Most Nigerians who succeed as entrepreneurs, and later have success with their companies, usually have some common characteristics:
- They take initiative, and they like to be in charge.
- They are open to new ideas, create and develop opportunities.
- They are optimistic, extrovert, curious and dare to break patterns.
- They have good self-esteem, and know their weak and strong points.
- They are persistent, and set goals that they reach.
- They are good listeners to people’s needs, and able to build relationships with the outside world.
Do you recognize yourself in this description?
You must know what you are able to do – and what you are unable to do
The ideal is of course that you nod ‘Yes’ to all the features mentioned above. It is not enough to be open to new ideas, if you are not at the same time enduring and can set yourself achievable goals. Pay especially attention to one of the most important features: You should know your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you have this ability, will you be able to supplement the areas where you are weak;
For example, an illiterate Cobbler (shoe maker), but neither like nor understand finance and accounting, then you should find someone who can do this job for you instead of spending too much time and effort to try to do it yourself. Your time is valuable. Use it to earn money on the things you can.
You can do a little “self-test” on what your strengths and weaknesses are by means of a SWOT analysis. The four letters SWOT represent the words Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This analysis will give you an overview of your situation and your own resources, both those in favour and especially those who are against you in your situation as an entrepreneur.
Product / Service
Starting your Own Business
You will be selling products or services – and living off the profits of this sale. In this clarification phase it is important that you are specific when describing your products or services: Be precise when you write down what you are going to sell or perform, how you will deliver it to your customers, etc. Only in this way you can get valuable feedback in terms of whether there is a need for what you offer, if requirements are met by other products / services, if the price is acceptable, and such. In this phase it is also important to be sensitive and open to customise products / services so that you are sure that you meet the needs of the customers.
In an initial phase, it is important that you obtain as much knowledge of the market as possible. Who are your customers? Do you have strong competitors? How large is the market in volume and over time? The reason is of course that you must make an initial and overall assessment of the need for services or products, if the needs are met by other providers, products or substitutes: In other words, if there are many who would like to buy these? You must therefore be reasonably sure that you have the products / services demanded by enough, and that they are willing to pay a satisfying price before you invest a lot of time and money in the project. Later on in the process you must do a much more thorough job, in for example the marketing plan. Initially, you must also make sure to have enough knowledge about the industry you are to operate in.
You should obtain all forms of experience regarding what you would like to start with, but consider both positive and negative feedback with equal interest. Some of the advice may save you from making costly mistakes and wasting both money and time. Talk to people that you trust and people who know the market or the industry you intend to make a living of. Consult initially also with banks and financial institutions about their experiences. Ask your potential customers (and preferably look for the most critical and honest ones), and remember it is easy and without obligation for potential customers to say that they want to purchase goods or services. Experience show that it is much harder to open the wallet the day it becomes a reality. You should be realistic steadfast and true to your plan. But make sure that you are not blindly in love with your own business idea. Then you will only listen to those who agree with you, and close your ears to serious objections.
Many entrepreneurs would state that “stayer ability” is one of the most important personal qualities you need to have: You have to want, you have to take responsibility and you must be persistent. First, you have to be “determined” enough to develop your idea. Secondly, you should take responsibility for your own learning in order to acquire enough knowledge to develop your own business plan (whether it is 5 pages or 150 pages). After getting your license or registration done you will have to provide for the daily operations and see to that your job obligations are done, that you sell enough, make sure invoicing is done and that money is coming in. The transition from an employee or student loan financed student to self-employed can be great for many. As an employee the wage is received once a month whether you have had productive days, or they have been less productive. As a trader, you must take responsibility for your own earnings. It goes without saying that you should have a good sense of self (will not only to stand up, but also to stand on).
In connection with your business start-up, use your personal network in a good way. You probably know people who can give you suggestions and ideas, be appropriate to have on the Board or – if you choose a form of incorporation without a Board – could sit in a formal or informal “advisory board” that can provide input to the business start-up phase and operation. You can also use friends of friends. Do you know 15 people; they again will be able to know a number of people you can draw on as advisors before, during and after the business start-up and in the process of financing the company. We do not have cultural tradition to use personal network in this way. But try. It could prove to be invaluable in the start-up phase.
Many entrepreneurs obtain starting capital from relatives, family and friends. The majority must also obtain capital from banks or financial institutions. Here the history either can be against you or it could be beneficial for you: If you have an orderly relationship with money and you have access to capital and enough faith in the project that you are willing to go in with equity, then your position will be far stronger in dialogue with the bank than if you start at zero.
Experience can be healthy – and it can be deadly: “No, that we have tried earlier and it did not go well.” “No one has done it before, so it is not possible. It is natural that many entrepreneurs embark on a voyage where the zeal and enthusiasm can be significantly larger than experience. And so it must be. The world is full of examples of ideas that were doomed by others in the beginning, and that turned out to be just fine. Progress is based on the fact that someone dares and that they have courage.
Just do it!
You can think and plan from here to eternity, but in some cases you finally just have to do it.
Things Take Time
You must be prepared that things can take a long time. It’s not just an inconvenience. Take for instance, when you in a little while get started with your business plan, it is not just about putting some words down on paper and to do some calculus exercises. More important is the process of thinking, maturing and adjustment. And some matters are actually better off when matured.
Some entrepreneurs lay the golden egg: They hit the market with product, price and demand. Others may have overestimated the demand in the market and experience a down ward vicious spiral: one sells too little, one earn too little money to conduct active marketing, and thus one is too little known in the market with the result of even less sales… It may be advisable to have such a “worst-case scenario” in your thinking regarding the start-up. Then you will be mentally prepared, and that’s why you should implement such a model in your budgets. Capital drought is unfortunately causing many to give up before they get seriously started. It is important to have the necessary financial resources in the critical phase just after start-up. Once established, you must at least in an initial phase, expect to spend significantly more time in your business than you normally would as an employee. For some this is a necessity for survival. It is after all an investment for the future.
But unfortunately, for some Entrepreneur it is a kind of a lifestyle. Unless they really need to, they work most of the day and forget both weekends and holidays. If you are at risk of becoming this type, you may have a serious talk with yourself and ask yourself what you really want with your life?