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Thursday, July 18, 2013

A typical Nigerian Start-up Entrepreneur's Survival Kit...... #leggo

I had a target to post a note everyday this week; this target was set by my slave driving assistant! See me see wahala o, na me go find trouble. Yesterday I rebelled and refused to post because I was tired. Graduating from nursery to primary school is now quite an event. My son's school had us engaged from yesterday. I got home and the young man was on my tail, reminding me that I needed to post; I just put up a hard face and disappeared. I can't come and let somebody kill me.  

I read through my blog again from the beginning, I have quite a few promises hanging! Not good. I need to remedy that, starting from the entrepreneur's survival kit I promised to share;

A typical Nigerian Start-up Entrepreneur's Survival Kit......

I am approaching this differently; most of you know the usual business school type things such as Passion, Perseverance, Selling and Negotiation skills and the likes, so I am not going to bore you with that. I am talking practical everyday things you need to survive the “valley of death” (the first few years of a business before money starts rolling in, if it does!), particularly in Nigeria. Most of them are based on my experience.

#Leggo J

  • Spirituality 

We are Nigerian! How can we not mention God? Hehe. But seriously though, without my relationship with God, I bet I would have lost my sanity by now. In Nigeria, we tend to hang everything on God because nothing works the way it should.  My problem with this however is that people wait on God and do nothing. This is not the kind of relationship with God I am referring to here. So get off your lazy behind and get busy while you pray.

  • Family and friends

Everybody needs the right support system, a family that stands by you even when they don’t understand what you are doing. Friends and Family that believe in your vision and do what they can to help, like borrowing you money and still believing in you when you fail to pay as at when due! I promised to be real on this blog. No forming.

You can write all the plans you want and make all the projections too, demand is still an uncertainty. The risk factors are minimized when you plan but not eliminated. There’s always a learning curve you have to go through, so yes you will owe money at some point, just be responsible and try to communicate (I am talking to myself!).  If you have never been in debt, please mail me the formula you use, I need it.

  • Smetoolkit

As a startup, you need to minimize money that goes to consultants (if you are a business consultant, no vex!). This online resource center is very useful for templates and other business tools to get you going.

  • Smart Phone, car charger and a spare battery

You may laugh if you’re not a Nigerian blackberry user, because you won’t understand. We are predominantly blackberry users here and those batteries just never last! Ever since someone suggested I get a spare battery, life has been so much better. Before, I would be in the middle of a transaction and the “battery too low for radio use” message would just come up! Aaaargh. No more! Out with my backup.

If you run a business where you interface a lot with customers in Nigeria and you do not use a blackberry all I have to say to you is Haaa! Maybe you are waiting for BBM to debut on you other device though. Happy waiting.

  • Car

When I was leaving my last job, a friend put her car up for sale. I knew the history of the car, it was well maintained and the offer was good, but I thought no need joo, let me invest this money in goods and car can come later! Omo, na God save me. I thank God for my husband and siblings because if it were not for them, I would be mega frustrated by now. They more or less forced me to buy the car, with me kicking and screaming.

Depending on your type of business and location, a car is not luxury! Don’t do ijebu and cut your life short. If you can raise the money, just buy that car, put it on your business as part of the costs of running the business, because it is really (Accountants, can explain this better). Don’t tell me you can’t drive, go and learn. Make sure it’s a strong good car too; you don’t want all your margins going to our trial and error mechanics!

  • Music

Music takes stress away for me. When I am driving in traffic and a good song comes up, I just relax and nothing else matters. I love feel good songs that make me laugh, right now Olamide ( Baddest guy ever liveth) takes the cake, that fella is a nutter. Also, give me great vocals and a background with string instruments or  any day and I’m good, Niyola’s Toh bad o and Glen’s Orekelewa are on top of my list for now. If you haven't heard any of them, listen here;

  • More than one internet provider

With the way internet providers go up and down, you need alternative sources of internet. A strong online presence these days is critical for any business, especially for small growing businesses that need to expand their reach. Earlier today, I was copied in a tweet where someone was asking how he could get flowers sent to his mum. Imagine if I wasn’t online.

Apart from engaging customers, I use google maps when I need to go somewhere and I don’t have a clue. I check @gidi_traffic’s timeline before I head out to avoid getting stuck in traffic and missing deadlines. Then there's research, in this information age, you can't afford to be left behind. I am constantly reading and trying to stay up to date with business trends within my industry and in general. What would we do without the internet! 

There's a Glo and Etisalat too o, for my smart devices, hahaha!

  • Alternative Power sources like an Inverter

God bless the inventor of the inverter! After I quit my day job, PHCN dealt with me. We had a generator, but to run a diesel generator all day and then all night, you would have to be on what we call “armed robber” salary. Since we don’t fall into that category, we had to ration the use of the generator. It made more sense to run it at night, so I would spend most days hoping and praying that PHCN would have mercy and give us power during the day. I hardly got a lot of work done because no power meant no internet, no smart phone and ultimately no laptop (battery sef go quench naa).

  • Humor

Anybody who knows me knows me and my Blackberry display pictures. Hehe. I should share some of them here sometime. I like to look at life from a side of humor. If I take life too seriously, I doubt I would survive. Now this is a ‘me’ survival tip, you may take it with a pinch of salt.

  • Dedicated team

To survive you need to have a dedicated team at home and at work. If the home front is not stable, you can’t work.

I am blessed with people who can take panadol for my headache.

That’s all folks! I wanted to keep this as simple as possible, that’s why I stopped at 10 but feel free to share your own survival kit as it were. Remember, no business school type ones and if you are not in Nigeria, share the typical survival tips for your location. It’ll be nice to read.

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