Welcome to #InspireAfricaProject! In this series, I’m going to show you why some Nigerian owned businesses are struggling while that of Indians and Lebanese are flourishing. For example, two of Nigeria’s largest companies (free of government patronage) Chivita and Indomie are owned by foreigners and they are as stabilized as ever. While many Nigerian owned companies cannot survive without government patronage.
Most Nigerian entrepreneurs start with weak foundation, and if they manage to survive for few years, their craving for toys kicks in. Again many business owners in our clime don’t innovate. Some are holding on to antiquated systems that cannot compete favorably in the 21st century. That’s one of the major reasons why businesses go into extinct in our clime.
I know many big time importers in the 80s and early 90s whose businesses are either dead or barely existing today. Almost every household in Nigeria depended on these companies for building materials, cosmetics, female care products, baby care products, foods, beverages etc. But their inability to innovate led to the demise of those organizations.
Again, the habit of pulling entire family (with poor management skills) to run our businesses because we trust them contributes in killing many companies. It’s not a crime to hire family members to run your organization, but are they qualified? If you are to conduct an interview for potential employees, your family members inclusive, will they come tops?
Ola Brown did a fantastic thread on Twitter and shared the following; “My flight from Abuja to Lagos yesterday got me thinking about what we can learn about entrepreneurship from Indians and Lebanese business people. Some of my favorite businesses in Nigeria are Lebanese/Indian owned. Unlike many Nigerian large companies, these entrepreneurs don’t seem to need to become professional GDP assassins to build big businesses.
One of these Lebanese entrepreneurs, a good friend of mine has a business that turns over well over $200 million a year. But every time I see him on a flight to London, he and his family are sitting in economy class. Another Indian executive I know can’t be earning less than $8 million a year. I wonder why he always behave as if he can’t afford new shoes! The truth is that good solid businesses will beat out competition even from government backed businesses. ” Let’s look at eleven ways to build a conglomerate.
1. Conduct Market Study and Research. Many business owners in our clime have never paid a consultant to conduct market study or analysis for them. People just import goods and dump them into the market without engaging in painstaking study of the people who would buy the products.
A market analysis studies the attractiveness and the dynamics of a special market within a special industry. Through this analysis, you will discover the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (popularly known as SWOT Analysis). This study will help you to adequately position yourself in the market even before your product launch.
Let’s assume you want to establish a restaurant in a particular state or city. You don’t just open up the restaurant and start looking for customers. You get the customers through market study before you open the restaurant. Whenever you hear someone lamenting that customers are not patronizing his products, you’re looking at an individual who did not engage in market analysis.
If you are introducing a new product or service and you are not sure how it will be viewed, you must conduct a market research and analysis to get some information from potential customers. So get a business consultant to help you in this regard. Big corporations do not waste their precious time thinking of how to attract customers to purchase their new products, they attract the customers before they push the products into the market through intensive and extensive market study.
2. Put Together A Business Plan. From my interactions with individuals, I discovered that nine out of ten business owners in our clime do not have business plan. In fact they do not know the meaning of business plan. That’s one of the major reasons why many businesses do not go beyond one generation in Nigerian and most African countries.
In my book, The Entrepreneur, I outline a brief format you can use to prepare your business plan. (Call 07032681154 to order for the book). You must not do it by yourself if you truly want to get the best result. Pay someone to do that for you. Our organization can actually help you in that regard.
But generally, after you have generated a wonderful business idea, you need a strategy to turn it into a living business. It requires intensive planning. Your idea is the destination; planning is the necessary steps required to get to that destination.
To organize your business, you may need the expertise of a consultant. A business plan is essentially the roadmap for business success. This living document generally project three to five years ahead and outlines the road a company intends to take to grow revenues.
It is in the business plan that you will outline the steps, resources, staff, investors and everything you are going to need to turn that business idea into a massive organization. Both those who have already established their businesses and those who are planning to go into business need a well structured business plan.
I know a big corporation in Nigeria whose business plan takes more than one year to put together. If they are planning to invest in another nation, they usually send a team of consultants to that nation to conduct market analysis, feasibility study etc., and prepare a world class business plan.
In fact, whenever they are moving into another nation, their business plan usually show that they would not make profit for the first four years. That is one of their strategies to become a market leader. So if you want to grow a big company, you must jettison old ways of doing business. You must learn new strategies.
Get professionals to help you out. The world is on the move, stop operating with antiquated and obsolete ideas and strategies. In the subsequent articles, we will look at nine more ways to grow your business.
Tony Gwynn said, “The minute you’re satisfied with where you are, you aren’t there anymore.” Andy Warhol opined, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” John F. Kennedy puts it this way, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” Wisdom is profitable to direct!
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