The startup phase of your new business is likely the most exciting and exasperating time you’ll experience over the life of your new enterprise. And if you live in Nigeria, it’s really a lot of stress. But, nothing beats the magic of creating something new from scratch, overcoming the naysayers and obstacles in your way. At the same time, nothing is as frustrating as running headfirst into a wall — which, some days, it feels like you’re doing repeatedly when all you want to do is move ahead.
To survive the startup phase and build a successful business, without falling like a pack of cards like so many businesses have, here’s what you need to know if you own a startup:
1. The Playing Field Is Never Level
Known quantities, people with pull, guys with deep pockets, entrepreneurs with proven track records, members of prominent local families — the list of people who would find it easier than you to get support (and money) for a new business could be longer than your arm, depending on how connected you are.
If you’re not, it’s wise to partner with someone with connections or at least find out who matters and canvas their support. When you decide to enter a partnership with someone, be sure to set up a formal written agreement.
2. People Will Not Be Keen to Give You Money
Particular types of startups are considered to be better risks than others.
Banks and other traditional financial institutions are notoriously reluctant to loan money to retail or service startups.
There are not a lot of business grants out there to begin with, and very few of those available are for startups. Find out about available Nigerian business loans and grants here.
If your startup is suitable, participating in a business startup accelerator program can be your best route to successful capitalization.
3. Keep Your Day Job, If You Have One
You won’t make any money right away. The Nigerian business landscape is really tough and hight competitive. In some cases, you won’t make enough from your new business to pay your personal monthly bills for an entire year — and it could even be longer!
So, it’s wise to balance it well with your day job for a while, till your startup gets off the ground.
4. No Matter How Hard You Try, You’ll Never Have All the Expertise You Need
Running a small business isn’t a job; it’s twelve jobs — or more. I’m sure that you know people who border on superhuman and seem to be able to spin that many plates at a time while feeding a baby and dictating the next literary blockbuster, but most people have a hard enough time doing two things well, let alone three or more.
So save yourself a lot of grief and bring a bookkeeper, an accountant, a receptionist, an answering service, a social media manager, a manager or whatever other specialist you need right from the start. Outsource and hire as necessary.
5. Every Small Business Owner Has to Be a Marketer/Salesperson
Now I’m not saying that each and every one of you has to be out there cold calling and making sales presentations, constantly checking and posting on social media, and personally serving customers.
What I’m saying is you have to pay attention to marketing, even or especially in the startup stage. Prepare a marketing plan and implement it.
And be personally able and ready to talk about your business to whoever at any time. If I asked you what you did, would you be able to tell me in two or three sentences not only about your business, but why it might interest or matter to me?
Starting a business takes so much time and investment of a person’s financial, mental and physical resources. It’ll hurt to see anyone go through the process and fail. But, we hope this article is able to save you some time or energy during the startup phase of your new business.
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