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.
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!
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.
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.
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.