Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category
I’m preparing background document for a youth foundation so I want to know how much Nigeria makes as a basis for advocacy on how much the government should or could spend.
A google search didn’t yield to me a satisfactorily definitive answer so I called on Facebook and Twitter friends for help. I thank you all that shared links and leads. I followed them all as best I could without a PhD in economics or something. I even went to firs.gov.ng. And I found this from a 2008 presentation by then Chairman;
“Improved information and statistics of all revenue generated at FG, SG and LG is required for improved decision making. To date, a holistic picture of such statistics is not readily available in a complete and on a timely basis.”
This is also the conclusion made by Nonso Obikili an economist I follow on Twitter. I asked him how much Nigeria makes. I thought it was a simple question with a simple answer.
Apparently it’s all shrouded in secrecy. According to Nonso “the govt guesses what it will be each year. The actual numbers? No one knows.”
“Ok. So. What govt makes is part of GDP? Can an estimate be made by elimination of other sector contributions? Would that be accurate/useful?” I ask.
“Yeah it is. The NBS tries to do that and if you look at the breakdown of their reports you’ll see their guess there. Still a guess though” he replies.
“I thought it was me”
“For States you can guess with allocation plus IGR. For FG allocation is a signal but most suggest up to 50% of income doesn’t pass through the budget or FAAC. Some states publish this and report to the NBS. Some don’t.” he continued.
I’m thoroughly scandalised!
If you watch the news you’ll conclude the world is going to hell in a hand basket real quick and maybe it is. And Africa – north, East, South and West – is it.
I’m enjoying Ebony Life TV, great innovative programming, local storytelling and production. Reminds me of NTA in some forgotten past. Commercialization has brought great benefits to Nigeria, the only benefits actually.
The role of the private sector in development
Intimate Pleasures is a small enterprise. They sell sex toys online, the first in Nigeria. What gave the proprietor the idea to set up an online sex shop? Numerous requests for sex toys whenever she travelled abroad.
But Iheoma Obibi is first and foremost a feminist and a social entrepreneur. So her company doesn’t only sell risqué sex toys, they provide an essential service helping Nigerian couples derive maximum pleasure from intimacy. And educating Nigerians, married or single about sex.
My favorite story is about a newly wedded groom, arranged marriage, who asked her to educate his new wife about sex and pleasure. Its not just about raunch and giggles. Its serious issues that have serious impact on relationships and marriage.
Of course in Nigeria we do not talk about sex if we can help it. Unless na beer parlour gist. It is ‘taboo’. Through her Adult Sex Ed Series, Sex Talk Naija, Iheoma is providing an opportunity and space using new media for real conversation and real education.
That’s why I participate every year. In my line of work I’ve heard it all, the ignorance and misinformation out there is scandalous. Even from people you would expect to know better.
If we leave sex education to the government….well….go figure
What are Sales or Return Agreements and when do they become useful for an entrepreneur?
In the present economy with limited credit SOR Agreements are a increasingly popular way for new suppliers, distributors and manufacturers to build a distribution network with established retail outlets. Sales or return (also called a consignment agreement) is a commercial arrangement by which a retailer pays only for goods sold, returning this that are unsold to the supplier. The supplier is the seller and retains ownership of the goods till they are paid for in full and after a certain period takes back unsold goods.
While a SOR agreement might seem like a great way to move mechanise it is important to be aware of the risks and mitigate them accordingly. technically the supplier is providing credit for the buyer, at 30, 60, 90 days or more. The number of days that you are willing to provide credit depends on a number of things – the capacity of the retail outlet, their reputation, the customer traffic and the terms and conditions (T&Cs) you agree with them. Always try to have a written agreement. A lot of trading in Nigeria is on the informal market where written agreements are rare, it is important nevertheless to have a written document or if you are using a verbal agreement clear terms and witnesses.
Terms and conditions should include clauses that cover what happens in the event of loss from theft, fire or bankruptcy. Legally the retailer does not own the goods and they remain the responsibility of the supplier. Because the retailer does not own the goods and can return all unsold stock there is no great incentive to market your product. Try and negotiate display terms and if you will do any in store marketing (e.g. display cards, posters, stand etc) discuss with the retailer before hand and be sure they agree for you to bring in and display your marketing materials.
Also every important to get the retailer to agree to pay for any damaged goods. This is frequently neglected and goods are returned damaged or shabby and the supplier is unable to sell them elsewhere as new. One way to mitigate this risk is to deliver a limited quantity of goods for a shorter period of time and to visit the retail outlet frequently to assess the status. You can read more about how to mitigate the risks of SOR agreements here.
I been thinking about my father. Not surprising. The capitalist machine has been churning the cream. All its been selling the past two weeks or so is Father’s Day. Its made me think about my father. We never did Fathers Day. Or birthdays. Or Christmas Day, me and him. Not after we returned to the village. He was a socialist, a free thinker and he was into conspiracy theories.
“It is all American imperialist propaganda. Don’t you know that December 25th used to be a Roman pagan ceremony?” he told me.
“Its just a festival Dad, a time for people to be happy.”
“If you want a festival to be happy at, come home for Owuh. It is our own.”
I never did. Not after I left the village for Lagos.
We had a difficult relationship. Me and my father. He was always trying to make me submit and I was always resisting. I had a mind of my own. There was no ‘mother’ to mediate. He was smart but I always considered myself smarter. Even when I was four. He thought so too. Why else would he call me an accomplice in my own kidnapping from Russia when I was three and a half?
I been thinking about him a lot lately even before Father’s Day advertising began. He passed away 3 years ago. I think I maybe finally letting go so much of the bitterness and disappointment that characterised our relationship.
He was a harsh man, a pure narcissist. It was always his way or the high way. I spent many a night on that highway. I was a defiant child. He tried but he couldn’t beat it out of me. He brought me to the village to add value at the community level, he believed in community development. He also believed in violent revolution. He was a fighter, a warrior, with hot blood and a hot temper.
He was also charming and urbane, with a gift for the gab. He either charmed or bullied everybody he met into submission. Or he ignored them if he couldn’t. The ladies loved him. Even when he beat and abused them. Then I hated him for them and for me. I don’t know maybe he was a generous lover. I escaped as soon as I could. I could love him better at a distance.
Years of living in the village disabled him physically, emotionally, mentally and cognitively. He died from complications of diabetes on 6 April 201,1 a paranoid, bitter, nasty old man. His death took me by surprise. I used to joke he was too mean to die.
I loved my father very much. I miss him when I have a question about the family history and genealogy. He could recite the names of his ancestors back ten generations. I miss him when I see his hand in the process of my evolution but can’t say “Thanks Dad, I get it now”. I miss him because he was the first man I loved.
So you decided to brave the waters of entrepreneurship. It all happened before you were quite ready to take the leap but sometimes a push or a shove is just what you need anyway. Times are never ideal. Maybe you were just being opportunistic. Doesn’t matter. You started a small business instead of re-entering the job market. You can taste, smell, see and feel that this is a million dollar idea/innovation/model.
Your savings will almost never be enough no matter how tight you planned it, how frugal you are or how creative you get. There’s economic inflation, stagnation, recession and depression going on in Nigeria. And the unexpected will surely happen, the one thing you didn’t foresee. Like a death or prolonged illness. You will pay cash. Do not feel complacent because you have a few thousand quid in your account.
While you’re building your client/customer base remember you will have a high default rate especially if your in a service industry (like law). Don’t depend on the account books that say you’ve got NGN1 million in receivables for the month. Customers and clients will not pay for a variety of reasons.
Even tough you’re still building your professional brand and reputation resist the urge to under value yourself. Set your price and stick to it or offer standard discounts. Identify your target market. I will be tough breaking into it. Have a strategy. Your strategy will fail Re tool it often.
Do not panic when the digits in your bank balance start to shrink and your statement turns red. Do not panic when your landlord serves you quit notice and you’re about to become homeless. Do not panic when they throw your lovingly acquired art deco belongings into the street. Do not panic when they ring the auction bell and you lose the family heirlooms. Do not panic when they repossess your car.
Don’t ask your family or friends for money. They’ll resent not being able to help. You’ve put them on the spot. Exposed their own weaknesses. They’ll retaliate by lecturing you on your chosen lifestyle which their risk averse nature envied but could not emulate. There’ll be lots of I told you so’s. They’ll insist on a post mortem. You don’t need that. Its not a funeral.
Don’t dump on family and friends for the same reason. They got their own shit going on even if they’ve been pretending its all honky dorey. They don’t want to hear you whine about yours. Forget what the Bible says no one wants Misery for company. We all want Joy. All the time. And your Misery does not need company either. That would be Misery squared. Kill yourself already!
Buckle up and face the music. You made the choices. Face the consequences like a Man. With courage. With determination. With steely resolve. With a stiff upper lip. You will power through this challenge like all the others. There’s no other choice. Is there? Focus on the course until successful. You’ll be reaping the rewards soon enough. Focus on that.
I read stories of successful entrepreneurs. They all speak of the early challenges building their business. The reduced income. The relinquishing of their financial privileges. Losing homes, country club membership, cars and material possessions while they pursue the Dream. Some lost families. I know every entrepreneur that went through it didn’t succeed but all the successful ones went through it.
Some of course were privileged to have a safety net. A trust fund, a rich family or husband or boyfriend or sugar daddy or big TV network that paid their bills while they struggled. Others had a cheer leader at least. Someone who believed in them and egged them on. A mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a mistress.
Yeah. I did that deliberately. We expect men to pay the bills and women to be cheerleaders. Right? Even I’m caught in the tired cliche. Where are the male cheerleaders? And the women that pay the bills? (They all seem to be gay! Or not quite straight. Talk about gender bending.)
Don’t lose focus of your objective. The storms of life may happen all around you but you must keep your eye on the prize and keep on walking towards it. Think of it as a quest. An adventure. You’re the hero (read heroine as a appropriate). You must slay the dragon. Overcome you fears. Because maybe that’s all it is really. A fear of failing. Or maybe a fear of flying.
While the hurricane rages enter the eye of the storm and ignore it. You must be single minded in pursuing your purpose. Don’t let anything distract you. Avoid all people that only have advice on how you should live your life. You only need people that can offer advice and encouragement on how to build your business right now. The others just mess with your mind. Don’t get sucked into a pity party.
Ignore the well meaning but mean minded third cousin that tells you its time to move back to the ghetto. No good will come of it. Downsizing maybe on the cards but don’t downgrade. Big difference. If you downgrade you’ll feel so sorry for yourself you’ll be paralysed or suicidal or even homicidal. Remember this is Naija. Even the ghetto here is more ghetto. It aint nothing like Soweto.
Do not move in with family or friends under any circumstances. Go stay in a hotel if you have to. If you can’t afford a room park in their lot. Sleep in the car. Use the gym or pool in the morning then groom and shower there. Squatting with family or friends is a sure fire way of discovering that even family or friends are only so friendly and accommodating. Guests like fish start to smell after 3 days.
Do not desperately hound the few paying clients you do have. We all have the capacity to sniff out desperation and we are all wired to either take advantage of it or to secretly gloat at others misfortune. Don’t make the mistake of telling anyone your hard luck story. Guaranteed to kill you. Outsource debt recovery. You need your energy to drum up new business. Don’t let debtors frustrate you.
Stay the course. You’ve done the planning, the mapping, the execution. Go with the flow. Plans rarely proceed exactly as drawn up and maps don’t always take you exactly the route you drew. Sometimes you detour, out of necessity, sometimes because something new caught your eye. You’re an explorer and opportunist, so of course you must explore it. Go and explore!
Resist the urging of your well meaning friend that says he can get a couple hundred million from that governor or that minister if only you can write a proposal and lend your registered company to launder the loot. Resist the urging of family that tell you to chase that appointment as PA or SA or SSA. Government money is government money. Making returns is par for the government course. You’ll be able to boast in your successful old age that your fortune is not tainted.
As a matter of fact the less family and friends know about what’s going on with you the better. Get a mentor. Otherwise seek and follow your own counsel. Go where your business instincts lead you. Remain independent and free to make your own choices. Make your own mistakes. There is no right or wrong. Just what works and what doesn’t and the same thing doesn’t work for different people. Know yourself and to thine own self be true.
Remember to eat well and to have regular good sex. When you’re hungry you get cranky if you don’t feed your hunger. Same thing when you’re horny you get cranky. Feed your hunger. You don’t need additional avoidable crankiness. Now is also a good time to start yoga if you’re into that sort of thing. You could also start something else. Like horse back riding. Or bowling.
Do not stop hanging out. People is where you get your energy, your inspiration and your motivation. Just stop hanging out with the wrong people. The ones that don’t energize, inspire or motivate you, The jaded pessimistic malcontents that only see an oncoming train, whose response to life is ‘deep cover’ paranoia. Or worse. Resignation!
Also avoid the overly cautious ones that look at you with pity sure you’re about to fail because they can’t envisage themselves coping with the uncertainty or even succeeding. They’ll poison your mind with their doubts and fears and ifs, buts and maybe’s.
Count your blessings and your social capital everyday. Remember what you do have. Use it wisely. If prayer helps you, pray but don’t expect manna from heaven so to speak. Miracles happen naturally, not super-naturally. You can’t reap a harvest if you don’t plant and tend the seeds.
I guess since I’m a woman and my target audience are women I should also add you resist the friends that advice you to find a rich powerful man to support you and all your projects. Power, sex and money make for a mine field. Some women have the talent and the aptitude for it. Some don’t. Know yourself no be crime.
Last but not least always always remember, this too shall pass. Its only for a season. Keep walking. And keep smiling. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Don’t ever give up!
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