Getting business right

By Foluke Ademokun

If you think getting a paid job is difficult these days, starting a new business or expanding your current one may be described as herculean. Either way, you require much more than luck to make a success of your choice. To grow a business successfully for instance you require more than technical skills, you need a vision! Many businesses have been observed to fail because owners do not match technical capability with vision or innovation if you like. They are lacking in entrepreneurship and unable to demonstrate entrepreneurial character as well as fail to observe basic business management and development practices. This is because they see business ownership as an unskilled task or sufficient to be executed on the basis of apprenticeship.

Generally, reliance on traditional process of apprenticeship to acquire business management knowledge has proved inadequate for present business environment because most business owners in this regards, still depend on the traditional method of doing business. At some instances, apprentices are used to run errands that are clearly unrelated to the business and therefore, unable to leverage on the opportunities provided by the business environment.

This may suggest why the concept of entrepreneurship development becomes critical to the Nigeria socio-economic environment not just for the purposes of job creation but for the development of entrepreneurial skills amongst Nigerians.

The Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) Lagos, one of the three centres established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is initiated for this purpose. The EDC helps you acquire skills to start and run a business efficiently. The centre’s specialists guide you through the process of basic business management and business development principles as well as leadership principles.

In addition there is a follow-up through monitoring visits. These visits provide the opportunity for the assessment of your business performance. Such findings show the differences between male and female businesses, and their varying responses to established business classification. Agreed that both male and female share the Nigeria ‘can do’ spirit their responses to the business environment however, differs – Largely male business owners were able to demonstrate clearer vision in terms of their business goals than their female counterparts. A gender assessment of business ownership shows that more females operate at the subsistence level than males, using the criteria of business registration, business premises, job creation, and entrepreneurial skills acquisition as well as funding.

Business Registration

A common complaint amongst business owners is lack of access to credit; interestingly most of these business owners do not have their business registered and as such have no banking relationship. These business owners, especially females, remain insular and as a result fail to differentiate between business and personal life. For this singular purpose most businesses remain at the informal level, outside of legal and regulatory purview. Lesson – do not think make the mistake to think you are the business, it does have a life of its own!

Business Premises

There is nothing wrong with starting small but when starting small is interchangeable with tax evasion there is a problem. I agree most business owners will want to operate from home to cut cost but this measure has been identified as a potential source of stunted growth for some business, except of course they find a way to utilize and dominate on-line transactions. The choice of your home as a business premises may inadvertently lead to the demise of your business since in most cases due to inability to optimally maximize market opportunities from a private residence.

Job creation

In a well planned business, job creation is synonymous to growth! However, most business owners sacrifice growth in the guise of being ‘master of all’! There are three components of an enterprise – visionary, technical and management skills. No one focused on growth has the capacity to functional optimally in all of these three areas combined! Incidentally, the number of employees in a firm determines the categorization of a business as micro, small, medium or large.

Capacity building

Lastly, you need to define the growth of your business through learning. In addition to having a sound vision and excellent technical skills, you need to strengthen your management capabilities. Poor management skills can have such devastating effect on a lifelong vision and a load of technical experience.

Foluke Ademokun is a development specialist and certified trainer. She is currently the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Lagos.


28 thoughts on “Getting business right

  1. This message not only explain to us why many business have failed and many more are failing, it also explained what to do to make our business successful. I wish to see many more on these stories.


  2. Starting a business does pose a lot of challenge to would be entrepreneurs as many find it difficult to launch out into the market place. I believe articles like this would really help to put start-up enterprise and existing businesses on the right track.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. I suggest you conduct a self assessment before you start any business – what are your capabilities? experience, skills, gift etc. What are you good at doing? Then take a step forward to assess the external environment to identify what is needed and find opportunities to fill the needs, as well as identiy threats to your business opportunities. To achieve this, you must be ready to participate in a brain teasing / brain storming session to generate ideas! Doing this will help you not to pursue a passion but to pursue your gift passionately!
    I will also suggest you register and leverage on the EDC Lagos training

      • There are two classes scheduled for September; one starts September 5 and the other September 19. However, you may wish to call / text 08079718444 for further enquiries. Thank you

  4. The complexities of the Nigeria business environment are too nuemrous and choking for small businesses, but, write-ups like this could serve as antidotes for take-off and survival for small business owners.

  5. Thank you for the write up. It has opened my eyes to areas of my concern. You have written on the areas of the failure on the part of the Enterpreneur. Please could you talk on failures resulting from the involvement of other person that is other than the entrepreneur.

  6. This is a very insightful article.

    Ultimately, I believe the primary reason many businesses fail in Nigeria is due to a lack of a vision. A vision would drive the acquisition of necessary skills; it would drive the desire to start small without losing focus of the need to grow and expand; it would drive the critical need to consider a business a business and not a “hobby”; and it would definitely drive the efforts, commitment and selflessness required to develop and maintain a pipeline of potential successors to ensure teh business outlives the founder.

  7. Good write-up.Simple but loaded with facts and knowledge,
    Get relevant organizations such as NDE,NYSC and NGO involved in youth employment posted.

  8. A very good assessment on entrepreneurship. Some universities offer entrepreneurship as a required subject for all students. The logic is that when the student graduates and has work, he or she may be able to save some capital which he or she may invest in a small business venture. If he or she has some knowledge of the principles of entrepreneurship, then there is a greater probability that the business will prosper.

    Your office task is to assist those who did not have the benefit of entreprenuership schooling, and I think that is a very important and more challenging task for the future of Nigeria.

  9. Very insightful indeed. The Good Book did say that “WITHOUT VISION PEOPLE PERISH”. Let me be quick to add that without agencies like EDC both vision and people perish. I speak as a benefeciary and alumnus of EDC, and as someone rightly commented, as “those who did not have the benefit of entreprenuership schooling”. EDC has helped me and others like me to ‘acquire skills to start and run business efficiently’. The centre’s specialists are a rare breed of instructors. Very articulate, thorough and best of all, concerned. It seems like its their life goal to see u succeed. Entrepreneurship has been described as the act of being an entrepreneur, who is defined as one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods. This may result in new organizations (referred to as Startup Company) or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response to a perceived opportunity. I dare say that until you’ve been to EDC you havent even scaratched the surface yet. EDC: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

  10. This is a very good write up. It is informative and educative. Both the layman and the. experienced entrepreneur will find it useful.

    • EDC Lagos performs credit linkages function. A number of clients have been able to access National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) through EDC facilitation. Similarly, collaboration with other funding agencies is ongoing. However, participation at the training only is not a guarantee for loan; at the end of your training you must submit a viable business plan considered a reasonably good fit to the EDC Lagos and its funding partners’ credit analysis.

  11. the desire to become self employed by Nigerians is growing by the day,but thank God 4 this write up which will help those who have taken the wrong step 2 correct themselves and provided those who don’t know how 2 go about these things the opportunity to know.. Hope the training will be certificated.

  12. A very educative piece! May God continue to strengthen you and EDC in general so as to afford people the opportunity to learn and know more about running a business.

  13. The objectives and programmes of the EDC is in line with the Federal Government programes on Economic Empowerment. I will also suggest that, EDC should try to make arrangement for accommodation for trainees, especially those from other states.

  14. Insightful article, indeed! The article does two things – 1) It offers an inspiration on how to initiate a new buniness. 2) It also unveils a ‘checklist’ of ideas of how one can ‘develop’ his /her existing business(es) further. In “getting business right”, there is need for critical and thoughtful considerations of various factors influencing the business, including but not limited to its viability and your readiness for the project. But, some of our contemporaries (fresh graduates) who have unquestionable theoretical grounding in entrepreneurship may still require practical skills outside academic settings. Perhaps that explains why today’s graduates’ ’employability’ scores are still low. ALF’s role, therefore, becomes handy in bridging this gap. This, in my opinion, may fit the rule of thumb.

  15. Excellent platform to seek professional instruction on how to approach business enterprise development.

    For me, I most worries are the red stripes (government instruments), that place burdens on SMEs. Examples will include Taxation, Registration and endorsement, etc.

    How do we encourage ourselves to continue in business with all the environmental challenges haven done all that is necessary to improve capacity of management and control which are internal?

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