Have you been thinking of a useful article to learn on running a successful business, then you are at the right place! In this article, you will learn on the several do’s and don’t of running a successful business as well as very useful tips you need to scale up your business.
This article was written by Alabi Gbenga Emmanuel, the CEO and mastermind behind Emmsalabs Digital Services, a Web and Digital Service provider with client based across all continents. He is the Founder of two prolific e-commerce market places in Nigeria. He’s also a Network Marketing Pro and has an insight in Real Estate. With His experience in Business and Entrepreneurship as a whole, He shares on how to start a business that works, Saving Funds, Investing and Effective Money Management.
I’m excited you’ve found this article. I will be turning this to a book very soon. So please it will excite you to know that I’ve written a piece from what I’m expanding into a book very soon. I believe you will have a great time after going through this article and have the strength to launch out to do that business you’ve most dreamt of starting, and even if you’ve started one, be fire-branded to go the extra miles.
It’s good to start on a note of asking an important question:
Why Business and Not Getting a Job Instead?
I love to ask people who are aspiring to start a business – Why Business? Why not concentrate on your job? Why not look for a better job? The questions go on and on because I want to have a grasp of the intent of starting a business. Well, well, do you want to become an entrepreneur and a renowned business man? I have bad news for you – Entrepreneurship is hard. In fact, very hard.
Ironically, entrepreneurs work for 80 hours in a week just to avoid working for 40 hours (9-5 for 5 days). The work is more to do. They keep sleepless nights almost all the time, because they know they are responsible for their own success, they can’t leave their success in the hand of no one.
Is Entrepreneurship Really Exciting?
Yes it always sounds exciting whenever the biography of a successful entrepreneur is being read, or maybe when you listen to their interviews or when you read articles written about them in Forbes and other magazines or TV shows. You have heard about how they started their business and it turned out to be an empire right before their eyes.
You probably have also heard about their challenges and how they overcame them. This really sounds very exciting, like something you envision yourself doing. It sounds nice when you hear about such stories but the fact is that in reality… it sucks and it is not that funny.
Really, there is nothing exciting about not knowing how you are going to raise money to take care of your wife, kids and families, bearing down on your neck to go and find a “proper” job for yourself. What is exciting about starting a business and people not buying from you, or when the competition in your niche is too high. Surely, there is nothing exciting about putting all you have got into a business, trying to build it for years, only for it to fail especially because of the non-conducive business atmosphere in Nigeria.
Nothing is exciting about not knowing how you will raise money to pay the salaries of those working for you in a month you didn’t even make up to 70% of their salaries, and still you even suffer yourself by paying their salaries from your own personal savings.
I’m not trying to tell you that as an entrepreneur, the odds are well much against you though. But, the truth is that you are more likely to fail than succeed because even researchers have come to the conclusion that 90% of every businesses fail. What that really means is that if you start 10 businesses in a year, 9 of them will fail and 1 of them may succeed.
I will tell you once again. Being an entrepreneur sucks. Nothing exciting about it at all. So if you wanted to become an entrepreneur because you want to experience the excitement entrepreneur’s experience, you are doing a wrong thing. Believe me, you are. Forget it and just do yourself a great favor, Please Find a Job!
The Real Drive for Business
One thing so certain is that you must have a very strong drive to succeed as an entrepreneur. You must have a strong reason. You must have strong WHY. If you do not have a strong drive, you will quit whenever you run into challenges because business is full of many challenges depending on the type of business you are doing.
If you want to become an entrepreneur because you do not want a boss, I have bad news for you. The bad news is that… You will always have a BOSS. Except you are the President of a country, you are likely going to have a boss, someone you are accountable and answerable to. This will probably be an investor, sponsor or a business partner you are answerable to. And the bigger your dream as you proceed in business, the more of those you will be accountable to.
This is my belief and I owe to my belief, you may have a different opinion though. Well, I want to believe that business is not for everybody. Only few people have the capacity to do business, the more reason why entrepreneurs are fewer than employees all over the world. But if you are not wired for business, it’s not bad, just do the necessary. Get a good paying job as I’ve said earlier, and be disciplined enough to know how to save, and invest wisely. Know when, where and how to invest.
Funding Your Business Idea
There are various ways you can fund your business idea, one of which is personal savings. Savings is of course the least form of investment to do. Nothing increases in as saved funds in a bank, nothing substantial. It’s always good to invest your money. Save and learn to save! A mentor told me this, ‘’I save all my salaries for the first 6 months of every year’’. All of them, however, he works where he is paid about N500,000 to N600,000 a month. He said he’s disciplined to live from his other sources and lower his spending habit and focus on his savings, He uses this savings to invest in new projects and new business each year. That’s wisdom. You may say I don’t have much and I don’t earn much. Well, that’s why this article is for you! To fire you up to have at least 3-4 sources of income even apart from your regular salary if you work.
Then in Investing, you want to avoid losing funds. You won’t want to do a 8(9)am to 4(5)pm for several days and months and get into something and at the end, you lose all. Invest in what is tangible. You could find a small business to invest in, treasury bills, stocks, then if you are able to go for it, you may invest In Cryptocurrency (but the risk is high due to its high profile of volatility). There are lots of platforms to invest out there, but be mindful of the values, prospect, trust, durability of the company you are investing in. Make sure you don’t invest emotionally. Ensure you read all possible to know what the company or the platform you are investing in is doing. Beware of high yield investment platforms (hyip). Invest in a company that is offering tangible values to the society, if a company does nothing in value exchange and they promise you a high yield, it’s a scam, please don’t invest there. Also, investing in small businesses around you. Never invest in a business that don’t have a business plan and feasible prospect of possible returns, make sure all processes are well documented.
Skills and Game Plan Needed to Running a Successful Business
To succeed in business, there are skills you need to master to reach the peak of a successful business agenda. You need to know and master some key skills and possess some invaluable attitude to make it work. Below, I have shared 14 things you need to know about running a successful business:
The Quest For Problems and Thinking Out Of The Box To Solve Them
You must be solving a problem as an entrepreneur. You will only be successful in business if daily you are searching for problems. Money is hid in problems. You must be actively solving a basic human need. Yes of course, the more problems you can solve, and the more your income. That is, the more problems you can solve, the more money you can make. I usually go against a believe by many people that Nigeria is not a good place to start a business, this is very wrong. Business are in problems and Nigeria has a host of problems, quite a host of them. Countries where there are lesser problems, and systems work, problems are lesser. Every day you walk on the street in Nigeria, you see problems everywhere. In the United States and Europe where things work, the government has so much reduced the problems of their society, having a problem to solve in those countries requires great effort and work.
It’s good to identify problems but much more is proferring solutions to solving them. The solution is what the people are interested in. The problem is always visible to all, but solve my problem and I get you my money. That is the point of value exchange, when I can joyfully part ways with my money because I know the value of the problem it’s solving is worth it.
The cycle is this: Identify problems, think on the solution, implement the solution, introduce the solution to your community, make money, add more values to the solution, and make even more money.
The Art Of Selling
Selling is a skill that must be mastered. You must know how to sell and market your solution to a problem solved. When I started out in business some couple of years ago, I first launched out an ecommerce store for the business I do in the health niche. Then, I was having a lot of contact from across Nigeria, people calling to ask about my products, but at the end, I couldn’t convince them to buy from me. It was discouraging, believe me. Then, I went to see a mentor in the business who had introduced me to starting it, to explain the challenges I was facing. Then he told me a simple phrase; “Master the Art of Selling”, he said that’s all. Then I went back to get some materials about selling by Brian Tracy. I read through and I started implementing some important things of note. I understood thereafter that, people buy by emotions and conviction. You can lord your convincing power over your customer that his or her emotions starts getting involved. I mastered this-” we sell by emotions and we buy by emotions”. Since then, my sales has increased drastically, and hardly will you call me and you won’t buy. Hardly meaning there are few exceptions, but too few.
The Art Of Budgeting
Running a successful business requires that you have great budgeting skills. Oh, I think this is where a lot of people miss it in business. They don’t budget on priorities. They buy everything that is not needful for the time. Always have a spending budget each month for your business and be very disciplined to stick to it. Everything you do as an entrepreneur must be on budget. If it’s not going to be on budget, then avoid it, except in cases where it’s so necessary and unplanned. Buy on necessity and on budget. You don’t have to buy all at once. Buy in sequence as budget would allow it.
The Benefit of budgeting is that it greatly helps you to minimize cost. Apply this principle in minimizing cost both in your business and personal lives.
- It is necessary and a must to get now?
- Can it be gotten cheaper with same quality?
- Is there an adverse effect if I don’t buy now?
- Is there an alternative for it now?
If consistently you can stick to this principles, you will have a lot of money to save. As a business person, cutting down on expenses is so inevitable, but then, you just must do it always. Know when to switch from Generator to Inverter if it makes sense at the long run, know when to cut off bills on your office phone line, learn when to say No to further employing of staff.
Be Mindful Of Cost
One major mistake I’ve observed with young people that are into business is that they inflate prices. Common, except you just deployed a blue ocean strategy, you have millions of competitors out there. One funny thing I do is that when I contact you for a service, I have already contacted about 3-5 others and I’m comparing the prices of each to go for. Then also, you want to say I will sell what will profit me. But most of the time your greed is the one that is wanting you to make more. Also I have observed that, even when people are giving you high prices, they lack the emotional intelligence to sell. Often times, I hear many of my client and customers telling me, my prices are too high and they saw my service cheaper elsewhere. But somehow, they say, I don’t know, I just love the way you talk to me, you touched my emotions and I will buy from you no matter what.
Well, this is because I’ve mastered the emotions of selling. If you don’t have this yet, be mindful of your prices because you have options. Because you have a master’s degree or MBA doesn’t mean you should run on people. If you do it once, you won’t get a second chance to do it. Note that anytime your customers feel as though he/she is cheated or exploited after delivering a service, you’ve just lost him and the potential chain of referrals he/she may later bring to you.
Don’t Ever Overbrand
Many people overbrand on nothing. They know nothing and then over brand to get money. I’m not downplaying the roles of branding in business, but never ever “overbrand”. At times, this is unnecessary and you will even lose clients when it’s too much. Have this at the back of your mind that if you overbrand your service and it was purchased and the client feels cheated or exploited after you’ve done so, you’ve just lost the client and that chain.
Increase Your Sources of Income
I can’t overemphasize the importance of this . In business you must be constantly thinking of expanding your tentacles. You should be thinking. A friend once shared with me his thoughts about many sources of income. He said, ”a man is most convenient when he/she sits on a four-legged chair, if at all one leg breaks, you can still tilt to the other side of the chair and sit while you use your hand to fix the broken leg back to order”. That means you are sitting well, then he said, find at least four sources of income so your financials sits well. For days I thought on this analogy and I said to myself, it’s of importance to have at least 4 sources of income. Then I said to myself I will do that and I started it, I gave myself a goal of starting at least one business every year and may the Lord help me. The point is that, keep thinking as a business person on what to do next to increase your income flow, because you may not always have a determined income flow from a business each month.
Learn To Multi-task
Knowing how to multitask as a start-up is too important. You shouldn’t start out with employing so many staffs all at once, why should you? Though, you will need help at some point. But being able to do a lot of things as the CEO, will save a lot of your running cost. You save a lot of resources for the start, until you have a big structure that can give room for you to expand and employ professionals. But at the start, you may need to do all by yourself and don’t be lazy, build the capacity that gives room for more.
Go For Knowledge At Any Expense
At the start of any venture, endear to know more. Learning never exhausts the mind. Go on trips if you need to just to expose your mind to new stuffs in the business, volunteer when you need to. Even going on trips is a form of investment for your business at times because of the level of exposures it gives to you. Business trips to other parts of the world or even other companies in your niche who have gone ahead of you exposes the mind, even if you have to pay, pay, it’s an investment. Train your staffs even if it requires you paying for the training. You may say, how do I train staff? They may even leave at any time. Yes, people could leave, but it’s better to lose the best than keeping the ignorant heads at office. Just invest in them, let them have the motive that you are adding value to lives, and know that eventually, you will reap the dividend of your act if you faint not. Life itself will compensate you.
Continual Fight Against Complacency
Complacency is an enemy! Never settle for the status quo. Learn to always want to do it better than it was done yesterday. Quest for improvement all the time. You should always know you will lose your customers to the one who does it better. Remember an eatery that opened in your area recently? How that you moved from where you formerly ate and started patronizing the new one just because the new eatery capitalized on the lapses of the former. On the average, learn at least 3-4 things daily about what you do and ways to do it better. There are free materials on Google, YouTube, Udemy Learn, Learn and Learn!
Excellence As The Utmost Goal
Running a successful business requires that you keep setting goals and achieving them. But whatever goals you set, it should be about doing things better than how you did them yesterday. You have to keep being a better version of yourself. Business lose clients and customers to their best neighbors that do it better than them. Until you have competitors though, your weakness may not be known to you. That’s why you should conduct surveys, ask your clients what they would love you to do better, and act on them accordingly.
Treat Your Employees Well
The hub of everything you build in a business empire is dependent on your staff and employees. The happier they are, the better for you and your enterprise, and if it’s on the contrary, your business will suffer. Many employers pay less and demand for more. Your employees will keep leaving, and you will be crying no one has been loyal. It won’t happen that way keeping people unhappy. I advise people, if you are not happy and getting better at your work place due to the treatment from the boss, quit, just quit!
You can’t be wrong on loyalty when you keep your staff happy. Don’t underpay them so you can maximize profit at your end. You will set up your company up with grumbling staff. They will be in front of your office PC using your facilities to apply for job offers on JobberMan and Career24 or what have you. The truth is every employee is enslaved by their employer, but don’t make it pronounced by you underpaying them. Pay them beyond even their value, because, you will reap the harvest of loyalty someday.
Leveraging on Network of Friends
This is so important in everything. I can’t explain how much influences with great minds have kept me going over the years and greatly inspired my thirst for being better in business. These relationships have inspired me in all I do today in business. All the businesses I have today has always started through a talk with a friend or a mentor or a colleague or family member. All the time, I’m looking for friends who have better insight to what I think I know. They help a lot in bringing more light to becoming better. When a friend does what I don’t know about, I move close to ask him what he did to make this much, and he lets me in. I ask genuinely, can you teach me?
Furthermore, you need to keep secured friends. Friends who are secured to share such details with you, and also you too must be a person who erases the fear of unhealthy competition in your relationships. If you will do what your friend is doing, never do it to raise competition with him. Go very far away from his physical location if it’s a physical business. In fact, miles away. Or choose another approach. Yours could be online.
On Sharing Business Success With Friends
You should have friends that shares their heart with you and be the same. He that must have a friend must first show himself friendly. I won’t tell you my heart if you are a secretive person. One truth that has been held from secretive people is that they have internal problems. They have problems of insecurity and have identity crisis. Never have the fear that your friend will rise above you if you share an idea with them. Life is best enjoyed when we are all up there. Personally, I don’t want to have friends who are of lower estate or are mediocre, nobody loves that I guess. Be secured and keep secured friends. Anytime I ask from a friend who is doing something better than I do, they celebrate it and they let me in to it. The result of such afterwards is enormous.
Accounting and Good Record
One very useful thing to note about running a successful business is the importance of BOOK KEEPING. Have a good account book! This is where many fail, but it’s very very important. You can actively monitor income and expenses this way. There are online resources that can help you do this if you are a startup and not yet big enough to employ the service of an account manager.
Breaking the Law of Inertia
This is the most important and I’ve saved it to be the last. The law of inertia in physics states that “an object will remain at rest or move at a constant speed in a straight line unless it is acted on by an unbalanced force”. This is the main cause of why people are also held bound to start a lot of things in life. They lack that force, that energy to start off from being in a position of rest which could be a position of ideas for many. Turn your ideas action, knock out the fears. The fear of starting is what has made many never to start till now. The truth is you must start. I have a friend who starts a minimum of 5-10 businesses yearly. In fact he gets them all business plan and registered with Corporate Affairs Commission. He knows how to start. Though many of the businesses fail each year, but many still survive. The key to doing business is to START.
Just start that idea, just start. You will be thankful to God that you did. Even if you fail, you have a joy that it started. The courage you had to start the one that failed will be the same courage that will fire you up in the one that will succeed. Just start that business and impact.
I could go on and on to share my life experiences in the past couples of years in business. However, I hope you’ve had a wonderful time reading up to this point in this article. I look forward to writing and publishing a book soon. I wish you all the best as you start your business, and make so much resources.
Yours in Business,
You can connect with Emmanuel on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, check him up @alabsemmanuel, or send him a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org