by Mugulusi Eddie
“I didn’t plan on being a single mom, but you have to deal with the cards you are dealt the best way you can” said, Tichina Arnold. I was brought up by a beautiful, smart, selfless and hardworking single mom. She didn’t choose that path but as it would turn out, my Dad (RIP) was too good a man for us to enjoy alone. The Lord wanted him too and so he was called.
In the past, death of a partner was a common cause of single motherhood and it was usually a result of an illness or war. In older generations therefore, it was not rare to find single moms. As years have gone by though, improvement in healthcare and advancement in medication have made death a less common cause of single motherhood in general. Has this brought down the prevailing number of single moms? On the contrary, I think the number has never been higher than it is today and am afraid it grows by the year.
Recently I came across the term ‘fragile families’, which is a relatively new family form usually caused by an unintended pregnancy of wedlock (unmarried parents). Usually in this situation, the father is not completely in the picture but has plans to stick around and help raise the child. However once the child is born, the fathers do not stay much longer. Women in this situation often end up spending a lot of time and effort waiting for and chasing after their ‘baby daddy’ with the hope and intention of salvaging the relationship and family. By the time they realize it is never going to work out, they have laid to waste a big part of their youthfulness and missed opportunities of finding happiness elsewhere.
Business owners today will soon find themselves in more less a similar circumstance. Many are eagerly waiting for the government to gradually ease the lockdown so they can get back to business. In order to make this clear, let me use this example. Say you own a makeup studio at MM Plaza. Before COVID19, the majority of your clients came in on their way to Kampala’s never ending social events. Post lockdown, you get back to your studio and await their return. There is only one problem though. They may never return for obvious reasons; they have no events to attend anymore, they are not eager to have anyone touch their faces, they are broke having been laid off, they learnt to do their makeup during the lockdown etc. Like the single mom chasing after her ‘baby daddy’, it is possible that by the time some business owners realize that their business models are obsolete they will be at a point of no return.
I’d like to turn on light at the end of what clearly seems like a long tunnel for many. To begin with, as a business owner you have to know the difference between an obstacle and an impossibility. In other words, when things get tough, you need to ask yourself: “can this problem be solved by sticking to what has worked in the past?” If the answer is “no”, then you should consider pivoting. This in essence means to shift to a new strategy.
At Fab creations, when the school market was shut down, we took some time off to carry out a deep analysis of the business. With help from a senior business and marketing consultant (Mrs Babuleka Matilda Busingye), we quickly came up with a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). In this plan among other things, we resolved to pivot the business towards a more reliable market segment, in this case those commonly known as ‘muntu wawansi.’ It is important to note that in December 2019, the company launched a new product (Shake Enkooge), a healthy refreshing juice made from tamarind fruit (known to have immense health benefits). We have since stepped up production and sales of this product whose demand has surprisingly remained high during the lockdown. Sales of Shake Enkooge have gone on to surpass the sales of all the other products sold in the school market.
Once you decide to pivot your business, you have to take into account the different factors that entail a successful pivot. For the case of fab creations, a number of other things have had to change to cope with today’s difficult times. For example, we have had to reduce the number of casual workers and sales reps, increased output per production cycle, reduced number of delivery days per week and are constantly looking for new ways to increase our production capacity. All this is intended to save the business as much money as possible, drive down the production cost per carton and increase the company’s margins.
I worry for today’s generation. I look around and see so many young beautiful ladies stuck in fragile families and desperately trying to win back their ‘baby daddy’. There is a misguided belief amongst people that says ‘you must fight for what’s yours’. This in my opinion is the biggest hindrance to pivoting or in other words ‘moving on’. We must all know when it’s time to persevere and when it’s time to pivot. Sometimes pivoting could mean a complete overhaul and not just shifting strategy. Remember, when you do decide to pivot, don’t waste any time, do it fast.
One of Africa’s biggest problems is individual selfishness. My goal here is to share my experiences in business for the benefit of others walking a similar journey. If this article has been of help to you, then hit the share button so you help it reach someone else out there