Why Small Businesses in Nigeria shut down even when they seem to be doing so well

Why Small Businesses in Nigeria shut down even when they seem to be doing so well

Did you know? That your small business is at the risk of shutting down because of a very small detail that you choose to overlook? That small detail is “RECEIPTS!”

Every time you as a business owner, decides to run a “purely cash” system or when you decide to let your customers leave your store without issuing a receipt after a transaction, you just might be running your business down..

Here’s my experience in Lagos, Nigeria;

I walk into Chicken Republic at Ikeja with my brother from Canada to have a simple meal of rice, coleslaw and chicken. When we are about to pay, the cashier soon let us know that the POS isn’t working so they can only accept cash.

Cash bawo?! Issokay… As a sharp Lagos “geh” (girl), I decide to pay quickly because of “ebi n pami” (I’m hungry) but I am surprised when my Canadian brother asks for a receipt after payment. On a normal day, who asks for a receipt for a plate of rice in lagos biko? I feel “This oyinbo (IJGB) has come again with his wahala” so I tell him that we should just pay cash and leave but he insists and tells me to wait and just “observe”.

The lady attending to us quickly says she can’t print a receipt because “The machine is not working” – no light (the usual NEPA and generator not working wahala). To me, that is a reasonable excuse but my IJGB brother is not having it! He says “We just bought about 6 thousand naira worth of food so it is only proper to give us some form of receipt for this,”
( I didn’t know but he was training me on the act of keeping records back then, perhaps I could write off that expense as a business expense “refreshment”  and not personal) 

I simply use my bank statement to estimate how much I spend and make, however that 6000 naira we just spent on the meal had no way of being accounted for without a receipt. What if I had to report to someone else as regards to daily expenses? This makes me rethink and stand by my brother on this decision to get a receipt.

The young lady quickly calls her Oga (boss) who is usually the manager because we are disturbing their small operation on this glorious day. After speaking with us, the manager agrees to issue us a handwritten receipt, not even a proper receipt o! It was just a note on paper signifying that we bought food, LOL at “Chicken republic”. 

Now here is the real gist and point of my whole story,

Unlike us, it turns out that many people leave or ignore these receipts at stores or shops when they pay or perform daily transactions. If you’re guilty of this as a business person then you definitely have to change! If you ignore receipts, then you might  simply be contributing to running someone else’s business down.

How? I hear you ask;

You see, it turned out that the business going on at the Chicken Republic was being sabotaged by the manager and staff who were there to bleed the business owner dry. The simple operation they have is monitored  by recording how much raw food is cooked compared to how many sales of plates / chicken pieces they make per day. So if for example they record 200 plates of rice sold, at 1,500 naira per plate,  that means they’ve made three hundred thousand (NGN300,000) in revenue for that day.

But when there is no light (NEPA / Generator) the system doesn’t work (like POS or receipts that keep exact records of sales), they can easily reduce portions of plates people are buying, and sell up to 300 plates or more.

The owner has no way of knowing how many plates were sold because there is “no record” so it is whatever the manager and staff says that stands. You’d think the manager would be more responsible but in actual reality, he is usually the mastermind behind this evil! The entire staff work with him on this because they are there to eat their share of the “national cake” and remain loyal to this terrible system that pays them while the owner who has put his finances, sometimes loans and sweat into the business, loses credibility for the business. 

This looks subtle but it goes way deeper in the Nigerian society.

In fact, talking about restaurants or fast food industry, this is like the standard “industry lie” that is used. Staff simply make sure that something goes wrong with the system or digital process put in place in order to sabotage transparency which is why if you’re a business owner with staff, you must endeavour to put digital measures in place and make firm & effective decisions on technology so that your business will not be run down.

No matter how great your “cash only” system seems to be, once you start delegating and leaving the work to “staff”, you stand the risk of getting sabotaged and you will not even know where your problem is coming from! 


After this incident, I became very observant with regards to this issue and I realized that this practise was way more prevalent than I thought. It’s either a version of “Oga, our POS no dey work o” or another excuse which prevents transparency in business.

In all, even as business owners, the little you can do is to make sure you ensure you issue receipts as part of your process and operations! You’ll not only be helping yourself to keep track of your sales and records  but you’re helping your  business to prosper. 


Once you realize within your business, you are having to handle a lot of cash beyond necessary and your staff have varying forms of excuse why the digital system isn’t working, that there is telling you something is off which you are probably oblivious to.

In my next myth busting story, I will share with you an even more scary aspect of this whole receipt thing. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when this is posted by leaving your name and email in the news letter option. 

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Meet Aunty Ronke


I recently started my own small ankara business and it has been one tough ride!
So I thought, why don't I share my experience to make your ride smoother? Enjoy the ride!


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