Lynford Guthrie
Lynford Guthrie

There is no doubt that some small businesses in Dominica are faced with economic challenges due mainly to the aftermath of the storm (Erika) that ravaged most of the island's infrastructure during June last year.

Facilities, goods and productivity were severely affected which definitely, may have caused the recovery process to go beyond 2015 into 2016, for some, based on economic variability.

In spite of all the setbacks which have been experienced throughout the island, many entrepreneurs might not show despair, instead, they may be looking forward to 2016 with great hope and optimism for improved performance and results. The reason being, by their nature, entrepreneurs tend to be positive people, resilient and constantly looking for opportunity and possibilities for profit rather than thinking about the associated risks and roadblocks.

For some, the New Year means a fresh chance and a different approach with bigger goals and more energy, no matter how challenging the previous year might have been. The fundamental concern however, is whether the optimism for an improved result is fuelled by signal of an improvement in Dominica's fiscal and macroeconomic situation, which by all means could be brighter days ahead for enterprise.

However, even if the macroeconomic situation is conducive to enterprise growth, there are some businesses that will never benefit and will continue to struggle because of one main reason – their business model is blemished with defects and is not likely to grow their business. Simply because they continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

This is why I am recommending that small businesses take some time to review and revamp their value proposition. For example; what value they deliver, the products and services they offer, who are their customers, how they serve their customers, their cost structure and revenue streams.

Because I am aware that only a few among them that are able to express their business model or know what elements are critical to its viability, I am presenting a few tips that small business operators can consider in revamping their business model for growth in 2016.

Know what makes your value proposition unique and worthwhile. For example, is the value that you are presenting your customers important to them? Assuming it is, are you currently the best at what you do and how you serve them? These are a few of the things to ask yourselves when assessing the real value you are offering to customers.

Ensure that your target market is viable. That is whether it can support growth and profitability. In other words, you need to know if the market has the potential to expand or is it shrinking.

Try to create product equity so that you will have repeat customers. Repeat customer is a good signal in a competitive market.

Look for opportunities for vertical integration. Not all small businesses are capable of vertical integration but those that have the potential to do so should consider doing. There are some element of risks in it but the reward of multiple and diverse revenue streams can provide handsome pay offs.

Consider your cash flow generation as a serious element of the business. In fact, it is the lifeline of the business. If you have many outstanding receivables and little cash in hand you cannot pay the bills and keep your business door open.

Evaluate the market you are in or wish to go into in order to understand the competition. This will assist you in leveraging you product or service to gain stability or a competitive edge.

Prepare a realistic annual budget which you should review at least quarterly and tweak it if necessary to ensure that you are riding with the waves of change in the business environment.

This is where I end until next time. Lynford Guthrie is a consultant / trainer in entrepreneurship and marketing in small & medium enterprises.