Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Challenges for SME's
When you run a company, you run into a number of situations.
*You sell on credit, and people don't pay you.
*You don't have enough stock
*Your goods are outdated, you cannot sell them any more
*You are short of funds
*You don't have enough skilled labour
*You don't have the right communications facilities
To overcome these difficulties, you must at least monitor the situation. You should monitor your debtors, your creditors, and your stock.
In some cases, we may even say that you should monitor for any waste or theft going on. Having been in the SME environment for years, I can say that the one main factor common to all SME's is a budget that is very restricted. Information Technology costs a lot, and it is not only a question of financing the IT, but also to ensure a sufficient turnover in order to recover the financial investment.
Having enough market share is more important for SME's than having finance.
Because if you do not have enough market share, the finance which you may be obtaining will only go to finance losses. At most, we can accept using up some initial capital investment in order to finance the initial months of losses.
We need to make sure that there is enough sales by the 3rd or 4th month or at most the 6th month of operation.
There are companies which have been around for years and that are still struggling with sales. Are we going to help them financially in order to finance their losses ? I don't think so. The biggest help we can give to small enterprises is help them increase their market share.
The role of Information Technology
The main reason, therefore, why you would need an automated information system which can assist you in monitoring your profitability.
We all know that it's not that you have excess cash that you are profitable. You may be buying on credit and selling on cash, in which case you have plenty of cash in the company while still not making profit. When all of a sudden… after paying some of your debts, you realize that you are short of cash, and, well, by then, it's too late.
Instead of monitoring your cash flow, it is better to monitor your profitability. Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves... Have you not seen those businesses which do not seem to need any financial control ? Why can they go without accounts ? Because they just make sure that they are making comfortable profits.
What is Information Technology
Most of the time people think of Technology as just acquiring equipment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor it is enough to add the word "training" to it. When we think of training, we think of something like practising in order to become skilled. There is something missing; it's the whole learning and acquisition of new knowledge, which you may call engineering. In addition to trained workers and trained staff, we need engineers to make the most of the equipment. The gap between the two activities - buying equipment and training - is software engineering.
Information Technology, as part of the service industry, has always been the fuel, the support - the logistics - of the export sector.
It has been fuelling the tourism, the textile and the sugar industries for the past years. All these major economies need powerful logistics in order to perform efficiently.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
With the current debate raging while the kids are warming up in preparation of the Gokhool reform, you do not know whether to keep cool, or join the enraging debate...
I have found a story in the decades old Herge comics, which talks about the same topic, at another time, and in another place.
Cartoons have become a popular method to express one's views. I have used Flash to display the Herge cartoon on my site here for you to see...
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Reflecting on what happened to the Airbus A340 in Toronto this week, I cannot help recalling how uncomfortable and fishy the landing of this aircraft has always been. Having been a regular traveller, I remember that each time I flew in an A340, the landing has always been "shaky".
At times the landing would be more smooth - yet not as smooth as a Boeing - which I attributed to the experience and dexterity of the pilot.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Few of us have to worry about Mauritius. As seen in elections, most of us worry about our own standard of living, or about our privileges and rights.
But somewhere we should all worry if Mauritius is going broke. It does not matter if one party has more money than the other, if, for instance, Mauritius keeps importing more than it exports. Obviously all the wealth will drain away to foreign land.
Given that the sugar industry has worn itself out, and so has the textile industry, can you name anything else which can become the No 1 economic sector of Mauritius? I have tried this question on my friends - it would seem that the answer is not so obvious.
Is it tourism ? No. Is it the cybercity ? No. Is it small and medium enterprises ? No.
If you are not getting the answer right it is probably because you are considering Mauritius to be just land, forgetting about the huge extent of our territorial waters. With the other islands forming part of the Republic of Mauritius, we have a vast area of sea - or should I say, a vast volume of sea - as resource. The Ministry of Fisheries has always been considered as a "small ministry", whereas it ought to be a major ministry, with a large operating budget. Students come from overseas to learn and make research at the MSIRI. We would need to have universities on the coast, studying oceanography, fishing, and - why not - ship building. Most Mauritians should have been able to ride boats. Facilities ought to exist at selected points for anybody to go and rent a boat. Just as there are road marks and traffic lights, we ought to have plenty of those at sea, so that swimmers do not get hit by boats. Did you notice that the export of textile is going down, while that of seafood and pearls from the sea is going up ?
"I am a sea, but who will dive into its depths? The scatter or the flow is all they see who settle on my shore" - Iqbal.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Everybody is gradually getting used to the idea that politics - meaning, authority - is corrupt. They are even getting used to the idea that to succeed in the world, you have to participate in, or, at least, tolerate, this corruption. But at the same time, how enjoyable it is to criticize this authority for its corruption!
But in truth the real ones to be blamed for existence of corruption are the uncorrupted persons. I was talking about this to my friend yesterday, and he didn't seem to agree. Yet, if there is an increase in thefts, would you not blame the police for not cracking down the thieves ? In our ignorance, we are in fact appealing to thieves to stop stealing. No. Only the uncorrupted persons can remove corruption. By not doing anything, we, the honest people, are guilty of allowing anarchy to settle down: a situation where the police are the accomplices of thieves; a situation where the guilty ones define the law; a situation of pure anarchy.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
We all feel helpless against spammers. They operate from countries where spamming is not necessarily illegal; hence anti-virus programs cannot be extended to cover spamming and spying.
This may result in feelings of anger and vengeance. If you are enjoying mass-mailing a whole population: think twice. I had received anonymous mails from a well-known company in Mauritius; I worked out from hints given here and there what the company was - and called the director. My name has been removed from their list. But initially they had been telling me the usual story - "oh well, this is an automatic process, we can't remove the name".
The most notorious of all spammers has just been murdered. Read about it here: http://mosnews.com/news/2005/07/25/spammerdead.shtml