If you’re under thirty years old and you live in Nigeria, you probably want to start your own business. For reasons ranging from wanting financial independence to a desire to add value, an increasing number of young Nigerians are turning to entrepreneurship and taking control of their futures.
This is a wonderful thing, not only for the young people, but especially for the Nigerian economy. Entrepreneurship is one of the most important contributions in the economic development of a country and it is playing an increasingly more important role in global development too. From providing employment opportunities to fostering innovations to community development, among other things, the value of entrepreneurship on the economy cannot be overemphasized. Successful entrepreneurs are the backbone and lifeblood of any developed nation. And if Nigeria is to become a developed nation, entrepreneurs will play a major and vital role.
Unfortunately, most young businesses and start-ups do not last very long. Bloomberg estimates that 8 out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first eighteen months. This means that 80% of the businesses started this year will not make it into next year!
Lack of funds, while a major factor, is not the only reason why young businesses fail so much. If you are a young person in business or thinking of going into business, these are the very important questions you must ask yourself:
IS IT MONEY DRIVING ME?
Considering the unemployment rate and the state of the Nigerian economy, nobody will blame you for starting a business because you need money. But no matter your situation, money is never a good reason to go into business for yourself. There are plenty of stories of entrepreneurs who started a business and are now billionaires and that is good motivation. However, if you want to build a lasting, sustainable business, being driven only by money will interfere with your ability to make long-term decisions and will leave you feeling unhappy and stressed if the business doesn’t start yielding profits immediately. No business succeeds overnight; it may take a few months or even years for you to break even. There is a lot of hard work involved in running a business and the odds are that you won’t become a millionaire overnight. When you start your own business, you will face challenges that require you to have resilience and stubbornness, not just the hope of making easy money. It is your passion for your idea, not profits, that will keep you going through the difficult times.
WHAT VALUE WILL MY BUSINESS IDEA CREATE OR ADD?
The best business ideas are borne out of the desire to create or add value to the human experience or to help solve an existing problem. Bill gates had dreams about software and the impact they could have in making people’s lives better. His vision to ‘have a computer in on every desk and in every home’ not only created the world’s biggest PC Company, it also made him the richest man in the world. If you’re thinking of going into business, ask yourself this: how will my business idea make people’s lives better, more comfortable, more enjoyable? In other words, find a problem and create a solution. Great businesses solve a problem or problems. They make people’s lives easier and save them money. While developing your business ideas, study the marketplace to determine the difficulties faced by people and then try to find a business solution for these problems. Many aspiring entrepreneurs ignore the customers completely and create businesses based on what they believe the customer needs and as a result, many of them fail.
WHAT MAKES MY BUSINESS IDEA UNIQUE?
You know you can’t be the only one who has thought of the idea you have, right? Considering that almost every young person wants to start a business, there are probably a thousand of you with the same idea. This should not discourage you; it should make you think of a different approach. One of the hardest things you will need to do is determine what makes your business stand out from the competition. It is important to figure this out early because this is what will give you an edge over your competitors. One easy way to figure this out is to look at your biggest competition and see their way and approach to business. You can then figure out what you have or can do differently that will make your business unique.
IS MY IDEA SCALABLE?
The truth is that some ideas are scalable, some are simply not. To create a business that will impact lives and hopefully change the world, you will have to think beyond the present. Can your business idea be expanded, does it have the potential to grow beyond you and beyond your locality. Not every company can or must be a Fortune 500 company, but it is important for you to work on an idea that has good prospects for expansion. It takes as much effort to create a small company as it does to create a large one, so you might as well go ahead and aim for greatness.
WHAT RESOURCES DO I HAVE TO START WITH?
One of the greatest killers of good business ideas is the failure to start them small. Starting small does not mean your idea is not good enough or important enough. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994 from his garage. Oprah Winfrey started out on a radio station while she was in high school. Instead of waiting for big time investors and sponsors, think about how you can start your business TODAY. What are the most important resources you need to start? What can you get cheaply or even for free? An international food conglomerate can start with you creating a free blog and writing about healthy food! The most important thing is that you start something in line with your business idea. Very few successful entrepreneurs started with a lot of money. Once you settle on a good idea and it is solving a problem, begin where you can. The only way from there is up!