200 Digital Start-Ups Vie For Forbes’ $100k Accelerator Programme

Forbes Digital Start Up

Forbes Magazine has selected 200 Nigerian businesses, from different industries, for its digital start-up accelerator programme.
The businesses emerged from a review of over 5,000 submissions and a competitive application process. They are currently undergoing a four-week virtual accelerator programme, featuring top speakers, investors and influencers. They include Tom Davis, Chief Growth Officer at Forbes Magazine, Liz Walsh, Vice President of Marketing at Forbes Magazine, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Jenny Foltz, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, United States Consulate in Lagos, Christine Ntim, Chief Marketing Officer at Global Startup Ecosystem and Einstein Ntim, Chief Executive Officer at Global Startup Ecosystem.
Powered by Global Startup Ecosystem, with support of close to 100 partners, the online training is also open to small businesses and freelancers, and aims to help participants in building and scaling their businesses. It is free, without obligation or equity ask. Accepted businesses will access $100k in free credits and perks from Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud. Participants in the programme are:

1. Alabian Solutions Ltd

2. Touchcore Technology Limited

3. Neohaul Technologies

4. Riltouche and Sparkles Ltd

5. reQuid Technologies Ltd

6. Bamboo

7. Gricd

8. Diimtech

9. Pillarcraft

10. Cyhermes Limited

11. Palment Business Solutions

12. CynbaNews

13. Wealth Tech

14. Farmers’ Corner

15. Vinsighte

16. Traindemy

17. Arnergy

18. FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria Limited

19. The Eat Drink Media Company

20. PalmPay

21. Firstlincoln Technologies

22. Gradely

23. Chaka

24. Betensured Group

25. Citizens Gavel

26. ePoultry.NG

27. CodeLn

28. Arewa Kasuwa & Logistics

29. Africave, Inc

30. Scrapays Technologies Ltd

31. Publiseer

32. Naija Startups

33. ParkWellWell

34. Agrilet Limited

35. ForaDux

36. First Medtrade Africa

37. Workload.ng

38. Skooleeo Technology

39. Quba Exchange

40. kolopay

41. HostNowNow Limited

42. TrepAfrica Innovation Space

43. Revocube Technologies Limited

44. ShapShap

45. Despatch NG

46. Vesicash Innovative Technologies

47. ProximateAGRO Solutions

48. Mobilecooks https://mobilecooks.com.ng/

49. InstiQ

50. Safehouse Innovative Solutions Limited

51. Greenera Technologies

52. Schucks Media Ltd

53. Ikonik

54. Uduaa

55. Experis Immersive

56. HouseAfrica

57. Staffbus Integrated Technologies

58. Innovantics LTD

59. PENNY LENDER LIMITED

60. Filta.NG

61. Curacel

62. Fresible Music

63. Edves

64. Wellvis

65. Mazzuma

66. ResearchRound

67. OneHealth

68. Virtouscore limited

69. Minestake Technologies

70. Retailar

71. Viostec

72. Cashbudy Nigeria

73. Farmsby Limited

74. Biko.ng

75. Corpreneur

76. GoPaxy

77. Vasiti.com

78. Liveizy ltd

79. Button

80. Yuli Interior

81. Fuerte Technology Solutions

82. TechBridge Consulting Limited

83. Roqqu

84. Cash Your Passion, Africa

85. Olamax Exchange

86. TrueSaver Limited

87. VMEDKIT

88. Damisa Gurus Ltd

89. CLOUFRICA INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

90. Paperbags by Ebees

91. PRIOCLEN LTD

92. Manna

93. Bookers International Schools

94. Hygeen & Integrated Services

95. Solar Sister Entrepreneurs Nigeria Ltd/Gtee

96. Energy4All Ventures Limited

97. NexusMesh

98. Seams

99. Biostar Green Solutions

100. Greenspace Recycling Services Limited

101. CutStruct Technology Limited

102. HomeClass Nigeria

103. Farmers Gate Trading Nigeria LTD

104. Smiley Socks Company

105. Palette Business Solutions/Techland

106. E-ESTATES

107. The Silver Castle

108. Preskriber Health Tech

109. Farmz2U

110. Medics2You

111. Agrinotech.co

112. Farmspeak Technology

113. Analytics Intelligence

114. Kalibotics

115. Gotlodge

116. Chekkit Technologies

117. Jimbo Jobs

118. Solarflares Energy Limited

119. Go Ads

120. Brainy Educare

121. Flat Freight Global Logistics Limited

122. Privi Test

123. FastPace Logistics Limited

124. Simbi Interactives

125. esopos

126. Finaclusion

127. Eatonhill Investment Ltd

128. Payu Limited

129. Finance Life Technologies Limited (trading as Riby)

130. Thinkshifts

131. FOLEYS PERFUMERY

132. Things4rent Ltd

133. Powerstove Offgrid Electricity Limited [POEL]

134. Live SmartCity Technology Development

135. 3LOGY

136. Pickmeup services

137. Kasuwa online

138. Spendify Technologies

139. FARMEASY NIGERIA LTD

140. Indigo Feeds Company Nig Ltd

141. The Paper Packaging Company

142. Afrozo

143. Wikiwriters Nigeria

144. Cartehub Africa

145. Ligo smart city Ltd

146. Lumi Pro Tech

147. Nigenius

148. Okike Media

149. Crediometer

150. Wificombat Academy

151. NUDC

152. Digital Adplanet

153. HoBeei

154. Etradefair expo

155. Elcutiee Services Limited

156. Efarmagro enterprise Nigeria limited

157. Glams Concepts Limited

158. SACELPRECIOUS FARMS LIMITED

159. Bodylikemilk

160. Infibranches Technologies Limited

161. Hubryde Limited

162. Sewexpress

163. Triangle Educational Foundation

164. CardCentre Nigeria Limited

165. TinX studio’s

166. Onibata mall

167. Konar App Innovations

168. Next Professionals Mentoring Initiative of Nigeria

169. OncrackTV

170. Nuban Beauty Ltd

171. Vybe

172. CHAMSSWITCH LTD

173. Clique

174. Steripro Nigeria Limited

175. Vows and Vendors

176. ICreate Evolution Africa

177. Payattitude

178. DriversNG

179. TERAWORK.COM LIMITED

180. Josla

181. Akiddie

182. FarmFunded

183. farmer first tech agro ltd

184. InvestNaira (Ark Builders Compound Enterprise Limited)

185. Housemates Technologies LTD

186. WATU Financial Technologies Ltd

187. Scuudu Labs

188. Mytrip Nigeria limited

189. HighTable Africa

190. Alerzo

191. ANYHELP CONCIERGE AND LOGISTICS SERVICES

192. Farm Fresh Grocery

193. Treeple Cloud Digital Agency

194. Cinematix

195. Teens Can Blog

196. PENG

197. Projaro Digital Services Limited

198. Agrolush NG

199. ahraha.com

200. ForeLearner Concept Limited

For more information on the programme, visit https://forbes8.forbes.com/nigeriaaccelerator. For partnership opportunities, contact hello@globalstartupecosystem.com.
* Do you need help in starting or scaling your business? Explore your options at https://smefinance.org/thesmelab.

* Would you like to chat with aspiring and practising Small Business Owners about how to grow your business? Join THE SME GROUP, our official Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/smefinance/

How To Budget For Your Project Or Start-Up

A budget is a statement that estimates the income and expenses expected from the future plans and objectives of a business or project. It documents, in financial form, what the owners or managers expect in an upcoming period, in line with the goals for the business or project. A budget is an essential part of your business plan.

If you’re starting your entrepreneurial journey or your going concern is embarking on a new project, an understanding of the building blocks of starting and growing a business will help you on your way. Basically, you need a budget to help you have a firm grip on your finances. What should you focus on when planning the budget that will help you to kick start and maintain control of your business?

The issues that a Small Business Owner needs to address in preparing a budget for a business or project include but are not limited to the following: How much money will be needed? What things will be needed to run the business or execute the project? What will be the expense and sales forecast? How do these stack and add up?

1. Amount Needed, Where It Will Come From: A key question in launching a new business or project is the amount of money to be spent. While each business may be different, businesses have a common denominator to the extent that you have to spend money on them before you can make money from them. You have to speculate before you can accumulate!

To begin with, you have to decide how much you are able and willing to invest in the new enterprise, and the time line of your expenditure. This will enable you to stay on course and know when and if you will need to correct your course. Deciding on the amount needed also helps you to determine where the money will come from. This could be personal savings, equity from other investors, loans that will be repaid with interest, etc.

2. Essential Items: You have to think about the things that you need to run the business or deliver the project. These will vary, depending on the nature of the business or project. They could range from equipment and machinery, through raw material and consumables, to licences and permits. These should also include the human resources that you need to engage. The bottom line is that the items are essential for the business or project to survive and thrive. More important, the items have cost implications and a complete budget must include the cost of acquiring and using them.

3. Expense And Sales Forecast: This must be informed by results from your market research, knowledge of the competition and market trends. What are the planned expenses and projected income? How much loss is the business or project likely to carry and for how long? When will the business or project start making money or profits? What is the best (or worst) case scenario for the enterprise being embarked on? Answers to these questions provide pointers to the road ahead.

4. Professional Assistance: On completion of the rough draft of the budget, it helps to seek a second opinion, especially from a professional. Get someone who should know to verify it. Ask a mentor or qualified accountant to look over what has been done. The idea is to double-check the work to ensure that everything adds up.

* Do you need help in preparing the budget for your start-up or new project? Contact us at https://smefinance.org/thesmelab.

** If you will like to compare notes with aspiring and practising Small Business Owners on this subject, you can do so by joining our official SME Finance Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/smefinance/

Finding Your Place In The Palm Oil Business

Palm Oil Business in Nigeria

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has outlined the apex bank’s plan to develop a sustainable financing model to boost the production of palm oil.

At a meeting with Governors from the South-East and South-South palm oil producing states, on Monday last week, Emefiele said the Bankers’ Committee has created a special sub-committee to introduce measures to enhance access to capital by smallholders in the palm oil value chain.

The scheme will disburse loans to identified core borrowers, at not more than nine percent interest rate per year, through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CASC).

Lamenting that Nigeria spends $500 million yearly on importation of palm oil, despite its inclusion in the foreign exchange exclusion list, Mr. Emefiele says: “We intend to support improved production of palm oil to meet not only the domestic needs of the market, but to also increase our exports in order to improve our foreign exchange earnings.”

Noting that in the late 1950s and 1960s, Nigeria was the world’s leading producer and the largest exporter of the product, with 40 per cent market share, Emefiele moans: “Today we are a distant fifth among leading producers of palm oil. We barely produce up to three per cent of the global output with an estimated production of 800,000 MT while countries like Malaysia and Indonesia produce 25 million and 41 million tonnes.”

The goal of the CBN initiative is to enable Nigeria emerge as the third largest producer of palm oil in the world, after Malaysia and Indonesia. To this end, each state government in the South-East and South-South has agreed to provide at least 100,000 hectares for palm oil production.

Now that the CBN has removed the financing hurdle, it is time to explore the opportunities open to Small Business Owners who have the education, training, experience or interest in agribusiness, and desire to participate in the palm oil value chain.

While there is a wide range of options for entering the palm oil business, a few pointers will provide ideas on where to devote your energy, time and resources:

  1. Palm Oil Plantation: This requires the purchase of large hectares of land, with soil tested and adjudged suitable for cultivation of palm trees.

Thanks to improved seedlings, palm trees can now be planted and harvested within three to five years.

As a plantation farmer, you can set up a mill to extract the palm oil, or sell the palm oil fruits to mill owners for processing.

  1. Palm Oil Processor. As a palm oil processor, you will set up a palm oil processing mill with machines for extracting oil from the palm oil fruits harvested from your plantation.

You can also run your processing factory on a commercial basis, by renting time on your machines to third parties who will pay a fee for each time they bring their palm oil fruits to your milling machines.

You may also wish to set up shop solely for the purpose of processing palm oil. You will not need to own a palm oil plantation, and you will not need to mill palm oil fruits for third parties. In this case, you will procure raw palm oil fruits from farmers and any other sources, process the palm oil fruits, and sell the palm oil and by-products to end users.

As a processor, your processing mill must be situated in a location in or near a palm oil producing area. It must also be close to major road to ease evacuation of products.

  1. Palm Oil Trader. This is the fast track to making money in the palm oil business. The palm oil trader is simply involved in the buying and selling of palm oil. What many palm oil traders do is to buy large quantities at low prices during the peak periods of production, warehouse the product for long periods, and sell at higher prices during the off-peak period of low supply to the market.

The palm oil trader can decide to sell to local users or package the product for the export market. The challenge for the palm oil trader is to find sources of local supplies, and find buyers in the local and foreign markets.

  1. Support Service Provider. Should you decide not to enter the palm oil business through any of the aforelisted activities, you can choose to be a support service provider. You can provide consulting services on different aspects of the palm oil business. You can design and manufacture equipment and machines for production of palm oil and its by-products. You can assist plantation owners with equipment for preparation of land, supply of improved and high-yield seedlings, or pest and disease control services.

There you are. With funding assured by the CBN, it’s left for you to decide where and how you want to go.

If you need help in realising your idea of linking into the palm oil value chain through the CBN scheme, visit the SME Clinic at https://smefinance.org/sme-clinic/

Tosin Eniolorunda: Profile Of A Master Bootstrapper

Bootstrapping

Tosin Eniolorunda and TeamApt are in the news, and for the right reasons.

Tosin is the Managing Director of TeamApt Limited, a Nigerian finance technology company that provides digital banking business solutions and payment architecture for businesses. He and his company are making headlines for successfully bootstrapping their operations from zero to a profit-making enterprise, and topping their feat with a $5.5 million Series A investment from one of Nigeria’s shrewdest investors.

What is bootstrapping? How did Tosin bootstrap TeamApt into a multi-million dollar money-making enterprise? What does TeamApt plan to do with its new-found equity? What can you learn from Tosin and TeamApt as you set out to finance your own start-up?

Bootstrapping, in entrepreneurship, is a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An entrepreneur is bootstrapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances and/or the operating revenues of the company.

Bootstrap financing, one of the best and least expensive ways an entrepreneur can raise capital, pulls the entrepreneur up with little or no help from outside sources.

In 2015, when Tosin and some colleagues at Interswitch decided to strike out on their own, they had no money and had no friends in high places. All they had was desire, a desire to bootstrap TeamApt into profitability. As a matter of choice, Tosin and his team chose not to get external funding at the early stage of their business.

As senior executives at Interswitch, a Lagos-based, Africa-focused digital payments and commerce company that facilitates electronic circulation of money, and exchange of value between individuals and organisations, they saw a gap in the market.

In few months of operations, Tosin and his founding team set a goal to provide end-to-end service, system automation, credit/debit reconciliation and related digital products to help banks move their transactions, from merchants to banks and vice versa.

TeamApt’s first client was Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) for which it built a payment solution. It developed and launched its first Point of Sale (PoS) solution for Fidelity Bank in 2016 and, two years later, 26 Nigerian banks had adopted its PoS solution.

TeamApt followed with Moneytor, a digital banking solution that enables financial institutions to track transactions on mobile and web platforms, and Monnify, an enterprise software targeted at small and medium enterprises.

Today, not fewer than 98 percent of Nigerian banks use TeamApt’s payments solutions. It has deployed 55 solutions, records 100,000 monthly users, a 4,500 percent revenue growth and $160 million in monthly transactions. It has 71 staff.

After achieving the foregoing without outside money, Tosin and TeamApt knew it was time to scale. They attracted a $5.5 million Series A investment from Lagos-based Quantum Capital Partners, which is the sole investor in this financing round.

A Series A round is a company’s first significant round of venture capital financing, and represents preferred stock sold to investors in exchange for the investment.

Quantum Capital Partners, a private equity firm owned by Jim Ovia, who is also Chairman of Zenith Bank, focuses primarily on investing in or acquiring privately-owned companies trading in consumer goods, agri-business, financial services, energy, telecommunications, resources and manufacturing. Target companies must have established operating history, strong revenue and earnings growth, sustainable profit margins, steady cash flow, and attractive valuations.

TeamApt fitted the bill and plans to use its new funding to build its AptPay App, and other business and consumer products. It also plans to expand its operations to Europe and Canada during this year.

The story of Tosin (who is in his early 30s) and TeamApt (which is barely four years in business) provides inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs. It underlines the fact that Bootstrapping is a financing option in many start-up situations. The Tosin-TeamApt narrative also provides a template for aspiring bootstrappers: Find a market; form your team; leverage your resources; create products and services; watch your cash; and seek outside investors only when your business is already making money and looking for more money to expand.

Do you need help to bootstrap your business idea? Visit SME Clinic at https://smefinance.org/sme-clinic/

What Can A Coach Do For You And Your Business? A lot!

Do I need a business coach?

What Can A Coach Do For You And Your Business? A lot!

  1. Your Coach Clarifies Your Vision.

An entrepreneur is often caught in flights of fancy, mesmerised by shiny objects and prone to the siren influence. With many brilliant ideas floating in his or her head, the entrepreneur starts one idea today and drops it the next day, and produces motions without movements.

Your business coach, seeing your fits and starts, will make sure you have your feet on the ground while your head is in the sky. He or she will teach you how to bring your idea(s) to life. Also, he or she will help you crystalise the goal of making your idea a reality. Even more, he or she will assess your plans. Hence, he or she will evaluate what is realistic. Even more, he or she will steer you towards an action plan on where to start and what to tackle first.

You and your business coach will agree on the vital things you need to do to achieve your goals.

    1. Your Coach Guides You Towards Your Goal.

By working with you and your business, your business coach will know you as a person. Also, he or she will know the details of your business. He or she will know your strengths and weaknesses as a person, and the strength and weaknesses of your business.

Through one-on-one sessions with you, through probing your entire operations, your employees, your leadership style, your business coach will develop an intimate knowledge of you as a human being. Therefore, he or she will have a keen awareness of your enterprise.

Your business coach, by interacting with you, comes to know your business in and out. Thereafter, he channels this personal knowledge to guide you towards your destination. Also, he or she will hold you accountable for expected results and the time frame for achieving them.

Your business coach will grow your self-confidence, personally and professionally. He or she will prepare you for every situation that will come your way, because he or she has done what you are trying to do. You will leverage on his or her failures and successes, to minimise your failures and increase your successes.

    1. Your Coach Expands Your Network And Grows Your Net Worth.

Your business coach is an invaluable addition to your network. Hence, your work with your business coach gives you an indirect access to his or her network.

In the world of work, where your network impacts on your net worth, your business coach (who has your challenges and aspirations as top of mind concerns) is very likely to introduce you to other successful people like him or her. Hence, this will improve your own chance of success.

    1. Your Coach Provides A Sounding Board.

The entrepreneur’s world is lonely, and oftentimes shies away from discussing real concerns with persons that are readily available. For one reason or another, an entrepreneur may find it hard to discuss some business subjects with peers, employees, friends and spouses.

At times like these, when you need a confidant to clear the buzz around you or the noise in your head, it is time to call in your business coach, who will listen to you in confidence, and help you to solve the problem at hand.

The unbiased opinion and advice of your business coach can lead you to moments of revelations, and uncover solutions that the people running your business may overlook.

    1. Your Coach Keeps You In Line.

Your business coach is a tested hand who has undertaken the journey you are about to, or are just embarking on. He or she, from education, training and experience, has developed a proven success system that is trusted to take your business to its desired goal

Your business coach knows the fundamentals of your business. He or she will not hesitate, or be afraid, to tell you, when you act outside the playbook. Your business coach instils in you the discipline of ensuring that you are playing to instruction, and playing to win.

    1. Your Coach Pushes You Beyond Your Familiar Terrain.

The average entrepreneur, almost always enmeshed in his own world, lives like an introvert. In so doing, he or she hardly ventures out of his or comfort zone. A business coach will help to get you out of your rut. Also, he or she will push you beyond your familiar terrain and steer you to meet new people. Even more, he or she will make you try new things as you strive to move your business towards its next milestone.

    1. Your Coach Improves Your Bottom Line.

Your decision to hire and work with a business coach is a business decision. It will not make business sense if the decision does not help your business to make money.

There must be a return on your investment in a business coach. However, this must be measured by the ability of your business coach to help your business to make more money. You and your business coach must produce a strategic plan that is actionable and measurable, with the stated amount of money it is expected to add to the bottom line over a given time.

If you need a coach to help achieve the goals of your business, drop us a line at https://smefinance.org/sme-clinic/

For more, visit www.smefinance.org

How Do I Choose A Business Model For My Start-Up?

Question: How Do I Choose A Business Model For My Start-Up?

Samuel Adoji, Okene

Answer: Your business model, simply defined, is how your business plans to create value, and make money.

Every business does one or more of three things: It makes, markets or delivers a product or service, and determines the markets to enter. In searching for your start-up model, you should consider the following:

  1. Product or Service: Make and sell your own product or service.

You can produce and distribute your product or service through different channels. Example: Product Manufacturer or Service Provider.

  1. Reseller: Find a product or service produced by a third party producer, represent the producer, and make profit from the difference between the price you get it from the producer and the price you sell it to the end users. Example: Distributor of fast-moving goods.
  1. Broker: Bring buyer and seller together and charge a fee for the transaction. Example: Real Estate Agent.
  2. Platform: Build a community and charge a fee for gaining access to it. Example: Membership Club.

In picking your business model, you should consider the following factors:

  • Size Up The Market:

Determine the market for your idea. Does it have enough customers who are experiencing the problem your idea is trying to solve? Are they willing and able to pay for the solution to their problem? Will your business make profit if you go into a narrow niche in the market?

  • The Competition:

Study the businesses doing what you want to do. What are they offering? Can you see a gap for you to improve on their offer? The performance of your potential competitors will give you an indication of the state of your target market and signal what you must do to succeed in it.

Business Model For Start-Up

  • Your Target Customer:

Define the character and qualities of the customer you plan to serve. This will give you a view of the market and the best ways to access it.

  • Your Value Offer:

Firstly, what is your unique qualification to provide the product or service you have in mind for your market? What will make your product or service different from what’s in the market? Why should buyers prefer your product or service instead of that of your competitors? Your answers to these questions will determine whether your product or service will struggle in the market or become a best seller.

  • Channels Of Distribution:

Decide how to get your product, service or idea to market. Depending on the model you want to opt for, as each option dictates its own expense and profit profile, your distribution channels can span through Direct Sales, Distributors, Online, Retail Shops, Sales Representatives, and many more.

  • Multiple Revenue Streams:

While your business should have a core way to make money, your model can also explore ways to create additional value, and make more money; like the sale of related products and/or services.

  • Strategic Partnership:

Develop partnerships with other businesses that have products or services that are related to, or connected with, your model. The partnerships must be based on accessing key competencies that will fast-track the building of your business.

Flowing from the foregoing, you have a range of options to choose from, as stand-alone or in combination. Your critical success factors will be determined by the model(s) that best fit(s) how your business plans to create value, and make money.

To learn more about business model for a start-up, visit www.smefinance.org

Entrepreneurial Patience: How To Become An Overnight Success

Entrepreneurial Patience

An entrepreneur is a person who takes on the financial risk of setting up a business, in the hope of making a profit. An entrepreneur is like a farmer, who understands that before you can harvest corn from your farm, you must first plant the seeds, nurture them and wait for a period of maturing, before you can look forward to harvest time.

A wise entrepreneur knows that, just as the farmer must ripen his fruits by degrees and cannot sow and reap at once, he or she cannot start a business today, and start making money tomorrow.

Whether on the farm or in the marketplace, every enterprise is subject to the laws of nature. In the same way that it takes time for a seed to germinate and produce fruits, it also takes time for a business to gain traction before it begins to make money, and profits. Every Small Business Owner needs, and ought to, understand this entrepreneurial patience, and leverage it for business success.

Strangely, however, this is not always the case. As a Small Business Owner, when you are struggling to build a business, life can be hard. This is one big reason you may lose patience, wish to give up on your dream and be tempted to quit, especially when you erroneously believe that your business will be an overnight success.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. A critical lesson in entrepreneurship is that it takes time to build a business. Despite your investments of effort, money and time, it can take a long time before you start to see results. It takes time to deliver your first product or service. It takes time to assemble your team and get them to sing from the same hymn book. It takes time to get customers.

Why is your business taking forever to take off and what can you do to make it look like the proverbial overnight success? You will do well to try this Holy Grail of Business Success:

  1. Vision of Success. Clarify your vision of success. It’s easy to see success in terms of the home you live in, the foreign travel you embark on, the luxury cars you drive, etc. You can see achievement and possession of these things as evidence you are a successful person.

Nothing wrong with these measures of success, except that you are measuring yourself against the things of the world and the successes of others. While you are entitled to these symbols of success, you can never get enough of them when your goals shift with each shiny toy that appears on the horizon.

What, then, is your vision of success? Define and achieve your own success. Understand and define what success feels like for you, the one that is right for you, and stay with it. You need to commit to, and focus on, your personal vision of success.

In the words of Shakespeare, in the famous play, Hamlet, to thine own self be true!

  1. Success Takes Time. Overnight success is a myth. As a Small Business Owner, a key part of your work is to figure out who you are, what you want and how to achieve it.

One obstacle on your road to success is the unconscious hope for instant success. This wish will make you impatient and make you look for short cuts, in the hope of achieving success right now. Impossible. Lasting success takes time. It’s like building a house, little by little, one block at a time. It’s a process of creating. A small idea, a passion, an interest. It goes through weeks, months, years, and you hang in there. You remain interested, and passionate.

How would you and your business look like five to 10 years from today? Let this version of yourself and your business give you a vision to aspire to. Let it help you see what you must do now for your future self and your future business to look and feel like what you truly want. Let it give you the goals to chase. Let time make your vision come true.

  1. Master Your Trade. Learn your business. Develop a level of skill that will take you beyond mere intellectual knowledge and into a practical mastery of your line of business.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Day by day, become better at your business. Sooner than later, your small efforts will begin to produce big results.

  1. Small Actions, Big Returns: Take small, consistent steps, each day. Make little forward actions. These steps build momentum, assume a life of their own and move you towards your goal. They add up over time and move you nearer the tipping point of success.

Yes. Business success takes time. You need a large dose of patience to succeed as an entrepreneur. Overnight success only happens in fable books.

A Bootstrapping Guide: Start On A Shoe String, And Raise Cash Later

A Bootstrapping Guide

A Bootstrapping Guide: The average business owner who wants to start a new business is faced with the challenge of raising capital. Beyond personal savings, this search for money to invest in a business idea leads to friends. It leads to family, angel investors and venture capitalists as well.

When these sources are not forthcoming or do not amount to much, the search is extended. It is extended to business loans, possibly from banks. However, it is near impossible for a bank to fund a start-up. The start-up does not have a credit standing. It will be asked to provide collateral to secure the credit. It will be requested to present business projections showing how it will make money and how the bank will be re-paid. Its chance of securing bank finance is severely limited if it cannot meet these requirements in support its loan application. Because the bank, which is not a risk-taker, expects to recover its money, principal plus interest.

The frenzy surrounding start-ups looking for money makes it seem like that is the only way to finance a new business. Certainly not.

Instead of spending your time trying to raise money from friends, family, angel investors, venture capitalists, banks, etc., bootstrapping may be your best solution. Bootstrapping is when the entrepreneur or business owner starts a business with little capital, and tries to found and build a company from personal finances or operating revenues of the new business.

Should you decide to consider the bootstrap route, here are some tips to guide your journey in bootstrapping.

Do Low-Budget Market Research: If you need to research your market to further validate your product or service, don’t spend an arm and a leg. Go low-budget. Ask friends and family. Do random surveys. Talk to specialty groups likely to use your product or service. Touch base with potential channel partners about what they are looking for.

At the end of your research, ensure that you have a product or service that is ready for the market, before you continue spending money on many other things. You can then proceed to test, refine and deliver your product or service at a cost and price that will turn a profit for the business.

Your Goal and Your Plan: You should think about your goal and your plan. What type of business do you want to build and how do you create a plan for building it? What is your capital requirement and what will you use it for? Are you in a position to pour your savings into the venture? How much personal time, resources and money can you allocate to it?

Form Your Core Team: You need a small team of people with complementary skills and knowledge. Your core team should have members with diverse expertise to help you keep costs low by completing most tasks in-house.

Consider external partnering to increase the success percentage of your business.  If your team lacks a certain skill, collaborate with a partner organisation.

Budgets And Milestones: Your budget will tell you where your resources (read: time and money) are coming from and where they are being spent. Prepare your budget upfront and watch it with an eagle eye. Always remember that cash flow is king. The business dies when it runs out of cash.

When you are bootstrapping, you are running by the clock. As the clock ticks and the days come and go, ensure that your priority activities are achieving the milestones that contribute to the goals you have set for the business.

Keep your eyes on your financial resources. Have time lines that monitor when start-up goals should be achieved, when a specified amount of money has been spent, or a pre-determined time frame has been reached.

Know how you plan to make money. Have a clear map of how your business will make money and how much money it is capable of making. Show traction. Prove that your business has customers who are willing and able to pay money for its product or service.

Be Lean And Focused: Life unusual is the heart of bootstrapping. The effort to achieve your business plan will inevitably take its toll. You will make some sacrifice in your lifestyle. Your bootstrapping toolkit must include micro-monitoring your expenses, being Spartan personally and professionally, and being a workaholic.

You will find yourself trying to do as many jobs as you can yourself and penny-pinching every purchase. Your challenge will be to focus on the things that are important — because you don’t have a lot of money — and build a resourceful start-up in a lean way.

This thinking will force you re-evaluate your need for money. Sometimes, when you think you need money for something, there may be ways to do that thing for free. Or, you can consider barter as a finance option.

Every kobo counts when you are bootstrapping.

Have A Body of Advisors: Skip the fancy footwork of setting up a Board of Directors. Form an informal Board of Advisors. Relate with them as your mentors who are better experienced in life and in the various disciplines of business, like finance, marketing, etc. Seek their wise counsel. Discuss your problems and challenges with them on a one-on-one basis.

Connect With Your Community: Support yourself with your business community, where you can mingle with other business owners. The life of an entrepreneur can be lonely, and filled with ups and downs. Meeting up with other entrepreneurs, whether bootstrapping like you or being seed-funded by investors, even from different industries, is always a refreshing opportunity to share your struggles and learn from each other.

Yes. Bootstrapping a business by self-funding your idea is a completely viable, but often neglected, option. Bootstrapping may take longer or lengthen the time to grow your business organically. But bootstrapping has the advantage of giving you more time to produce and refine your business idea, and gives you greater control of your business.

When you get your bootstrapping right, you will grow your business to a position where it will be making revenues, and it will be ready to raise cash to expand. You will find you and your business in a position of being attractive to outside investors who will be interested in investing in it because it is making money.

If you need help to bootstrap your business idea, consult the SME Clinic at https://smefinance.org/sme-clinic/. You may also email enterprise@smefinance.org or call +234 812 222 6222.

How Do I Upgrade From Business Name To Limited Liability Company?

Question: How Do I Upgrade From Business Name To Limited Liability Company?

Ohi Igbinoba, Benin City

Answer: Entities that wish to convert from Business Name to Limited Liability Company have the option of dissolving the Business Name and registering the same name as a Limited Liability Company. However, the problem is that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) cannot guarantee that the same name would be approved for the purpose of incorporating a limited liability company.

Howbeit, to upgrade a Business Name to a Limited Liability Company, you are required to do the following:

Upgrade From Business Name

  1. Write an application to the Corporate Affairs Commission. There, you should state your wish to change your Business Name to a Limited Liability Company. Howbeit, your letter should be printed on the letterhead of your Business Name, and signed by its Proprietor(s).
  2. Attach to your letter, a copy each of (a) Your application for registration of your Business Name and (b) Certificate of registration of your Business Name.
  3. Pay the prescribed fee.

Upon grant of consent to use the restricted name, you will process a new registration as a limited liability company. However, you must follow the prescribed procedure for incorporation of a limited liability company.

For more, visit www.smefinance.org

Transit From Business Owner To Chief Marketer

Business Owner

How To Transit From Business Owner To Chief Marketer.

One of the qualities of high growth businesses is their strong focus on marketing. They regularly and continuously execute their marketing plans. It also follows that many businesses struggle because they don’t have marketing plans or execute them randomly.

Marketing is a master skill in business. If you are serious about the success of your business, you must take decisive action to transform yourself from simply being a business owner to becoming a marketer who owns a business.

How do you achieve this shift?  Here are eight simple ideas you need to understand, and act on:

  1. Select Your Target Market:

    When you ask many business owners about their target market, they often say “everyone”, which, in reality, means no one. That is a huge mistake.

To succeed as a small business marketer, you need a laser-like focus on a narrow target market. You need a niche, a tightly defined segment of a sub-category, because you have a limited amount of money. You also need to focus your marketing message, because you cannot be all things to all people.

However, targeting a niche lets you grow into a big fish in a small pond. Also, it lets you dominate a small segment of your market. It positions you to develop a market that is an inch wide and a mile deep; a subsection of a market, with a lot of people looking for a solution to a specific problem.

This is a crucial first step in the marketing process. When your business focuses on the right target market, it will get a better return on the time, money and energy invested in it.

  1. Identify Your Target Customer:

    By targeting your market, you also decide who to exclude. Your goal should be to direct your marketing efforts at a clearly defined segment of the market. It is only after you dominate this market segment that you should go on and add another segment.

Be as specific as possible about your target market. Know their gender, age, geography. Have a picture of them. Know what keeps them awake at night. Know what they are afraid of. Figure out what angers them, what they desire personally or for their businesses. Study your target market with a view to getting into their minds. This knowledge will enable you to craft a compelling marketing message to engage their attention.

  1. Position Your Product or Service:

     

    Isolate what makes your product or service different in its chosen market. Articulate the reason for the existence of the business. Tell the market why your business is not just another business, why its product or service is not a ‘’me-too.’’

The goal is to help your customer decide why he or she should buy your company’s product or service instead of buying from a competitor.

  1. Choose Your Advertising Media:

     

    This is the vehicle you will use to communicate your message to your target market. Your media campaign must get three vital elements right, namely: The target market to send your message; the marketing message or offer to make to them; and the media through which to communicate the message to your target market: newspaper, radio, direct mail, telemarketing, Internet, TV, etc.

  1. Capture Leads:

    You need a database system for future follow-up, because not all interested leads will be ready to purchase immediately. Lead capture helps your business to manage interests and build a future sales pipeline.

You will need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to handle your leads and customer interactions.

  1. Nurture Your Leads:

     

    Nurture your leads by leading people from being interested in the product or service you offer them, to wanting to buy from you. This process predisposes potential customers to be interested, motivated and qualified to buy from you.

  2. Be Prolific In Marketing:

    Make frequent and repeated offers to your target market at regular intervals. As you get prolific, your compelling offers will build momentum and create buzz around your business. You will begin to spot trends.

With time, you get to know what sells and what doesn’t. You will become a better marketer. Your business will begin to experience more rapid growth.

  1. Get Your Team Out Of The Office:

     

    Knowing the foregoing and not doing them is the same as not knowing them. Your objective in transiting from business owner to the chief marketer of your business is three-fold: Get customers. Make money. Stand out in the marketplace.

How do you translate your marketing goal to an actionable plan? You must resist the temptation of the Small Business Owner, the one-man band, who unwittingly takes on too much, with the inevitable result that things will slip through gaps. Business is a team sport. You are never going to win on your own. You have to play to your strength in deciding the role to play.

Where are you strongest? Are you best at being an Entrepreneur, Specialist or Manager?

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The entrepreneur is the ideas person or visionary. He or she sees a problem in the market, is willing to take the risks of solving the problem for a profit, and hires the right people needed to get the business up and running. The Specialist is an implementer of the entrepreneur’s vision. He or she applies a core competence in taking the vision of the entrepreneur, and helping to make it a reality. The manager handles the daily chores, ensuring that things get done, and the product or service envisioned by the entrepreneur is delivered on time and fit for purpose.

You are more likely to be at your best as an entrepreneur or a specialist. It is rare for you to excel equally at being entrepreneur, specialist and manager. You will need these three skills, through hiring or by outsourcing, to successfully navigate your transition from business owner to the chief marketer of your business.

Do you need help in transiting from Business Owner to the Chief Marketer of your business? Check out The SME Clinic at https://www.smefinance.org/sme-clinic/

For more, visit www.smefinance.org