The Indices (and Appendices) of a Downturn
By Emeka Uzoatu
Businesses are meant to thrive. This is why they are often referred to as going concerns. In this time their books, balanced like a vehicle’s wheels, suffer no red-ink mutilations whatsoever. And come rain or shine, they can meet all their corporate and staff obligations.
Also, this goes beyond just affording the payment of staff salaries, government taxes. and the like. At the end of each accounting cycle, there is still enough cash in the till to meet other responsibilities. Like, say, the social. Parties, for instance,are thrown at the toss of a coin for explainable and obscure anniversaries by both company and personnel.
However, like all other things, a time does come when, at least, some of these will no longer be possible. Like is said in popular usage, it often comes slowly. Then as the cause of the decline persists, it descends like the proverbial hammerfall. Forcing reality to stare boss and messenger alike in the face.
The Enemy Within.
The reason for this collapse might as well be internal. You know, perhaps the times may have become too good for the observance of rules. Lost in the euphoria of a boom, management often starts equating themselves to a demigod. At its apogee, expenses are now indulged in without recourse to income.
In most cases a profit-induced top-heaviness sees funds lavished on nonessentials. Like holidays and picnics. With entire families flying first class to remote locations just for the fun of it, with no leverage to the growth of the concern.
Family apart, in most cases sundry rules are thrown to the winds. For instance, square pegs and lackeys are hired into round holes, with nothing to contribute to the business but expense.
With time mistresses and concubines also come into the picture…
Beyond the Border.
But, all things considered -like must -,the meltdown could also originate from an external ingredient. Like a government policy that has become rife these days.
Take the case of this company that had made its fortune from the importation of rice for decades. The going, for them, had been as smooth as that of a well-oiled petrol engine. And, run by a prudent Alhaji, it’s top echelons only vacationed abroad via working trips to Asia’s rice havens.
Indeed, they were literally cruising in an over-inflated bubble. Till one cold November morning when the nation woke up to the announcement of the ban of rice importation with immediate effect. Cut short, the tale of their ensuing struggle to re-establish themselves in the nation’s enterprise jungle is yet to get to its tail.
Talk of the cookie crumbling mid-bake and the ayes will definitely be having it. Just not unlike in all other sundry situations of similar scent. Most often, the first item to be jettisoned are the luxuries. They subsequently become a header of opportunities lost at the cost of the ensuing downturn.
A move, no doubt, necessitated because by then the afflicted would have addicted themselves to life on the fast lane. In no time paying accruing bills will start amounting to mountain climbs. Then the settlement of high bills ran up as the going was good will amount to albatrosses.
The Fury of the Sound.
While the above are struggling for adjustment within, problems of even higher potentials from without soon queue up surreptitiously. Perhaps the younger children had been enrolled in international schools at home while their seniors had since started college abroad.
And, like it is, initially the exchange rate of the Naira to the USdollar had been within the reach of your thriving concern. Presently with things no longer at ease, its tumbling rate has you in more than a quandary.
Ominously, it has you repeatedly reminiscing of the good times past; when, no matter what, you could afford to watch JJ’s moustache grow in the eponymous American TV soap.
First, you start ruing all the vituperation you had caused your mouth to rain on the immediate-past government of your country. Most so, the unsavoury adjective you had joined the rest to use on its head. And just then you also find that even with a civilian background he had managed to keep the country safer than his cantonment-raised successor.
In tandem, you suddenly discover that the new man at the helm was unfit to undo the former’s shoelaces. Not minding he only began to wear them later in life. What with the academic disparity in their curriculum vitaes.
With the unrelenting downturn, one cannot but at last make meaning of the adage about want and need. How the former holds its balding head well above the latter’s hirsute growth in times like the enfolding. Silently one then falls in line with the rest of his compatriots in wishing for better times.
Emeka Uzoatu, a seasoned journalist and writer, is the editor of Nairaweb.ng. He writes the occasional column, Penny Wisdom.