Hello fam, how have you been and I hope you had a great weekend and if you’re in Nigeria hope you voted if you’re qualified to vote and hope it was peaceful at your polling unit. I had the longest week but I’m glad I got to rest a bit this weekend and I’m also really excited for this new blog post. I founded and I’ve been managing my online business (@shopthoniabankz ) for a year plus where I sell customized T shirts and fashion accessories and I can tell you that it has not been easy and I can’t count the number of times I have been moody, cried or been disappointed by customers and delivery companies but despite the whole struggle I’m glad I own a business and that I don’t depend solely on my monthly salary from my 9-5 job and that I’m also able to meet the fashion needs of people and deliver to them at an affordable price.
You’re reading this blog post because you want to start your own business or maybe because you’re really knowledgeable and passionate about it or you just want an extra source of income. Regardless of the reason you’re starting the business I need to let you know that the journey isn’t easy and it requires a lot of time, hard work and effort. Some people may fail along the line and if your business survives, the rewards are worth the obstacles you’ll face on the road to success.
There’s a lot to consider before you launch your business or before you open the Instagram page ready for sales and it is very important that you’re fully prepared for entrepreneurship. So here are a few things I wish I knew before I started my own business;
- Define your idea: I’m sure you already have an idea of what you want to sell and the market you want to enter. I’ll advise you do a quick research for existing businesses in your chosen industry i.e if you intend to sell wigs then you need to look for companies or fellow online stores/ pages selling the same. After you have done your search look for a way to do better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t or deliver the same thing faster and cheaper, you’ve got a solid idea and you’re ready to start a business.
- Access your finances: Before you start a business you need capital and so you need to determine how you’re going to cover the cost. Do you have the means to fund a startup or will you need to borrow money? If you’re planning to leave your current job to focus on your business, do you have some money put away to support yourself until you start making profit?. You need to figure this out so you don’t end up broke and back to square one. What I did personally was that from my monthly salary I was saving at least from N30,000 monthly until I saved a tangible amount and used it to buy the fashion accessories.
- Have a business plan: I won’t deny but I was guilty of not having a business plan when I started my business. I knew I wanted to own a business but I didn’t really sit down to know why I really wanted to start and figure out my target market. When people asked me if I had a business plan I’ll bring up excuses like drafting a business plan is so hard and stressful and well truthfully it can be if you’re drafting the business for a law firm or a very big company. If it’s a start up then it doesn’t have to be difficult and what you need to focus on when drafting the plan is; What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your short and long term goals for your business. Once you have all this figured out then that’s it your business plan is ready.
- Register your business: A lot of people that have online stores have not registered their businesses because they don’t really see the importance and in as much as I advise that you don’t rush to register your business it’s very important that you register your business. Registering your business means you have secured the business name, you have access to opening a business account and access to funds from bigger companies or foundations like Tony Elumelu foundation that helps fund small businesses. It also doesn’t cost much with the right lawyer you should be able to get the certificate for not more than N25,000/N30,000.
- Choose your vendors wisely: Many businesses have failed or suffered because of the vendors they use and in Nigeria mostly because of delivery companies. I’ve had a customer really angry at me because the delivery man that dropped her package was really rude to her and she thought I run the delivery company myself not knowing that I send my deliveries through another delivery company. So research and ask from other businesses the delivery companies they use and If your business require having distributors and suppliers then make sure you’re doing business with hardworking, nice and genuine people.
- Brand yourself and advertise: Before you start selling your products and services, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people ready to patronize you. Also, come up with a business name that depicts your business in a good way and a logo that can help people identify your brand. Sell yourself everywhere you go from work to church and social media. You should never be ashamed or scared to let people know why you do and what you sell.
- Grow your business: It’s one thing to make a few sales and then stop or for the business to become stagnant for months. Yes there’ll be weeks or months that you don’t make sales which is okay but you need to always grow your business and look for a way to grow from an online store to having a physical store. Some ways to grow your business include collaborating with bigger brands, bloggers and influencers. You can also do sponsored adverts on Instagram and Facebook for more visibility and growth.
P.S I made a huge mistake in my business and that was by using my personal bank account for my business and before I realized what happened I started using up funds meant for my business for my personal needs. So if possible get a separate account solely for your business and make sure that whatever funds you’re moving from the business is for the business and not for personal use and make sure you’re tracking all the money going in and out of that account.
Also know that mistakes will happen and how you deal with them and learn from them is really one of the major keys to success.
I hope this blog post helps you and if you have any questions or contributions please share in the comment section.
Have an amazing week ahead. Love T