On a warm Sunday morning, I found myself at the sky bar of Kegali Hotel, which is located in one of Accra’s most serene residential areas, South Odorkor Estate – Dansoman. Overlooking the nicely cleared up pool, the ambiance gives you a feeling of a personal guest in a private home in the center of the nation’s capital.
Kegali Hotel is the typical boutique hotel characterized by an intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style offering personalized attention and styled accommodation. It has been functioning for the last four years and offers guests with a variety of services making it a charming getaway within the city.
I was being hosted by Denzel Kwesi Humphreys, the Chief Executive Officer of the hotel and a known serial entrepreneur who has served as the pillar behind some of the most successful businesses in Ghana. He is the founder of the award winning Artlyn Advertising Limited, which specializes in outdoor advertising and branding as well as Reno Architecture Construction Development Limited, an architecture and building construction firm.
In addition, he currently serves as the Managing Director of CutRight Limited, a company into concrete and metal fabrication business. The company provides canopies for fuel stations across the country and produces a wide range of concrete products including solid and hollow blocks, pavers, concrete kerbs, pipes and panels.
A year ago, the world appeared to be doomed for years of financial ruin following the near collapse of some major global economies due to the global disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many people did not feel any optimism and almost everyone was worried about how they would survive.
Our conversation focused on how the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way of doing business across various industries globally. We also discussed ways in which entrepreneurs can survive and scale up in these hard times in order to build sustainable businesses that can withstand uncertainties using his various businesses ventures as case studies.
“For me, I will want to urge all entrepreneurs to just keep going, this is what I tell myself every day. When things are equivocal, and in the face of great change and challenges, your brain wants to tell you to pause. Believe me; a little bit of pause is a good thing, but there is so much to be said for pushing through difficulties and finding what is on the other side.
As an entrepreneur, I do not think it is prudent to allow the unknown or a few people to stop you. The most important thing to help you through this period is a solid routine. Try as best as you can to resume a regular work routine, it is the structure that holds your work life together, and it’s the key to your success,” he revealed.
Kwesi Humphreys mentioned the need for entrepreneurs to rethink how they promote themselves as well as positioning their businesses and its operations in order to achieve the maximum effort. According to him, just because the world seems to be on the edge of its seat should not make an entrepreneur wait to see what change is coming and stop promoting their businesses or themselves but must be done strategically.
“It is normal for businesses to stop promotions during tough times and periods of uncertainty, but going dark means you will have to do a lot of legwork once things pick up again. If you were spending a lot of money before on marketing and public relations, see if you can get creative and approach it from a different angle. Keep your brand in front of the customers and strengthen your online presence by sharing how your company is giving back now when so many people are struggling,” he added.
He believes it is also the perfect time for entrepreneurs to assess what has been working for them and what has not over the years. Many things entrepreneurs were used to doing before the coronavirus pandemic have been proven unnecessary; for example, going into the office every day.
People have learnt from this pandemic that a lot of the processes that they relied on before are no longer necessary and they need to find a better way to do things going forward. In addition, this presents an opportunity for business owners and managers to engage their team members to brainstorm new ideas on how the business could become more effective and rewording.
Trends and industry standards are becoming very difficult to avoid in recent times for businesses. Kwesi highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to connect with their peers and take the time to study other entrepreneurs including their competitors.
“What are they doing these days that seems to be working for them? What are they doing that does not seem to be working? Most people are facing the same challenges you are facing and we all have a lot to learn from one another. Since we cannot gather around the office water cooler, find a water cooler online. Consider pursuing new business partnerships and also identify major industry players who inspire you, reach out to them to share ideas and ask for some advice where necessary,” he added.
On growth and impact, Kwesi Humphreys hinted that an entrepreneur has the power to decide what impact he or she wants to have in the industry and the world at large. “In this period of worry and uncertainty, ask yourself, how is my business and brand adding good vibes to the world? Everyone is looking for reassurance and hope right now.
Your brand has the power to contribute to that need even just a little. Do some brainstorming on how your brand might be improving people’s lives right now. Find other ways your company could make a difference and you will not believe how much this good energy will pay off,” he emphasized.
In all spheres of life, it is often said that you are as good as your team and for the great achiever, it is always all about himself or herself whilst the great leader is all about the team. The purpose of teamwork is to work with a group of people to achieve a shared goal or outcome in an effective way.
In times like these, it is very important to build team morale to help weather tough times. According to Kwesi, it has become more important than ever to get your team excited about the future knowing good employee morale is to your company’s success.
“Since you are the leader of your team, this starts with you setting a good example. Try not to be in your pajamas on your zoom calls. Set up your home office so it is a place that looks professional, uplifting, and speaks to your brand’s vibe. Stay positive and choose your words carefully when talking to your employees. Focus on what you all, as a team, can control. Encourage others to share fresh, new ideas they may have to grow the business,” he concluded.