Brian Kazungu, 12/05/2023
I can describe Contingency Alertness as the ability to react and adjust to an unforeseen or foreseeable shift or change of circumstances that has got a positive or negative impact on the operations of an institution.
In any business community, there are various changes that are always taking place because of a number of man-made and natural causes.
Technological advancement, globalization, natural disasters, the knowledge gap, political changes and new discoveries in the realities of life are some of the determinant factors to the way how consumers react to your products and services.
The changes in these variables can have a significant impact on the viability and profitability of your business and as such, you must always be on the lookout for such developments in order to devise a good approach towards making the best possible response.
The failure to note or identify the point of transition (the time to react) is one of the main reasons why some SMEs fail to make it on the business terrain.
There is a need for you to be conscious of the fact that the business environment is always changing and therefore you need to able to quickly re-align your goals, targets and specifications in adapting to this ever changing business climate.
As an entrepreneur, you must have the skill and ability to know when to maintain the approach, products and services or when to change the same in any given environment.
Rigidity (being not flexible) is a business enemy in that the failure to react to the prevailing business trends undermines your relevance in the market.
This lack of relevance interferes with the viability, profitability and expansion of the business.
You should give attention to whether a certain concept should now be adopted or be dropped, whether to adopt technology or go the manual way as well as whether to continue as a cash based entity or to adopt other forms of payment.
With the advancement in technology and a continuous shift in customer needs and wants, it is increasingly becoming dangerous to maintain the old and traditional methods of doing business.
People are now always on the lookout for better and efficient products and services and as such, if you do not adjust you are likely to keep offering products and services that are no longer relevant at the expense of your own institution and other stakeholders.
When this happens, those businesses which are adaptive to change are the ones who can be seen getting ahead and conquering in the business field.
New and advanced methods of doing business are coming up because of extensive research and changing customer needs and therefore there is greater need to pay attention to these developments and analyse them in line with your industry.
In environments where people are using various forms of effecting and accepting payments it is not a good practice to cling to cash payments only since you will lose the market share to those who are innovative and adaptive to the changes in the business field.
Every business starts on a certain level, and when it is properly managed, it then grows from that stage up to even becoming a multi-national corporation.
Facebook is one such company which experienced this type of growth and expansion that results from being responsive to circumstances.
I am going to highlight the stages that Facebook went through, so that you can learn and appreciate the importance of being on the lookout for opportunities and that you may also know the right time to execute your plans when opportunity strikes.
Facebook started off as a university campus social networking platform where students from Harvard University could interact with each other and it later on became one of the most popular and biggest social network platforms of the 21st century.
It was launched as a company in 2004.
The membership to the network site was initially limited to the Harvard students only but was later on opened up to other universities and corporations.
By the year 2006, it was open to everyone aged 13 and older who had a valid email account.
During its early days, the company had to engage private investors for funding and later on went public in February 2012 to enable it to raise more capital.
In every business, there are important decisions to be made and there are also serious considerations to be done on who should join the company as an investor as well as in deciding on the right time to go public.
The best decisions that you can make under such a scenario is based on your understanding of the ever changing times, markets and the operational dynamics of a given industry or field.
As a business person, you should therefore be well versed with your business’ operational variables and thus be in a position to adjust and accord the proportionate due attention to every component of the business when the need arises.
This means that foresight must be one of your invaluable qualities as an entrepreneur, and you must also make sure that your team is nurtured to acquire this same quality as well.
Failure to adjust to the changing environment and circumstances would either fail the business’ growth or threaten its existence.
Wal-Mart, one of the world’s biggest retail entity started off small in the 1950s, operating only in Bentonville, Arkansas State in the United States of America but later expanded rapidly across America and into the rest of the world.
The company’s expansion was not only premised on low prices but also in the ability to adjust and suit the market by adopting creative mechanisms that enhanced customer service.
In 1987, Walmart had computerised some of their activities in order to track inventory, sales, and send instant communication to their stores.
Continuing with their technological upgrades, they equipped their stores with barcode readers to further assist in keeping track of their large inventory.
In 1988, the first Wal-Mart Supercenter was introduced in Washington, Missouri.
The supercentre concept added more features to those that were already offered in the traditional shop setup in order to appeal to a wide clientele and thus increase traffic and profitability.
These adjustments and changes made a positive result on the Walmart business because the activities and new concepts they adopted enhanced customer service, efficiency and competitiveness in line with the changing times.
Emphasis on multi-corporations such as Walmart and Facebook is meant to inspire you to know that you can still start small and go far as long as you are responsive to the dictates of the new business environment.
The point of transition can be tackled from different angles and stages of the business. It can either be started from a departmental level or can target the whole business concern.
The manufacturing sector is of the critical areas that are mostly affected by technological changes because new and efficient processes are being regularly introduced into the market and these are essential for coping with quality, quantity and demand.
As a manufacturer, the adoption of new and advanced technology enables you to cover a wide area or a broad customer base with good quality products which is vital for expansion.
From the examples above, we can see that being adaptive and responsive to the developments in technology will be rewarding in the various aspects of your business operations.
In the case of the retail industry in general and the supermarkets in particular, the way how customers are being served at the point of sale (till points) has a great influence on turnover, profitability and business continuity because of the volumes that are registered.
Computerised point of sale machines have been found to help serve the customers faster because of the barcode readers in charging for the goods as well as in price look up when a customer wants to confirm the price first before paying for the product.
Sticking to the old till (cash register) in a busy environment would prove costly especially in a fast moving consumer goods industry.
This is because you will serve less people and yet in this regard sales volume determine profitability.
In this case, you must bear in mind that customers do not want to wait for a long time in queues before they are served since they have other things to attend to.
The Point Of Transition can also take into account the need and ability to know the correct time to increase the wages of management and staff in your organisation.
This plays an important role in determining customer service which in turn determines goodwill since an appreciated workforce exudes a warm atmosphere for customer engagement.
Mostly, as an entrepreneur, you engage in business because you see an opportunity both for your self-sustenance and for broadening your sources of income.
You should not forget that the same applies to your employees as well since they also have needs and wants that they want to satisfy through the exchange of their labour.
If you fail to take care of your employees, it means that your competitors may eventually end up being the employers of the same staff members who would have gained experience and exposure from your company.
Unfortunately, these people can leave your company because of your lack of flexibility in decision making especially when it comes to adjusting salaries and other working conditions.
When a business grows, the people who make it happen should be recognised so that they do not feel neglected and deceived by seeing you as the only beneficiary from the expansion.
Always bear in mind that the success of your enterprises is also a result of staff members having maintained or even increased the amount of effort they are investing in your business and as such they also deserve attention, recognition and appreciation.
Adapted from The SME HANDBOOK written by Brian Kazungu
Amazon Book Link: https://amzn.to/3geP4ux Author Profile: