There are 3 prominent reasons why SME’s in South Africa battle to keep a business going for longer than 2 years. One being the inability to secure funding. Another is cash flow management. But the one big reason why businesses battle to secure a sustainable future, is the lack of a strategic plan.


You might know exactly how to produce and sell your products or how to deliver your service but it will not stop the competition going after your customers, offering them something you don’t. Why would the customer buy from you instead of your rival?

Before you launch your business, are you sure you know what you are actually selling? Consider a hairdresser selling haircuts… or is she? What if she’s really selling a ‘feel good about myself experience’.

How did the big businesses get big and is it possible for me as a micro or small startup to also grow and become a preferred supplier for my selected market? Who is my target market and what experience am I selling?

All of these questions must be answered before you kick off your new venture. It gives you a competitive edge when you start running your business fully focused and with a purpose.

It has happened many a time that a startup thinks and design a revolutionary product and immediately starts working on the cost involved and starts developing “that great problem solver”! Next thing you know, there’s 10 products on the shelf yet, no one is buying. Getting inventory levels going is not necessarily the best place to start off. You should aim to match your offering to a market (your target market) even before you start production.

For that reason, it is imperative that you plan around how you will be doing business. It might sound like a daunting job, but it need not be. Nowadays you can plan and function like a big business yet be small and personal in your offerings to your clients and customers. Strategic planning is now something that the SME can engage in and reap the benefits from… and there are plenty benefits to reap!

You are off to a great start if you plot down not only a vision and mission but also a formulated plan to market and sell your products or services. You can include in your strategic plan how you will fund your business and how you will manage your cash flow. But even more so, you will have a structured plan to run your business from, a direction to follow, and a road map that will take you there.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. – Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Next time we talk more on HOW to market your product or service.


– Linda Botts