The Academy

5 Failed Businesses And Why They Failed

Part 1

A lot has been written on the business success of moguls such as Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Innocent Chukwuma, Folorunsho Alakija and a host of others. 

Pop songs celebrate them as the yardstick for measuring success or the “Nigerian dream”. However, ask these people and they'll tell you how initial setbacks clogged their road to success.  

Because there are more lessons to be learnt in failure than in success, in the next few weeks we would be looking at the much-stigmatised word – failure. This week, however, we want to look at five randomly selected failed businesses across various sectors in Nigeria and why they failed.

123Next Newspaper

Founded in 2004 by the multiple award-winning writer Dele Olojede, Next newspaper was everything other Nigerian newspapers were not. It offered fresh perspective in covering news, opinion, arts & culture, business and entertainment. Investigative journalism was at its heart and it demonstrated a unique breakaway from speculative reportage. 

The paper understood and took seriously the importance of professionalism, ethical standards and staff welfare. Thus, it was paying its journalists way above industry standard as a way to guarantee quality content and balanced reportage. As a policy, Next refused to collect adverts from government institutions. This was its undoing, because in a developing country like Nigeria, almost every socio-economic activity revolves around government one way or the other. In 2011, the newspaper shut down its print edition. It simply couldn't continue to fund its journalistic “lifestyle”, noble as it was.

In a Podcast interview in June 2017, Olojede said of Next, “We were excellent newspaper men, but poor business men.” It pretty much summed up why the business failed.

In 2014, Sheriff Shittu, a serial entrepreneur, started with a big ambition. He wanted to use technology to empower 100,000 furniture makers to become millionaires by the year 2020 by linking them to buyers.  Unfortunately, he shut down the business in 2016, less than two years after takeoff. 
Considering the success rate of online retailer businesses in Nigeria, it would be wrong to attribute's failure to wrong market or wrong product. It was a matter of wrong execution. For an online concern, the firm lacked skilled manpower and struggled with its turnaround time and customer service. 
In an article in 2016, Shittu himself acknowledged his failure by stating that, “Success of any endeavour has a lot of tie to the people behind it. Looking back, I'd have selected those with domain expertise, better work ethics and complimentary strength.” be continued next week