“To feel your presence is to acknowledge your value. Your value then translates to returns and growth. Be seen, be felt and be valuable.”
I am a pro-business person because in some way I have an inclination that good business has a way of correcting most of the disparities and inequalities we witness in our societies as I wrote about last year here. The only worry I have is that often times we talk of good business but do the exact opposite of that. This means championing for value creation to your stakeholders i.e. customers, employees and shareholders. Often times we have maximal focus on serving the needs of the shareholders and where this changes it’s about customer interest with the aim of making conversions which should meet the needs of the shareholders. It’s a zero-sum game if you ask me but it’s what’s the norm. Last year in another post, I wrote about the critical business principles I have learnt from Howard Schultz the former CEO, Starbucks on “People Business.”
Along these lines, I had a moment to listen in on a business mentorship session this evening that sparked an interest and then conversation ensued with one of my colleagues at the office. Being colleagues in a shared-working space working for different companies by the fact that we know each other and know what each other works on we are able to act as business leads for each other in case of any inquiries within our circles. This took us to the current concerns that are facing the business community especially with regard to internet terms, rates and service packages which has brought the market leader Safaricom under criticism in the last couple of days. Using this as a case study we evaluated the prospects of the current terms playing out against Safaricom and whether other service providers can reap big on it. To the contrary, the chances of that happening are dismal and this is the argument.
- Investment in infrastructure: Safaricom invested in their infrastructure to ensure that they have the widest reach and best possible connection strength both on voice and internet service across the country. However much customers complain they still need that convenience and therefore they’ll go back to enjoy the convenience at a premium.
- Access programs: To make money from their services and products, they have to be in the market being consumed by the people they are made for. In this regard, they expanded their offerings and optimized to reach each and every possible client they could get. They haven’t reached every Kenyan but every Kenyan is within reach of Safaricom services ranging from MPESA, mobile phones, credit facilities, energy and other electronic services.
- Market leadership: To ensure they aligned with the national agenda and were at the top of their game, the former CEO was on top of his game and ensured he was set the trend in the space. Reimagining telecommunication services & product portfolio leaving behind a rich repository to service the growth of the company. He took a keen interest in policy matters and contributed to policy shaping discussions around the sector by having competent people take part in the processes. At the end of the day, they shaped the sector and were aligned with these policies. Reading this interview script of three (3) telecom CEO’s at the time, I can see his thinking through the discussion as he sets stage for a disruption rather than respond to circumstances. Involvement in policy as a businessperson is as important and this is one thing I learnt yesterday listening to an interview of Charles Koch, CEO Koch Industries. The same concept is argued for by Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft in his book Hit Refresh.
Finally and most importantly, Safaricom has always been at the forefront by being visible. By being present, reachable and recognizable Bob Collymore set the stage for customer loyalty, trust and business growth. Looking at the Kenyan telecom industry a year after his passing (may his soul rest in peace), we still associate Safaricom with him and being we believed in him we still have some trust in the company. To the contrary, I’d take a bet on you to name the CEO of the other telecommunication companies in the country. Who do we associate with the companies? Maybe nobody and without a human face there’s detachment. Being human means we need to relate and we only relate with other humans which then becomes a representation of the brand. We should never forget that. This applies critically in personal branding a concept we will be covering in one of our modules under the YouTH Voices Network we are launching tomorrow. Without knowing you, there’s no chance I’ll want to do business with you and if I don’t want to do business with you, there’s almost no chance I’ll refer you any clients. This then translates to failed business. You are your business and you need to stay visible for you.