Entrepreneurship is hard. But if you’re committing yourself to it, be sure that it’s worth your sweat.
This is doubly important in Nigeria, where most businesses simply exist to sustain their owners’ lives. Many people don’t have the perceived ‘luxury’ of pursuing their dreams or working on passion projects. If they did at the first time of asking, they’d probably wind up penniless (and shattered).
When succeeding with your business is your only ticket to economic security, you’ll do all you legally can to make it work.
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But Nigeria isn’t the easiest place to run a business. Poor infrastructure, knotty regulations, spurious license fees, low customer purchasing power, and government policy somersaults all unite to frustrate your efforts.
If you’re going to win at entrepreneurship, you’ll have to beat these blocks.
Here are 8 steps you can take to succeed as an entrepreneur in Nigeria, despite the odds we just listed.
Know What Products or Services are in High Demand
You have a higher chance of winning in business if there’s a high demand for your products or services. Find out what people want, and see if there’s a supply gap you can fill.
Be extra wary about industries and niches that are already oversaturated with existing businesses.
Screen Opportunities Based on Your Skills
What can you do? Do you have skills you can deploy to meet people’s pressing needs? Are you better at it than most people (if you aren’t, can you get to this point)?
Let’s say there’s a rising demand for social media marketing services. You found out about this, and you’re considering setting up a digital marketing business to help companies in this area. Do you know how to attract the right social media audience to client business pages?
If you’re going to do well in your imagined business, your answer to that question should be “yes”.
Know Where the Market for Your Product Is
You could have a brilliant business but be operating in the wrong location. Or you may be targeting an audience that isn’t interested in what you’re selling.
Certain products are in higher demand within specific locations or demographic groups. Demand for pork is rising in parts of Southern Nigeria. If you have what it takes to start a pig farm, you probably should. But it’s not a good idea to sell the same product in the Muslim-dominated North.
Understand Your Customers
Does your target market have a high enough purchasing power to buy your products at a sustainable price?
Note: this is a different question from whether there’s enough demand for your product. A lot of people may want to buy, but not every one of them will have the means to do so beyond certain prices.
Unless you’re selling at a sustainable margin, you’ll struggle– even when there’s a large volume of sales. Aim to balance purchase numbers and pricing, so that your margins remain appreciable.
Decide How to Tackle Challenges Beforehand
There are two types of challenges you’ll face: those specific to your kind of business, and problems that are more widespread in your business environment.
The problems besetting whole industries in Nigeria include high energy costs, poor security, and inflation. If you’re a company that relies on digital networks, you could include the absence of supporting IT infrastructure.
Understand the challenges, and have a plan for surmounting them before you jump into your new business.
Keep Up With the Rules
You should be conversant with the tax rules, industry regulations, certifications, and other things around your interaction with the government (local, state, or national). Make sure you’re sticking to them. The challenges of everyday operations are enough; you don’t want to make things harder by falling afoul of the law.
Employ Smart Pricing Strategies
The key is to target profit margins that reflect your mental and physical effort, without discouraging customers from buying in the process.
See some pricing tips you can use in our article Five Pricing Tips for Small Businesses.
Plan for Uncertainty
You know that you’ll be working in a turbulent business environment. What do you do about this?
It’s hard to shut out uncertainty. But at least you can make room for uncertainty in your plans. Draw up a strategy for carrying on during disruptions (this is called a business continuity plan). You can execute it when something like a global pandemic or any other unforeseen situation crops up.
Think about how much savings your business needs to build up, and how much should be ploughed back. Can you afford to set something aside for ‘the rainy day’?
The steps we have discussed here aren’t all easy to implement, and uncertainty could creep up to thwart your moves. But following these tips will shrink the likelihood of failure and raise your chances of success in Nigeria’s business environment.
Featured image source: LEGIT.NG
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