By Joy Ehonwa
The Nigerian entrepreneur is a special breed. Misunderstood by family and friends alike, and disadvantaged by a hostile economic climate and a lack of basic infrastructure, the Nigerian business owner has more odds stacked against him than his counterparts in developed countries. Yet, year after year, new businesses spring up, with Nigerians in diaspora also considering returning home to set up one business or the other. However, the five-year jinx more often than not plays out, and most of them do not last. How can you ensure that your business survives and thrives?
Stylist and Jeweller, Gbenga Ayo-Dada shares tips from personal experience in this vital and empowering episode, and together with the show host, Joy Bewaji, hands us the keys to building a lasting business in Nigeria today:
Be passionate: Gbenga, who turned his passion for creating beautiful accessories into a business, believes that passion is essential to success in business. If you must hang on and survive, passion is an absolute necessity. Be convinced about the quality of your product/ service. Your conviction makes an impression on potential customers.
Start from where you are: You don’t have to wait until you have huge sums. Gbenga got financial and moral support from his sisters, and Joy got capital for her first business from her mother. Spending all your money starting an elaborate business is not a guarantee that it will succeed. It is often best to think big, start small, and act fast.
Be patient: It takes time for a business to mature, so you’ll need to be patient to see it through the teething stages. Is it advisable to hold on to your day job (if you have one) until your business can pay your bills? Joy thinks so, and Gbenga agrees. He believes it is a good idea to keep your day job and run your business on the side, as it provides a buffer especially for those with dependents. There are a few entrepreneurs whose products and services are highly in demand, even if only at a particular season of year. These people can afford to take the plunge as they have assurance of profit, but the majority who have to wait for the business to mature will do well to keep their jobs if they can.
Be resilient: Entrepreneurship requires a certain temperament. Challenges abound in the world of business, especially when you’re just starting out. While Gbenga did not fall victim to the five-year jinx, he admits that his eight-year-old business only picked up two years ago. In addition to staying power, you need a firm grip on your temper. People will try to frustrate you. You will have to deal with clients who want to pay the least for your best, and clients who, even after getting huge discounts, will still owe you and then get angry when you ask for your money; you must rise above it all. Your resilience determines how far you will go.
Be focused: Set goals and targets for your business and don’t let anything distract you. There will be people who think the only reason you’re going into business is because you couldn’t get a day job. There will be people who have no faith in you. Keep your eyes on the money and ignore the side-talk.
Be innovative: In your product/service offerings, and in your marketing strategy, innovation is crucial. Every entrepreneur must bring his own marketing skills and be able to sell his/her product. As an entrepreneur, open up your mind to potential opportunities, and know your target market like the back of your hand. Most importantly, guard against stagnation. You need to be sensitive and know which offerings to come up with and when, in order to stay relevant as the world changes and your customers’ tastes evolve.
It is truly a great idea for the educational system in Nigeria to introduce entrepreneurial courses; this will play a big role in changing mindsets and educating aspiring entrepreneurs. While we’re waiting on them, however, keep these nuggets in mind and your business will be better for it!
As usual, one NASCO goody bag is up for grabs for the lucky listener who gets this week’s Nasco Trivia question right: Nasco has three soaps; what are their names? There have been five winners so far. Send your answer to 08033286604 or tweet it using the hashtag #NascoMoments and the 6th winner could be you!