Many businesses are often constrained or limited in their growth either because they lack funding or access to capital or they are far away from major markets or they lack the competitive edge. All these factors serve as impediments to growth. Small businesses as a result fail to realize their growth potential.
There is a popular saying that says “Two heads are better than one.” Small businesses need to collaborate if they want to grow. They need to form strategic alliances. A strategic alliance is a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship formed between two or more companies to attain agreed-upon goals while remaining independent entities. In a strategic alliance each party contributes its specific strengths, such as technology, customer base or marketing expertise, so as to help the alliance relationship grow. Strategic alliances can be very simple or more complex operating relationships but the aim of such relationships should be win-win in which both parties benefit.
An entrepreneur in search of growth can opt for an alliance because this can quickly and inexpensively provide access to proprietary technology, expertise, marketing, production, distribution and other unique capabilities. Research has shown that entrepreneurs who have opted for strategic alliances grow faster, increase productivity faster and report higher revenues than others who have opted to go it alone. Business is not about “solo-preneurs” but is about collaboration.
Strategic alliances result in synergy, where the interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, results in a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. If your company has a very good product but lacks distribution, you might have to seek synergy by cooperating with another company that has good distribution but no competing product.
If you want to enter a foreign market which might have entry restrictions or you might lack the local knowledge of the market then an alliance with a local company will prove to be beneficial because the other company can provide local market skills while your company supplies imported products or technologies. Strategic alliance partners can also benefit by purchasing cooperatively, marketing jointly, combining research and development, co-sponsoring training, or agreeing to set standards in a new technology.
Finding a good strategic partner is as difficult as finding a good marriage partner. There are important considerations that you need to take into account. You need to know the traits that you expect from your partner before you start looking for one. This will make it easier when you start looking for one. You should also check if the relationship will result in a synergistic one.
The benefits should not be lopsided in which one partner benefits more from the relationship than the other. Don’t negotiate to get the best for yourself only. If the other partner thinks the deal is unfair, they will not put much effort to make the deal a success. Trust is critical in a strategic alliance. It will be advisable to build trust between potential strategic partners before finalising the relationship. You can test the trust by collaborating in one or two projects.
You can find potential strategic partners from your customers, suppliers, competitors or other professional associates. Before finalising your selection of a potential suitor you need to do some due diligence on your prospective partner by looking at the other company’s credit rating, financial reports and reputation in the industry. You also need to check from your gut feel. How do you feel towards this relationship?
When you have decided on a partner you need to set and agree on specific goals of what you want to accomplish from the relationship. Without clear-cut goals an alliance will be bound to flounder. You need to be very frank in your discussions so that each other’s expectations are well spelt out. These discussions should be put into a legally enforceable agreement. The agreement should also provide ways of dispute resolution and should also provide for an exit strategy if the relationship does not work. In the negotiations you should make sure you both attend to each party’s objectives and ensure that they’re compatible.
Once you’ve entered into an alliance you need to make it work by doing your part of the deal. Refer frequently to your agreement and to the original objectives to see if you are on course. There should be a way of measuring performance of each partner in line with the agreement. Communicate the results and any changes to your partner.
Strategic alliances will inevitably involve costs especially related to management time. You need to put time in managing the alliance if you want to make it work.
Curtis E. Sahakian author and Managing Director of the Corporate Partnering Institute said “Joint Ventures, Alliances, and other Corporate Partnerings are fueling the growth of the world’s most successful companies. The demand to deliver more new products, more quickly, and at lower prices has never been greater. Joint Ventures and other collaborative business arrangements are revolutionizing how winning companies compete. They permit companies to enter new markets and field new products that they otherwise couldn’t do on their own. They are the quickest way to grow your company, particularly in times of change.”
About the author
Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: email@example.com or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062
Why invest for the future
AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.
Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.
“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.
Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.
He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.
Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.
“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.
Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.
In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.
He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.
Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.
He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.
“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.
Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.
He says each provides different financial products and services.
Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.
Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.
“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.
Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.
Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.
However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.
Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.
Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.
Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.
When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.
They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.
Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.
Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.
“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.
“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.
Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.
In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.
Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.
The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.
In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.
Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.
He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.
He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.
LetsGo and Win!
LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.
The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.
“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.
“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.
Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.
“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”
He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.
“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”
Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.
“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.
He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.
“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”
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