By Telford Aduda
Knowledge is your real companion, your life long companion, not fortune. Fortune can disappear, the question is; can you do without fortune?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, fortune is defined as a hypothetical force or personified power that unpredictably determines events and issues favorably or unfavorably. This definition alone disqualifies fortune as a key ingredient in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship relies heavily on instinct to get the right product into the market backed by knowledge of what is missing from the marketplace. Fortune is selling medicine for a stomach ache. Unless many people are suffering from a stomach ache in your immediate environment you will face unfortunate results. Also, you might have the right medicine for the stomach ache but be miles from where your medicine (product) is needed.
Any good entrepreneur will not rely on fortune. An entrepreneur, noting the sale of past due fish will procure medicine for sale to those who will suffer consequences of eating said fish. It’s not good fortune if he/she makes a quick shilling, its instinct backed by knowledge of what people will need and where they will need it.
In all businesses, you have to have access to an extensive pool of knowledge; whether it is the understanding of customers’ needs and the business environment or the skills and experience of your staff. Knowledge and understanding is the key to growth and development. Without knowledge, there is no success. Knowledge management can benefit everyone from a local news stand to a manufacturing firm.
You probably need to have customer knowledge, employee and supplier relationships, market knowledge, knowledge of the business environment, professional associations and trade bodies, trade exhibitions and conferences, product research and development and organizational memory.
Putting all this knowledge into practice will have measurable results that can be replicated and results multiplied beyond the basic start up. Knowledge will lead to a direct improvement in the goods or services you offer and the processes that you use to distribute them. For example, knowledge of the preferences by age of your clients could improve how you package a given service.
Say you own a restaurant or café frequented by tech savvy and internet crazed youth who cannot be parted from their phones or tablets/laptops. Good instinct dictates a probable upgrade of your premises to offer wi-fi services. Research into the idea via customer feedback and questionnaires will provide the data/information required to either move ahead with the idea or discard it. Knowledge of your expenditure and expansion plan will advise you on how and when to implement the idea. To safeguard from errant youth who will enjoy your service at no cost you introduce a policy to allow access only to customers who purchase a food item. It is knowledge, not fortune that will see more youth flock your business. Fortune is having the service when a conference is in town.
Knowledge can also bring about;
• Increased customer satisfaction because you have a greater understanding of their requirements through feedback from customer communications.
• Increase in the quality of goods from your suppliers resulting from better awareness of what customers want and what your staff requires.
• Increased business efficiency by making better use of in-house expertise.
• Better recruitment and staffing policies. For instance, if you’ve increased knowledge of what your customers are looking for, you’re better able to find the right staff to serve them.
You can also use your knowledge and expertise in an advisory or consultancy capacity.
As an entrepreneur, you should try to build a culture in which knowledge is valued across your business. Give your employees an opportunity to share and to gain new knowledge, organize workshops, training and retreats aimed at let them gain knowledge.
Remember, knowledge is the only thing you will remain with even to the point of death, gain knowledge and protect it.