Starting a business isn’t always the hard part.

The hard part is to keep it alive after you have started. Strategies used in 2008 may prove futile in 2018. 

Below are 4 ways you can start and keep your business alive based on a presentation by Rolayo Akhigbe, the Divisional Head Transaction Banking at FCMB.

1. Create Online Presence For Your Business

“If you set up a business today and it’s just brick and mortar, meaning you have no online presence, then you are going to be limited to where you are at that point in time and it will be difficult to reach the right customers. It will also be difficult for you to scale,” said Akhigbe.

“In this age and time, virtually all services you can think of, have been migrated online - from taxi service to restaurants to movies, so it only makes sense that your business must also have online presence,” she added.

2. Understand the Demography For Your Solution

Nigeria’s population is estimated at over 180 million. According to Akhigbe, this only means one thing – opportunity.

She said entrepreneurs in Nigeria have unique opportunities to succeed in Nigeria because of the sheer size of the population.

“There are over 100 million of people living in this country. That’s about a few African countries put together. So, imagine if your solution is just in the hands of just 10% of the population.”

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"Apart from that, Nigeria’s population is actually very young. So, who are you positioning your solution for? Are you thinking of a solution for children, young adults, working population or the senior citizens? You need to understand where exactly you want to play.

“It is not just enough to have a fantastic idea. Who is that idea for? Who are you pitching that idea to? What age range? And the beauty of the Nigerian market if you understand the demographic is that the young population is so huge.

“That is a huge contrast to a country like Europe where the 20% of the population is above 65 years. What that means for entrepreneurs creating solutions now is that if you get your solution in the hands of enough young people now, your business will grow with them,” she explained.

3. Understand Market Trends

“You need to understand the market trends to be able to design relevant solutions,” noted Akhigbe.

"Take for instance, mobile devices are essential to the success of any tech solution in today’s market. So, if you are creating any tech solution, you must prioritise mobile or else it will fail.

“If you want to solve a problem, ask yourself if this solution is relevant, whether the problem is still a problem today and if there is already a solution for it. Find out if your solution is still relevant in relation to the problem,” she added.

4. Understand How Business Is Run

The exciting part of the entrepreneurship journey is where you get to talk about your product and pat yourself in the back.

This is great. But how do you translate this into a business if you are looking for investors?

It is true that some people can invest in an idea but at the end of the day, they want it turned into a business.

This is because at that time, the business could be sold off to make more money or still be run to turn profits.

Now, to run the business successfully, here are 4 things you need to think about.

1. Funding: You need to keep the lights on. You need to eat, pay staff and pay other bills.

So, how are you going to fund your business?

Usually, you will bootstrap by getting money from friends and family, but at some point, you will have to decide if you are going to turn to angel investors or banks for a loan?

2. Staffing: If your business revolves around you, then the business is seriously disadvantaged. This is because the day you cannot work because you are ill, the business suffers.

You must make a decision around staffing or probably consider partnerships or engaging freelancers.

3. Legal: This is a boring part of owning and running a business.

You must decide what legal structure your business assumes – whether it is sole proprietorship, partnership and how do you handle tax matters.

These are not interesting part of running a business, but you have to know them to run the business well.  

4. Marketing: There is also the operating part and marketing. There is no need having the best idea or solution in the world that no one knows anything about. So, you must have a plan to get the word out about your solution.

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