By Franklin Alli
Recently, hundreds of entrepreneurs drawn from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators in the country were hosted to a one dayÂ empowerment seminar, courtesy of Diamond Bank PLC.
The forum highlighted key issues such as â€˜What is business really about, how can entrepreneurs find and retain customers, and how can they develop business plans that can enable them to secure bank loans that have become elusive to entrepreneurs?â€™
Olugbolahan Mark-George of Mark-George consultants, who coordinated the programme, told the participants that failing to plan means planning to fail: â€œIf you donâ€™t know your business cycle, you cannot plan properly,â€ he stated.
He further stressed the importance of drawing up a business plan, saying. â€œYou should know your business and obstacles you are up against. Having a business plan will enable the bank assess and favourably consider your request for a loan facility,â€ adding : â€œ the absence of a well structured business plan constitute the recipe for failure.â€
According to him, the misdeed of most entrepreneurs in the country was that they tend to venture into the business of their choice without conducting a research and setting a goal.
â€œThe import of this lecture series is not all about having a bank account but to help you grow your business. One must develop a business plan which will enable one take charge of oneâ€™s business.
This would make you a better manager and improve the chances of your business. If you donâ€™t do this, your business will follow any trend within your operating environment,â€Mark-George concluded.
In his own presentation, Olusegun Ogidan ofÂ Successory Nigeria Ltd, observed that up to 90 per cent of SMEs operate without a clearly drawn strategic plan, adding that very few companies survive with it.
â€œAny time we talk of strategic planning, SMEs will say it is not for us. They erroneously assume it is only forÂ big businesses. But it is also for them because every business needs to develop its strategic identity. It needs to define its corporate culture. If you do not do it yourself, competition will define it for you. â€œYou must be known for something. You must define your position on the value triangle; are you a provider of superior quality, low price or better service,â€ he urged.
In his submission, Gary Marsh, Diamond Bankâ€™s Senior Adviser, Retail Banking , said that theÂ seminar was the fourth in the series meant to deliver empowerment to MSME operators, adding that the bank was really pleased by the feedback it got.
â€œWhen banks stopped lending last year, we continued to fund SMEs. We lent N3 billion to SMEs in 2009. We have the same amount to lend to SMEs this year,â€ he said.
Chidinma Lawanson, Heads Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Desk, explained that the bank developed its BusinessXpress product, specifically to add value to their business, whether a micro, small or medium scale enterprise.
One of the participants, Hyacinth Ani, Head Corporate Affairs Bauhaus International , described the programme as quite engaging, adding that he had gathered enough insight to tale steer his business to the next level.