Before I started my business, I had the opportunity to develop myself as the business development manager of a company. I reported to the board of directors but I was practically in charge of the growth, publicity, customer service, recruitment, management of company funds, online presence, foresight etc. In other words, I was in charge of the company.
At the stage when I joined the company, the directors were undergoing reviving the company, so the experience gave me the privilege and opportunity to learn on starting a business. It was from my experience in the company that I was equipped enough to start my business and which I would like to share, in order for you to learn and avoid some mistakes.
I would be talking from the perspective of a startup business in the course of this article.
When starting and creating a brand for your business in Nigeria, you should put these into consideration:
You may wonder what I mean by this. “How can a startup business have history?”
Most times a startup business starts from one person or a group of persons. For the person or group to decide on starting a business, something must have led to it.
One can predict whether a business will last or not from the history of the individual(s) that make up the business.
Take for instance someone who wants to start a tailoring company and cannot sew, though he/she may know tailors but does not have the passion to know what it entails to sew a cloth and what customers want. The reason the person decided to go into the business is because his/her friend is making money from it.
The business may start on a good note but in time it will crash because the person does not have the passion for it and is dependent on the tailors, who we know disappoint a lot.
Another scenario is someone who can sew very well, even designs the cloths himself/herself but solely depends on referrals, rather than doing campaigns to get new customers. Despite the person has a history in sewing, probably learnt sewing in school or was an apprentice for a while, the business may go well but may struggle in the future, especially, because of competition.
Lastly, Someone, who sews, loves fashion and is in tune with trending fashion designs and materials and for every cloth the person sews, he/she posts them on social media, does short clips on when he or she is sewing, does DIY videos etc. This person’s business may start slow but due to the passion and expertise of the person, which will translate to persistence and consistency, the business will grow steadily.
We can learn from these scenarios that in order to have a successful business, you must be:
- Passionate: No matter the challenges you face, you will not give up
- Knowledgeable: Know about the business to the point that you can teach someone and the person can be successful in it
- Diligent and honest
- Consistent: Deliver the jobs at and when due
- Social Media Savvy: Showcase how knowledgeable you are in the field and the jobs you do on social media
If you do not have these traits, then it will be very difficult to sustain the business, especially as a startup
Back to the tailoring scenarios, as a startup business, there will be dry periods when jobs are not coming
What do you do?
During this period look for or learn more skills you can add to your current business.
Take for instance, being that fashion is broad, he/she can learn other sewing methods or patterns. E.g someone may be an expert in traditional wear but not very good in corporate wear or someone may be good in corporate wear and not good in suits and blazers.
One who sews can collaborate with someone who sells shoes, bags, jewellery etc such that they market themselves
Another is that the person can supply materials, fabrics etc of manufacturers to retailers.
To save cost on material, one can use the leftovers of clothes to sew miniature clothes for marketing purposes
Lastly, one can train others on the skill.
You need to be able separate your business from your personal life by:
- Registering the business (CAC)
- Having a business bank account
- Getting a tax card and paying your tax
- Having a business contact line (Not really important but can help to distinguish those who call you)
- Invoicing your customers (online invoicing can help to eliminate cost of printing)
In order to have a successful business you need to know how to run a business. So, it is recommended that you work for a company for a while, especially one that is in the same industry as your startup, in order to learn what it requires to run a business. With this knowledge you can adopt the relevant techniques, which you learnt while working, into your business.
Even after you start your business you can go for trainings and take courses to develop yourself in your business, in order to remain relevant and competitive.
This is very important for any business as it helps in accountability of parties involved. Documentation can be done in various was such as:
- Written on paper
- Written in email
- Written in text
- Written via other digital mediums
The best ways to document conversations with your customers are through paper and email. Email is an easier, faster and cheaper way of documentation.
Things to be done in a documentation:
- You should always ensure that you outline all that you agree with your client in the document.
- If it is a paper documentation, state the date, client information and your own information, as well as outlining all the project and services entails
- If it is an email documentation, you may not need to state the date and client information, since the date will automatically be added to the email and the clients email will be included. You will just be required to list what the project and services entails
Lastly, you should ensure that you outline what the project and services entails in the invoice.
Frankly, branding may not work on the short run but be rest assured that it is required on the long run, so your consistency on your brand from when you start will determine how people will perceive your business in the future.
Your business brand has to be unique and easily associated with your business.
- Corporate Identities such as, Business card, letterhead, invoice etc.
- Social media channels
Let me elaborate on them
In summary, a successful startup business is not dependent on how much money is in the account, but on the passion, skill, knowledge and consistency of the business
I would like to hear your views on this article, give answers to your questions, if you have any and keep the discussion going, by commenting below.
Thank you, in advance for commenting and taking time to go through the article.
Have a pleasant day