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The Best Business Advice for Start-Ups in Nigeria

Be out to solve a problem

The unemployment rate, especially amongst youths, is alarming, so it is encouraging to see many youths yearning to start their own businesses. Again, some great stories of successful entrepreneurs can spark the hunger for starting a business. However, as great as the dream may be, it is important that you genuinely ask yourself if you would be solving a problem with your new business. The success of every business depends on how far it goes in solving a problem. This means that if you have identified a problem within your environment, that is an opportunity for you to start a business.
If you are dreaming of starting a business and you are yet to figure out what problem you would be solving with that business, you had better get to work and figure out what problem you would be solving. When you solve a problem, everybody would be eager to embrace your business and pay for the product or service, but if your business would be just another one out there, it may not go so far. The bigger the problem you are solving, the bigger would be your business empire. You do not necessarily have to recreate the wheels; you may just be replicating a service which is available elsewhere but not in your environment. In such circumstances, the value you are bringing to the table is “place”. Just be sure that you are offering a unique value that is otherwise not available.

Have targets, measure it and be diligent in closing gaps

Organizing your ambition into vision and mission is not as important as ensuring that you set targets for yourself. Ensure to write down the targets in a clear, unambiguous manner that you don’t need anyone to interpret the meanings. Be sure to track your progress in routine intervals, whether monthly or quarterly and be religious about your performance management. It’s natural that you may not be meeting your targets as and when due, what is important is to be sure you are diligently closing the gaps on the to-do list to meet your set targets.

Create value and a new experience for your customers

It’s such a paradox that everyone wants excellent service but perhaps nobody delivers great service. As you set out your business plan, your focus should be on creating value for the customers. Forget about your dreams of becoming rich through this business, it will come naturally if you create value for the customers. Are you afraid that the existing competitors, some of which are large companies, would crush your business along the way? Never exercise fear because you have an important edge over competitors. All you need to do is create a whole new customer experience that is unique to your business environment. With a unique customer experience, you can outshine supposed leading brands and create top-of-the-mind awareness for your product or service.
Interestingly, as a start-up, you are nimble, so you should be agile in everything you do. Let your competitors be seen to be dinosaurs whilst you are the “new kid on the block”. Whatever your competitors do in 30minutes, try to get it done in half the time. More so, the world is now fast-paced, it’s a jet world, where speed of service counts and can make a big difference. Learn the art of listening and don’t just take customers’ feedback, act on it, and publish the changes you have made – it’s one way to win customers’ loyalty.

Never be afraid of failure, rather take the lessons

Fear begets failure! Most times, entrepreneurs fail because they were unduly fearful. However, as much as you must strive to prevent failure, you need to take your failures as lessons. If nothing else, you must learn how not to repeat your mistakes and how not to fail again. Really, no start-up founder can know where exactly the business would land, thus the learning curve must be very steep.
Entrepreneurs need to learn fast and pick lessons along the journey. As Mark Zuckerberg puts it; “you never know as much as you need to in the beginning, no matter what”. So, learn to make iterations as may be required whilst focusing on your vision and mission, whichever way you have set them as targets. According to Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba; “As an entrepreneur, don’t learn from other people how they succeed. Learn from how these people fail”. Learning not to fail is simply learning to succeed. As much as possible, have a mentor, who you can learn from and who can introduce you to others you can also learn from.

Understand your finance

You absolutely do not need to be a finance expert to run your business, but you must understand some basic finance, to be able to appraise your business and make the right decisions at every point in time. After all, your financial performance says it all – it’s a summary report card! You need to know when you are making a profit and when you are making losses. You need to understand why you are profitable or why you are loss-making. It is important to know when you need more capital, either a loan or equity. When you need a loan to grow the business, never rush into making the decision. Seek out alternatives by reviewing your options on nairaCompare and be sure you are making the right decision.

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