HOW SMES CAN NAVIGATE THE DIFFICULT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IN NIGERIA

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the bedrock of economic development in any country. The reason is simple. SMEs are the largest employers of labour, and therefore the driver of an inclusive development of a country. Like Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister said recently, “When small businesses succeed, we grow our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class”. In fact, it is said that growth driven largely by big corporations does not always result in inclusive development. This is why a country with a high GDP growth rate still has a large part of their population still living in poverty.

Setting up and running a business is a difficult proposition, but it is even more difficult to run a business in a place like Nigeria, with very challenging business environment. It has been established that institutional environment places a limit to some extent, on the performance of a business, all things being equal. This means that the better the business environment, the better the performance of business in that area and vice versa.

Nigeria has been ranked consistently near the bottom of the league in terms of ease of doing business by the World Bank, ranking 145 out of 190 countries in 2018, even though there has been modest progress in the last few years.

Key challenges with the Nigerian business environment

There are many challenges facing businesses in Nigeria, particularly SMEs.

A key one is the difficulty in enforcing contract between parties, and this is due to the nation’s inefficient legal system. Business operations involve lots of agreement between several stakeholders and if you cannot enforce contract where the need arises, then it is very difficult to run a business. It takes a fairly long time to get judgment in an event where you have to go to the court to enforce contracts with third parties. This is particularly difficult for SMEs who may not have the resources and the time to go through such a tedious process. it tends to deter people who would have loved to start or own a business.  Business operations involve lots of agreement between several stakeholders and if you cannot enforce contract where the need arises, then it is very difficult to run a business.

Limited access to capital is another major constraint facing SMEs. Most businesses require access to funds from time to time to expand their business; meet short term fund demand and to take advantage of emerging business opportunities. The limited funds that are available through financial services companies come at a very unsustainable rate and unrealistic short tenure. This makes it very difficult for SMEs, who also faces liability of smallness and lack credit worthiness to access fund. SMEs are sometimes pushed to seek for funding from very unorthodox sources who in turn charge them even more exorbitant interest rates.

Volatile regulatory environment makes it difficult for business to plan effectively. Businesses require a reasonable level of certainty around regulations concerning their business operations. For example, there should be predictability around taxes that businesses are expected to pay. A situation where federal, state and local governments wake up and push through taxes and levies in a bid to shore up their internal revenue generation does not augur well for small business owners. It must be said that this situation is worse in some states than others.

Impacts of the challenging business environment.

The combined effect of these challenges on SME performance is significant.

The cost of running a business (transaction cost) is increased generally, as it could cost significantly higher to operate in a business environment with some of the difficulties outlined above. The higher cost of securing funds, multiple taxations, and high cost of enforcing contracts all add up, leading to higher cost of running a business, and this will ultimately affect revenue and profitability.

It is also very difficult for SMEs operating in a difficult environment to be innovative; the limited innovation is due to the absence of quality information and human resources needed for innovation. Even where information is available, research suggests that it is difficult to extract maximum value from them in a difficult operating environment.  Innovation is crucial for business survival and high performance, particularly in a competitive marketplace. Innovation is a source for new products or services which can bring additional revenue to the firm. Innovation in firm processes can also lead to reduced cost of operation, which ultimately impacts the business performance positively. 

Solutions

Whereas big corporates, particularly multinational enterprises, are able to manage the difficult business environment, it is very difficult for SMEs to do so. Some of the strategies adopted by big corporates include internalization of functions and services that would have been provided by the state, such as sourcing for capital and specialist human resources from their head office or other subsidiaries when the need arises.

Big corporates can also seek to influence government policies by making such policy change, a condition for further investment in the country. These and other strategies adopted by big corporates require a lot of capital and influence which SMEs does not possess.

Options open for SMEs to cope with the difficult business environment include the use of networking. When SMEs act as a group in the form of an association, they are able to exert significant influence close to that of a big company if done correctly. Such influence can then be used to advocate and influence government policies, for instance, in their favor. A good example is the Pillar of Association in Rivers state. This association is made up of trade or business associations operating in the state. They have over time been able, to negotiate taxes and permits with Rivers state government successfully. In the process, their members pay only legitimate taxes, and sometimes, the taxes are discounted for their members. Such discounts also benefit the Rivers state government, as the association is then able to ensure that all their members pay the agreed taxes, leading to very high internally generated revenue with a minimum cost of collection.

The association also defends her members against touts who might want to extort businesses operating in the state. They (Pillar of Association) have taken organizations to court in defense of their members in the past. This is really commendable. Such practices do not only protect her members, but deters others who might want to take advantage of her members in the future.

Currently, the association is in discussion with financial institutions with a view to structuring loans at reasonable rates, with good tenure and minimal requirements.

This kind of association exists in most part of the country. SME business managers should consider joining the credible ones as a way of managing some of the challenges in the Nigeria business environment.

Deliberate individual networking can also be undertaken by business leaders in a way that ensures that they have personal access to key decision makers in relevant private and public organizations. Such access can be exploited legitimately to mitigate some of the adverse effect of the harsh operation environment.

Another way SMEs can deal with the challenges of the difficult operating environment is through the use of consulting services. The use of credible consultancy services conveys credibility on a small business which can then be leveraged to secure resources, such as loan from financial institutions. Lack of credibility is a major challenge for SMEs and it is exacerbated in a place with a poor institutional environment.

An SME can also acquire credible information and know-how from reputable consultancies which can then be used to drive innovation in their company. Such innovation, as mentioned earlier, can help improve revenue for the firm.

 

Source:https://www.businessdayonline.com/opinion/article/how-smes-can-navigate-the-difficult-business-environment-in-nigeria/

FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS

Being an Entrepreneur can be an emotional ride filled with ups and downs, joys and disappointments. When it comes to achieving financial discipline for entrepreneurial success, a large focus should be based on start-ups.

It is one thing to start a business and another thing to sustain it. Anyone can start up a business but in order to successfully sustain one, it is critical to look at the financial structure, marketing strategy, administration and so much more of the business.

The major challenge with starting a business is in the first five years, when the business owner is occupied with attracting customers and doing most things alone. Mistakes and failure are inevitable but before building a business, an entrepreneur needs to avoid certain mistakes. 

8 FINANCIAL GUIDELINES FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Have the Right Mind Set: When building a business as an Entrepreneur, it is important to start the business with the right mind set. A lot of individuals see business success as an escape route to the kind of lifestyle they want to live, or a way to feed their ego.

Avoid Using Personal Account as Corporate Account: The word company is defined as the fact or condition of being with another or others. Ideally, a commercial business should involve two or more persons running the affairs of the company and its account.

So, when an entrepreneur is running a company like a one-man army, it becomes a job and not a business. Every entrepreneur needs to learn the importance of separating business finance from personal account and should ‘pay himself’ at the end of the month rather than spend company’s money on personal expenses.

The question now is, how do you know how much salary to pay yourself when you are still struggling to keep your business on the right track? For long-term financial growth and to keep track of on-going expenses and taxes, ensuring that your business and personal capital are separate, is essential.

Develop a High Selling Skill: When it comes to sustaining living expenses, an important key thing every Entrepreneur should note for his/her business is the ability to develop a high selling skill other than that business.

Psychologically as an Entrepreneur, there is need to get to a point where you have to adopt delayed gratification, which is mentally delaying your wants in order to focus on your needs and build it.

Always Take Inventory: Once everything is in place, the next step is to take an inventory of the current cash flow of your business (how much money your business is making and how much is going out).

Your finances should not be based on assumption but on the reality of your business. This is why it is important to know exactly how much money is flowing in and going out.

Query Your Expenses: One way to query your expenditure as a business owner is by identifying costs you can outsource and those to bootstrap (starting a business without external help or capital).

For example, the first thing a hair stylist on a tight budget needs to do is not to get a shop, but to start from his/her house by using a room as a salon.

At the end of the day, the extra rent which would have gone out as store rent could be used for other expenses. This way, the hair stylist can use one rent to sort out two important needs. In as much as cash is king, one needs to be able to put all cash to good use.

Create a Well Defined Structure: A major mistake many entrepreneurs make is on structure. No good entrepreneur can run a business without having a solid structure.

Each person in the business should have a specific role, know what they are in charge of and should follow their tasks judiciously. One person should not have too much power and responsibility; there should be a chain of command.

Diversify your Income: As an entrepreneur, you should be able to diversify your income, most especially at the point where the business is making lots of profits.

For example, an investment management company which started in purely traditional assets management could over time spread into real estate, hospitality and more.

This is because, hiccups are bound to occur in businesses and the business owner(s) should be able to have somewhere else income flows from.

Insurance: A lot of entrepreneur, especially in our environment, do not believe in insurance. Insurance is very important because when these risks which are inevitable occur, they can be transferred to the insurance company who will cover whatever setbacks suffered.

When a company is properly insured, losses are only temporary instead of permanent.

More so, the freedom from worry and fear of loss that insurance brings can improve a business owner’s productivity.

In the end, it is important to bear in mind that even with adequate capital and a perfect plan, anything can happen. However, what makes a good entrepreneur is the ability to keep pushing in times of challenges, rather than giving up easily.

 

Source: https://smedigest.com.ng/financial-discipline-for-entrepreneurial-success.html 

CUSTOMER RETENTION STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Losing customers costs businesses, a substantial amount of Money per year. But many small businesses are so focused on bringing in new customers that they forget about the ones they already have.

It is paramount to bring in new customers but maintaining the existing ones also help in expanding your customer base. Below are some tips to follow on maintaining your existing customers:

  1. Sell to old customers, not just new ones.

When planning out your marketing strategies, from direct advertising to search engine optimization, it’s natural to think about how to attract new customers. But put some of that effort into your old customers too.

“Old and current customers know us well,” the Speros explain. “Current customers will often work with us on larger projects than new customers that are just testing us out for the first time.”

Creating a sales and marketing funnel specifically for existing customers is not only key to growing your business, it’s often a better investment of your time and resources. It generally costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer, according to Forrester Research. If you spend more of your marketing dollars on old and current customers, you will see more return on a smaller investment.

  1. Understand their expectations.

Customer retention depends on customer satisfaction. But many times that satisfaction depends less on the goods or services you provide than it does on expectations. If a customer wants a one-hour consultation to double their revenue overnight, for example, they will be disappointed no matter how good that consultation is.

One of the most common mistakes [small business owners make] is to avoid having the conversation with the client regarding the client’s expectations. These expectations can often be unrealistic, unmeasured, and don’t match what they actually are trying to communicate.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to initiate that difficult conversation. Customers should have a realistic picture of what they are buying, including the cost of their purchase, what it includes, what they can expect as a result, and any return or refund policy you may have in place.

If all these components are understood and expected from the beginning of a purchase, customers are much more likely to be satisfied at the end, whatever that end is.

  1. Offer to improve.

If for any reason a customer isn’t satisfied with their purchase or experience, the best thing you can do to retain their loyalty is to take responsibility and offer to improve. No matter where the mistake or miscommunication occurred, customers expect you to make the situation right – and doing so enthusiastically can turn even a disastrous situation into a loyal customer.

In fact, offering to improve, and making your customers a part of that process, can increase loyalty even in satisfied customers.

In their business, the Speros schedule reviews for every account to see where they can make customers even happier. “[We] have an annual review in person with each client to listen, evaluate, re-examine and refine [their] advertising strategy based on changes in the client’s business.” This personal attention not only makes clients feel valued and respected, it can also help you anticipate and avoid future problems.

If you don’t interact one on one with clients, you can still offer improvements. An email survey, either sent to everyone at certain points in the year or to each customer after a purchase, gives customers the opportunity to offer feedback and you the opportunity to make changes.

Once you’ve made those changes, don’t keep them quiet – let customers know exactly what you’ve done and how that will improve their experience. When they know you take their feedback seriously, they are more likely to give you repeat business.

  1. Communicate and connect.

Regular, personal communication is key to creating the feeling of personal connection that convinces customers to stay loyal to a small business.

Communicate regularly with your customers through a newsletter or email list, keeping them informed of changes, developments and special offers. If you are a local business with local customers, get involved in the community to create strong, personal relationships with them.

If you are working at a distance, it’s still possible to create a feeling of personal connection. Even if there is not time to meet with a customer in person, a call is important. It doesn’t have to be every month, but conversations, rather than just emails, create an emotional engagement that tells the customer that you are interested in them.

If you are able to send them, personal thank-you notes and other handwritten notes make loyal customers feel that you are loyal to them in return. You can also create real connections by responding directly to emails and comments on social media, posting content that shows the people behind the business, or finding events such as trade shows where you can talk to customers in person.

By communicating directly with customers, you encourage their engagement, which in turn makes them feel invested in your business. Through communication, a relationship is created, which often leads to a more loyal, long-lasting partnership.

 

Source: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5833-how-to-keep-customers.html

12 WAYS TO PREPARE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS FOR HOLIDAY SALES

It’s easy for small businesses owners to feel overshadowed during the holidays by the extreme deals and flashy adverts offered by big box stores, but a wave of interest in shopping local and supporting home grown enterprises is helping small businesses thrive.

In fact, 94 percent of consumers value the contributions small businesses make to their communities and 83 percent plan to do at least a portion of their holiday shopping at small, independently owned retailers or restaurants, according to a recent survey.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to preparing a retail operation – whether ecommerce or brick-and-mortar – for an influx of business during the holidays, a blend of time-tested, common-sense steps and innovative approaches can help small businesses take on the holiday sales rush.

Here are 12 key steps that business experts and experienced owners agree can help small businesses get the most out of the holiday season.

  1. Plan and set seasonal goals.

Planning is ongoing for every business, but preparation for the busiest shopping time of the year should include a detailed review of last year’s holiday sales performance. This information can be used to determine inventory, tailor deals, create promotional offers and set revenue goals for the season.

Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are reasonable and attainable, you don’t have to define your goals solely on revenue: Other metrics, like customer engagement and social media following, are great tools to measure your success.

Alex Tran, marketing specialist with Hollingsword, recommends using analytics to manage, distil and interpret all the information you need to shape your business goals for the holiday season.

“There is software that tracks POS, inventory, etc., and can help you forecast what your business needs to succeed,” explained Tran. “Without data, you will not be able to make informed decisions.”

Also, spend some time researching the holiday sales strategies of your top competitors and determining the marketing approaches you will use to reach your target customer.

  1. Secure sufficient working capital.

During the holidays, it may be necessary to have more funds readily available to increase inventory, hire seasonal staff or set-up holiday displays.

If pre-holiday business has been slow or you otherwise don’t have sufficient cash on-hand to give the season your very best shot, talk to your banker or local community lender about securing a line of credit or short-term loan. Be sure that you know what you’re signing up for before you agree to any loans or lines of credit.

  1. Review and upgrade technology.

You need to make sure your technology is ready and able to handle the onslaught of holiday shoppers. You don’t want to lose potential customers because your website is down or you can’t process credit card orders. This means taking the time earlier in the year to upgrade security software, test checkout and payment processes, check the usability of search functions, and make sure your website is user-friendly and able to handle an increase in traffic.

“Small businesses need to ensure that all channels – whether in-store, online or mobile – are all up to date and running smoothly,” said Chris Francis, vice president of market development at Worldplay. “They must run the necessary tests and evaluations to ensure their technology is working properly, and to avoid any bugs or malfunctions from losing sales.”

  1. Embrace Omni channel customer experiences.

One of the most prominent trends impacting holiday sales is Omni channel retailing, which is defined as an integrated sales approach that creates a seamless shopping experience for customers regardless of whether they are shopping from a desktop, mobile device or store. For example, these customers may buy online but pick up the item in the store, or they may use a smartphone app to compare prices and then make a purchase through a company’s website.

“By embracing all available sales channels, small businesses can enjoy increased sales during the holiday season,” said Francis.

According to Francis, Omni channel shoppers are more likely to return to make additional purchases and to recommend brands to family and friends, so you’ll want to not only increase contact with their customers, but increase the value of that contact, too.

  1. Stock up on holiday inventory. 

There is nothing worse than running out of the must-have gift and having to turn away customers. Therefore, make sure you are fully stocked and have plenty of your best sellers readily available.

“Stock up on your most popular items, the latest trends in your industry and specially branded or crafted gifts that make your merchandise stand out,” said Garcia. “Talk to vendors and see if you can get discounts for buying in larger quantities or extended payment terms.”

  1. Cultivate online sales.

According to Amit Mathradas, general manager and head of Small Business North America for PayPal, there has been disproportionate holiday shopping growth from online channels. According to Deloitte’s Retail Holiday Sales Forecast, overall e-commerce sales will grow by 17 to 22 percent from last year’s shopping season, with online sales accounting for 57 percent of all purchases.

Establishing an online store is imperative for all small businesses interested in capturing this ever-growing segment of the holiday market. It’s a great way to show off your holiday specials, showcase unique products and build community with your customer base. Don’t fret if you don’t have time to get your entire inventory online before the holiday rush, though.

“Make a small selection of what you feel will be hot this holiday season and offer those items up for online purchase and shipping to the customer’s front door,” said Christopher Mohs, vice president of strategy and operations at Cora + Krist.

To further capitalize on the growth of online business, Mathradas recommends merchants focus on reducing shopping-cart abandonment (adding items to a virtual shopping cart but not completing the purchase), particularly on mobile devices.

“Online sales and an emphasis on mobile are categorical imperatives,” he said. “A site not rendering properly on a mobile device, or any hiccups in payment processing, can cause a ripple effect in terms of lost sales.”

  1. Market to loyal customers.

Acquiring new customers always requires more time and money than getting repeat customers to come back, and this is especially true during the holiday season. You can encourage existing customers to make holiday purchases by engaging them with exclusive online offers, in-store events and personalized discounts and promotions.

“Based on their past buying history, you already know exactly what will appeal to them most and can create personalized campaigns that will convert them [into repeat customers], ” said Jurgen Nebelung, vice president of e-commerce and digital at Tea Forte. “Loyal customers spend on average 67 percent more than new customers.”

  1. Use social media to promote your brand.

Use tools such as search engines and social media so your customers can find you and stay informed about your products and services when they are ready to buy, Mathradas said.

Look at every way to build your digital brand, from posting on Instagram to taking out cost-effective ads on social media networks, like Facebook, that can boost online visibility and keep your business front-of-mind for target audiences.

Other opportunities for interacting with prospective customers include responding to comments and reviews of your business, developing targeted promotional campaigns, and creating Pinterest boards centered around gift giving ideas or themes.

“Investing in search terms via Google ensures that you are easily found by customers looking for similar products,” noted Mathradas. “This is especially critical for [niche] businesses … to target the right customer as they follow the path to purchase.”

  1. Provide exceptional customer service.

During this high-stress time of year, businesses should perfect the customer experience. For traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, this can be as simple as extending your hours for the holiday said Nebelung. For online brands, you’ll want to have your customer support team on-call and ready to address any customer complaints at a moment’s notice.

“Using your deep understanding of your customers, you can create an enjoyable and hassle-free customer journey, from browsing to check-out to returns,” Nebelung added.

  1. Offer competitive delivery options.

You can distinguish yourself from your competitors and win the hearts of last-minute shoppers if you can offer free shipping or quick delivery.

“Free shipping raises the perceived value of your product and simultaneously lowers buyer friction,” said Augustin Kennady, media relations director for ShipMonk.

Businesses that ship a large amount of items may want to consider outsourcing this function.

But even businesses that operate on a smaller scale can find ways to improve their delivery options. For example, some may offer a local delivery service that caters to their immediate community, or they can tap into the resources offered by e-commerce giants.

Additionally, brick-and-mortar retailers worried about online sales eclipsing their foot traffic this holiday season can offer an in-store-pickup option for online purchases. Customers save on shipping costs and retailers gain more in-store foot traffic, which may lead to additional sales. 

  1. Accentuate what makes you unique.

One of the most important ways small businesses can stand out and draw in customers during the holidays is by creating events that highlight their unique products and connection to the local community. They also can offer exclusive customer experiences that can’t be easily duplicated by large retailers.

“A fun event or pop-up shop is a sure way to draw in your customers during the holidays. You can offer a special in-store consultation from the experts, or even something as simple as wine and cheese while you shop,” said Nebelung.

A few other ways to draw in customers include offering free lessons and product workshops, curating gift boxes that highlight a variety of your products, partnering with other small businesses in the area to host joint events, and even garnering positive press by forging relationships with charities in your city.

You can also build your brand by getting involved in your local business district or Chamber of Commerce, according to Garcia.

“Take part in any Main Street shopping district special events,” she said. “Some areas also have season-long events that provide a wealth of marketing and brand-building opportunities.”

  1. Plan for post-holiday business.

How you interact with shoppers after the holidays will leave a lasting impact and help determine if they become repeat customers. Lewinger advises finding ways to maintain the momentum of the holiday season well into the new year. Use this time to streamline the process for handling returns as well as develop a strategy for encouraging customers with returns to use their time in your business to make additional purchases.

“Find ways to engage with the new customers you made over the holidays as well as reaching out to other potential customers,” said Lewinger. “Planning for the post-holiday season can be just as important to make sure you can hop right back into regular sales once the holiday rush comes to an end.”

 

Source: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7450-holiday-sales-kickoff-guide.html

BUILDING A BUSINESS LEGACY THAT OUTLIVES YOU

Ever wondered why many businesses barely continue after the demise of the founder?

While only a few still have the footprints of the founder on the sand of history. The difference is that one was built on the shoulder of the founder while the other rested on the corporate strength of the team. Thus, building a business legacy that outlived you implies that the business is on autopilot.

Such business runs with or without the owner’s daily involvement. What then could be the difference between a business that died with the death of the owner and those waxing stronger with the demise of the founder? The answer is the strong foundation laid by the pioneer.

Below are strategies to build a business legacy that will outlive the founder.

  1. The world is not about you:Those who held to power, whether in private or public service are those who think the world is all about them. Great thinkers think outside of themselves. They see their role as a fraction of the total process. One thing is common with everyone that has ever built a business legacy that outlived them. They chart the course and lead others in that direction. These sets of entrepreneurs acknowledge that the world of business is not all about them, but the impact they can make in the world. Pioneer of business legacy sees beyond the immediate gain to a lasting profit. They are interested in influencing their generation for better than only living large. They show this in their value system. In that regard, the dream of living a business legacy that generations will remember them for is their concern, than living in affluence at the expense of their workers.
  2. Tomorrow begins now:A future you cannot picture now, you cannot feature there-in. Building a business legacy is more than a wishful thinking. It takes a concise, deliberate, conscious and passionate effort. To these sets of people, success is not a game of luck, but when preparation meets readiness. They don’t leave their business plan to chance. As these great minds begin their quest for building a business legacy, they factor the next generation into the equation. Why? Because they know they will not be here forever. Apart from that, they realize people will remember them for either of these two things. One thing you ought to do, but, fails to do for your generation. Two, what you did for your world.

So, they daily improve on yesterday and because of that, they kept on building better relationships and adding value to them.

  1. Investing in people and not structure:As an entrepreneur, your greatest asset is the people. It will be a disservice to your business future when you concentrate your effort on building a business structure without building the people. But, if you build the people, they’ll build the right business structure that will stand the test of time. This you could do with constant training. Cast the vision of your business, test and change it with your team. They factored Internal and external training in their business plans. Workers are at their best when you address their personal interests and concerns. As a leader, be concerned about their welfare and you’re sure the welfare of the company will be their concern now and long after your demise. Building a business legacy that’ll outlive you require, you equip people who will take after you.

So make people see themselves as stakeholders now that you are still around. Then they’ll keep up the tempo of the business after your death.

  1. Believe in your team:Perfectionism kills dream like no other cause. Apart from wearing yourself out, no one will grow past the point where they were when they join you. If your dream is to build a business legacy, that’ll outlive you then, you must believe in your team. Mind you, nobody is an island of knowledge.

Obviously, any business that will grow beyond the foundation level must repose confidence in her team. That means you believe in the ability of your team to deliver. This you do by committing part of your responsibilities to some of them while you watch them perform. At times, you allow them to take initiative. Apart from that, you allow them to learn through manageable mistakes. Don’t forget you learn by doing. So, their first failure and set back does not imply that they are a total write off. The best of us never started this way.

  1. Remember, you’ll not be here forever:A wise entrepreneur includes retirement into his plan and schedule. Therefore, your wish to leave a business legacy will be a mirage if you fail to plan your retirement at an early stage of your business. When I say retire, I mean from the day-to-day running of the business. This is so because death has no specific time agreement with anyone. By that, you live as if today is your last chance in business but plan your life as if tomorrow will never come. With that in mind, you must put the needed structure in place through your team. For an example, start by relieving yourself of some activities and allowing your lieutenants take care of these things. Let the business run without you.

Also, separating your personal life from the business. That also includes running your expenses outside the company’s budget. One thing common with those who’ve built a business legacy is goal setting. They set a financial goal for themselves and that of the business separately. Apart from that, they set disengagement goals for them. As a result of that, they know beforehand when they’ll leave active service in the business. So, they grow people who will take over from them.

  1. Think like a leader: Creating a business is not daydreaming.It is a deliberate plan of action. This is the mindset of the successful entrepreneur. The choice is between being a leader of followers and being the leader of leaders. Hence, you see the latter surrounding themselves with the right-thinking people. This became possible because they are leaders who build sets of leaders that are success and result-driven. Leaders are creative. Therefore, they spur their team to think like them. You cannot build a towering business if you are the boss whose team cannot work without him. But an entrepreneur who is a leader is not afraid of modelling another leader who will take after him. A leader is not power drunk, he delegates authority with a corresponding reward mechanism for a job well done.

Building a business legacy that outlived you is not only a dream but also a possibility that is achievable. So, if it is in your heart, it will get to your hand. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. All that is required is self-determination and the will to make the world a better place than you met it.

Source: https://smedigest.com.ng/building-business-legacy-that-outlives-you.html

Hunger and Poverty in the Land!

This link is FYI – https://www.globalhungerindex.org/nigeria.html

At www.fundanenterprise.org, we aim to support MSME’s to achieve / live their dreams.  This way, they are able to put food on their respective tables, while employing two (2) or more persons in gainful employment, who would in turn (one-day) live their own dreams.

Imagine the multiplier effect in our state / country. 

Imagine if we are able to fund that lady down your street struggling to “make ends meet” in her business or that young man / woman who left school months ago without a job, but hustling to be busy in a trade or that male / female person who for one reason or the other lost his / her job and now driving a bus / bike / tricycle, but cannot “make ends meet” as the condition of these tools need attention!!!  These are regular people in our society today who rather than “beg for arms” would continue to toil the earth?  These are some of the people who are into one trade or the other and require funding, but lack what it takes to approach a MICRO OR MACRO FINANCIAL INSTITUTION for funding – you know the conditions to get funding off these Organizations, you know the interest charges and documentation requirements, you know, you know…

These category of people / businesses are in their millions and they are the ones that truly matter!  They are the engine that grinds and drives our economy.  They are the ones, if successful – then there is CHANGE!  They toil, they are passionate, they are dedicated and they want to make a living while at it.  We know them, we feel them and as mentioned earlier they are numerous.

Let me share a story… On 27th December, 2018, a young graduate visited our (MSME Crowd Funding Foundation) office seeking for support to be able to sustain a trade he did while at the University.  From our discussions, I was impressed and had no doubt that he has a workable business plan – selling daily needs (not wants) to students, his store location is in and around built hostels (lots of foot traffic) and more importantly, I could see, feel and nearly touch the passion and determination, WHY, he came to meet us from another state (Oyo State) – so he must be dedicated and finally, he has basic Financial Literacy (we teach and preach this too), like the need to register his company / brand name, register with the relevant government agency and the use of technology to power / run his business and all of these are clearly stated in his business plan!  The shocker was he had a picture of his business today and a 3D print-out of what the business would be should the funding be available and the story goes on….

Morale of this write-up: we can blame all we want, but there are good people out there seeking legitimate living. 

Therefore, this is a call to #fundanenterprise with us and by so doing we are moving Nigeria out of the poverty and hunger index!  This would create more jobs and more opportunities for several Nigerians!

History has it that Nigerians (civil servants and citizens who could afford it), contributed money in different amount, monthly to support the Apartheid struggle in South Africa in the 80’s.  I can say confidently that this is #crowdfunding at work.  We need to rise again as the giant of Africa that we are, but this time, “Nigerians solving Nigeria problems”, thereby “Nigerians helping Nigeria”.

Why not support / donate to an enterprise today.  It is simple, reliable and secure.  You would be helping someone or some business to live their dream and by so doing contributing in making your / our environment, state and country a better place to live!

#NigerianssolvingNigeriaproblems #NigerianshelpingNigeria #fundanenterprise all @ www.fundananterprise.org.

This site is owned and managed by the MSME Crowd Funding Foundation!

Why MSMEs are Important to the Nigerian Economy

A business enterprise involves business activities initiated for the production of goods and services to meet consumers’ demand with the aim of making profit. A business enterprise can be micro, small, medium and large sized. For the purpose of this article, we shall limit our focus to Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (MSME). Basically, MSMEs form a major component of any economy in the world. Its impact on any economy cannot be underrated.

The importance of MSMEs is highly recognised even in developed countries of the world but unfortunately MSMEs have not played the significant role they are expected to play in Nigeria majorly due to lack of financial support and other major factors. Consequently, it has hindered the growth and development of Nigerian economy.

Therefore, we shall take a weighty look at the importance of MSMEs to the Nigerian economy:

Job Creation: Unemployment rate in Nigeria is an epidemic to the populace. We do not need a soothsayer to tell us the its negative impact on the growth of this country. Hence, the need for MSMEs to reduce the rate of unemployment and create more job opportunities in Nigeria.

Income Distribution: Creation of MSMEs can provide a lasting solution to uneven distribution of income that we are currently experiencing in Nigeria. This will result to free flow of income, this is because on the average, there will be an employment for a working class Nigerian.

Poverty Reduction: Poverty is a bane to any economy. MSMEs performance improvement is able to reduce poverty because it leads to an increase in income of employees and by extension induces a higher increase in the numbers of employees. Invariably, simultaneous increase in employment and labour productivity will reduces poverty rate in Nigeria.

Increase in Investment: An increase in investment will lead to an increase in economic growth. Therefore, the role of MSMEs is to promote investment in the economy. This will generate flow of income and in turns can further lead to more investment.

Utilisation of Local Resources:  By encouraging MSMEs in Nigeria, local raw materials will be fully utilised. This will curb the excesses of imported over exported goods and services thereby leading to a favourable balance of trade. More so, the activities of Nigeria investors can attract their foreign counterparts to also invest in Nigeria.

In summary, it is obvious that MSMEs create a niche for both individual and economic growth. It is therefore paramount to encourage the need to support and establish as much as possible MSMEs in Nigeria. To bring this to fruition, some of the factors hindering the establishment and sustainability of MSMEs such as inadequate capital, poor infrastructures and low financial support should be properly addressed.

Photo credit: www.theeastafrican.co.ke

How to Increase Sales in a Highly Competitive Environment

We are in a competitive world where our ideas seem not to hit the limelight. Narrowing this piece to business concern, there are many other people who are in the same business and going after the same prospects like you – Many competitors pursuing same goal. The struggle is not only limited to working hard but playing smart to be at the top.

Many businesses have folded up due to low returns as a result of low sales. This is mostly caused by employing bad marketing strategies.

Here are some few tips to help you increase your sales:

KNOW YOUR MARKET TARGET:  Your products/services are not meant for everybody. The mistake some business people do is to take their products/services to where they are neither needed nor appreciated. Imagine you being a Barber and your business is located in an area mostly occupied by female folks. It is very certain that you will make little or no sales in your venture. Let your line of business correspond with the desires of your customers.

MAINTAIN A CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS: Yes! Business is Business – As strict and as helpful this statement is; it has a way of affecting sales if not properly applied to business. Some business owners miss it here because they do not have a good relationship with their customers. This has nothing to do with your services/products but your manner of approach is what counts here. Create that friendly atmosphere for your existing and new customers and make them feel relaxed when they patronise your services/products.

DO MORE ADVERTISEMENT: Your advertisement is one of your sales motivator. Do not get tired of advertising your service/products to the public. The more people get to know about your service/products, the more your patronisers. When advertising your products/service, make it short, simple and most importantly captivating. Nobody wants to run at a loss. Hence, let your customers know what they stand to gain when they patronise your products – It is the reward for their money.

BE UNIQUE: What makes your products/services stand out is the uniqueness and creativity added to its value. This gives you more confident when you are advertising. Everyone would want to have a taste of this unique products because they cannot find it elsewhere. This is where you have an edge over your rivalries. Before they could join you; You are already an outstanding king.

If you have been in a business or you are aspiring to own one, Follow the tips above and apply them effectively. What are businesses if there are no sales and of what benefit is your investment if there are no returns? Be wise and Smart!

Sales process: A roadmap to better sales performance

What’s a sales process?

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a sales person takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale.

Simply put, it is a potential customer’s journey from realizing they have a need for a product to making an actual purchase.

And since the sales process is a journey for a prospect, it is a roadmap for a sales person.

10 reasons you need a sales process

Of course, relying on your talents and resourcefulness is a cool way to work, but sales is not a game of intuition and creativity. Sales is a structured set of tactical steps.

So, let’s talk about the reasons you need a standardized sales process.

  1. Get rid of waste.

Having a defined process of specific chain-effect steps gives you a more accurate understanding of what things are and aren’t working in your sales. Defining what triggers (actions) cause prospects to move from one stage to the next makes it easy for you to identify the RIGHT actions and get rid of bottlenecks and those activities that yield no or little results.

  1. Always stay on course.

A sales process is often called a “sales rep’s roadmap”.

Following a roadmap does not mean that a sales person will be instructed “do this, then do that”. Instead, a sales process will serve as a GPS system with clear steps and milestones. Knowing what each step entails, helps sales people to understand where they are in the process, when it’s time to move to the next step and when to adjust your course.

  1. Utilize your sales talents in every step.

Having a sales process does not cancel creativity!

You can use your gut instincts and creative talents to get from one stage to the next, as the sales process won’t dictate how to sell on social media, how to structure your sales pitch, what to write in a sales email, or how to draft in a proposal – that’s up to your sales talent and skills!

  1. Step into your customer’s shoes.

Often companies create a sale process that reflects the way they want to sell, not the way their customers want to buy.

An effective sales process should be adaptable to suit different selling situation and customer needs. Designing a sales process with your customer in mind, will entail you asking the following questions:

  • What are my main customer groups?
  • How do they differ in terms of their buying patterns?
  • How differently do I sell to new customers and for repeat business?
  • What are my customers’ expectations in each sales stage and what can I do to meet them?
  1. Find the cause of stalled sales.

Adopting a sales process allows sales professionals to be able to identify the root cause of stalled sales. By following a set of steps, you are able to analyze whether or not your actions were sufficient, how many of them you actually needed, and what proved to be a misstep or a waste of time.

This means that if you work with a sales process you can tell not only what was and wasn’t achieved; but also, how it was or wasn’t achieved.

  1. Get more qualified leads.

Adopting a clearly defined sales process will help your sales team to tackle its biggest pain – filter out low-potential leads and identify the prospects with biggest likelihood to purchase. Making your sales cycle shorter and more targeted, a sales process helps your sales team to maximize their efforts with quality leads.

  1. Improve forecasting and revenue.

Having a clear picture of where your sales people are in the sales process helps sales managers to come up with more accurate sales forecasting. Since a sales process is a set of repeatable steps, it gives a more consistent picture of how many deals your team closes from a given number of leads. This allows you to predict your win rates and set quotas with more accuracy.

  1. Never miss a follow-up.

One of the most important aspects of winning a sale is a timely follow-up email.

During a (often lengthy) sales interaction, sales reps may forget to follow up with potential customers. This alone may send an entire sale down the drain. Follow-ups keep the desire to buy alive. A standardized sales process will always remind you when to follow up with a prospect and keep a healthy sales pipeline. It can even offer a type of a follow-up activity and even a template to use.

  1. Offer better customer experience.

Often a sales rep pushes a customer too quickly into the next stages of a sale, for which they may not be ready yet.

This can not only damage the relationship, but simply break the deal. A well-designed sales process, that focuses on the customer, can turn a haphazard and often pushy sale into a smooth sailing customer experience.

Based on your customer’s buying behaviors and expectations, a sales process will offer the steps that sell value, enhance trust and create a stronger bond with a potential customer – all at the right time.

  1. Onboard sales rookies with ease.

If, instead of proper training, your new sales people are asked to shadow (watch) their colleagues sell, then you definitely need a sales process!

A defined sales process makes it easy to train rookies and coach your sales team. Not only will it offer concrete sales steps for them to follow, but it will also highlight what behaviors and skills are required for each stage of a sale, what outcomes are expected at each step, and what individual strengths should be utilized at different sale stages.

Source: https://www.superoffice.com/blog/sales-process/

5 reasons customer complaints are good for your business

With the advancement of the internet, social media, and other new technologies, customers have become more powerful than ever. Customers are the actual ones who pay for the business. So, they should always be on top priority.

A happy customer may share his good experience with his 4 friends, but the angry customer has the capability to share the bad experience with more than 2,000 people in social media or any other place. Apart from that, some people don’t complain at all-they will simply stop doing business with your company. But don’t take all these negatively, as there are some benefits of customer complaints.

[Tweet ““96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.””]

A customer complaint always highlights the issues and gives you the chance to fix them before further complexity arises. It actually works as an eye opener. Let’s discuss!

Benefits of customer complaints

  1. Helps to learn from the mistakes

The truth is you can’t make the customer forget a bad experience, it’s not in your hand. But you can always learn from that incident and make sure that your company will never repeat the same with any other customer.

This kind of mistake always makes you more mature and teaches how to deal with such situations.

  1. Turn dissatisfied customers into your brand ambassadors

Here’s the chance for you to change the mind-set of customers who are upset. Just work hard and win them back.

When customers are upset and dissatisfied, there remains a very little change that they will do business with you again. But hold on! Let’s look at it in a positive way. It actually opens a door for you to change their perspectives with your dedication and effort.

  1. Identify the gaps in your services

This is one the greatest advantages of customer complaints. You may be very much satisfied with your services and overall performance of the teams but a customer complaint always works as an eye opener. It’s the harsh truth about the quality of your services and products. The angry customer actually helps to understand the drawbacks and areas of improvement. Happy customers will always appreciate you but may not discuss about the mistakes but the dissatisfied ones will point those out for the betterment.

  1. Helps to understand customers in a better way

When customers contact you to complain, obviously they are willing to speak. By discussing with them, you will get to know their psychology, needs, their expectations from the company and so on. It helps to get a clear vision about their buying behavior, mentality and what they think about the company. All these together will help to personalize the services for them in a better way.

  1. Gives the secrets of competitors

The upset customers while talking to you, may discuss about your competitors also. Through their complaints, they will easily give you the inside stories, what extra your competitors are doing, how is their customer support, product details, advanced features and many more. Trust me, all these are much more trustworthy than what you will get from market research.

By knowing what others are doing extra can help you to make your own products and services better and stay ahead of them. You can use all the info given by the angry customers to create strong marketing campaigns and improve the overall performance of the company.

Bonus points:

  • Sharing the customer complaint stories within the organization help everyone to understand the customers in a better way.
  • Sometimes customers complain about the existing policies and procedures which are unnecessary and may not be suitable for them. You can surely re look at them.
  • Complaints from customers can be used in case studies or employee training programs.
  • Complaints help to identify the faulty products and services.

Each experience shared by the customers, whether it’s good or bad always teaches you the new things about them, business and industry. It’s up to you how will you take it: positively or negatively. A company which always takes the complaints with open mind, work harder for betterment will always shine in the long run.

Source: https://www.revechat.com/blog/5-reasons-customer-complaints-are-good-for-your-business/