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From Passion to Profit – Strategic Planning for Women-Owned SMEs

I am fascinated and excited by the growing number of professional women entrepreneurs all over the African continent.

Women who when they were younger dreamed of being in the corporate world, then went on to leading universities in the UK or the United States and came back home to rock the corporate world in the business and financial enclaves of Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos or Accra.

Women who then decided that they wanted to own their own corporate world. Brave, heroic and adventurous women. Women determined to dream and women courageous to pursue those very dreams. I salute you all, my “Sheroes”.

Accolades aside, it’s a tremendous undertaking starting and running a business. As a management consultant and business adviser with two decades of international consulting experience, I have seen the highs and lows, the joy and the pain, of running a business. The joy and pain of those who want fame and celebrity from their venture, the highs and lows of those who want to execute their enterprise demonstrating best practice, the success and disappointment of those who pursue business for purely monetary gain, and the frustrations of business owners as they deal with the inefficiencies of their value chain. Yes, it is immensely trying. Tremendously tough.

Plan: Think Deeply About Your Business Aspirations.

Many women start their business from a passion. Why else would you leave that well-paid management position in Citibank Kenya or MTN in South Africa? They want to serve that deep cry within themselves to step out into the deep and start the entrepreneurial odyssey. When they separate from their employees and well-paid jobs, the new business card is printed, the enterprise website is set up and one or two well-meaning and even carefully chosen non-graduate employees are recruited. A few years down the line, things start getting complicated and the business’s reality may not match expectations and aspirations. Whilst this is ‘normal’ and or to be expected, I often think one of the things that smaller women business owners on the continent do not do at all that could ease their business journey is strategic planning.

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Whilst to some that may sound like a big phrase, something that only big corporations indulge in and something that is not necessary for the small business, a documented strategic plan is a critical planning tool for the endurance of a business – even in the small and growing business sector. I would even say especially in the small and growing business sector because of the aspiration to GROW.

One is already tested by the very fact that one is an entrepreneur in the SME sector – with many more established, older, and trusted businesses around the corner. Add to that the desire to make profit, satisfy customers and be responsive to their needs, listen to and train staff, and deal with third party suppliers. Exasperation then sets in.

Envisioning the future of your business.

Whilst a business plan is used to assess the viability of a business opportunity, a strategic plan provides focus and direction for moving a business from where it is now to where it would like to get to. It is a futuristic document that documents your vision, your mission, your goals and the ensuing activities for your business over a specified period – usually 3 to 5 years.

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Not that you cannot run a business without one, but a more deliberate and focused picture of where you are going and what activities and initiatives it will take to get you and your business there is valuable for horizon planning and scenario mapping.

Let’s start with the envisioning: Having to deliberately consider a vision statement for your business forces you to think of the purpose of your business, ‘the Why’ and ‘the Why’ is where it all starts. Your response, a succinctly documented vision statement, puts a lot into perspective.

Let’s move on to your mission. What do you do? More importantly, what do you do expressly better than other businesses? What will distinguish your business? In many ways, your response to these questions will then also shape your goals for your business. I always say it is best to have a maximum of five goals – have one on organisational and people issues, one on branding and communications, including social media, have another on revenue targets, and yet another on your products focused on how you will distinguish your service, your brand and your brand outputs.

Having documented the goals, we then move on your initiatives and all activities. For each goal agreed on, you need to articulate the activities you and your business will undertake to realise each goal.  These can be as many as six or seven, but I would say ideally limit it again to five – we want to ensure the possible, let’s KIS (keep it simple).

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Having Done All, Do

Having done all of that, do execute. Have timelines for the achievement of each initiative – I like to say these should be quarterly targets. To support you in execution, for accountability purposes, I would say institute a small Advisory Board, or a group of friends who you trust and who are professional enough to respect and value your business aspirations but also comfortable enough to ask you the tough questions about your business, or get a business coach. Many of us doers are driven by our passions and our passions alone. A runner wants to run, a golfer wants to golf and a business owner with a passion for jewellery wants to make and sell jewellery. That’s all very well and good, but if you really want to excel at what you do, a lot of the time you need a little, or a lot of, extra help.

Conclusions.

Strategy planning is a tremendous exercise in self-examination and business planning. It takes a lot out of you.  It’s hard. You must ask yourself the right questions, and you probably need someone to guide you through the process so that you don’t just document the first things that come to your mind as you think – it’s more to do with strategic thinking. And yes, for a small business, it should be done. I promise you. Good luck!


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Ghanaian Twin Brothers Launch 0207 Def Jam Label to Champion British Music Culture

Universal Music UK has today announced the launch of 0207 Def Jam, a new frontline label and the UK home of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, with a stellar cast of execs including the appointment of highly respected industry executives and Ghanaian London-born twin brothers, Alec and Alex Boateng as co-Presidents.

0207 Def Jam, which takes the first part of its name and inspiration from a telephone code in London as a nod to the music, culture and art the UK is famed for, is partnering with the legendary Def Jam label which has shaped and propelled cutting-edge hip hop culture around the world for over 35 years.

Alongside his brother, Alex takes the helm after 10 years at Universal Music UK, most recently as president of Island Records’ first Urban Division which has played an instrumental role in shaping the current and sustained trajectory of UK Black music. After taking the role in 2018 he oversaw UK campaigns for Drake, Tiwa Savage, Buju Banton, Nav, Giggs, Unknown T, Ray BLK, M Huncho, Tekno and Miraa May whilst also spearheading the campaigns for George The Poet’s debut book release, British film, The Intent 2 and UK based clothing brand/label Lizzy. Alex is a member of Universal Music’s Task Force for Meaningful Change, which was created as a driving force for inclusion and social justice. He joined Universal Music in 2010 in a digital role at Island Records before going on to hold positions in marketing and A&R, a period which included campaign launches for Tinchy Stryder, Drake, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj as well as A&R for artists including JP Cooper, Sean Paul, Jessie J, Dizzee Rascal, Donae’o and Big Shaq.  He started his music career balancing a marketing degree with DJing, multiple shifts at radio and running his own marketing and promotions company with his then BBC 1Xtra colleague G Money, moving on to consulting roles with Atlantic Records, Polydor and AATW. 

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Alec joins 0207 Def Jam after seven years at Warner Music, most recently as co-head of A&R at Atlantic, where he collected a clutch of industry awards and played a pivotal role in the commercial and cultural success of acts who have defined their era, including the emergence through to her chart-topping dominance of Jess Glynne, the revolutionary rise of Stormzy, Burna Boy’s rapid ascent to global superstar as well as the likes of WSTRN, Rita Ora, Kojo Funds, Stalk Ashley, Preditah and many more. A seasoned broadcaster, he also spent over a decade at BBC 1Xtra where he hosted the breakfast show for several years and a series of other specialist shows with a focus on breaking new British music. Alec remembers a passionate deep-rooted love of music as a child, evolving into DJing and leading the award-winning UK mixtape team Split Mics before halting university after he was headhunted to cut his teeth in A&R. First, he worked with Ministry of Sound and then began operating his own co-owned music company alongside the late industry lawyer Richard Antwi. Together, they oversaw a plethora of success with Wretch 32 and worked with artists such as Popcaan and Gyptian amongst many others.

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Alex’s former Island colleague Amy Tettey will be joining the team as managing director after 11 years, the past four as finance director, at the Universal Music label where she worked across the entire roster of Island artists including everyone from Amy Winehouse to Drake and Dizzee Rascal to Giggs. Alongside Amy, Jacqueline Eyewe and Char Grant join as marketing director and A&R director respectively. Jacqueline – previously senior marketing manager at Atlantic where she spearheaded the marketing of Black music – has been deeply rooted in contemporary Black music and culture for the last decade. She joined Atlantic in 2015 where she has worked with artists including Stormzy, Burna Boy, Lizzo, WSTRN, Kehlani and Cardi B. Char, whose 10-year career has been immersed in artist development and management as well as songwriting, joins from BMG Music Publishing where she has published the likes of Giggs, Ghetts and producers P2J, TSB and AOD.

Alec and Alex report to Universal Music UK Chairman & CEO David Joseph. He says, “Bringing the Boateng brothers together at 0207 Def Jam is an important moment in British culture. Alec and Alex have always done things their own way with success always quick to follow. They have already assembled an exceptionally talented top team with a clear vision for this exciting new chapter in the history of one of the world’s most famous labels”.

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Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “It is a perfect fit having Alex and Alec at the helm of 0207 Def Jam. Their creativity, artist relationships, and connection with culture are all key elements that have made Def Jam such an important label for over 35 years. I have no doubt that Alex, Alec and their team will only make the label and the brand even stronger.”

Alec Boateng, co-President of 0207 Def Jam says, “Music, art and artists really, really matter. I’m super excited to play a leadership role in this brilliant new space we’re creating for amazing music and talent to live and evolve. A space which will support both our teams and our artists to be the best version of themselves.”

Alex Boateng, co-President of 0207 Def Jam says, “Especially in these times, this is a real privilege. I’m proud our collective journey now includes partnering a legendary label with a style that only London and the UK can provide. Looking forward to watching and guiding where the music and art takes the journey next.”

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