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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO KICK START AND GROW A SMALL BUSINESS ­­­­­­­­­­­­­- PART 1


Starting up a small business venture requires a lot – time, energy, funds, patience, knowledge, sacrifice, amongst others.  That is not to say the requirements are too much for you to handle.

For sure, there is nothing in your business idea that will be or is too much for you to handle as long as you have the enthusiasm and passion; these are the things that will keep you going when every other thing fails.

There are some ‘mega’ businesses we see today that their startup stories are too good to be true. Their stories are nothing but the truth. There are some little, little things these entrepreneurs did not take for granted which aided the growth and sustenance of their businesses in the long-run. Success in business and life is not what you do but who you are and how you do what you do.

Below are 36 tips on starting your small business venture.

1.     BE INFORMED: Information about the business you want to start, your industry, substitute industry and business in general, very vital. A soldier cannot go to war without weapons. So it is with business.

Please don’t attempt any business without getting knowledge on how to operate it; you will be at sea. Getting knowledge about your rivals – what they do, why they do what they do and the outcome of what they do will help you eliminate trial and error in the course of starting and running your business. Do a thorough research on your potential customers.

You can get knowledge through personal experiences, market research, reading books, observation, browsing the internet, reading magazines, attending training, Seminars & Workshops, Having a mentor, discussing with people and so on.

You can get books from shops, library, your network, and the like. Books will teach you how to start up your business, biographies of successful people, start-up cost & requirements, self-evaluation, Financial projections and management, marketing, contact lists, tips for success in your kind of business, stories of entrepreneurs that have succeeded in your line of business.

The internet will give you loads of information on how to start and run your business successfully, if only you can sit down and search thoroughly.

Get as much training as you can ( both formally & informally); talent and skills can never substitute for training.

2.     ORGANIZE YOURSELF. You organize yourself by putting yourself together, so your mind can be more effective. .  Organize your knowledge and activities. It’s not enough to have knowledge; organized knowledge is what you apply to grow your business.

Everything works inside-out and not the other way round. We all have different activities surrounding us on a daily basis, such as, demands from our jobs, running our homes, religious activities, social activities, and a host of others. All these activities crave for our attention at the same time.

Adding your business to the list may turn things cumbersome for you.  Not to worry, just try as much as you can to create time for your start-up without letting other activities that are already on ground suffer. Like a baby, your start-up needs time to be nurtured.  Put in a specific number of hours on a daily basis.

An unorganized individual cannot start and grow a business to a desired level.  No matter how hard you try to maneuver things, who you are will definitely tell on your business. Learn to streamline all your activities for optimum result. 

Your ability to create and maintain a balance is what makes you an organized individual. Always insist on putting your responsibilities and activities in order. 

3.     THINK THROUGH YOUR BUSINESS:  Be specific with your idea. Focus on the question of usefulness, “How will my idea serve others?”  Answer the following questions, so as to move forward: what product am I offering? What need does it address in the society? Who are my potential customers? How do I attract them/ take my products to them? Who are my competitors? How much do I need for my start-up?

Providing adequate answers to the questions above puts you on the right direction. In the course of answering these questions, you’ll directly or indirectly be involved in a market research. Your market research may be elaborate or small, pending on the nature of your business. Your market research is the pre-requisite for your business plan.

4.     HAVE A LIST:  your business is a project and should be treated as such. All you need to start-up your business should be written down, alongside the activities you need to execute to get what the business needs.  Attach dates to all the activities and follow through by having a deadline to accomplish each activity. 

5.     HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN: “He who fails to plan has planned to fail”.  Without a business plan, your business is like a ship without a ruder. Due to the demands in putting a plan together, some entrepreneurs start their businesses before writing a plan. That is good; a better way of handling this issue is to at least have a sketch. 

With a sketch, you’ll have a picture of what you’re venturing into and where you’re heading to.  You mustn’t have a detailed plan before start-up but have a sketch that can guide you during start-up. You can develop it into a detailed plan as the business progresses.

No matter how tight your finances and schedule may be, have a sketch in these key areas: Marketing, operations and financials. Your sketch should also state clarity around your vision:  have an understanding of where you are, where you want to be and why. 

There are businesses that require a plan before start-up, due to the nature and/or capital required.  If you are going into a capital intensive business, you are left with no choice than having a detailed plan on paper. 

6.     OBTAIN FINANCE: please, in raising fund for your business, a bank loan should be your last option. You may not understand this until you are faced with the challenges of paying back a bank loan. You have other options/avenues to explore, which I believe must work for you.

You can finance your business through:   Personal savings (salaries and wages, Bonuses , akawo/ajo ,contributions, Commission sales, Sale or renting of personal belongings), Family &friends, Credit purchase,  Trade by Barter,  Upfront payment, Religious bodies, Government , NGO’s , Cooperatives, Community groups, Associations, Partnership, Joint Venture, Mentor, Private placement, Business Angel,  Venture Capitalist and many more. 

Details of these and more will be treated as a topic – How to finance your business.  All you need is stay connected.   

7.     CHOOSE A NAME: someone once said, “Your business name is your first step towards building a strong business identity, one that should last as long as you are in business.  In choosing a name,  bear in mind that the name must be a medium for advertisement.

Example: for a cleaning outfit, you can make the name look like this “Victory cleaning services, instead of “ Victory services or Victory Ventures. For a logistics business, “ Peniel logistics services”.  

What you do should be conveyed in the name, so that potential customers can be attracted from afar. There are principles to choosing a name which will be discussed in subsequent series.

8.     REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS NAME: Registering your business name gives your business a boost (better image). Individuals and corporate bodies prefer doing business with a registered or incorporated business. An unregistered business is never taken seriously. 

Someone once came to my  partner to register a school she’s been running for close to 10 years. She said she wanted her bank to grant her a loan to expand her facility, but was turned down by the bank. Reason: she does not have a corporate account with them since her school is yet to be registered.

Though she felt bad and disappointed, but then, business is business. The rules of the game must be followed, irrespective of anyone’s ignorance. The bank has no confidence in granting her a loan; she’s been running a personal account with them.

You may not appreciate the importance of registering your business until you’re faced with a similar situation like my client.  May be the means to register your start up may not be available, but make it one of your priorities, such that as soon as you can afford it, there’ll be no procrastination.

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