Nine steps to start a successful business

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Starting a small business in this recession may seem suicidal but like a popular American president once said, never let a bad situation go to waste. A lot of good businesses have been born out of an economic recession especially if you have the right business model and follow important success tips. To be successful in your business requires that you start on a very good note.

We spoke to a few entrepreneurs and they told us these nine steps were critical to helping you start your business successfully.

Begin building the business when you have an alternative source of income: Given the high cost of living and the fact that no legitimate business is likely to produce profits immediately, it is imperative that you have another source of income to keep you going through the initial stages of your small business. There’s not much a hungry entrepreneur can achieve.

More is better: No man is an island, “wisdom exists in a collection of advisors” and all other proverbial sayings like that highlight the importance of setting up a support system- people who can listen to your ideas, fine-tune them for you or even chip in valuable advice along the way. One of those tips they give may be the difference between success and failure of your business. In addition, since you can be skilled in all the core areas of a business, a support team can help you reduce costs along the way. Lawyers, accountants etc., are usually very valuable support members.

Take time to invest in a strong business plan: A beautiful idea is usually the beginning of every successful business, but is also the beginning of every failed one. Thus, it is important for you to articulate these ideas into a comprehensive business plan that shows on paper exactly how the business can succeed. Present and future investors, mentors and others will feel more confident backing you up if you have a sound business plan. Nairametrics can help with your business plans.

Determine who/what your sources of finance will be as well as their availability: Given the current financial climate in Nigeria, very few banks if any, will be ready to invest in small businesses. And if you are fortunate enough to find any who is, the crippling interest rate may mean you are better off not doing the business. So, scout for other sources of funds-savings or informal lenders. You can look at the current state of crowd funding in the country, although enabling legislation still seems to be a hindrance. Whatever your source(s) is/are, ensure you have them locked down before you begin implementation of your business plan.

Create demand before supply: It makes no sense to go investing huge sums of money in creating a product or service that will lie fallow in the store. It is necessary that you ensure that what you are about to offer is what the market wants. Depending on the resources available and the scope of your business, there are different options available ranging from simple observation to contracting out a market research consultancy.

A first impression lasts longer: How you come across during your first meeting with a potential investor or customer is very important. So, from the word go, get all the professional business items that make you look professional such as business cards, business address and a dedicated business line; the first customers are key to your success. Make sure you make a good impression.

Make sure you find your business interesting: Your business is not your favourite pastime — you can be forgiven. You don’t enjoy the business — you cannot be forgiven. This is possibly the most important question to ask yourself before starting out. You simply cannot last long without the key attributes as persistence, determination and patience. You cannot have these attributes if you do not enjoy what you are doing.

Get your records straight from the outset: A lot of small businesses often make the mistake of thinking that keeping proper accounting records is not very important. If you start a business that you feel one day will become something big, then why not start now to keep account of every single naira and kobo. A lot of businesses forget that the key to business expansion is showing customers, investors your track record from day one and you cannot achieve that without proper book-keeping.

You don’t need to have money to start: A common assumption that you need money to start a business. While money is indeed critical to start a business, it’s not a prerequisite. In fact, what you need most are the vision, courage and determination to start. Without that, no amount of money can help you start a business.

Need more from where this came? Then, visit out website: www.nairametrics.com for more start-up tips. Follow our twitter handle @nairametrics and @ugodre. Visit our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/Nairametrics

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