HOW CAN I START MY OWN BUSINESS AND STOP POVERTY ? 25 BASIC BUSINESS PRINCIPLES
Starting a small business is one of the most difficult decisions in life especially in a country like NIGERIA. The young people of this generation have only two options, either being employed or stay unemployed. How can we teach this young generation that being employed is not the only way of survival? How can they break this poverty cycle in their families?
1. Start a business with available resources.
In NIGERIA we are blessed with suitable land for Agriculture. Most of us are entitled to a piece of land. Why can’t we utilize that land to start small projects? Grow crops such as sweet potatoes, (Mbambaira), cow peas (Nyemba), pineapple, plantain, maize and so on. These crops are less labour intensive and you can raise your capital with these available resources. Even from Zero, a person can start a project in NIGERIA. One can pick bathing stones or bitter leaf and sell them in town or market. Stones are for free likewise bitter leaf can be planted at the back of our house, just your energy and time to pick them.
Have various types of projects to spread your risk of failure. Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. If one business fails, you stand with another. For example, I am in the farming business but at the same time in the herbal and transportation business as well. If by any chance my plants are destroyed by herdmen, fire or floods, I can remain with my other businesses.
3. Let a clear vision direct your success
Having a clear vision will take you far. Even if your projects do not move in your expected direction, just keep in mind your vision. This will be your motivator to success. I rephrase Psalms 119 verse 105 as “Thy vision is a lamp unto my business and a light unto my projects”. Your vision is your light, your compass and your foundation.
Most of the small businesses don’t keep records. Keep every transaction of your business. Know your capital, sales projections, expenses, purchases, just to mention a few. This will help you to know where you are coming from and where you are going.
This is the master blue print of your business finances. Create your budget and stick to it. Have your budget even for your family. Know how much is needed to start or run your project. Know your expenses and avoid unnecessary expenses outside your budget. Find creative ways to cut expenses. Set targets and your expectations. Monitor your budget on a daily basis and then review it monthly and yearly. Budgeting helps entrepreneurs to avoid overspending and know the requirements of the business. It will help the you avoid overspending and uneneccessary borrowing.
6. Choose the right partners.
Associate with people who challenge you and make deliberate effort to expand your network of such people. The type of people you associate with the most determine the level of your success. A wide network of driven people who challenge you to do better will provide you with a pool of mentors, people to hire for your business as well as people to go into business with together as partners. That way you’re reducing the risk of delegating the day to day running of your business to people that don’t meet the quality you need.
Some people can just destroy everything that you’ve worked hard and sacrificed for. Choose partners who develop your ideas and who allow you to climb your ladder to the next level.
7. Learn technical skills
This can be the starting point of your business. What basic skills do you have? Are you a carpenter? Are you a builder? Are you a farmer? Are you a musician? Please learn one or more technical skill(s). This can be your turning point. You can use those basic skills to work and raise your capital. But you can also use those skills as the foundation of your business.
8. Stop blaming others for your failure.
As the saying goes “it is not your responsibility to be born poor but it is your own responsibility to die poor.” Think about this! Most people blame their backgrounds for affecting their future. I came from a poor background in ILAWE EKITI, EKITI STATE but I don’t blame my poor parents for being poor for a day. Don’t blame your parents or guidian or any family members for not taking you to a boarding or high school for quality education or not giving you money to start your project. Everyone has his or her own problems to be attended to as well
In our African tradition, we believe that siblings must support each other especially for education. The truth is that it is not the responsibility of one child to raise money for another child but it is his/her choice. While acknowledging your past, you can still open new page and move on with life. Nothing can stop you from starting your business.
9. Never Expect People To Give You Money To Start Your Business.
Never beg people to give you money for businesses rather ask them to share with you business ideas. Ideas are very important than money. Borrow ideas not money. You might have money but no idea. If you have idea you might find ways to raise money. You can use what I call Zero Capital Projects to start raising funds towards your major project.
10. Wake up early and plan
Proverbs 6 verse 6, ’Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.’ Don’t be lazy. Wake up early and plan for the day. This will help you to get in touch with your customers as early as possible. Never let your customers wait for you, instead, wait for them. Be time conscious!
In NIGERIA we are infamous for always being late for appointments and makinf excuses for that unprofessional behaviour. As a business person, this is unacceptable. Make it a point to never be late for your appointments with your business partners and suppliers. This shows your commitment with your business and your respect for others.
11. Have many streams of income
Please avoid using your profits from your main business to support your family as well as your extended family. Use one project to support your family and leave your main business to run on its own. For example, you can have a small chicken project at home or tuck-shop for feeding your family. Infant projects usually end up being unsuccessful because of family demands which exceed profits of the business.
12. Know your market.
Know where to sell your products. Do thorough market research before starting a project. Know your customers. Who will buy your products? For example, with a chicken project someone can target restaurants, hotels, lodges, individuals, schools and hospitals just to mention a few. Also know your rivals. Who is selling the same products as yours? It will inform you early what your prospects are and the kind of challenges you need to overcome to succeed. All these can be included in your business plan.
13. Invest Into Capital Assets And Avoid Unnecessary Liabilities.
Capital assets are assets that assist in generating income such as tractors, pickups, Lorries, farming equipments etc. Most people in NIGERIA countries buy cars for luxury and they became only liabilities to them. They don’t have even fuel for those cars. After breakdown, they borrow money from banks or friends for repair. Don’t spend money on unnecessary things. Don’t compete with anyone. Run your own race. Be original, never live fake life. Be yourself and face the reality of life. Buy capital assets such as land and involve in LAND BANKING, which helps you to generate more income.
14. Turning problems into opportunities.
Be very observant of problems you and other peopel are facing. What is your major problem in life? Try to find ways to turn that problem to an opportunity. COVID 19 has affected many people’s businesses negatively but some have taken that to their advantages. They distribute or retail masks, protective clothes, thermometers and sanitisers.
People that turned that problem into an opportunity successfully have profited from it. This is why some people are buying assets in this COVID 19 pandemic while others see it as a big block to their future.
It’s not always easy but try to think outside the box to turn problems into opportunities. Strive Masiyiwa’s example of building the Econet Wireless mobile telecoms network to solve the problem of long waiting lists for landline telephone connections is a great example.
Nyaradzo solved the problem of providing funeral services more attuned to African family realities with its funeral assurance services. Check the negative situations in your area, village or community and try to find solutions. This is how you can start your own business. Think! Think!
15. Procrastination is a dream killer
‘I will start tomorrow”! Why not today? Procrastination leads to loss of focus, ideas as well as your capital. If you raise your capital with the purpose of starting a project, invest it as soon as possible because you might lose it in the passage of time. One of my mottos is ‘Tomorrow is too late, start today.’ Start this year not next year. Many people with good ideas lost opportunities due to procrastination. My brother, my sister, my father, my mother, please start today, tomorrow is too late.
A leader doesn’t work with procedure manuals – he/she just adapts as the situation demands. A manger is directed by rules and protocols of the company. An entrepreneur must be a leader. A leader is always flexible to adapt with changes. If the strategy is not good or rigid, the leader changes the strategy as soon as possible. I say unto you, be a leader. Entrepreneurs are leaders not managers. Formulate procedures and policies which suit the environment you are working in. Change strategies to suit technological advancements in your environment.
17. Get organized
To be organized just mean to put all your tasks together in a systematic order. Know what is needed for your business to start or to expand. For example, to start maize farming an average good farmer must have seeds in time, fertilizers or manual, tractor to prepare land, herbicides and pesticides and so on.
To run an eCommerce mobile app or website one needs hosting that will have to be paid for, a web or app developer to build it, a designer to create the user interface and experience, a payment gateway to process payments and so on.
Organize your tasks and be clear when you expect each one done.
18. Don’t just plan but implement
Planning is the good first stage of business. Most people plan good projects in life. The question is how many plans do you the implement? Implementation is taking plans into action. Don’t just plan but implement and see if it is possible. Implementation is a testing stage: this is where you can see if your plans are achievable. Even the best plans can fall apart at the implementation stage when you realise some of your assumptions about the business were incorrect.
Realising the flaws of the plans early is important because then it allows you to adjust you business plan by taking into account the realities of running such a business.
19. Avoid too much delegation.
Too much delegation can destroy your business. You are the visionary of your business, so, avoid delegation of strategic duties. Even if you delegate, make follow ups and check if everything is done according to your plans or instructions.
For those in the diaspora who want to start businesses back home, I encourage you to first come home for structuring and launching of your project. Don’t just delegate while you are away in foreign land. Delegating everything will likely lead to the failure of your business.
20. Don’t die with your business.
This is one the area in life I have witnessed over and over again in NIGERIA. Most business people run their businesses without even the involvement of their spouses. After the husband’s death, there is no business continuity.
Let us break this poverty cycle in our countries. Involve your life partner in your business. Let him/her have a general knowledge about your project; your suppliers; your customers; your market; problems and challenges of your business. Please plan together for the future of your business as well as for your children. Don’t let your business die with you.
You can’t rely on other people run your business for the family after you have passed on. Those other people will likely just take care of themselves and your family will not be a priority at all.
21. Put in place a contingency plan
A contingency plan is a plan B. If plan A fails, make sure you have plan B. If plan B fails, have plan C and so on. What will you do if things don’t go according to your business plan? Simple example, if someone plans to venture in farming business, that person can drill a borehole to irrigate his/her crops during dry spells.
If running an eCommerce business, what will do if your website is hacked? Continue sales via WhatsApp while solving the problem? What is your contingency plan?
22. Teach your children life skills
Most children with rural backgrounds know general life and survival skills from their parents such as farming, rearing domestic animals, fetching firewood and so on. Train them young, let them just know basic life principles. Even in business, let them gain knowledge of basic business principles such as know how to make an order, how to sell and how to calculate profit.
Furthermore, teach them house chores early so they can be able to do basic things for themselves (cooking meals, weashing their clothes, cleaning after themselves, basic gardening etc…). That way you are not burdened with needless house chores and can focus on the business more. Don’t do everything for them but teach them how to do it. One day your children will lead their own homes with their own families so need to break the chain of poverty by preparing them.
23. Study business concepts
One of my business motivators, Strive Masiyiwa stresses in his posts that that a business person must read and study business related material. Please research on the internet, WhatsApp, read books and articles on business. If possible take courses such as business management, financial management and people management. Studying helps you to think wider. You study new business concepts. It helps to broaden your thinking capacity. Last but not least, it helps to understand concepts quicker than an average person.
24. Just be simple and humble
Associate with everyone both poor and rich if you want to be in business but keep your principles. Some people are just your customers not friends. What you just want from them is their business patronage, not advice. Be principled. Know exactly what you want. Don’t be easily moved by anything comes your way. Don’t follow the crowd but watch the direction of the crowd and find ways to profit from it.
Don’t be rude to people that view as ordinary. Have patience with every customer and allow them to air out their views. Some of the best business ideas come from listening to customers who tell you their life’s problems and how your products failed to solve them.
25. Always be above the economy.
The economic conditions such as inflation, exchange rates, high interest rates as well as BOP will not always be on your side. Never blame economy for your failure. Always be above the economy. Find ways to operate your business in those harsh economic conditions. Do your SWOT and PESTL analysis to overcome economic challenges. Don’t allow the economy to be your hindrance to success. No matter how hungry the lion is, it never eats grass. Be a lion in a jungle. Be a king in the market.
Wish you the best reader.
#ZeroCapitalProjects, helps our country to stop poverty. Start your business today and stop poverty!!
ADEOBA MORENIKEJI OLUFEMI,
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