Starting a business in Nigeria is not hard, na you wan succeed.
This is Naija
If you’re a business owner in Nigeria, you’ve probably heard of the Nigerian Miracle. The miracle of sudden government regulations, epileptic power supply, fuel scarcity, daily increased dollar rate, inflation, and even artisans are village people in disguise. Several twists and turns, ups and downs, and the path can be unrecognizable at times. On days like this, it seems this country is a weapon fashioned against business owners.
We have all read or heard stories about Nigerian businesses that barely lasted a year. In fact, most small businesses in Nigeria probably die off before even making it to the 5-year mark. Did I say 5 years? Well, let’s stick to the 1st year. The struggle for survival is real and every player wants to be at the top on the game field. You wouldn’t blame them though, nobody goes into business to fail or accumulate loss. This makes for an interesting question on everyone’s lips which is: how do some Nigerian businesses survive and scale their businesses?
We decided to speak to a few business owners who run their businesses in Nigeria. These entrepreneurs have been able to take care of their financial resources, and market their products/services while at the same time scaling up.
WHAT’S IN THIS E-BOOK FOR ME AS A BUSINESS OWNER?
In this E-book, we have highlighted some challenges business owners in Nigeria face and how to overcome such challenges. Keeping survival as well as purpose. You will find yourself in the pages of this E-Book because you share the same business ecosystem.
Have a good read.
Chapter 1: From home to 2 big outlets
Nature’s Treat is a NO SUGAR organic brand aimed at helping people eat healthy even while out on a treat.
For someone who studied law, why not 9–5?
At the early stage of my career, I was pretty sure I wanted to do law. I mean I was ambitious but then the plan changed. I felt chasing a career with my mini-me’s might not be efficiently doable for me because I have a busy spouse. So business called me and I am glad I answered.
How did Nature’s Treat Café come to be?
After my second child, I started a wellness journey. I lost 40kg, and I had people ask me a lot of questions. At that point, it began to feel like a ministry. I wanted to help other women too. You see, weight loss isn’t just about the body. There is mental health attached to it too. I am beginning to preach! So I started making healthy food based on the baby steps that I took and the result I saw. I began to grow organically.
Preach it, please! Can you take us through the steps of growing organically?
Prior to moving to Ibadan from Lagos, I used to produce from my house. It was when we grew beyond and needed a production space that we moved. This little strategy here saved me 2 years of paying rent and power costs. A lot of business owners have these lofty dreams of starting with a big and glamorous building and the idea that everything has to align right at the beginning. Before going to get that big space or hire 10 employees, do you understand the market you want to play In? Like girl! You have to build a strong background so that you don’t come and go within a year. Leverage your current reality.
A quick one, what do you mean by saying leverage your current reality?
You agree with me that our realities are different. What will work in Lagos might not work in Ibadan. Know the dynamics of where you are and trust me you will do just fine. That being said, We all have advantages and leverage over everyone else. And please don’t say you don’t have leverage, you are just not seeing it yet. Many people think leverage is all about power or money but fortunately, it isn’t. Leveraging an advantage simply means using something that you already have in order to achieve something new.
Everybody has leverage, identify that advantage and use it. That big space in your house, your car, your skill, google, and your network are a few examples of leverage. I always say don’t joke with the gift of people, it’s one of the biggest leverages ever.
Lit stuff, so how has the growth journey been so far?
Hmmmmmmmmmmm, it’s been a rollercoaster. I always go back to the drawing board, re-strategize, and come back stronger. We opened a branch at the Palms Mall Ibadan, then Palms Mall was just 2 years old. Getting the space was spontaneous, a lot of people thought it wasn’t a wise move because this is Ibadan, hardly will you find people who like greek yogurt or parfait. Then I learned, that if your dream doesn’t scare you, it might not be challenging or inspiring enough. Take it as a perspire to Maguire quote from me. We did open and I never regretted it.
Let me add this, as a business owner please take feedback with your full chest, and learn from it. We had to move from Palm Malls because it wasn’t serving all our customers. Then I thought, instead of paying for just one store at the mall, why not have 2 that can serve my customers. So we opened 3 outlets to widen our reach. You can’t afford to be rigid, we have had to change our menus, but in changing we didn’t lose focus on what the brand stands for.
It’s a good time to say this, know your niche, what your brand represents, and your customers. This gives you a sense of direction, with this you are not swayed by all doctrines. Not everybody is your customer, remember you are not jollof rice. Narrow down and then add products that compliment your brand. I sell other things apart from yogurt and parfait, but they all still fit into the wellness dream.
You are dropping so many gems. At times do you say NO?
Yeah. I also learned to say no. I stay true to my brand. Even when things get expensive we would rather increase prices than cut corners, I owe that level of honesty to my customers. You can’t be dubious with doing business, it’s a matter of time before people see through the gimmicks.
A lot of entrepreneurs also forget that they are in business to make money. You are not an NGO. Money shouldn’t just pass through your account. Are you really making profits after all expenses of running the business have been paid? You should do proper costing of your finances. If you can afford it, delegate. Have an accountant come in to check those records. If you can do the multiplications and additions, please sit with your calculator. You are here to make money apart from the CEO tag. That was on a lighter mood.
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What were your omo moments, regrets, and lessons?
I can be very trusty and it costs me. A staff member was stealing from me. At some point, I wanted to give up. I wasn’t seeing the money from the sales I was making. I was kind to my employees. I only let them work for 15 days a month because it occurred to me that this was not what they planned to do with their lives. But I was still dealt with ruthlessly.
What lessons did that teach you?
I learned to put structure in place as I grow. It was after that experience that I installed CCTV cameras. We now take proper inventories too. We are mitigating those effects now.
You wake up daily and still choose this. Why?
Trust me, there is always something to deal with when you wake up in Nigeria, But why are you doing it in the first place? To be a business owner is no joke. It is sometimes nice to have someone else worry about my paycheck. But the past 5 years have given me what I want. I love business. I love the excitement that comes with it. I’m passionate about this and that keeps me going too. That’s it for me.
Did you think we were done? No, we spoke to 3 Business Owners remember?
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