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Thursday, November 7, 2013

5 Cost Saving tips for entrepreneurs - Staying afloat #inthelineofduty

I apologize for failing to post the entrepreneur showcase of the week. It was due to some technical difficulties (this phrase must be tired! Lol). I'll post it as soon as it's sorted.

On my way out yesterday, I saw my "oyana" brother, he took one look at my fuel guage and laughed. He said "this is the typical fuel level of a hustler" hehe. My fuel gauge always swings between quarter tank and reserve (*covers face*), unless at times I get a windfall (I could use one right now). I make sure I have just enough to get to my destination and back.

I also read a post by Nimi Akinkugbe of money matters in Punch or so, she talked about selling your gold jewelry. I laughed, because I've been there. I wish I had read her post before then though. She gave tips on how to negotiate and ensure you're getting value for the gold. Many times, people are just desperate for cash and they don't bother to get information on rates and look at alternatives before they sell. In my case, it was my first time and I was just excited to be getting the oh so needed cash (when will I stop saying this, hehe!).

Anyway, all of these things got me thinking about a topic for discussion, Saving tips for an entrepreneur. I know I am not an expert, so don't quote me. I just want to share my tips from my experience. Maybe someday, I can get aunty Nimi to share proper financial tips on here, for now though, you're stuck with me!

#Inthelineofduty - Staying Afloat

I use the phrase, staying afloat because that sums it up the best way. Can't think of a better word. Till you get that big break (if you hang in long enough, you will), you need to survive and many times we have no clue how.

Start with an Expense assessment 

Nimi was on moments with mo yesterday, it was an encore episode. She was on with a pastor, whose name escapes me now. The Pastor had all this fancy quotes about money and life and he was fun to watch. Fun aside, I learnt quite a bit.

Well, I borrowed this first point from her. It's not directly a cost saving tip, but more like the place to start. Have you ever monitored you expenses for a day (let's keep it simple, start with a day first)? She suggested getting a notepad and pen to take note of every single dime you spend and on what. Do this for a few days and review. You can then prioritize and decide what are your true needs and the others that are just wants.

1. Reality Check

When you have sudden access to money that is not planned for, your thinking is impaired. I remember those days of huge upfront payments in the bank! You get ideas like, "I need a new car", "I have to have the nokia communicator (where's that phone now?)", "I need to buy that 50k aso-ebi", "I need that human hair to look good" and so on. There are so many things you absolutely think you cannot live without, that you surely can live without. You'd be surprised. Some of us face the reality sooner than others. There are those little things that drill a big hole in your pocket that you need to keep in check or just forget about, totally. I'll speak from the side of a woman now, only because this is what I know;

- Aso-ebi

You really don't have to buy it! Seriously. Wear what you have with pride. If you gather all the money you spend on these things over a year, you would wonder where all that money came from.

Be true to yourself. Summon the courage to look your friend (sometimes, its not even your friend!) square in the eye and say, awww thanks, but I am not buying. Yes! If she argues, throw in "you know I don't earn a salary yet", try that. I say it all the time, ain't no shame in that biko.

- Hangouts

It's nice to hangout. But you know your pocket. It'll all be worth it in the end. You are building something. Don't be pressured in to spending money you don't have. See ehn, there is no shame in saying "I don't earn a salary yet", case closed. Those who are your true friends will understand and maybe offer to pay for you, if you must absolutely go out with them. Besides there are loads of cheap and cheerful hangout options, ask me, I know.

- Hair

This one is a real "agabana" (money siphon), lol!! We ladies are constantly looking for something to do with our hair. I am glad the ridiculously expensive human hair buying era is going out, whew! I must confess, I bought one of dem things while I was working and I rocked the hell out of it, to justify the money I spent! But it was just one. I know some ladies who have like five - straight, curly, wavy, short etc! They have a justification for each one. Haba! Gold is far better if you must spend like that, at least you can resell, but who would want to pay for the hair you've been wearing for years? Ewww.

I wear my hair natural now. It's fun, cheaper (can be, if you're not a product junkie, lol) and I feel liberated. I haven't been to a salon in a long time. I wash my hair myself, and when my sister, Tolu and cousin, Oye(who are always on youtube learning new ways to style natural hair) are not available, I cook up something. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but heck! *singing* I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lies within.... - Indie Arie.

- Clothes & Shoes

I am not a fashionista but I was listening to Remi Fagbohun or so on cool fm recently (she's an image stylist); she said, define your style and decide on a budget that works for you. There's something for everyone. If you can't afford a Christian Louboutin, buy a guess on sale! Yes, sale!

Plan your buying, don't buy on a whim. It's tough I know, because, everybody runs a mobile shop these days, so temptation is ever before you! Oh lawd. You're stepping out of church, church fa! and someone has a car booth open with clothes, hair accessories, shoes, name it! All in your face. You think, let me just look and then you're hooked. They even offer to collect post dated cheques and unless you're a shameless onigbese (money ower), you would want to honour your cheques.

Resist the devil!!!! That's all I gat to say.

- Food

Running the home is not a joke! Even when you do bulk purchases, it's as if you are constantly buying this and that to supplement. A thousand naira here, three or more thousands there! I want to pull my hair out sometimes when my nanny calls to my attention something that has run out. I step in the house and she goes "milk ti tan (milk is finished)" or " ko si oshe mo (there's no more soap)" aaaargh!! It is by the grace of Jesus that I don't lash out at her when she delivers these messages with delight (or maybe I imagine this, that she has a happy look on her face).

I used to be a sereren (how do I translate this now?) cooking addict, there must be shrimps, there must be panla (those long 3k ones!), there must be goat meat, a whole lap etc. Omo, I have diversified into quick fixes that are balanced too now. Luckily, I am surrounded by great cooks in my estate who teach me how to utilize the different veggies growing in our backyards! I had this discussion with some friends in a group I am in too a few months back and we came up with a list of meals you can whip up with just 3,000 naira max, less even (Before now, my mind could not conceive the possibility) Speaking of which, I should share it here. I'll raise it in the group again.

Source -

2. Budget

As simple as this sounds, it can be so annoying. In my university days, my dad would make us present a budget (on paper) of all the expenses for the term. We never found this funny, we'll stand there while he analysed and cut all the cut-ables. "You need a new bag? What about the one I bought you last year? Grumbling, we'll dig it out for inspection. What is wrong with it? Will you clean it up and get it ready...." DELETE!! That was a typical excerpt from our drills. Now that I am older and wiser - if I must say so myself, I am grateful for the drill because it set a foundation for me.

So this is tip number 3, always plan your expenses for the week, month and year if you can project that far. If not, monthly is fine. Trust me, it helps.

3. Keep your integrity and creditworthiness

Such a lengthy tip eh? Lol. Let me break it down. The guest with Nimi on the show yesterday said he built his real estate business with nothing but his integrity and network. I can so relate to this, because if not for this, I know I would have been bankrupt by now, as in "asiri mi a ti tu" lol. No kidding.

Try to manage your cash flow as much as possible, if you can stretch payments to your suppliers by a week or a month, why not! Ensure no cash leaves your possession that doesn't have to. More importantly, when you have such arrangements, pay as at when due, in the event of unforeseen circumstances (there will be those times), keep your suppliers updated.

I come from a large nuclear family so I have so many people to run to for quick cash and because I try (try being the operative word here), not to take them for granted, I can always count on them. I have friends too who always always come through for me.

During my MBA, our finance facilitators would always say, some amount of debt is good for your business. Ahem, I guess so, but I haven't towed that line yet. I am of the impression that your business has to be at a certain level of predictability for you to try that, especially with the crazy rates we get in Nigeria. I can't come and die of hypertension.

4. Bartering and Partnerships

I hope this is self explanatory. Remember the phrase, "trade by barter", that's just what it is. You can save yourself loads of money by doing this. You do not need to exchange cash for everything. Look for creative ways to transact business with people.Also look for complementary products or services so you can form partnerships and take advantage of this for instance in cutting your marketing and advertising costs.

5. Save & Invest (wisely)

This is the most important of all the tips, I think. Did you know that if you started saving 200 naira every day for just 5 days of the week from the beginning of the year, you would have had 44,000 naira in savings by now? Imagine if you did 500 naira per day. I know for sure that this is easier said than done, because I did set out to do this, this year. I even had my "piggy bank box aka Kolom" set up for it...... No comments. Let's just try again next year.

Since the stock market crashed, many of us have given up on shares, dismissing it as a useless investment option. Useless as it may be, the shares I bought when I was still working have saved me many times in the course of my entrepreneurship journey. Every time I look at it and think I have sold everything, I see one bonus or something somewhere that brings me back to base. Trust me, if you have cash now, invest some of it in shares (ensure that you get advice from an expert).

I just read through from the top, this is getting longer than I planned. I'll stop myself here. I bet you know other ways to survive and might like to share, please feel free to comment. You know I get excited when I get feedback! Make my day :-)