As the CEO of an African hospitality group, I spend a fairly big chunk of my time travelling across the continent. And I spend a fair amount of time signing off on the visa expenses of my team members who travel within Africa. And sometimes, I throw my hands up in frustration when a team member’s visa is denied for no apparent reason, even though they are travelling for business.
Now imagine this frustration as a potential tourist or visitor. There are myriad campaigns encouraging us to explore our own doorstep first before going overseas. So you want to let your wanderlust take you from South to North Africa or East to West Africa but you’re stopped in your tracks by the red tape and cost implications of pricey visas.
A major challenge has been keeping me awake at night, one that I have warned others about and yet one that has, quite frankly, landed us on the brink as a start-up. As an entrepreneur, I am often asked what I feel is the most important aspect of running a new business. And my answer is always CASH FLOW! Cash flow is ‘king’! But we have been jolted into a scary reality over the last month and we have to admit that we have not walked the walk.
I’ve been a little concerned lately with the turnover of people in our new company. We’ve experienced a number of people starting with us and within a few weeks – or even days! – a resignation lands in my inbox. Being highly tuned to my people is important, so the latest emigration of staff enticed me to probe. The glaring question: is there something wrong with our culture or working environment?
I was fortunate enough at an early stage in my career to find myself at an industry event, sitting next to a very well-known psychoanalyst. Turns out that we hit it off: I got to know him well, and likewise, he got to know and analyse me very well. As a business coach to prominent business men, he finally blurted out “Guy, I have to tell you – you don’t think strategically at all”. While I can take a blow, I must admit that this came as a surprise to me; that is, until I learned exactly what is meant by strategic thinking.
I’m not sure if it’s just the time of the year for new beginnings, or if BON Hotels has captured the attention of tons of job-seekers in the hospitality industry. It seems that individuals who made an impression over the course of my own career, whether positive or negative, are now scurrying out of the woodwork and contacting me for work.
My team and I have recently undergone a truly humbling experience at BON Hotels. Having always prided ourselves on not only getting the basics right, but also on setting the bar high, we have been found wanting, and in fact, this time around, have got things very wrong.