First things first, if you own a business in Nigeria, you need a big hug (c’mon, you can do it *insert virtual hugs*) It is certainly not for the weak!
The other day I talked to a friend who sold thrift fashion pieces for females, and she complained bitterly about how she bought a bale of clothes for over 200,000 naira only to discover that more than half of the items were not wearable. The supplier would not take them back. That was just plain wicked, but like most people would conclude, ‘That’s Nigeria for you!’
That does NOT have to be Nigeria for you. Yes, you can tackle, for lack of a better word, those people who try to outsmart you because the Nigeria that they say is for you is made up of witty people who are cunny and dupe you out of your money or earned opportunities.
You may relate to many items on the list, do leave a comment and share your own experiences too!
- INFLATION AND PRICE INSTABILITY
There’s the popular saying that ‘what goes up must surely come down,’ this does not apply to the prices in Nigeria o! Once commodities prices have gone up in the Nigerian market, they can never come down. This is because even after the prices have stabilized, the human factor of greedy people trying to inflate their prices remains.
This means that you pay the same prices as when the market experienced inflation just because of the greed of a few people. Even those who want to sell at a normal price start to seem like they are selling fake or expired products or, even worse, are trying to outsmart the greedy ones by selling cheap when they are actually selling for the real price.
One day, a commodity is N40, and the next day it is N50, and when you tell this to your customers, they think you are trying to cheat them. A good way to overcome this is to have different supplier options in different markets so that you have a good idea of the actual price. Doing this will ensure you always get the best quality at the optimal price without breaking the bank. Whatever business you run, make sure that you always have a backup plan for the things that you get externally to run your business, so that price instability does not run your business down. This way, you will be able to serve your customers better and have stable prices most of the time.
- BAD POLICIES AND CORUPTION
At the core of most frustrations that you may experience as a business person in Nigeria are bad policies and corruption in high places.
I remember when the Nigerian government woke up one morning and decided to ban Gokada out of the blue, making the multinational company lose lots of money instantly, nearly running them out of business. What about the crypto ban and the irrational ban on Twitter for no tangible reason? Or CBN’s policies on importation? It is almost as if something, once in a while, touches the heads of the people of Aso Rock because there is no other explanation.
While we wait for a better Nigeria, a good way to protect your business is to make sure you have all your paperwork in hand. I am talking about your CAC business registration, taxes, annual returns, etc. Do not evade tax payments o! Also, do not cut corners or pay a person who claims to represent the government (corruption); go to the state office and do it properly. It might be stressful, but it will save you a lot of future stress (and costs).
Also, do proper business research before starting any business; if you have already started, it is not too late. Know the policies of your country concerning those businesses, so you do not suffer for them later
- LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE
No light, bad roads, fuel scarcity and more is the order of the day in Nigeria. This doubles the running costs of businesses and makes it harder for the average entrepreneur to do business conveniently in Nigeria.
One time, I had to deal with PHCN officials when the light at my office needed to be rectified. What my eyes saw, my mouth could barely say. It took months! The officials in charge of these things are not helping matters but making things worse.
You need to invest heavily in a good backup plan to protect yourself. For example, you can go all the way and get a solar inverter that uses sunlight to provide stable electricity for you or a diesel generator that will provide power for you cheaper. If these are too much for you, you can get a big generating set that you use only when necessary to save costs while planning for better structures for your business. In Nigeria, it is all man for himself!
- WICKED PEOPLE
See, this is the only way I can describe people who just want to take advantage of you and dupe you just because they can. I will divide this into two groups:
- People outside your industry and,
- People within your industry
Outside your industry, these people include artisans who want to sell cheap items at a high price and suppliers who cheat you because they think you do not know better. Within your industry, they include people who give lesser quality to customers at a lower price, making customers feel you are overpriced even though you offer higher quality.
The best way to solve this is by staying one step ahead by being street-smart. When it comes to artisans like carpenters, electricians or handymen that you need to handle certain tasks, you must be very careful not to commit too many things into one person’s hands. So instead of giving one carpenter money to buy wood and make a table, pay a different one for wood and another for the table. On rare occasions, you may find one who is honest and reliable. Still, in my experience, even those who realise that you have started to trust them will seek opportunities to make more money than they deserve from you. This is why this tactic helps to reduce your losses, at least.
Also, you want to make the quality of your products very obvious so that your customers can see why your goods are priced for a certain amount. Real Gucci and Aba-made (fake) Gucci are not the same thing, there is no need to compare. Both have their target audiences and will ultimately make sales – but there is also a clear distinction which you must have in your business offering to stand you out, from packaging to delivery.
Aaaand cut! That’s it for today. Which point did you relate to the most? You can share your experiences and any point you think I must have missed in the comments.
I am Aunty Ronke, and I am here to help you on the journey to making your small business a big one! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @auntyronke for daily updates and tips like this, and hit the subscribe button to be notified when I make a new post.