Growing up in Nigeria, I was told that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. However, I discovered later in life that the tough cannot get going because the tough will get lost!
Doing business in Nigeria is tough, its characterized with lots of challenges and now we have the COVID-19 pandemic as an added challenge. For many Nigerian entrepreneurs, the big question is - what is the way forward? One thing we are sure of is that business operations cannot go on as before. There has to be a different approach to the way we work, we have to put in place effective and efficient measures to ensure that our businesses continue to remain relevant in a post COVID-19 world.
Highlighted below are a few strategies business owners can adopt in a post COVID-19 world:
Understanding the Place of Technology
It is almost like a "sin" now for an entrepreneur to say I am not a techy person. Technology is not just what you use to deliver products or services. You also have to become tech savvy if you want to remain a going concern in the marketplace. Technology is the number one instrument for business operations. Some things you can do include - Having an active online presence (social media, website), setting up a paystack payment page and sharing the URL to your customers or clients for payment etc.
Yes, get insurance! An average Nigerian entrepreneur does not see the need for insurance in normal business operations. This is a new world, you need protection (assurance) for your life or insurance for the business against loss or both if you can afford them. But as a matter of urgency and necessity, start with insurance for your business to minimize your business risks.
Study the New Business Environment
This is not the time to make business decisions based on assumptions. You have to go out there to get the empirical evidence (the information received by means of observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation) in that line of business you want to start or expand. This helps you to test the viability of your business before you put money into it.
Keep Proper Books of Account
Accounting is the language of business and there is no accounting without keeping proper records of transactions over a period. This helps you to set credit limits for customers/clients, block leakages in capturing of value (receiving payment), track credit history of every customer/client and most importantly know your financial position in business.
In case, you are struggling with bookkeeping of your transactions because of your tight business operations there are some online accounting software that you can leverage and some of them work well in smart phones.
Prepare Your Budget
A Budget is a list of estimated income and expenses over a stated period usually in one year. This helps your business prevent over spending because every naira and kobo in the business is set for a purpose there is no idle fund to waste. Please note that there is no specialized way of preparing budget; just list in a tabular form your expected income and expenses and nothing more!
Invest in a Business You Understand
The rate at which businesses are closing down is a call for every entrepreneur to put their funds in a venture that they understand. This means that the strategies for income generation and expenditure should be very clear. Remember, every business failure is a financial pressure on the business owner and coupled with the tough business terrain and COVID-19 crisis you have to be smart with your decisions.
Reduce Cost of Operations
As long as your business is in operation, there are various ways you can proactively reduce your cost of business operation. For example:
- Instead of hiring a full time accountant as a small business owner you can arrange for part-time
- Outsource jobs if it is cheaper than you producing it
- Hold meetings online with your team instead of physical meetings to cut entertainment expenses
- Have a certain percentage of your workforce as part-time staff
- Encourage your customers/clients to have online meetings to reduce the cost of commuting
In conclusion, the post COVID-19 world will be different from what we are used to. Hence, every entrepreneur needs to learn the art of applying funds with great discipline. Otherwise, the loss may become another economic pandemic that their business may not be able to recover from.