resource experts recently, said industry captains ought to rise up to the challenge of organisational culture.
“We must model and reinforce culture that we desire through our behaviour, character, systems and models and have less talk and slides; leaders who do not catch-up to this reality will be out of business and jobs sooner rather than later,” he said.
Mr Mali said business owners must ensure things continue happening even when they are not present.
Build motivated team
It is hard to build a business as the Lone Ranger. You need to assemble, motivate, and manage a team – development, sales, partners and customers.
Start-ups are tough on even the most dedicated and passionate founders – others will fail.
Manage bad debts
Many businesses have had a problem of bad debts which often times drains the working capital of the business. As a business person you need to manage the temptation of breaking the rules and borrowing from the business.
If your employees depend on you to make every decision, they’ll keep depending on your undivided attention and input while you’re working from afar.
As a business owner, before you can consider working remotely, you’ll need to engender a sense of autonomy and ownership in the employees who’ll be responsible for your business while you’re gone.
Manage your finance
Technology has made work simplified today. Using online tools to do bookkeeping will help you to monitor the stock, sales and your revenue figures without you necessarily being on ground.
There are applications like Bench, the online bookkeeping service, to keep your books in order. Use Shoeboxed for snapping and storing digital copies of your business receipts, and FreshBooks for invoicing.
You can keep in touch with your employees over the phone. Video conferencing channels such as: Skype, Facebook Messenger are great for handling video calls with employees and clients.
You can also use other tools such as Google hangouts for hosting video conferences for a group of three or more people.
Dropbox is a user-friendly option for storing files online. Google Photos and Flickr both offer huge, free storage limits for keeping your photos online.