Join the Practical BUSINESS PLAN Writing Workshop and Make Your Startup Dream Come True

PracaticalBusinessPlanWritingWorkshopEnglish01

Conducted By: Nilooka Dissanayake, ACMA, MBA (Strathclyde)

Please visit this page for more information about the trainer.

Objectives

The objectives of the Practical Business Plan Writing Workshop are:

  • To help aspiring entrepreneurs who are dreaming of starting a business pick a feasible business idea for their new business and create a business plan to make their dream a reality.
  • To help Small Business Owners create a Business Plan that serves as the blueprint for an expansion project or foundation for developing their existing business.

Duration

Eight weeks (15 hours), conducted online in 1:30 hr sessions over weekend evenings/afternoons.

Potential Start Date

5 September 2020.

Medium and Platform

Conducted mainly in English, on an online platform such as Gotomeeting.

Contents

Over the course of 8 weeks (15 hours) of the Practical Business Plan Writing Workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Know what qualities you need for business success
  • How to Create a Business Canvas for your business idea
  • Finding out “How Bright is Your Business Idea?”
  • Select the best from among several business ideas
  • Learn the basic components of a business plan and how to write one
  • Understanding your market, market size and market segmentation
  • Understanding your potential customers and their needs
  • Finding how best you  can offer value to your customers
  • How to write a marketing plan
  • How to write a management plan
  • How to write an operational plan
  • How much money do you need to begin the business?
    • Understanding Cost structures
    • How to calculate your startup costs
    • Estimate your starting capital
    • Estimating your working capital
  • Understanding Revenue streams
  • Understanding projections, budgets, cashflows and break-even analysis
  • Learn how to improve the business feasibility of a project
  • Learn how to create your draft business plan
  • And have it reviewed by a finance professional.

Methodology

  • Modular. The workshop will be conducted in modular sessions, at the end of which the participant would have had the opportunity to draft all key sections of their business plan.
  • Interactive. The participants get to learn not just from the trainer, and by working alone, but also by working with others in small teams to ensure they produce the most viable and presentable of business plans.
  • Engaging. The interactive nature of the workshop will enable both the strong and the week to reach their goals at the end. There will not be any opportunities for disengagement. You will be busy working and thinking throughout this course.
  • Note from the trainer:
    This Practical Business Plan Writing Course is not a class or a regular certificate course. Sure, you will get a certificate of completion at the end, to go together with your Business Plan. But the Practical Business Plan Writing Course is a workshop where you learn to do most of the serious work involved in creating your own business plan, by yourself and with a team. If you are not willing to do your part to complete coursework on a weekly basis, you should not join this course.”

The Practical Business Plan Writing Course is a workshop where you learn to do most of the serious work involved in creating your own business plan.

The Output

At the end of the Practical Business Plan Wring Course, if you are willing to put in the work it takes (and it takes a lot of work, have no doubts), you can walk away with a business plan you can take to the bank for a loan facility.

Even if you don’t need a loan, you would have a very clear idea as to what it takes to begin a new business or an expansion project for an existing business and to ensure it is financially viable.

Course Fees

Payable in three installments:

  • Rs. 4000 on registration (by 4 September 2020)
  • Rs. 4,000 by week five (by 2 October 2020)
  • Rs. 7,000 – Optional. Only payable if you want your business plan reviewed by a professional, with two one-on-one sessions.

Please contact the trainer for payment information and other details via DiyunuwaChannel@Gmail.com

Posted in කළමනාකරණය, නායකත්වය, සාර්ථකත්ව කුසලතා, Business Skills, Business Startups, Entrepreneurship, Making Life Dreams Come True, Management Skills, Management Training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Starting a Home Based Business – Developing Your Business Idea (Part 3)

SCAMPER

By Nilooka Dissanayake

In the past two articles we considered how you could find a business idea that is capable of satisfying a prospective group of customers at a profit that is at the same time suited to your aspirations and circumstances. Today let us examine further how you can develop that business idea.

Tread with Caution

In developing your business idea you should tread with caution. What you decide and do today will have long term repercussions for yourself, your family and for your business. Get ready to develop the business idea in the same manner you would get ready for a long journey – by gathering all the necessary information and by equipping yourself with whatever the gear that is necessary for the journey. Build up your skills in the same way that you would strive for health and fitness in anticipation of a long journey. Take decisions carefully.

Take heed of an old African adage:

“Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.”

This article is useful for those of you who have already identified a number of possible business ideas as well as for those still trying to find that elusive business opportunity.

Business opportunities are many and varied. Consider the following questions adapted from the Sinhala publication “Sulu Vyaparayak Arambamu” or Starting a Small Business (ISBN 955-8429-00-7). They will help you choose from among the many possible alternatives:

  • Can I make, assemble or repair some product?
  • Can I provide some product or service to another business?
  • Do I have the ability to capture some part of a large market?
  • Can I add value to an existing product or service in some way? – That is, Can I do something for a particular group of customers to fulfill a need that is not being fulfilled at present?
  • What are the opportunities I can discover through the changes taking place in society and the latest trends?
  • What can I change, convert or imitate?
  • Can I become a distributor or a service agent for some other organisation?
  • Can I go into an import or export business?
  • Can I teach, co-ordinate affairs for someone or provide consultancy services?
  • Can I buy an existing business?

These questions will also enable you to develop and build upon your basic idea.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Whether you are searching for a suitable business idea or developing an already identified idea, try to be creative; let your hidden creative abilities take over some of the work. Here are a few tips to help you be more creative:

In his book titled “Thinkertoys,” Michael Michalko recommends that you SCAMPER – i.e. Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate or Reverse. So try and SCAMPER something to find or improve your business idea.

Look at any familiar object or activity and see how you can SCAMPER with it.

The makers of soft drinks have substituted our cup of tea or even the glass of water we take after a meal. Food processors have successfully combined noodles together with dehydrated vegetables and even soup. The modern providers of herbal and ayurvedic products and services have successfully adapted and modified age-old formulae, recipes and treatment techniques to suit the modern-day requirements. Toothpaste has more or less eliminated the need for toothpowder. The versatile two-wheel tractor has more or less managed to eliminate the use of buffaloes among farming communities around the world; it is also used for transportation of people and goods, for threshing of grain and for separating the grains from the husks. It can be put to a large number of uses after being combined with necessary implements. All these people dared to SCAMPER. Then why not you?

Ask yourself why something is necessary? Where should it be done? When should it be done? Who should be doing it? What should be done? How should it be done? These are good questions to ask yourself in respect of your business idea. What other uses? is another useful question to help you add value to anything at all. Your quest should be to offer a better quality competitive product or service to your potential customers. Then you will be in a position to satisfy your customers in a way that will surpass their expectations. And they will be willing to pay a price for your product or service.

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

In trying to be creative, beware of the stumbling blocks to creativity. This is how to stop being creative:

  • Be remorselessly practical
  • Be logical
  • Follow the rules – Can you hear yourself saying “This is how we have always done it!”
  • Be serious and take yourself seriously
  • Don’t be curious
  • Avoid ambiguity and jump into conclusions at the slightest chance
  • Believe that you should not risk making mistakes and also that your mistakes will be punished.
  • Believe you are not creative – easy enough for most of us – isn’t it?
  • Believe that there is only one right answer and that you know it

Don’t rush into making decisions regarding your business idea. If you let your creativity work it’s magic, every human situation and need will open up limitless potential business ideas for you.

On the other hand, to be creative forget about being practical. Logic itself cannot be proved – can it? So it doesn’t matter anyway! And rules? What rules? Freak out and have fun being creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but you are not a cat – so go ahead and be curious. As Albert Einstein said “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” Enjoy ambiguity. Mistakes help you to learn and to correct yourself in the future. The great inventor Thomas Edison had this to say about his own mistakes: ” I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Your mind is your greatest asset – so believe you are creative and you will become creative. As for the right answers, there are enough to go around. Don’t they say there’s more than one way to skin a cat? Instead of believing you know all the answers keep on searching.

The human mind is like an umbrella. Iit functions best when open.
~ W. A. Gropius,

Don’t rush into making decisions regarding your business idea. If you let your creativity work it’s magic, every human situation and need will open up limitless potential business ideas for you. As a result you may end up with more than one business idea which you’d like to explore. This is great, but you should try to limit the number to a few selected ideas. Just because you have a number of ideas, many of  these may not turn out to be profitable business opportunities.

How can you identify the feasible business opportunities? This will be the subject for our next week’s article.

The Sinhala publication mentioned above, “Sulu Vyaparayak Arambamu” is one of a set of six books published by Athwela (Private) Limited, the publishers of Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa, the Sinhala business journal targeted at educating the small and medium sized business operators. The other books in the set, all published in Sinhala, are titled Starting a Home-based Business, Marketing for the Small Business, Financial Management for the Small Business, Managing the Small Business and Record keeping for the Small Business. Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa, the Sinhala business journal also deals with the many aspects of starting and developing a small business. All of these are currently out of print.

Photos by
Bich Tran from Pexels

mentatdgt from Pexels

 

Posted in Business Skills, Business Startups, Business@Home (SundayTimes FT), Entrepreneurship, Making Life Dreams Come True, Management Skills, Starting a Home-Based Business | Leave a comment

Starting a Home Based Business – Developing Your Business Idea

Photo by fotografierende via Pexels.jpgPhoto by fotografierende via Pexels

By Nilooka Dissanayake

In the past two articles, we considered how you could find a business idea that is capable of satisfying a prospective group of customers at a profit that is at the same time suited to your aspirations and circumstances. Today let us examine further how you can develop that business idea.

In developing your business idea you should tread with caution. What you decide and do today will have long term repercussions for yourself, your family and for your business. Get ready to develop the business idea in the same manner you would get ready for a long journey – by gathering all the necessary information and by equipping yourself with whatever the gear that is necessary for the journey. Build up your skills in the same way that you would strive for health and fitness in anticipation of a long journey. Take decisions carefully. Take heed of an old African adage: “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.”

This article is useful for those of you who have already identified a number of possible business ideas as well as for those still trying to find that elusive business opportunity.

Business opportunities are many and varied

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels cactus-flora-potted-plants-2138073.jpgPhoto by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels

Consider the following questions adapted from the Sinhala publication “Sulu Vyaparayak Arambamu” or Starting a Small Business. They will help you choose from among the many possible alternatives:

 Can I make, assemble or repair some product?

 Can I provide some product or service to another business?

 Do I have the ability to capture some part of a large market?

 Can I add value to an existing product or service in some way? That is, Can I do something for a particular group of customers to fulfill a need that is not being fulfilled at present?

 What are the opportunities I can discover through the changes taking place in society and the latest trends?

 What can I change, convert or imitate?

 Can I become a distributor or a service agent for some other organisation?

 Can I go into an import or export business?

 Can I teach, co-ordinate affairs for someone or provide consultancy services?

 Can I buy an existing business?

These questions will also enable you to develop and build upon your basic idea.

Creative  idea generation

Whether you are searching for a suitable business idea or developing an already identified idea, try to be creative; let your hidden creative abilities take over some of the work. Here are a few tips to help you be more creative:

SCAMPER method

In his book titled “Thinkertoys,” Michael Michalko recommends that you SCAMPER – i.e. Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate or Reverse. So try and SCAMPER something to find or improve your business idea.

Look at any familiar object or activity and see how you can SCAMPER with it.

The makers of soft drinks have substituted our cup of tea or even the glass of water we take after a meal. Food processors have successfully combined noodles together with dehydrated vegetables and even soup. The modern providers of herbal and ayurvedic products and services have successfully adapted and modified age-old formulae, recipes and treatment techniques to suit the modern-day requirements. Toothpaste has more or less eliminated the need for toothpowder. The versatile two-wheel tractor has more or less managed to eliminate the use of buffaloes among farming communities around the world; it is also used for transportation of people and goods, for threshing of grain and for separating the grains from the husks. It can be put to a large number of uses after being combined with necessary implements. All these people dared to SCAMPER. Then why not you?

Ask yourself why something is necessary.

Where should it be done? When should it be done? Who should be doing it? What should be done? How should it be done? These are good questions to ask yourself in respect of your business idea. What other uses? is another useful question to help you add value to anything at all. Your quest should be to offer a better quality competitive product or service to your potential customers. Then you will be in a position to satisfy your customers in a way that will surpass their expectations. And they will be willing to pay a price for your product or service.

Avoid stumbling blocks to creativity

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Pexels artistic-bright-child-1174932.jpgPhoto by Sharon McCutcheon via Pexels

In trying to be creative, beware of the stumbling blocks to creativity. This is how to stop being creative:

 Be remorselessly practical

 Be logical

 Follow the rules – Can you hear yourself saying “This is how we have always done it!”

 Be serious and take yourself seriously

 Don’t be curious

 Avoid ambiguity and jump into conclusions at the slightest chance

 Believe that you should not risk making mistakes and also that your mistakes will be punished.

 Believe you are not creative – easy enough for most of us – isn’t it?

 Believe that there is only one right answer and that you know it

On the other hand, to be creative forget about being practical.

Logic itself cannot be proved – can it? So it doesn’t matter anyway! And rules? What rules? Freak out and have fun being creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but you are not a cat – so go ahead and be curious. As Albert Einstein said “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” Enjoy ambiguity. Mistakes help you to learn and to correct yourself in the future. The great inventor Thomas Edison had this to say about his own mistakes: ” I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Your mind is your greatest asset

So believe you are creative and you will become creative. As for the right answers, there are enough to go around. Don’t they say there’s more than one way to skin a cat? Instead of believing you know all the answers keep on searching. “The human mind is like an umbrella” says W. A. Gropius, “it functions best when open.”

Umbrella.blog-post-feature.jpg

Don’t rush into making decisions regarding your business idea. If you let your creativity work it’s magic, every human situation and need will open up limitless potential business ideas for you. As a result you may end up with more than one business idea which you’d like to explore. This is great, but you should try to limit the number to a few selected ideas. Just because you have a number of ideas, many of  these may not turn out to be profitable business opportunities.

How can you identify feasible business opportunities? This will be the subject for our next article.

Notes:

  1. Starting A Home Based Business: Adapted versions of a series of 25 Articles
    By Nilooka Dissanayake, published in the Ceylon Daily News between 2000 and 2001.
  2. ©Nilooka Dissanayake. The contents of these articles may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission by the writer.
  3. The Sinhala publication mentioned above, “Sulu Vyaparayak Arambamu” is one of a set of six books published by Athwela (Private) Limited, the publishers of Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa, the Sinhala business journal targeted at educating the small and medium-sized business operators. The other books in the set, all published in Sinhala, are titled Starting a Home-based Business, Marketing for the Small Business, Financial Management for the Small Business, Managing the Small Business and Record keeping for the Small Business. Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa, the Sinhala business journal also deals with the many aspects of starting and developing a small business. At present, they are out of print. 
Posted in දැනුවත් වන්න, Business Skills, Business Startups, Career Paths, creativity, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Making Life Dreams Come True, Starting a Home-Based Business, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Starting a Business – How Do I Find a Business Idea? (Part 1)

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels Business IdeaPhoto by Pixabay via Pexels

By Nilooka Dissanayake

This is a question a lot of people ask of themselves. It is not an easy question to answer because many factors need to be considered before finding an answer. It is a question we should neither ask nor answer lightly. This article and the next will provide you guidance in your quest of discovery.

Every day we see new businesses set up shop. We also see a lot of businesses close up. If we consider most of the start-ups, we can see that their business ideas are not new at all – it is almost always a borrowed idea. A retail shop, a take-away outlet, a fashion boutique, a communication center, a print shop or whatever it may be, these entrepreneurs are trying to enter the business world with an already tested business idea. Hundreds of people have carried on these businesses before. Then why do most small businesses fail within the first few years?

There are many reasons for business failure. But, surely one of the most basic reasons would be the selection of an unsuitable business idea. Therefore, as an aspiring entrepreneur, you have to not merely find a business idea, but one that is suitable.

In finding a suitable business idea there are two main things to consider. The first is whether the business idea is suited to you. The second is whether it is fulfilling a need of an identified group of customers, or a market and can be turned into a profitable business. In this article, we will talk about finding a business idea that is suitable for you. Next week, we will see how to find a business idea which fulfills the need of a group of customers. Some people may disagree as to which should come first, but it is an argument similar to whether the chicken or the egg came first. After all, even if you can find a great business idea with a lot of potential, will you go into it if it does not suit you?

It is critical for the business idea to be suited to you, your aspirations and your lifestyle. This is because you, as the entrepreneur, are the most important asset of your small business. You will, most likely, do the planning, set it up, carry on the operations, find the customers, attend to the record-keeping and a multitude of other things that need to be done. If you are not doing these yourself, you still need to delegate these duties to someone else. Therefore, it goes without saying that you need an intimate understanding of the operations of your business. So, rather than venture out into doing something you know nothing about, it is wiser to base your business on some aspect that you are familiar with. This way, you can avoid the many pitfalls.

So, if you want to find out a business idea, start by asking yourself these questions:

1. What are the things that I can do better than most people?

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels.jpgPhoto by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

This is a good way to start. If you can do something better than most people, then you have an edge over them. You’ll do better at it than they and your costs and mistakes will probably be less than theirs. For example, think of sewing or typing or making cake.

2. What skills do I have? What are my areas of competence?

If you have a particular skill or competence in some area, why not use it? This is why we see a lot of sales people going into business – they are basing their business on that selling skill they acquired in a previous business and of course the knowledge of a particular industry.

3. What do I like/want to do?

Photo by Skitterphoto via PexelsPhoto by Skitterphoto via Pexels

This is of utmost importance. You have to like what you are doing. If you do not like it, you will find it very hard indeed to make a success out of your business. Running a small business, be it home-based or otherwise, can be a trial at times. You need the ability to withstand work pressure, to work for long periods of time when required, to set your own goals and targets and to achieve them without supervision. If you like what you do and enjoy these aspects of work, it will be easier for you to work hard at success.

If all you get out of your business is money, then is it worthwhile bothering? If yes, for how long are you ready to sustain that effort?

4. What things are suitable for my aspirations?

A lot of people quit their jobs and go into business. Most of the time, the monetary benefits from their business are less than what they could have earned at a regular job. This is because they value the independence, the work itself or some other aspect of being their own boss. In the same way, what are your aspirations? What business ideas will help you to fulfill those aspirations?

5. What type of business is suitable for my circumstances?

Photo by Hannah Nelson from Pexels.jpgPhoto by Hannah Nelson from Pexels

Your aspiration might be to travel around the country and to see the world. You may possess all the skills required to become a free-lance nature photographer or a travel guide and some experience. But, if you are a mother of a toddler, are you going to take up those opportunities and be away from home for long periods of time? Even if you want to, what sort of a situation will that create in your home? Can you make a business out of it? There are many choices we have to make. And they, in turn, will make way for a whole lot of other issues. You may need to clear all these issues and make certain choices if you want to find a suitable business idea. So, especially if you are thinking of a home-based business, consider what options are open for you. This requires you to take a very realistic look at your own situation. The Sinhala publication “Gruhastha Vyaparayak Arambamu” – or Starting a Home Based Business deals at length with this issue.

6. What is the investment you are ready to make?

Photo by Pixabay from PexelsPhoto by Pixabay from Pexels

At this stage of searching for a business idea, we refer more to investment in time and commitment than to money. How much time, energy and commitment are you ready to make in your new business? The type of business you go into should be selected in accordance with your requirements. How long do you wish to stay away from home at a time? How often do you need to go out if you select a particular type of business? Where will you have to go? Whom will you have to visit? Some businesses do not require you to go out much. Others do.

Some of you who are planning to start a business from scratch may be lucky enough to take the approach described in this article. But, others may not be that lucky and may have business ideas thrust upon them which they either need to take up or leave aside. In such a situation, it is good to remember that we can change, adapt and develop new skills and areas of competence. Whatever your situation, a successful small business or home-based business is created when there is a match between you, your business idea and the market.

Notes:

  1. Starting A Home Based Business: Adapted versions of a series of 25 Articles
    By Nilooka Dissanayake, published in the Ceylon Daily News between 2000 and 2001.
  2. ©Nilooka Dissanayake. The contents of these articles may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission by the writer.
  3. The Sinhala publication mentioned above, “Gruhastha Vyaparayak Arambamu” is one of a set of six books published by Athwela (Private) Limited, the publishers of Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa, the Sinhala business journal targeted at educating the small and medium sized business operators. The other books in the set, all published in Sinhala, are titled Starting a Small Business, Marketing for the Small Business, Financial Management for the Small Business, Managing the Small Business and Record keeping for the Small Business. At present, they are out of print. 
Posted in ගුරු ගෙදරින්, දැනුවත් වන්න, ව්‍යාපාර පාලනය, Business Skills, Business Startups, Career Paths, Entrepreneurship, Making Life Dreams Come True, Starting a Home-Based Business, success | 1 Comment

Starting a Home-Based Business – Is it for You?

Photo by Dark Indigo from PexelsPhoto by Dark Indigo from Pexels

By Nilooka Dissanayake

The idea of a home-based business is catching up fast. A lot of professional women are now beginning to stay at home to look after children and are exploring possible avenues for earning an income from home. And of course, the traditional housewives are always alert to the possibility and the need for supplementing the family income.

It is not just the money that drives these women. Quite a lot of them are also looking at a pleasant and comfortable way of earning money. They know what work-life is in an office or in a factory. They also know the problems they face en route to work – the crowded buses and trains, the harassment and the long hours wasted. They are seeking satisfaction and a home business is ideal for this. It is really killing two birds with one stone.

But, they must remember that a home business is still a business and we say that starting a business is like setting out on a never-ending journey. Yes, not just a long journey, but a never-ending one.

If we are undertaking a long journey, be it a business trip, a pleasure trip or a pilgrimage we prepare ourselves for it and plan ahead. Where do we go, when, what mode of transport, how should we dress or gear ourselves, what and where do we eat and sleep or stopover and of course how much will it cost are some of the things we ask. Similarly, when thinking of starting a business operation one has to ask a set of questions and find an answer before doing anything else.

What should an aspiring entrepreneur ask?

Whether you are thinking of a home-based business or setting up a business separately you will still be the most important asset of that business. So the first question to ask is whether you have the necessary qualities to be a successful entrepreneur.

If you are toying with the idea of going into business even on a very small scale you need to appreciate what you are getting into. The never-ending journey of business does not necessarily take you across lush green pastures and parklands. You have to cross desert terrain and dark forests. You have to fight off wild beasts and be prepared to withstand a variety of weather conditions. You have to appreciate that all things will not go as planned; that you will get rain when you need sunshine; and be prepared for these eventualities.

What qualities do you need to become a successful entrepreneur?

Phot by Alexander Dummer via Pexels.jpg

We (at Athwela) have identified eight types of qualities. They are

  1. Business skills, attitudes, and experience
  2. General health and ability to withstand stress
  3. Self-confidence and positive thinking
  4. People skills
  5. Determination and dedication
  6. Innovation and creativity
  7. Life-style, family life and handling private finances
  8. Being realistic and assessing risk

To help you find out how you fare in each category we have formulated a set of eight statements, which make an overall total of 64 which you can answer by selecting “Yes” or “No.”  For example, under the “Lifestyle” category which is very important to the future of a home-based business, we have the following statements:

 My family supports my idea to start a home-based business

 My family appreciates that I will have to work with dedication and commitment to make my business a success.

 They also know that we cannot expect a substantial income right at the beginning; and that as a result, they cannot expect a steady income from my business.

 I know that I can successfully manage my business affairs while shouldering the responsibilities in the home.

 My family unit is strong enough to withstand any losses or trying periods that arise as a result of my business activities.

 I have a good grasp of my personal and family expenditure.

 My family has sufficient finances to see us through until my business begins to make a profit.

 My business aspirations are in line with our family lifestyle and our personal aspirations.

Once you have gone through this, you yourself will realise what the potential problem areas could be.

Similarly, if you go through all 64 statements, it makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and highlights the areas which need attention or improvement. We must appreciate that this list is not exhaustive. It merely provides guidance to help you decide whether you are suited to business life and whether an entrepreneur’s life is for you.

Clearly, almost no one will be able to say “Yes” to all 64 statements. But, this is only a beginning. We must then go on from here and develop the qualities that you lack. No one is born as a successful entrepreneur and you can develop these skills quite easily if you put your mind to it.

When you have come to this stage you will clearly know in your heart whether business is for you. And if you are still keen, you will have to find a business idea, again to suit you and your circumstances. Next week we will look at how to identify a business idea. Then we can assess its feasibility and develop it to make a successful business.

Notes:

  1. Starting A Home Based Business: Adapted versions of a series of 25 Articles
    By Nilooka Dissanayake, published in the Ceylon Daily News between 2000 and 2001.
  2. ©Nilooka Dissanayake. The contents of these articles may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission by the writer.
  3. The set of statements above has been drawn with permission from the book “Gruhastha Vyaparayak Arambamu” or Starting a Home Business, (ISBN 955-8429-01-5) published in Sinhala by Athwela (Private) Limited. At present, they are out of print. 

 

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අමතක කළ නොහැකි ව්‍යාපාරික පරිසරය

Athwela June 1998 VyaparikaParisaraya

අත්වැල ව්‍යාපාරික සඟරාව මංගල කලාපය

1998 ජූනි – ව්‍යාපාරික පරිසරය

සමාජයෙන් බිහිවෙන සමාජයෙන්ම පෝෂණය වන ව්‍යාපාරික ආයතනය ක්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ ශුන්‍යයක් තුළ නොවේ. සමාජය තුළමය.

මිනිසාගේ සිතුවිලි ක්‍රියාකාරකම් ආශාවන් හා පැතුම්, ගැටුම් සහ නව සොයාගැනීම් අනුව වෙනස්වන බලවේග වලට ‘පරිසරය’ යයි කියමු.

Continue reading

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Doing What You Love…

Doing what you love

Doing what you love is the new wealth. @gapingvoid
#ThinkBigSundayWithMarsha #SuccessTrain #JoyTrain

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Learning & Teaching Business with Athwelage Sarath

Entrepreneur characteristics

The knowledge and skill levels of small business owners need to be improved if a country wishes to improve the productivity of its small business sector.       

NOTE: Going down memory lane, this is an article first published in the Small Business International Magazine in 2003. This article describes an innovative method used by the House of Athwela, publishers of Small Business International, in teaching business to the small and medium size business owners and managers.

Teaching has been one of the oldest professions practiced by the homo sapiens. The newborn baby is taught how to suck the breast of his mother, and then the teaching activity begins.

Learning is the other side of teaching. The newborn calf, after being cleaned by its mother takes the first jaunt and then returns to have its first feed.

The methods used in teaching and learning vary from society to society; from one community to another, from one school of thought to another; and from one university to the next.

An analysis of the methods used by the early Greek philosophers show that they were interested in increasing the effectiveness of their methods of teaching. Yet the sterile lecture method continues, not only in universities, but also in almost all schools at all levels of teaching.

The methods of teaching and learning are now being revolutionized. Some universities are now offering courses without the students having to be at the university. This is a mode of distance learning. Educators searching for better methods of helping people acquire the knowledge they need, are exploiting the versatility of the Internet and information technologies. Recently we encountered a physician in Sri Lanka using a web site that  teaches acupuncture.

Doing business is one of the most complex subjects to teach; it is more difficult to learn than to teach. Therefore, we – at the House of Athwela – went in search of new methods of imparting knowledge to the small business owners and managers who are our readers and participants at our seminars. Our objective was to help them gather the knowledge they require to climb up the success ladder; to help them flourish and grow.

In Sri Lanka, as everywhere else in the world, many of those who are engaged in managing their own business operations do not have sufficient knowledge in conducting their activities. Their knowledge and skill levels need to be improved if a country wishes to increase the productivity levels of the small business sector. If that could be done, the productivity of the world economy will automatically be improved. The ultimate result would be an acceleration  of the global economic growth rate.

The Case Study Method

The case study method of teaching business management is one of the methods that has been used very successfully all over the world. Harvard Business School, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, is given the credit for introducing and popularizing this method.

The case study involves the writing of a case by an experienced teacher, after considerable research, normally based on an actual experience of a business firm. The writer of the case first studies the problem, identifies the objectives of the business and provides an account of the problem. The students are then required to study the facts given. Generally the students in small groups discuss the case and solutions are generated after careful analysis. In the case method the students are normally expected to assume that their knowledge is limited to the facts given in the case study and they are requested to solve the problem within the parameters defined.

Several groups studying the same case may come into different conclusions. Hence the solutions to the problems can vary from group to group and from individual to individual. In the ultimate analysis students learn that a problem can be solved in many ways. Solutions are not limited to one right answer.

Almost all the professions use the case study method to teach their juniors. In the legal profession actual cases are reported and published. What are made use of in this instance are the interpretations given by various judges in delivering their decisions.

The case study method is not new. It has been made use by founders of great religions. In Buddhism there are more than 550 known stories as given in the ‘Jathaka Potha’ or the Book if Lives where life stories of previous births of the Buddha are narrated. All teachers of Buddhism use these stories in teaching the basic lessons of the Buddha.

A New Approach

The House of Athwela (publishers of Small Business International).in its search for innovative methods of teaching business to its core readership of small and medium size business owners and operators, has evolved a novel method of helping the business people to learn business. We selected the case method as practiced by millions with good results and modified and improved upon it.

In the Athwela method, there are two components: the knowledge is carefully crafted by the case writer and is published through the Athwela Business Journal, a sister publication of SBI, The case of Athwelage Sarath is the first case developed by Athwela and has been in use since 1998.

Athwelage Sarath is Born

The core material is about Athwelage Sartah, the chief character created by the editors. This fictitious young man is introduced to the readers through a letter written by him to his mother from the Middle East where he was employed prior to starting his business. He writes to his mother thus.

My contract will soon be over.
I wish to start a business of my own when I return home.
All what I have today are my savings.
I have not learnt anything here except driving in the desert.
Can you please ask my father to identify a good business idea for me?

Sarath had also expressed his willingness to be independent and not go back to work with his father in his vegetable shop, where he had worked earlier after leaving school.

With this story, Athwela readers were requested to identify a business for Sarath considering his circumstances and his experience.

Selecting a Business Idea   

During the second stage, with the suggestions received from the readers of the journal and from the listeners of radio programmes conducted by us, Athwela Research Unit commenced working to find out what Sarath should choose as his future business. By this time our readers had rechristened him as Athwelage Sarath.

Those who came up with suggestions had given reasons for their conclusions. In the final analysis it was agreed that he should go into the business, which he knows: vegetables. Instead of going into the retail business like his father, it was suggested that Sarath stats a wholesale operation of buying vegetables from growers and supplying to retailers.

The arguments given were logical and had strategic implications for Sarath. He had considerable experience in the vegetable trade and knew well the customers he was planning so serve. What ha had to learn was only how to collect vegetables from the growers. Here, his father’s experience would prove useful.

Sarath’s resources base was also taken into consideration. He had some savings of his own. He was given the permission of his family to use the house, which his father had built (and was planning to present to Sarath at a later stage), for his business. Colour and variety are part Sarath’s story. Unlike in the sterile case study method, where facts will always remain the same or open for assumptions, Sarath’s story is an ongoing one. His experiences and the lessons he learns everyday are reflected and shared by his family and friends. He is living in the same world that we live in and get affected by all that we get affected by.

At the formative stages, when the case was discussed with bankers and leasing companies during radio programmes conducted by the Athwela Business Journal, the Sinhala Magazine (better known as ‘Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa’) there was general agreement that finances could be made available to Sarath to purchase a vehicles and also to finance his working capital requirements. With this background information on the table, Sarath commenced his business as a wholesale enterprise in vegetables.

Business Growth and Diversification

Entrepreneurship

After Athwelage Sarth commenced his business he prepared periodic reports about his operations to his management team, which comprised of his father, Athwelage Piyaratne, and other family members. When the initial start-up struggles were over and daily operational issues became more manageable, he had decided to look out for ideas for diversification of his operations.

A series of articles about business diversification strategies that commenced in the Athwela Business Journal then provided the theoretical background for his diversification plans. The series analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of his business and looked at opportunities and threats arising in the external business environment. Then the articles moved on to helping Sarath or any other entrepreneur to select the best idea from among a multitude to be chosen as a development project.

Looking for new ideas and opportunities for expansion, Sarath was made to visit the real jungles of the business world. He met with decision makers and posed the questions, which he thought were relevant to his business. He visited supermarket with the objective of expanding his operations and learnt how supermarkets purchase goods and pay for them. He learnt the necessity of being quality conscious and how to cope up with quality standards.

He also visited financial organization seeking finance to expand his operations. He discussed his problems of record keeping and accounts with a firm of auditors and sent his wife. Sumalee, for training, All that Sarath and Sumalee learnt were reported in the Athwela Business Journal as a continuing series articles.

Response to Athwelage Sarath

The response received from the readership was very encouraging. On their request, Sarath visited a merchant bank and a venture capital company and reported what he had learnt in his discussions with the financiers Sarath also discussed his diversification plans with an agriculturist and he was advised to change them.

Some companies made use or Athwelage Sarath to educate their prospective customers about the products and services they promote.

The future

Sarath keeps on moving, from one type of business to another and from one type of organization to another, so that what he learns is added to the knowledge base of our readership.

Athwelage Sarath is a man of our times. He is someone that anyone from whatever humble background can identify with. He is a man of positive attitudes and enthusiasm; of boundless energy and drive. Originally his experiences enhanced the reading experience of our readers in Sinhala through the ‘Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa’ Now he will also be seen on the pages of Small Business International and on our website: smallbusiness.lk.

The role of Sarath is very simple; he roams the labyrinths of the business world, meets with decision markers, comes back and reports his experiences through our publications.

As Athwelage Sarath moves up the ladder of success in business, it is the wish of his creators that this ‘living’ case study will enable many others who seek knowledge of the business world within the pages of our publications to do the same. We will support Sarath all the way to becoming a diversified business conglomerate – if that seems to be the best path he should take.

First published in the Small Business International Magazine, 2003

Nihal Dissanayake is the Editor in Chief and founder of ‘Athwela Business Journal’ the only magazine in Sri Lanka targeting the small and medium businesses and start – ups in the Sinhala language.

 

 

Posted in Business Skills, Business Startups, Career Paths, creativity, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Leadership, Making Life Dreams Come True, Management Skills, management tools, Management Training, Personal excellence, Starting a Home-Based Business, TRAINER'S JOURNAL | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How is Your Leadership Health?

Have you ever wondered how the quality of leadership is? Do you base it only on your performance and feedback? This Leadership Quiz from Sensei helps diagnose your leadership health with a simple do it yourself self-assessment.

To complete this Health Check, please read each of the statements and select the number in the column which most closely reflects your reaction to each proposition.

Please make a response to all the statements. Add up your total number and compare it with the results table at the end of the assessment.

The whole process should take no longer than 15 minutes and should be completed on an individual basis.
Follow this link for the quiz and tell us what you find. We are eager to know. How is Your Leadership Health?

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Posted in Business Skills, Career Paths, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Leadership, Life skills, management tools, Management Training, Personal excellence, TRAINER'S JOURNAL | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SWOT: Are You Walking Around Naked?

emperors-new-clothes

By Nilooka Dissanayake

SWOT is a truly useful tool whether you are a
one-man (woman) show or a multinational.

It a tool to prevent organisations walking around naked,
like the proverbial emperor.

SWOT is a truly useful tool whether you are a one-man (woman) show or a multinational. It a tool to prevent organisations walking around naked, like the proverbial emperor.

SWOT? What is that?

For those who have filtered SWOT out of your systems altogether, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I know, I know. Bear with me. I had to write that just for the sake of completeness!

swot4

Strengths and weaknesses have to do with the internal organisation. Opportunities and threats arise in the external environment. You would be surprised at the highly intelligent people who get this bit wrong.

Fancy speeches – colourful report – dustbin

That is the usual path for SWOT…

So, you decided long ago to do a SWOT. Once you’re back from the splashy official weekend outing after the SWOT, what then? Fancy speech — colourful report — dustbin.

No? Just the bottom drawer and remember to safeguard the photos for the annual report? No? You got me puzzled there. Well, anyone who really made use of SWOT beyond that, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

My friends, doing a SWOT and stopping there is the organisational equivalent of having a kid and saying “I’m done”; what of feeding, clothing, schooling, elocution, tuition, OLs, ALs, university, marriage etc. Again, you know what I mean.

SWOT is not a parade to show off the Emperor’s sun tan or his great muscles…

There’s more to it than that. This is when the real work begins. It is not enough to say this is good, this is great, this is lousy; you have to also say what impact the SWOT has and how to deal with each of the elements identified. It is necessary to analyze carefully the implications of identified weaknesses and decide upon courses of action to rectify weaknesses before it’s too late. It is necessary to set follow-up procedure to see if the weaknesses have effectively been eliminated. Does it require alternative measurements? Is the emperor fully naked or is his robe simply torn in one place?

The S, O, and T also have to be dealt with equally diligently

Our initial SWOT should prompt us to seek ways to reinforce our strengths. It should help us, when matched appropriately with organisational objectives (visions, missions, strategies – anything you like) to identify and make use of strategic opportunities arising in the environment. It should help us take measures to counter threats to our organisational success and wellbeing.

Why on earth do we not go all the way?

Why on earth do we not go all the way after the initial SWOT? Is there a logical explanation?

Simply never occurred to us or to our highly paid consultants? The answer has something to do with the feel-good factor and groupthink.

We are all working for such a great organisation – why change? Or is it that it takes too much trouble to change since it is a complete mess; a real COW (can of worms)? So, just let us bat on, hiding our heads in the sand like the ostrich is supposed to do when sensing danger? Decide for yourself and for your organisation. You know best.

Where were the little boys and girls?

There is also the key factor that you may have left a lot of the brave and often the naive out of the sessions. What manager would openly tell the CEO or the Board they have made stupid mistakes? Only the very brave and the naive would. You see what I mean? You should have got into the sessions all the little boys and girls who did not know it is dangerous to ask why the emperor is naked. You should have in the forum not simply the managers whose bonus is on line or the partners whose share of profits is on line. You should also have in the forum the small man, whose livelihood depends on the long-term health of the company. He will tell the truth.

An environment of trust is necessary

You could also make sure your sessions are held in a spirit of flexibility and trust; that the CEO is not listening in ready to shoot the messenger. In fact, it is a great idea to get a facilitator to handle the sessions. You could if possible make sure that the official “tell-tale” is conveniently locked out as well.

Spell out the objectives

It is necessary to point out clearly to the participants that this is not a mud slinging party (let’s save that for election time!); nor is it a happy day out. The objective is to seek to better the internal environment of the company and to identify opportunities and threats. Then it is necessary to take action based on these findings.

A note to one-man shows

Beware, you may truly encounter blind spots in the SWOT analysis. You may truly think you are great and everything is wonderful; your humanity or wishful thinking may prevent you from seeing the real situation. Get someone to help you out and add objectivity and a fresh view point. If you can’t afford a consultant? Get a group of your friends or contacts who may be facing a similar plight and get the services of a consultant at a joint forum.

Apply what you find in SWOT to improve your organisation

Put in a follow-up session in your corporate agenda. Pin down responsibility clearly and firmly. Try this out, you’ll never be organisationally naked again if you are honest with yourself.

In the next article let us talk of the most misunderstood management technique: Brainstorming. It is also my favourite. Really.

In the meanwhile, volunteers to join PASM (Prevention of Abuse of SWOT Movement) or the PABW (Prevention of Abuse of Brainstorming as a Word) can join me. While you are at this, also let me know which management tools you wish to read about in the future issues of Ezine Athwela.

First published in Ezine Athwela, Sri Lanka's first email magazine IN 2000 January.N.
Posted in Business Skills, creativity, Inspiration, Leadership, Management Skills, management tools, Management Training, Personal excellence, success, TRAINER'S JOURNAL | Leave a comment

A Fresh Look at Management Tools

By Nilooka Dissanayake, ACMA, MBA (Strathclyde)

Management Tools

 “Once your clothes become too old to wear, tear into pieces and use as a hand towel;

 once they become too ragged for that, use them to wipe your feet;

 when they become really useless, mix it with mud and use to patch up the walls of your adobe hut.”

That is actually words of advice from the Ultimate Analyst, the Gauthama Buddha.

And, this is exactly what we should do with management tools. No, not wipe your feet with them. We should try to get the best out of the already used and -often abused – management tools. Recycle would be a good description. After all, if you don’t put them to use, abuse or misuse, then what use? Let’s use it.

We have become cynical of management tools…

Like many things in life, management tools and management teams are affected by fashion trends. At one point SWOT was the craze. Then came visions and missions and corporate planning followed with BPR and brainstorming. Every top management team worth their salt jumped on board, if not for the benefits to be had, at least to appear fashionable and be able to boast of it in the annual report or at the Rotary meeting. You know what I mean. Since management tools come and go, corporate citizens (i.e. most of us) have got used to their novelty and the inevitable oblivion. This experience has made us wary of these tools and left us cynical as to their relevance.

Let us not reinvent the wheel…

This series of articles is an attempt to point out the proper uses and the not so conventional ways in which we can put management tools to use. Secondly, once in a while, everyone needs a reminder that we can make our managerial lives easier by not reinventing the wheel.

What does is take?

It takes the brave or the truly naive to point out the benefits of a much hacked management tool. You know, like the little boy who asked why the emperor was naked.

As the first in the series, let us talk of SWOT analyses.
Did you read SWOT? Did I really say I will talk of SWOT?

Yes. But, wait! Before you press the delete button, please realise I too feel the same way about SWOT. I simply hate it … that such a useful tool can get so abused. It’s a crime. The government or an NGO should start a Prevention of Abuses of SWOT Movement…

Please note that this article was written for Ezine Athwela, Sri Lanka's first email magazine back in 2000.
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The Three Biggest Mistakes People Make With a SWOT Analysis

SWOT

This article is from a LinkedIn post by Julian Cole, a strategy consultant because what he says resonates so well with me. Spot on @juliancole.  with thanks to Azard Ameen for bringing it to my attention via sharing.

What are the Three Biggest Mistakes?

1. Start with Strengths/Weaknesses.

Start with Opportunity/Threats as they require deep research which the team won’t always have on the spot.

Also Strengths/Weaknesses are framed in terms of external factors.

e.g American Airlines strength of having the most planes, is actually a weakness right now with COVID-19.

2. Personal Opportunities

People will often write the Opportunity, as an opportunity for the business instead of the category.

e.g Create an e-commerce site to increase sales

If it doesn’t relate to the whole category, it’s not an Opportunity.

3. Weak Weaknesses

People’s pride often get in the way of them being honest about the weakness of the business, especially if they were involved in creating that weakness.

I would like to also add here that an organization’s strength is as strong as its biggest weakness. This is why giving real attention to weaknesses is important in a SWOT.

swot-analysis-2

Posted in කළමනාකරණය, නායකත්වය, සාර්ථකත්ව කුසලතා, Business Skills, Business Startups, Career Paths, COVID-19 Related News, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Leadership, Life skills, Management Skills, Management Training, success | Tagged | Leave a comment

Professors and universities find creative solutions to keep international students from getting deported — Fortune

Our mission to help you navigate the new normal is fueled by subscribers. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today. Universities are fighting back after the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency announced a policy change that bars foreign students from attending colleges that plan to go virtual in the fall. 902 more words

via Professors and universities find creative solutions to keep international students from getting deported — Fortune

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4 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Networking

As an entrepreneur networking is an essential part of your life. Do you make these mistakes. @NVEDissanayake

There are two ways to network. There is a correct way & there is an incorrect way. In this article, I will share with you the common mistakes professionals make when networking with other professionals. Networking can be online or in-person; it does not matter. Mistake #1 Promoting your business to potential clients/customers with no understanding […]

via 4 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Networking — Everything Business, Social, & Culture .

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Making Life Dreams Come True, Management Skills, Starting a Home-Based Business, success | Tagged , , | Leave a comment