YOUR FIRST SIX MONTHS IN BUSINESS IN NIGERIA, WHAT TO EXPECT
Starting a business can be a pretty tough endeavor, as every single day comes with its own unique demands and challenges. Small wonder most entrepreneurs develop cold feet, even with super cool business ideas, the fear and uncertainty of getting customers to buy from them can be a heartache. Even worse, is when the business has already been launched and there is no interest from the market place! Every new business, regardless of the type, requires a specific time duration in place to sustain the business, especially through the critical first six months months from inception. Most startups erroneously make assumptions for their businesses, this is wrong. Never make assumptions. Ensure your projections for the business are realistic and well calculated. The worst assumption you can make as a startup is to presume that you can start earning money immediately from the business, realize that profits don’t roll in immediately for most startups, especially within the first six month period.
SMALL IS GOOD!
For most new startups, the first six months can be financially draining with the logistics, overhead bills, and marketing budget rolling in, business may seem to be moving at a really slow pace, not to mention the likelihood of little or no profits trickling in. This can be exasperating for many newbies! With super heightened expectations for mega revenue generation from the business venture, most entrepreneurs end up with crushed expectations during the first six months when certain realities of the corporate world begin to hit them one blow after the other.
A piece of advice for every new business startup reading this; the first six months of operating in your business may or may not bring huge profits. This should be expected and anticipated from every business. With a good business plan in place, you should be able to anticipate and address such challenges with a view to increasing revenues and maximizing profits from the business. It is however not a terrible thing to make little losses or profits within the first six months of business operations in Nigeria. Of course no one wants to start a business and run into losses. Still, it is to be expected and anticipated in the initial six months of any business operation
Starting a business is a lot like having a new baby. You need to care for it, nurture it, protect it and love it. The first six months of operating in business should bring a steadily growing brand loyalty. This may not come easily, if you are operating with a really tough market competition. However, with a solid business plan in place, brand loyalty should be expected. According to Ben Finzel, founder Washington, D.C.’s RENEWPR, “I’ve worked with many great clients over the years, but there’s nothing like being rehired by a former client when you’ve just launched a new business. I’ve had that experience already and I greatly appreciate it. It’s a real boost to have the opportunity to work with smart people with whom you already have a great rapport and understanding- and the signal that sends about the strength of a new firm is helpful too”.
A good brand and client/ customer loyalty should be expected within the first six months of running a business in Nigeria. Within these first six months, your business should attract good quality referrals and sound recommendations from your customers or clients regardless of sales input. The quality of your business output should be such that a good and steady brand loyalty to your products and/ or services is reached during the first six months of your new business startup. Expect contracts and business openings/ deals from former customers or clients, as the case may be. In these your first six months, your new startup needs to have, and is expected to maintain a steady flow of loyal customers/ clients for optimal brand loyalty.
Certain customer trends can arise after your first six months of doing business in Nigeria. Six months after your entry into the business, you may begin to discover that customers or clients may desire for improved products and/ or services offered, this is usually seen in customer feedback or even complaints and criticisms. This should be expected within your first six months, and should, as a matter of fact be welcomed. For the new entrant into business, negative feedback may far outweigh positive feedback, so, be open to it with a view of making necessary adjustments to sell better and improved products and/ or services. With product improvement may also come pricing adjustments. After the first six months of running any business, your customers may typically expect or anticipate some kind of price reduction. This is a typical customer trend and should be expected during this phase, which may be expressed through customer feedback. You should anticipate this trend after your first six months, hence, it is required that you have a good business plan in place, to tackle or address this, as the case might be. How is your customer service? Regardless of your answer to this question, your customers will want better and improved service as your business grows, especially from your first six months onwards. Give your customers the very best of customer service. During this time, budget for promo runs and offers, your customers will anticipate this. Usually, after the first six months of doing business in Nigeria, customers will expect you to run promos and bonus offers for products and/ or services, so keep that in mind when writing your business plan, and set aside a budget for this.
Good management is the engine room of any business operation in Nigeria. Before starting the business, it is always best if you are well prepared financially. During this first six months, your management style is expected to become more efficient. With a well prepared business plan in place, you should at the end of your first six months be able to consider hiring other people to enhance management efficiency and also help reduce some of the workload. Your first six months will require a lot of work, time and dedication, so, do not stretch yourself too thin. Prioritize on the things that will bring the highest returns for your business endeavor. During this stage of running your business. There should be measurable management efficiency and effectiveness. The effectiveness of your management style will help indicate the progress of your new startup, so expect it.
“The biggest mistake first- time entrepreneurs make, is somehow believing that what appears to be a good idea will carry the day financially” says Sutton, who started four businesses during a 23-year period and wrote Leap of Strength: A personal Tour through the months before and the years after you start your own Business. “There are many many good ideas that don’t become financial successes. In the long run, if you want to make a business out of your idea. It’s got to really make money”. Your first six months of running a business endeavor in Nigeria may or may not bring huge yields. A shabby revenue inflow may be expected in this startup phase, but not to worry, it happens to the very best of us. A good business plan in place should be able to offset this trend.
The first six months of your business in Nigeria can attract serious and tough competition that is guaranteed to drive you crazy. Your competitors will drive you crazy with better and improved products and/ or services. They will continue to improve their products and/ or services, and also importantly, the way that they are presenting the products and/ or services. They may also begin to target your target market, customers, and website visitors. So, if you’ve got your business plan properly prepared and organized, and are implementing the plan, you should, at the very worst, be able to scale through any kind of competition, and at best, outsmart your biggest and toughest competitors. So, in this phase of your business in Nigeria, expect and anticipate serious competition!
Every entrepreneur has set goals and targets to achieve within a specific time frame. As a new business owner, it is imperative that you set goals and targets in which to achieve for a specific time period of your business operation. So, it is likely that startups out there have set goals and targets to be achieved within the first six months of doing business in Nigeria, which should be clearly stated in their business plans. This should be broken down to; your financial projections, expenditure, revenue, market accessibility, market reach, distribution, total addressable market, promos and offers. In view of this, how far as your business gone in terms of achieving these projections? Have you met the goals and targets you set out to accomplish in this first six months of operating in the business. Your answer to these questions will help you determine how successful your business endeavour has been so far.
Nothing can prepare you for the rigors and intricacies of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. But when done right, your first six months of doing business can be an exciting and rewarding experience for you. Find out things every startup in Nigeria must know and implement before successfully running a business. Apply business principles and work with them throughout your business and your success is guaranteed. Study certain trends to know what to expect from your startup to make you better prepared and stay ahead of the game. Hope this article did that?