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By Phillip Chichoni


In my last article a week ago I introduced the idea of “fast lane”. This idea was first introduced to me when I read MJ Demarco’s book the Fast Lane Millionaire., a bestselling book that I think anyone serious about building a successful and profitable business should read at least once. Building a business and creating wealth are related pursuits because it is difficult to create much wealth without some form of business enterprise unless you are talented artist, musician or sportsperson.

Now there are three ways of creating wealth: you can work for someone else’s company and earn a salary. If you work for long enough you would have earned a million dollars by the time you retire. Unfortunately, money earned is not necessarily wealth as it is usually all spent and gone and there will be very little wealth available for retirement. This route is called the side lane, or the pedestrian lane as an employee is riding on hi employer’s dreams; in other words he is a passenger. He is totally reliant on his employer for his future. There is also the slow lane, in which one slowly works on building a small business, nurturing it daily for it to grow. If one is luck, the small business will eventually grow in to a big business. But it may take a very long time. Many small business owners today are in the slow lane; they have no hope of their businesses getting big in the near future. Instead they hope on luck and on opportunities knocking for them to expand.

Now the fast lane entrepreneur is different. His or her eyes are fixed onto a big and profitable future. They started building a business with the objective of building a big enterprise. When Henry Ford developed hi first T-model car, he developed the concept of mass production so he could supply a lot more cars than was possible through the old model on building cars individually.

In the 1940’s Richard and Maurice MacDonald opened a restaurant which operated as a hamburger stand in San Bernadino California. They introduced the new system of service called “speedee service”, which made and served burgers faster than in ordinary in those days. The business was growing slowly and steadily, opening a few branches in other towns. They were steadily in the slow lane.

Until in came Ray Kroc as a business partner. Mr. Kroc was an experienced entrepreneur who had spent years in the food industry. He mind was in the fast lane. He introduced the concept of franchising to McDonalds. Kroc was convinced that the concept and design of this small chain had the potential to expand across the nation. He made innovative changes to McDonalds and sold the first franchise which opened in 1955. More franchises followed and the chain grew exponentially turning into a nationwide and eventually global franchise, making it the most successful fast food corporation in the world. That was fast lane thinking.

The lesson? You don’t have to create a totally new product. You can improve an existing business to provide better and faster service and serve more customers in more areas in order to build growth and value.



Don’t miss the revival of BusinessLink breakfast meetings and get the chance to mix, mingle and network with other high performance, growth focused entrepreneurs.

Date: Thursday 19 June 2018. Time: 0830-1030 am

Venue: BusinessLink Offices, 308, 3rd Floor Merchant House, Cnr 2nd Street / Robson Manyika Harare

Entry price: $15 per person. Includes full breakfast and refreshments.


  1. a) Presentation by an invited guest (TBA)
  2. b) Launch of BusinessLink magazine (digital and print)
  3. c) Draw for BusinessLink magazine July issue Prize winners
  4. d) Networking and ideas sharing


NOTE: BusinessLink magazine July digital issue (pdf) will be available from Friday 6 July 2018. The print issue launches from September 2018.

Single copy $2.00 sent to your email address or print issue $7.00.

Subscribe and save: 12 months subscription $17.99, 6 months $8.99.

You can pay for your subscription at our office or via EcoCash to 0777 774 007 and WhatsApp your name and email address. To advertise in this up-market business magazine for decision makers, contact Phil on 0777774 007 or Catherine on 0773 799 126








By Phillip Chichoni

People start businesses for any of the following reasons:

  • To create wealth
  • To create employment
  • To add value
  • To provide solutions to problems
  • To express their creativity and ambition
  • Because they are not satisfied with working for a big company and want to do things their own way

An entrepreneur can come from any background and succeed. He or she doesn’t have to be particularly money motivated. Starting a business sorely to make money is often doing so for the wrong reason, those who do so are unlikely to succeed. What has to come first is a good idea and then the capacity to translate that idea into a marketable product. Financial and personal gain then become the reward for having been right.

For a new entrepreneur, or one contemplating the idea of starting a business, your biggest challenge is how to prove that your ideas are right in the first place, if they are, how to implement them. That is the severest test that you will have to meet. Very few people who start businesses are equipped to answer all the questions and the challenges that a new firm will throw at them.  So what enables entrepreneurs to succeed?

Those who have built successful businesses have done so in the main because they have chosen able and complementary partners to work with. It is very difficult for one to build a business alone. Apart from the sheer amount of work that needs to be done and decisions to be made, no-one has all the knowledge and skills required to build a successful business. No matter how good a commander is, he cannot win a battle without soldiers. Team work is crucial.

Successful business builders have begun cautiously, limiting their risks as much as possible. They have made mistakes, but most importantly, they have learned from their failures and adapted their styles of management and their business accordingly.

Which brings me to the title of the article: why take the fast lane?

The fast lane enables you to start fast, make mistakes quickly, learn from them and adjust accordingly. The earlier you make mistakes, the quicker you build a successful business. This saves you from wasting precious time and resources working on something that does not work. It also gives precious experience, as the quote from Debasish Mhrida says: ‘‘Success comes from experience, and experience comes from bad experience or failure, but only if one learns from one’s mistakes and do not give up the pursuit of success. Today’s pain will bring tomorrow’s gain.”

In next week’s newsletter, I will discuss THE EIGHT STEPS OF BUILDING A BUSINESS IN THE FAST LANE, as opposed to the Side Walk and the Slow Lane. Don’t miss it.


Have a great day

Phil Chichoni

PLEASE NOTE: The next  BUSINESSLINK training classes for June are on Saturday 23rd June (both courses), Wednesday 27th June (Business Start up Guidance) & Thursday 28th June (Business plan writing). Please confirm attendance two days before for logistic purposes. Phone 0242-700812 or mobile 0777 774 007.


“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon B. Johnson

I once watched a soccer match where one player hit a long and powerful shot at the opposing goalkeeper, clearly believing that there was no way the goalkeeper was going to catch his shot, he did a slide on the grass when he noticed the goal keeper diving away in the opposite direction. Then he noticed none of his teammates were celebrating with him, and watched the goal keeper going running along towards him to collect the ball which had bounced back a few yards into the playing area, while he was busy performing his slide show. Apparently the goalkeeper had saved the shot with his foot while diving down to the grass.

The number of foreign individuals and business delegations flying into Zimbabwe daily is a clear show of how others are seeing opportunities in a country with great potential, while some of the locals are busy celebrating the new dispensation, watching political game shows going on among and inside the various political parties.

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Soichiro Honda, who was a bicycle engineer, noticed that more and more people were using bicycles because of the difficult of driving motor vehicles in the devastated road structure at that time. He came up with an idea to put an engine so as to motorize the bicycle and thus created the motor cycle. This became such a hit that his company soon became the largest motor cycle supplier in the world, leading to the growth of the giant Honda Motor Corporation.

Mr. Honda saw an opportunity and made a move. He did not wait for the economy to first improve, for the road network to be fixed or to get investors. He developed a product and customers came. Similarly, anyone with an entrepreneurial urge and a business mind can develop a useful product or service and make a move right away.

Some may think that one cannot start without financial resources. However, resources will always be found, if a business idea is good enough.  What really stops many people from starting a new venture is a lack of courage: they do not have enough guts and a clear enough vision.

Aristotle called courage the first virtue, or good quality, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. In addition to being the most important human virtue, it is the most important business virtue as well.

Think about it: Other important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales fade in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating groundbreaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales require being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales take courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.

Contrary to popular belief, courage is a teachable and learnable skill; it is not an inherent trait.

The business environment has been difficult for the past few years and the future looks even bleaker.  With liquidity shortages, government policy uncertainty and fear of the return of the dreaded Zimbabwean dollar, everyone is scared. So scared are people that many have just stopped and are waiting to see what happens next.

Now in business, there are no guarantees, no security. There is no comfort zone. Even in the more stable countries, businesses fail while new ones start up all the time. However, the only thing you can be sure of is that opportunity will always be there. You will not find opportunity while hiding in a hole waiting for the new dispensation to move the country forward.  You will only find opportunity when you face the crisis head on, and be willing to take risks in the achievement of your goals. That is, risks with no guarantee of success.

So, start looking around for business opportunities now and make a move, no matter how small. Once you start, you gain momentum  and get support from unexpected sources.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. His new book Business Survival and Growth Amidst Turbulence is now available. You may contact him by email,, or call +263-242-700812. You can also visit his blog


  • Friday 8 June 2018
  1. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm
  • Saturday 9 June 2018
  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.00am -12.00pm
  2. Business Plan Writing Class: 1.00pm-4.00pm

 Venue: ABS Offices: Suite 308, 3rd Floor Merchant House, 2nd Street/ Robson Manyika Avenue, Harare.

Course fees: $30 per course. .

  • The fees include a free copy of the book Business Planning Simplified or The Entrepreneur’s Guide to

    VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

    Starting a Business in Zimbabwe, worth $17.99 each.

Payments can be made in cash at our offices, or via Ecocash, Zipit or bank transfer.

Contact the office on phone number 0242- 700812 or call/ app Phil on 0777 774 007, or email



Course dates for May/June 2018


  1. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

 Saturday 2 June 2018

  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.30am -1230pm
  2. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

Saturday 16 June 2018

  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.30am -1230pm
  2. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

 Wednesday 20 June 2018

  1. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

 Thursday 21 June 2018

  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.30am -1230pm

 Saturday 23 June 2018

  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.30am -1230pm
  2. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

Saturday 30 June 2018

  1. Quick Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe 9.30am -1230pm
  2. Business Plan Writing Class: 2pm-5pm

Venue: ABS Offices: Suite 308, 3rd Floor Merchant House, 2nd Street/ Robson Manyika Avenue, Harare.

Course fees:

$30 per course. The fees include a free copy of the book Business Planning Simplified or The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe, worth $12.99 each.

Payments can be made in cash at our offices, or via Ecocash, Zipit or bank transfer.

Contact the office on phone number 0242- 700812 or call/ app Phil on 0777 774 007, or email






 Quick Guide to Starting and Building a Business in Zimbabwe

 This course is essential for everyone building a business, or thinking of starting a new enterprise. After the course, you will know exactly what steps to take on your journey to building a successful business.

Topics covered:

  1. The Lean Approach to assessing the viability and profitability of your idea.
  2. Developing a viable business model.
  3. How to build your core team.
  4. Choosing the right legal form for your business (Company, PBC, partnership, informal, or sole proprietor)
  5. Complying with taxes, local authorities licensing and statutory regulations
  6. Innovative ways of financing your new venture.
  7. Tips on low cost start-up.
  8. Questions and answers.


This course is for people who want to master the art of writing a professional business plan, whether they are already in business or planning to start.


A business plan is essential in the following aspects:

  • Setting direction for your business: it is a map that will guide you and your team on the important tasks that need to be carried out in order to meet your business goals.
  • Planning for growth, new product launch, new markets
  • Seeking finance from banks, youth fund etc.
  • Seeking investors, local or foreign.
  • Seeking business partners, such as suppliers, distributors, outsourcing etc.


At the end of this three hour course, you will know exactly what to include in your business plan, how to lay it out to attract the attention of your audience.

We will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to business plans and their various forms
  • Creative ideas of raising money for your business
  • How to create a powerful executive summary
  • Understanding your business model
  • Clearly defining your market
  • Strategies for winning in a crowded market
  • How to use our templates to simplify the business plan writing process


Fresh brains needed at Zimra

“We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow.”
– Woodrow Wilson


Year- end is the time when business owners will be winding down their operations and planning for the coming year. Many are currently busy holding strategic planning sessions, reviewing business performance for the year and coming up with strategies and tactics for moving ahead and growing their businesses in an increasingly competitive world. It has been a really tough environment in the past few years as we saw many big and small businesses folding due to a number of factors, mostly to do with cash shortages, a shrinking market, high costs of doing business and, worst of all, a hostile regulatory regime by the authorities.
One of the most hostile of the authorities towards business has been the state’s revenue collector, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. Of course all businesses must comply with tax laws and contribute their part towards funding of the fiscus in order for government operations to proceed smoothly. However, the bulk of small businesses do not contribute a cent in taxes. The reason they are reluctant to register with Zimra is their fear of the tough requirements for compliance and the harsh penalties if one fails to fully comply, submit returns late or make mistakes.
In 2015, some strategists at Zimra came up with a new system to ease tax compliance. They introduced an electronic filing system, which enabled one to register with Zimra and submit returns online from the comfort of their offices or homes. This system was supposed to make tax compliance easy. However, the opposite is happening and it is most noticeable around December as people struggle to renew their tax clearances, which expire at the end of each year. A tax clearance certificate is one of the most critical documents to have, as most businesses will not pay invoices from suppliers without a current document. Everyone scrambles to get their tax clearance certificates for the New Year in late December so there is always congestion at Zimra offices.
Zimra published a notice in the press last week, Public Notice Number 39 of 2017, advising taxpayers that tax clearances for 2018 will start being issued online from 23 December 2017. This day is a Saturday and it is followed by Christmas Holidays on Monday and Tuesday. So the whole country has December 27- 30, 4 working days to apply for tax clearance certificates online. Clearly, this is thoughtless as most businesses operators process their tax clearances from their offices. There will obviously be a massive congestion.
The strategists at Zimra clearly did not learn anything from 2016. The moment they opened tax clearance applications online, their computer system crashed and was inaccessible for weeks. Attempts to log into the Zimra website would only bring out the message: “Sorry, we are currently having technical issues.” I went to Zimra many times to check on progress and one of the staffers advised me to log in between midnight and 5am in the morning!
Eventually, in mid January, Zimra started issuing manual tax clearance certificates. Technomag magazine issued the following report on 15 January 2016:
Clients who had failed to get online tax clearances are queuing for the manual system amid reports that the new Zimra system has completely gone down, forcing the tax officers to issue out manual tax clearances for a month.
You can imagine the havoc as thousands of clients invaded Zimra offices. This caused not only chaos but also inconveniences and losses to businesses that had 10% deducted from their invoices for lack of a current tax clearance certificate.
This year Zimra has done it again. Since the beginning of December, the Zimra e-filing system has been collapsing most of the time. Submitting returns or even checking the status of one’s account is a nightmare. A staff member at Zimra told me the system suffered from congestion and the problem is being attended to.

  • |
  • Log off
  • |

Sorry we are currently having some technical issues

Please click here to back to home page and retry or click the log off button to log out.



However there does not seem to be any progress as at the time of writing this article, the same message is appearing: “Sorry we are currently having technical issues”, or at other times “Server Error in / Application: Runtime Error.”
Worse still, those trying to do new registrations are reporting that they are getting no results online and are having to submit manual applications at Zimra offices. After getting a registration number they are told to go and print the tax clearance certificate online, which is impossible as the system is not working.
Now most small business owners are having sleepless nights worrying about how they will get tax clearance certificates in time for January 2018. Surely, the new Board and Management at Zimra can think of a solution that works.
It is time for positive change.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. His new book Business Survival and Growth Amidst Turbulence is now available. You may contact him by email,

15 Ways To Keep Yourself Awesomely Motivated

In these stressful times, we all need some motivation to keep going against the odds.

Here are some tips to help you keep yourself motivated


  • Start with vivid goals. What is your ultimate goal? Know what it is and put it down on paper. That goal is what will make you eager and excited to get out of bed in the morning, and it will help keep you looking ahead no matter how bad the current situation may appear.
  • Have a solid plan. Write down the things you have to do in order to attain your goals. Set time-frames. Look at your plan regularly to monitor progress and correct course where necessary. Keep your eye on the prize.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Anyone that has ever achieved greatness experienced failure at some point in their life. You have to know that failing is all part of success.
  • There’s strength in numbers. Build a team and utilize it. Learn to utilize those who are your network. You can’t always walk it alone. While they are helping you with what they are good at you can focus on being more effective in your own lane.
  • Learn to work the tools. Your mind, the computer, a phone, word of mouth or text. Learn how to use each platform and medium around you. The more tools you know how to use, the more ammunition for the challenge.
  • You are not here to please everyone. Do not waste time and energy trying to please everyone you meet. Be aware that not everyone get along. Remember, one third of the people like you, the other third don’t like you, and the rest don’t care.
  • Look for a solution. When you hit a road block, keep moving, don’t lose momentum, shift the energy from panicking to exploring, there is always a million and one ways to make it work.
  • Fail more. Marketing Genius “Seth Godin” said it best, “The more you fail, the more you win”. Keep failing, the gold is at the end of the rainbow, don’t lose hope.
  • Change will make you stronger. You can’t grow or learn without change, something has to change for you to reach the next level.
  • Create your own path. Break the rules a little; create an environment where you are KING. Where you have more room to move, and anything goes so that it works in your favor.
  • Reflect and then adjust. Look back and see how far you have come. There is no use in stopping now, you already committed.
  • Make sure it’s exciting. If you are pursuing something that is just plain old bring, then you will have no enthusiasm to see it through.
  • Identify your bad habits. Be familiar with the habits that are slowing you down, if you aren’t excelling then there’s an underlying bad habit in play. Nip it in the bud ASAP.
  • Pace and then explode! You don’t want to burn out too quickly. Give your mind and your body enough time to recharge for a killer punch of enthusiasm when it’s needed.
  • Expect a delay in reward. Know that most of the time, the reward does not come straight away. Nothing great ever came that easy. But when you get there it feels like a million bucks, keep moving!



Please share and have a great week