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I KNOW a guy who people say is good at business. I’ll give it to him that he actually makes money sometimes. He is not mega rich according to Zambian standards, but he is on the right track to putting together a decent portfolio of assets.

A good friend once mentioned to me though, that one of his problems is that he is too “street.” What he meant when he said that is he has little or no etiquette when dealing with clients.

He mentioned that there are times when he is pursuing payment from clients and he can be very aggressive and loud, including in respectable places where clients work such as commercial banks. It may be a method that works for him but, indeed it is “street.”

I remember years ago, visiting a pub when there was a mouth-watering UEFA Champions league match onscreen. The pub is in one of Lusaka’s lower middle class areas, and hardly patronised by the elite.

I visited the pub to simply take a glimpse of the score but wound up getting glued for a few minutes owing to the exciting action.

Before five minutes elapsed, one of the workers of the pub approached me and rudely said: if you are not buying a drink, you must leave. I was taken aback. With much disgust, I simply left.

It is an incident that I remember quite vividly, one that made me vow to hardly ever be found in these cheap places.

Interestingly, a few years later, I was engaged to do a little bit of consultancy work for a Zambian construction company. The directors and I worked in the lobby of Taj Pamodzi Hotel for two days, and the staff were nothing but helpful.

We simply helped ourselves to their furniture and they were more than willing to grant us whatever we needed regardless of whether we bought a drink or not.

Contrast the two scenarios. The reality is that some people just do not get that etiquette is very important   In addition, even when you are not in the least impressed by a client, you have to be diplomatic and courteous in how you register your displeasure.

If you treat a customer poorly, you will likely lose that customer for good. It’s cliché to say that businesses are built on repeat business. This is how cardinal good service is. As a customer, you tend to love it so much that not only will you return, but recommend others to the same establishment.

It has also been said a million times that when you pay a premium price at some of these nice places, you are paying for the service.

Everyone knows that you can easily buy a Fanta for K7 in Shoprite and consume it under the nearest tree. Yet others prefer to buy the same beverage at K30 or so from a hotel because there is ambience there. You will be treated like a King even for simply buying one Fanta. At other establishments, they cannot even serve you the Fanta before you make payment because all customers are considered a flight risk!

This brings me to our heading for today’s article. Hustling is a term common among the youth. To hustle is to fight hard to achieve your dreams.

The term I like is Corporate Hustler. I like it because fighting using corporate ways and means will help you grow into the best outfit you can be.

Earlier I talked a little about customer service and etiquette. Now let me touch on a few administrative issues.

A bank account is very important if you want to become a proper corporate outfit. I know some people that make decent money but virtually all those transactions are routed through their personal bank accounts.

That is far from good corporate governance practice. Then there are those that feel it’s enough to have a mobile banking facility on one’s cell phone for a bank account. Surely, that can help here and there with receipts, but it cannot be your main business bank account.

In Zambia, I have seen a lot of people with potential but there are certain small things that they miss out on when it comes to packaging themselves. It’s often those little things that prevents them from launching into a major corporate entity.

When you ask financiers such as banks, venture capitalists or investors in general, they will often mention a few simple yet critical things that you need to attract investment.

They will mention the following requirements: a history of record keeping, audited annual accounts, management accounts, history of compliance with statutory obligations. That’s it.

If you are in business and want to hit high heights, you need to learn these things as they mean something to all corporate hustlers. These things mark the routine language of the biggest players in the world.

Granted there are people here in Zambia who make decent money sometimes but have never had their accounts audited. This crop of people will never make it to the elite, the Champions league of Zambian business if you like. They will always be second tier, just like tenderpreneurs being compared to entrepreneurs – it’s a no brainer.

What we need to realise is that in Zambia, there are a number of Zambian-owned businesses in the informal and SME category, while the bulk of the established businesses are foreign-owned.

We desperately need the economy to be in Zambian hands for our country to be prosperous. What this means is that we have to get those Zambian businesses in the informal and SME category to cross over to the large and established.

There is only one way to cross over – by doing things right. Stopping to be a typical street hustler and shifting to being a knowledgeable and corporate hustler is the only way.

The way you package yourself is a determinant of how people take you. You want to be seen as one that can be a force on the market, not just another person to be ignored because you’ll never get it. Hustle hard, and hustle the right way.

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