The year to ask ques­tions

CityPress - - Busi­ness - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

It’s threat­en­ing to be a frosty year. In Their Eyes Were Watch­ing God, African-Amer­i­can au­thor Zora Neale Hurston wrote: “There are years that ask ques­tions and years that an­swer.” This is a year that asks ques­tions – tough ques­tions, like where will this na­tion be in 20 years?

Gloom is good be­cause it is a nat­u­ral se­lec­tion process. It gets rid of the weak that con­tam­i­nate the species – whether they be hu­man be­ings, com­pa­nies formed by pa­tron­age or or­gan­i­sa­tions whose time is up.

Al­though most peo­ple would pre­fer evo­lu­tion as a means of change, they do not re­alise that it is de­cep­tively ruth­less. A rev­o­lu­tion is quick and de­ci­sive, but evo­lu­tion is a slow and painful ex­tinc­tion caused by fac­tors that can nei­ther be con­trolled nor avoided.

Make sure that you are not frozen by strife and dis­con­tent. Re­mem­ber that there are only 24 hours in a day. De­cide how much time you want to al­lo­cate to pay­ing at­ten­tion to racist idiots and give no more. That way, when they dis­tract you, at least they don’t take up your whole day.

Give enough time to South Africa’s favourite pas­time: com­plain­ing. Make sure you moan about ev­ery­thing there is to moan about. Call the ra­dio sta­tions and tweet about it, mak­ing sure that your tweet is linked to all your so­cial-me­dia plat­forms. Don’t for­get to in­clude cor­rup­tion and the weak­en­ing rand. Go back in time, start­ing when the rand was R2 to the dol­lar. Tell every­one that you’ve seen this movie be­fore, and it looks ex­actly like the start of an­other African block­buster called Zim­babwe.

Com­plain about poor ser­vice; com­plain about the poor; com­plain about gov­ern­ment grants; com­plain about refugees. Com­plain, be­cause al­ready many peo­ple com­plain that South Africans don’t com­plain enough.

As you tilt your heads to­wards de­pres­sion and put one leg into the abyss from which there is no res­cue, try to re­mem­ber that man’s num­ber one en­emy is him­self and that the great­est bat­tle you’ll have to fight is be­tween your own ears. If you lose that bat­tle, then you will be the worst pris­oner of war – a state where you have no rights or sym­pa­thy. You will watch free men and women live their lives, while you are blind­folded by envy.

If, on the other hand, you choose to look at life like a pro­tea, you will look for­ward to the bru­tal fires that will help you thrive. When you hear oth­ers com­plain, you will go down on your knees and touch the ground with your fore­head, thank­ing the Lord for show­ing you an­other di­nosaur that is about to die be­cause it is un­able to make sense of the new world. You should revel at their cries, which should sound to you like the sound of chil­dren play­ing – a sound of hope, an in­evitable fu­ture where there are no adults with toned down am­bi­tions.

Paint the pic­ture of suc­cess in your mind, and think about how you could ben­e­fit from the fol­lies of the present. Draw up a list of your top nine com­peti­tors and write their weak­nesses next to each name. The bot­tom three should be com­pa­nies that are the same size as yours – that is not where you want to be. The next three is a list of your big­ger com­peti­tors, and that is where you should wreak havoc. The top three should be the big­gest cus­tomers in your in­dus­try, and that is where you even­tu­ally want to be.

Im­prove your ser­vice lev­els and phone your com­peti­tors’ cus­tomers daily. Mar­ket your­self to the big­gest play­ers. Let them know you, and tell them what you can do bet­ter than their cur­rent sup­pli­ers. Don’t worry about “no”. Af­ter all, it takes 12 con­tacts to con­vert a cus­tomer.

It’s tough times, yes, and only the tough sur­vive … the ruth­less … the cun­ning ... and those with the will to live even when the grave looks more invit­ing. These are the peo­ple who know that life does not owe them a liv­ing. They un­der­stand that once their mothers had breast-fed them, they were en­ti­tled to noth­ing more.

You have to be Dar­winian about this, but know that it is not the strong who sur­vive – di­nosaurs were big and strong, but not smart.

If you man­age a big com­pany, know that you are on the dessert menu. Your costs will be higher and your cus­tomers won’t like that, and your com­peti­tors will be call­ing them. Use this time to clean up your busi­ness and cut costs.

While every­one savours the snob­bery of fail­ure, pre­pare for suc­cess. Work hard. When the good times re­turn, they’ll think you’re a clever bug­ger and buy your busi­ness for a for­tune. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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