Sometime in 1992, Philip, Charles and five other people started an information based business. Going by the mortality rate of new businesses, the fact that Monitor has made it to 25 years of age is a big achievement. Over the years, the Monitor has exhibited amazing resilience.
In its 25 years’ existence, the Monitor attracted the wrath of government that resulted in multiple business disruptions perpetrated by government organs.
The government action that was intended to hurt and cripple the Monitor was the ban on government advertising in the Monitor which ran from 1993 to 1997. Overnight, the paper lost about 70 per cent of its revenue. The veteran journalist and founding member of the Monitor, Charles Onyango Obbo described the experience as akin to a person chopping off both your legs just below the knees. It makes the prospect of death very real and calls for drastic change. There are three things that the Monitor did in order to build resilience and avoid business death.
When disruption occurs to a business, people in position of responsibility may accept it or take a stance of denial. The business leader(s) may choose to disbelieve the reality of the occurrence of the disruption or underrate its effect. One morning soon after the government banned advertisement in the Monitor, the managers woke up and there was just one classified advert in the newspaper. It was a short trip for the managers to accept the new reality that close to 70 per cent of their revenue was gone. When disruption occurs, it is important to accept it that is what will help you to figure out how to move on.
Aim for drastic change
After accepting the new reality, the managers of the newspaper aimed for drastic change. Here is what the Monitor people did in the words of Charles Onyango Obbo, “We learnt to manage the shrunken revenue and decided to pile up assets that would allow us to buy our press, build our own office complex, invest in efficient technology, and fool proof ourselves against state revenge.”
The Monitor people did not just aim for survival but came up with a sound business resilience strategy. A good business resilience strategy will help to address crisis, ensure business continuity and respond to any other risk that the organisation might face.
James Abola is a business and finance consultant and coach.