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1 19-Aug-2017 Starting a small business is very scary, how can I find entrepreneurs who will hold my hand?
A member of our Advisory Board and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who is also a leading expert in microcredits and small-scale businesses, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar, answers this week’s question:

New firms emerge and grow not only because heroic, talented and visionary individuals (entrepreneurs) created them and develop them. New ventures emerge also because they are located in an environment or "ecosystem" made of private and public players, which nurture and sustain them, making the action of entrepreneurs easier. For example, the existence of prior ventures, the availability of start-up financing mechanisms, a patent system and a culture tolerating failure all facilitate the creation of new firms.

The best place an entrepreneur can get support is joining the entrepreneur’s ecosystem within the environment he is situated. 

Entrepreneurship ecosystem consists of hundreds of specific elements that experts have grouped into six general domains: a conducive culture, enabling policies and leadership, availability of appropriate finance, quality human capital, venture-friendly markets for products, and a range of institutional and infrastructural supports. An ecosystem provides information to startups with regards to portfolio of investments ideal for an early stage company so as to create a privileged relationship with founders, human resource support, access to market etc.

In essence the best avenue that a startup will be handheld to success and prosperity is to identify and join a local entrepreneurs ecosystem close.
2 12-Aug-2017 How do I correctly forecast my target market or audience?
A member of our Advisory Board and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who is also a leading expert in microcredits and small-scale businesses, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar, answers this week’s question:

Defining a target audience is a business best practice; it is done at the early stage of business conception. Knowing whom and when to market your product or service can result in much higher rates of return, and it involves implementing systems rather than relying on indiscriminate marketing. If you are not sure where to begin, the steps below can help you identify your target in stages:

  1. Identify your target market
  2. Assess your target market’s spending habits
  3. Identify your customers’ preferences
  4. Consumption trends, past and future
  5. Project your target market
  6. Your current customer base
  7. Who do they buy from?
  8. Common characteristics and interest
  9. Who are your competitors, who are the current customers?

Analyse your product or service and the benefits it provides. Once you have your benefits listed, a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills becomes clear. 
3 05-Aug-2017 How do I prevent someone from poaching my staff, especially after I have trained them?
A member of our Advisory Board, founder of the House of Tara and proprietor of Nigeria’s first make-up school, Tara Fela-Durotoye, answers this week’s question:

Staff members create the poaching because of their ambition. There is no way this can be curbed. Do your best within your business capacity to provide a fair and friendly work environment.

When your team knows that you genuinely care about them beyond work and their welfare, they would most often work like the business is theirs and take ownership. 

Some of the ways you can show that you care about your staff is taking interest in their goals and aspirations and supporting in any way you can, investing in their training, creating systems within your organization that help them 

Don’t be afraid to trust in people. Take a chance; you would eventually find your tribe that would stick with you.
4 29-Jul-2017 How do I make a great business pitch to potential venture capital investors? Part 2
...continued from last week

Our Advisory Board member, Founder/Managing Director of Sankore Investments and venture capitalist, Mrs. Titi Odunfa Adeoye, answers this week’s question:

Product/Solution (Demo of Product)

Having laid out the problems faced by your target market, fully discuss your product (high level) – product differentiation, market demand for your product. Show the physical product if available, i.e., let them experience it first-hand.

Business Strategy

The next line of action is a high-level breakdown of your business model and modalities for your product deployment. At this phase, a clear demonstration should be made on how to roll out your product and penetrate your target market/market demand.

Financials/Projections

You should be firm and confident in your numbers; show potential profits, market size, non-financial benefits. Statistics are extremely important during a pitch. It is important to use percentages to explain success potential and the importance of the business idea by showing possible outcomes of the solution to the problem the business is trying to solve or the expected financial return within a financial horizon.

Team

Investors always want to know the calibre of the team in which they are investing – background, work experience if any. Highlight the team’s strengths and their commitment to delivering on the product.

Passion

No one will invest in a dull business owner. Let your personality represent your product and service. Show the roadmap to success and where their funding fits in (i.e., what it will be used for) and provide a possible exit opportunity for investors if available.


While a business plan is important, it is worth noting that venture capitalists may be swayed by passion, an impressionable personality, knowledge displayed by the entrepreneur as well as an engaging pitch. It is imperative that business owners equally know their numbers and can connect with prospective investors on a personal and professional level.
 
Below is a summary checklist of necessary items for a successful pitch:

  • Introduction – Who you are/ What you can do
  • Problem statement – Existing problem and opportunity 
  • Value proposition – Solution to problem statement
  • Demo of product – Sample of product
  • Market analysis – Customers/users, competition
  • Business model – Business cycle and mode of operation
  • Financial analysis – Revenue, break-even, expenses
  • Funding and milestones – Intended use of funds
  • The team – Members of your team 
5 22-Jul-2017 How do I make a great business pitch to potential venture capital investors?
Our Advisory Board member, Founder/Managing Director of Sankore Investments and venture capitalist, Mrs. Titi Odunfa Adeoye, answers this week’s question:

It is important for an entrepreneur to be specific about the unique value propositions of his product when speaking to potential investors.

An entrepreneur’s pitch is one of the most important pieces in landing or securing the investment. The perfect pitch to a venture capital investor should capture the following fundamentals:

Opportunity 

Investors are keen on the market opportunity or problem highlighted and how your business would address or proffer solution(s) to the problem faced by your target market. Focus on the prospective target market and highlight meaningful metrics that will show the existing customer base and prove momentum by showcasing anecdotes of people who have tried and tested the same or related products and rate them successful. This should cover between two and three slides for clarity and properly convey the nature of the opportunity.

Product/Solution (Demo of Product)

Having laid out the problems faced by your target market, fully discuss your product (high level) – product differentiation, market demand for your product. Show the physical product if available, i.e., let them experience it firsthand.

Business Strategy

The next line of action is a high-level breakdown of your business model and modalities for your product deployment. At this phase, a clear demonstration should be made on how to roll out your product and penetrate your target market/market demand.

Financials/Projections

You should be firm and confident in your numbers; show potential profits, market size, non-financial benefits. Statistics are extremely important during a pitch. It is important to use percentages to explain success potential and the importance of the business idea by showing possible outcomes of the solution to the problem the business is trying to solve or the expected financial return within a financial horizon.

Team

Investors always want to know the caliber of the team in which they are investing – background, work experience if any. Highlight the team’s strengths and their commitment to delivering on the product.

Passion

No one will invest in a dull business owner. Let your personality represent your product and service. Show the roadmap to success and where their funding fits in (i.e. what it will be used for) and provide a possible exit opportunity for investors if available

While a business plan is important, it is worth noting that venture capitalists may be swayed by passion, an impressionable personality, knowledge displayed by the entrepreneur as well as an engaging pitch. It is imperative that business owners equally know their numbers and can connect with prospective investors on a personal and professional level.
 
Below is a summary checklist of necessary items for a successful pitch:
  • Introduction – Who you are/ What you can do
  • Problem statement – Existing problem and opportunity 
  • Value proposition – Solution to problem statement
  • Demo of product – Sample of product
  • Market analysis – Customers/users, competition
  • Business model – Business cycle and mode of operation
  • Financial analysis – Revenue, break-even, expenses
  • Funding and milestones – Intended use of funds
  • The team – Members of your team 
6 15-Jul-2017 How do I develop a product pricing strategy?
A member of our Advisory Board, founder of the House of Tara and proprietor of the first make-up school in Nigeria, Tara Fela-Durotoye, answers this week’s question:


There is no clear-cut rule on pricing. There are, however, factors to be considered when creating a pricing strategy. These include:
  1. Cost of the product (actual cost of the product, shipping, clearing where necessary)
  2. The premium and perceived value of the product or service
  3. Your intended profit margin
  4.  Cost of sales (labor, warehousing, local transportation, marketing)
  5. Price of your competition (do they have similar products? What is it priced at? You don’t want to price yourself out of the market)
After these factors are considered, you can then fix percentages for each unit of item and then you have a pricing strategy. But in all these, it is important that the pricing be fair and ethical and that the customers get value for their money.
7 09-Jul-2017 I have problem keeping proper records of goods received, used and sold in my business. How can I overcome this?
A member of our Advisory Board and co-founder of Ebeano chain of supermarkets, Mr. Sunday Egede, answers this week’s question:

1. The first thing is to take stock of what you have. You cannot know what you have sold if you don’t know what you have.

2. Next, take record of all items sold.

3. Implementation of software (IT): Without software you cannot do proper stocking. Any form of manual stock-taking should be completely avoided. There are cheap software that can help harmonise all inventory process, thereby making your record-keeping easy and less complex.

For goods used, it boils down to discipline on the part of the company. Any product used MUST be paid for, irrespective of who used it –- whether employer or employee. This also helps in proper stock-taking.
8 01-Jul-2017 I have a business idea at the early stage of development and about to approach an angel investor. However, I have just heard about someone coming up with a very similar idea. What do I do?
Our board member, Founder and Managing Director of Sankore Investments and Venture Capitalist, Mrs. Titi Odunfa Adeoye, answers this week’s question: 

In markets, competition is more the norm than an exception. However, the following activities should be considered when reacting to a potential competitor with similar ideas at startup stages:

1. Analyze the threat posed

What are they looking at and what are their objectives? Are they same as mine? Gather as much information and use it to position your product or services in terms of pricing, improvements, push or pull effects, route to markets, etc.

2. Relax and focus 

Steve Jobs didn’t invent the first computer, tablet or cellphone. The best ideas are usually developed by multiple entrepreneurs in multiple locations. Gaps within markets exist and your job is to find that gap and sell it as a distinguishing variant to the angel investor. Show how you are creating a new market segment or remodeling an existing one.

3. Strategy and execution are key 

Successful start-ups win in the marketplace based on looking long term and designing a roadmap of activities that have been well thought through. The ability to focus on key metrics and identify how to deliver to the market segment within ample time made Facebook a more successful product than Myspace.

4. Collaboration and cooperation 

Today, the financial industry is fast realizing that it is better to collaborate with FINTECHs to formulate new business models and create new markets than build barriers to entry. Similarly, if there is a competitor, an opportunity may exist to create synergies and enjoy capabilities that are unique to both startups. Early-stage mergers may secure a stronger talent pool and increase the probability of success.

5. Product improvement and distinction 

Consider using competition to your advantage. If your idea already exists as a company, congratulations -- your idea has already been validated. Use it as a yardstick to refine the product. Existing competition gives the entrepreneur a potential customer base whose feedback would be instrumental in developing the better product in the marketplace.

Investors look for much more than a great idea when investing. Focus on distinguishing your product offering, collaborating with future competition and in some cases, totally rethinking your strategy in terms of segmentation, execution and delivery. These activities may put you in a stronger position to secure that angel funding you need.
9 24-Jun-2017 How do I keep track of my business transactions and revenues as I open more branches?
A member of our Advisory Board, founder of the House of Tara and proprietor of the first make-up school in Nigeria, Mrs. Tara Fela-Durotoye, answers this week’s question:

There are currently several POS (Point of Sale) solutions that can help you keep record of your sales and how payment is received. The solutions may vary in price and business needs.

You need to invest in an accountant as you expand. It would help if you do a daily revenue assurance (verifying that all sales recorded in your POS terminal is what is banked).

Physical product reconciliation equally requires attention. Your system needs to demand that stock count is done regularly. This ensures that you do not lose physical stock to theft or customers because your stock management cannot tell you how frequently to restock your product.
10 17-Jun-2017 What skills do I have to develop to be a successful trader?
A member of our Advisory Board and co-founder of the Prince Ebeano chain of supermarkets, Mr. David Chukwuma Ojei, answers the questions for this week:

1. Good customer relationship and quality service delivery

Customer satisfaction is simple, but vital mission in doing business. You must love your customers as yourself. There is the saying that the customer is king; you must treat customers as such and aim to deliver quality service always.

2. Money management

It is important that you discipline yourself to succeed. The problem with many people is that they are not disciplined. How can you make a profit of N100,000 and instead of thinking of how to reinvest at least 80 percent of it, your first reaction is to start dreaming of how to start wearing expensive perfumes, shoes, wristwatches etc? Discipline is key!

Q: How do I maintain a good relationship with my suppliers?

1. Pay all suppliers on time

Never delay their payments particularly for products not contracted on “Sale or Return” (SOR) basis.

2. Communication is important 

There should be open and adequate communication with suppliers.

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