January tends to be a slow month during which the entire country seems to be trying to find its feet again after the festive holiday season. Money is hard to come by for many and business sales tend to slow down too.
This could be a golden opportunity for you to think about what you will change in your approach to your business in 2014.
In addition to tapping into ideas from your staff, family and friends, you might also consider using some of the free, online business support services that creative minds have put at our fingertips. Two of the online services available in Uganda are:
Grow Movement: Headquartered in the UK, this uses the services of business experts all over the world to offer remote volunteer consulting services to entrepreneurs in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.
After completing an online application form (http://www.growmovement.org/entrepreneur/signup), an interested entrepreneur is interviewed by in-country grow managers and is then paired with an experienced remote consultant who is familiar with the business sector or business environment that the entrepreneur operates in.
The consulting services are tailored to suit entrepreneur needs, help entrepreneurs meet specific objectives within a specific time frame and are free of charge. Entrepreneurs communicate with their consultants over Skype, telephone and/or e-mail.
Mara Mentor: With offices in Ham Towers, Makerere Hill Road, Mara Foundation hosts the online Mara Mentor (http://mara-foundation.org/index.php/maramentor). This service targets ambitious young entrepreneurs and gives them online access to fellow entrepreneurs and seasoned business mentors. The Mara Foundation calls it an online community for the sharing of business knowledge and ideas.
Within the online community, young entrepreneurs hold online discussions, get answers to business questions and even obtain personalised business advice.
The participants who benefit the most from this service are those who active and regularly log in to both share and obtain information. The community may be accessed through the Mara website, which also provides the downloadable app. The above online services are offered to help us develop business ideas for launch, solve existing business challenges or grow our businesses. The only requirement from us is our time and dedicated commitment.
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of going online, Makerere University Business School and Uganda Small Scale Industries Association and Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd. offer face-to-face business support services.