If you invest in something that can easily be substituted, you are likely to fail, but if you invest in products that cannot easily be substituted, you are likely to succeed, Ramathan Ggoobi, the finance ministry permanent secretary, tipped entrepreneurs at the 4th Business Trendsetters’ Forum.
Ggoobi, who is also the secretary to the treasury, advised business owners to aim to offer quality products and services instead of profitability because the latter is an outcome of the former. With quality products, you can maximize sales revenues, he said.
In the same spirit, the former university lecturer of economics advised the entrepreneurs, business managers and trendsetters who attended the Forum at Sheraton Hotel Kampala on August 31 2023, to prioritize business growth over sustainability.
He explained that it is easier to sustain a business that is growing and hard to sustain a struggling business. Ggoobi noted that business can grow if good corporate governance has been put in place. “If you are in business, if you pay that little cost [corporate governance], you will grow,” Ggoobi said.
Don’t attract government
Ggoobi used the Forum to explain to business owners and managers why they shouldn’t run away from government agencies like the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) among others.
In Uganda, many businesses refuse to formalize at URSB to avoid paying taxes to URA. However, Ggoobi advises that the best way to avoid government from business is by doing what the government expects of you – to formalize and pay taxes that it uses to offer services like infrastructure developments.
“If you don’t want the government to impact you negatively, register your business, pay taxes and keep books of accounts. The government is the most understanding entity if you understand it,” Ggoobi explained.
The other tip that Ggoobi shared with the participants at the Forum is that businesses should seek to satisfy stakeholders. These include the owner, customers, employees, suppliers, bankers, the government and the public.
“From today, just know that you are not going to satisfy only yourself and the customers, business has multiple stakeholders,” he said.
Poor economy with big potential
In his capacity as the finance ministry permanent secretary, Ggoobi has a clear understanding of how the state of the Ugandan industry looks like at the moment – he says it is one with big potential and a lot of opportunities but with small things impending ‘our abilities’.
He said that by adding value to the country’s law materials through innovative ways, the private sector has helped Ugandans revamp faith in the economy. He acknowledged that while the economy is poor, the microeconomics is doing very well, bringing down inflation to 3.5 percent.
He encouraged people who want to venture into business to follow trends in the economy. This, they can know by asking themselves how Ugandans are spending their money. For example, Ggoobi said that 40 percent of Ugandans spend money on food.
“You can see that a chunk of our money is spent on food. That is why every time someone starts a business related to food, that business survives unless you are a bad business manager,” he said.
Yvonne Mpanga, the founder of the Business Trendsetters’ Forum said the fourth edition was held to encourage innovation for transformation under the theme of mindset change enabling reinvention in business.