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Start-ups: Some major things to think about

In this series, which began last week, there’s a point I’d like prospective business owners to note. You don’t have to register a limited liability company or business name from inception. That’s not really necessary, but you should keep it in view because you can’t get into the formal sector if you fail to register a business.

You may choose to start a barbing or hair dressing salon, small artisan’s outfits like mechanic, plumbing, painting, bean cake (akara) selling, confectionery, petty trading, etc, without having to register it straight away. If you don’t have enough capital or the means of raising money beyond your savings, a loan or some little cash gift from someone; all you need do is to get all the basic fixed assets, equipment, whatever it takes and hit the ground running.

Some months or years down the road, you may be in a good position to either start with a business name, or register a small limited liability outfit right away. That’s starting real small indeed; it’s a good learning curve.

Let’s get back on track. There’re major things to think about as you start a new business. The premises of your business is key to your patronage. If you rent it, as is most likely, expect envious, shylock landlords or landladies to bug you with frequent rent increases when they perceive you are doing well. You could get a sudden quit notice to either blackmail you to pay unreasonably high rent, or force you to relocate so that they can put a proxy in your place to start a similar business.

If you are involved in businesses like schools, hospitals, big restaurants, auto mechanics, department stores, churches, or any business requiring strategic location, you must factor having your own property in the nearest future because of the harassment of landlords. Unexpected relocation could destabilize your business because of sudden loss of customers.

Such weird things do happen and is one of the many nightmares business owners experience, including natural disasters like a sudden fire outbreak in a neighbourhood or the market in which you are located, which unfortunately destroys entire businesses. A massive flood, robbery, looting in case of riots, sometimes happens and within the twinkling of an eye, entire investments are gone. These things do happen. So, try and insure your business and take all the safety precautions.

Now, I hate to say this, but I have no choice because a life coach is obliged to deliver the facts of life. As a business owner, you may die unexpectedly. We are in an age where sudden deaths are common. So, put good structures in place, even at the earliest stage of your business so that the outfit could run smoothly without you. Remember, success without succession is failure.

Nobody knows when incapacitation or outright death would come. It could be in the first few years of your business, or five, ten, twenty years down the road. So, make sure your business is on a very solid footing at all times. Use the template of the blue chip companies to run your business; they plan ahead, that’s why they survive their founders.

As you launch your business, create strong buffers to absorb future shocks that may come your way as you proceed. Once profits start trickling in, begin to save, put your money in the capital market; get a good stock broker or investment advisor to help you with good portfolio management. Every business experiences downturns just as we also fall sick sometimes. Like I always warn, we live in a cycle of boom and bust.

Never depend on one route to reach your promised land. Those who depend on importing finished goods now know better. Recession has killed the importation boom; millions of traders are struggling in business; the bulging warehouses have closed. Never depend solely on exportation of one product (e.g. oil) to survive. Nigeria now knows better. Alternative energy sources is killing the crude oil business; so the almighty dollar is scare. Our beloved country is groaning.

This brings us to the rule of balance. A good business strategy is anchored on balance. You balance the books, balance import-exports with foreign partners to avoid lopsided trade deficit. Balance loan in-take with loan repayment so you do not become insolvent. Don’t try to survive on one product. Diversify export, import, product lines, brands; make sure you have alternatives to anything, anybody, except God, of course.

Every aspect of your business must balance. Don’t hire more than you need; downsize when necessary; when you produce more than you can sell, it’s time to recalibrate your management system. There’s little place for sentiment in business. In this jingle called business, you need a killer instinct to survive. Only champions have it. Winners are not weaklings; you may have to take the hard decisions in the course of your business.

If you want to survive in business, you either learn to appease your creditors long enough to be able to pay them, or you drive your debtors mad enough to pay you fast; or you balance the two options. That’s one of the ultimate tests of balance you’d face from time to time.

WEEKEND SPICE: Nothing happens until a sale takes place – Red Motley

Folks, let me leave you in the hands of God, stay motivated!

Ladi Ayodeji is an Author, rights activist, Pastor and life coach. He can be reached an 09059243004 (sms & whatsapp only).

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