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Monday, September 24, 2018

Professional Business Plans: Are they overrated or are they the real deal for Businesses in Nigeria?

I am writing this article in response to an argument between two businessmen who had this discussion some months back at a sports bar in Abuja. One of the businessmen has limited education but he owns a 3 retail stores stocking plumbing and building materials. He talked about how he ventured into business 21 years ago with no clear understanding of what to do or even what to expect, but has grown over the years learning from his mistakes and those of other people and getting better that way. The other is more versatile and educated.

How the Argument Started
Both men were at a sports bar analyzing football matches and also forecasting bets to make some small cash on the side. The trader businessman didn’t believe in analyzing teams before placing a bet because according to him it’s pure luck to win, the real estate guy disagreed partially - he believed a little analysis should be part of sports betting. Then came the point of how he – the trader – makes money more than many so called business experts/consultants who can speak all the big grammar but can’t make a sale or even address a potential customer. 

The first business man a trader, let’s call him Chima, worked under his uncle learning the art of trading while at the same time studying part-time to obtain a degree for 11 years before moving on to become his own boss. Today he is educated and his businesses fetch him annual income running into millions in profits all this without ever consulting a business plan. The second businessman happens to be well schooled. He owns a medium sized property development company but invests a lot in the stock market and does a lot of market research for different businesses. During his spare time he is constantly reading, writing and researching on business topics. According to him, he has raised over 300 million from investors in either buying properties or refurbishing old ones for rent. Both men are successful but one doesn’t think a business plan is useful while the other disagrees.

 Why a Business Plan is not really useful?
As far as I know, this is relative and also not very true. There are many businesses that were started less than 5 years ago without a business plan and today they are doing very fine. But what percentage of businesses are we talking about here?

Why a Business Plan is Useful
At the other hand of the spectrum are businesses that failed without a business plan and those who succeeded because they worked with a business plan. Most of these businesses of course are formal businesses in highly competitive markets

My Analysis on the Pros and Cons of a Business Plan to Startups
Both men are right to argue for or against the importance of a business plan. It is like gambling with your last money on a game that is too dicey to predict – running a business without a business plan – or intelligently putting money into a business you have carefully researched – running a business with a business plan. Both methods could pay off or fail. The truth is business needs strategy to succeed and there are two kinds; intended and emergent business strategies. The trader is successful because he is using emergent business strategy which often times relies on street wisdom, common sense and prudence hence it doesn’t require a business plan whereas the intended strategy approach always depends heavily on research and knowledge transfer/sharing and so needs a business plan and is what most companies will do to keep themselves accountable and set realistic corporate and marketing goals that will ensure they succeed. Look at this way can Dangote group of companies say a business plan is not useful to them? But another small business like Tony and Sons Auto parts dealers may disagree and insist that as for them, business plan is a waste of time and money.

If you are running a formal sector based business such as manufacturing, services or large scale farming, you should work with a business plan. It may not guarantee you success in business, but it certainly will take away most of the blind spot that will cause you to fail in business. If you understand your business very well and it is a one man business in an informal sector such as; trading or retail, you don’t need a business plan

Paul Onwueme is a professional Business Plan writer since February 2014, has achieved respectable results with his business plan writing service with several of his clients securing funding and leaving positive feedback about his writing service. You can connect with him via phone: 0803 206 4106 or email: paulonwueme@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sample Business Plan for Professional Trainings and Business Consultancy in Nigeria

There is a huge demand for professional trainings in Nigeria across diverse professions. The list of these trainings cut across accounting, management, marketing, governance, leadership, human resources, business development, entrepreneurship, specialized soft skillsets such as; poise, negotiations, networking and a host of others. The market is so huge, that it was estimated to be worth at least 1 trillion naira in 2016 assuming cost of seeking overseas masters degrees were included.

  • There is a huge demand for foreign overseas education which amounts to over 1 Trillion naira for undergraduate courses according to speaker House of Representatives Hon. Yakubu Dogara
  • In 2016, over 360 billion naira for continuous Education programs - Dr Kabir Usman (Director General, Center of Management Development)

The trend so far indicates that most people seeking professional trainings are doing so for career advancement namely; to gain promotions at their workplace, earn higher incomes or secure new employment opportunities elsewhere. In addition to this, most corporate organisations also want to enhance staff productivity and so would naturally enroll them for specialized trainings.

People pay anywhere from 50,000 naira to over 3 million naira to be taught very useful and productive skills and in some cases, they are willing to travel some distance to receive such trainings. The target market for professional trainings cut across middle level to upper level managers, interns, junior managers, students, NYSC corps members and even civil servants.

Why are Consultants and Professional Trainings needed in Nigeria?

There is bound to be problems within a business which are beyond the capacity of management to handle. New trends emerge in the global and local business climate that require businesses to adapt and re-strategize but very few businesses or managers know how to deal with it because they are more into their core businesses than researching emerging business challenges and threats. Meanwhile these cannot be ignored, besides it costs more resources to research and plan new approaches to survive and thrive which brings us back to square one – the need to outsource the time consuming research and analysis to specialists which are the consultants. Thirdly, when we focus on our core areas and let the experts improve our capacities we can achieve more at less costs. Experienced business leaders and professionals know this, hence why the demand continues to soar.

Market Trends and Growth Indicators

  • Rising unemployment and underemployment
  • Growing knowledge of how non-white collar opportunities exist outside the corporate world
  • Growing sense of self-employment and entrepreneurship as opportunities to actualize financial independence
  • Skills acquisition in high demand because of proven improved career prospects
  • Demand is affected by general view that capacity is a strong asset in professions and many certifications remain
  • Large number of corporate employees seeking costly post tertiary education and specialized trainings

A business of this kind is best handled by experienced business/management consultants who are deeply knowledgeable about whatever skills and capacities they are trying to impart. A minimum of first degree with at least 7 years’ experience and professional track record with enviable achievements to back it is often enough to make one a consultant at least to those not as experienced and/or qualified. Acquiring certification and professional trainings and even masters’ and Ph.d can also boost the profile of the would-be consultant. The most likely niches to find success in consultancy are; ICT, marketing, management, cost accounting, strategic planning, financial auditing, human resources and entrepreneurship trainings, of course opportunities exist in other niches as well.

What are the Startup Requirements for setting up a consultancy business in Nigeria?

  • Office Space – 960,000
  • Stationery – 600,000
  • Marketing Budget – 1,200,000
  • 6 months Salaries – 1,800,000
  • Furniture – 600,000
  • Operating Costs (1 year) – 2,400,000
  • Others – 1,800,000
  • Total – 9,360,000

Paul Onwueme is a professional Business Plan writer since February 2014, has achieved respectable results with his business plan writing service with several of his clients securing funding and leaving positive feedback about his writing service. You can connect with him via phone: 0803 206 4106 or email: paulonwueme@gmail.com

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Untapped Opportunities for Business Franchising in Nigeria

Franchising is the business of selling intellectual property rights (logo, trademark, brand etc), business model, process and expertise to a third party as part of a growth and marketing plan to reach a larger market. It is an indirect way for a business to expand its operations within a country or even beyond without actually using equity or approaching a bank for loan.

Think of it this way, you run a successful business that is making impact within a particular part of the country say – Lagos. You have built a successful business process and you are making desired progress as par frequent sales, serious brand awareness and have sizeable business leadership within your niche, you have a respected brand that can easily defeat the competition, but you only operate in Lagos but there are opportunities for you to expand into Abuja, Port Harcourt etc but you neither have the capital nor sufficient resources to branch out into these cities. This is where franchising comes in – you can sell your business process and identity to other business people to operate on your behalf, provided they abide by your terms in your contract.

Benefits of Franchising to both Businesses and Investors
Both investors and businesses can benefit from franchise opportunities - the company or business selling the rights is the franchisor while the other business/investor is the franchisee. 

  • Raise additional capital without approaching a bank or investors (For the Franchisor)
  • Your business can grow very fast using this model (Mcdonalds and Starbucks are two good examples of successful franchisors)
  • You can diversify your Assets to strengthen your business (Both parties)
  • Build a strong market position (Franchisor)
  • Tap into a new promising market (both parties)
  • Gain a strong market entry in a new region (both parties)

Opportunities for Franchising in Nigeria
There are many opportunities to franchise your business in Nigeria although they may all not be realistic. We live in a peculiar country and people do have work 

  • Turnkey business that requires mostly training and financial investment for the franchisee 
  • Source of new capital to franchisee - especially since raising capital in Nigeria is tough
  • Businesses need to expand can come at a lower risk since the franchisee can use a proven model to work with while the franchisor will not assume the risks of running the outlet
  • This model works well in retail which is very vibrant in Nigeria

Challenges Facing Franchise Arrangements in Nigeria
Even with all these opportunities, there will be foreseeable problems when trying to setup and run a franchise in Nigeria among which are;

  • Quality control is the biggest challenge of franchising. The same quality of product in the main business must be maintained even with franchisee locations
  • World class enabling environment is lacking in Nigeria which would frustrate the opportunity for both parties
  • Legal protection for patents and copyrights in the event of dispute. Nigerian litigation process is expensive and slow.
  • Business and Managerial Expertise is in short supply, this would make it difficult to find the right people to partner with
  • Large number of unprofessional business owners who think money should come at the expense of professionalism can tarnish the image of a Franchisor

The concept is very good for businesses that want to expand into other locations without incurring much cost, but the challenge is how to protect your brand and ensure that you can meet customer expectations everywhere without compromising. If executed well, franchising can make medium sized businesses global champions. If you are looking to research and exploit franchising arrangements in Nigeria, my profile below and contact details are starting points.

Paul Onwueme is a professional Business Plan writer since February 2014, has achieved respectable results with his business plan writing service with several of his clients securing funding and leaving positive feedback about his writing service. You can connect with him via phone: 0803 206 4106 or email: paulonwueme@gmail.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

6 Ways to Identify Business Opportunities in Nigeria

Before getting into the details of this article, I would like to apologise to my regular blog visitors – those who check weekly or bi-weekly for updates on my blog. I have been busy with work and business that I haven’t had the time to write lately. But I am glad to share this post with you and without further delay, let’s jump into the main course and munch away.

Identifying business opportunities in Nigeria is not an easy task especially when there are so many challenges preventing you from starting. That will change very soon for my dear readers who follow the recommendations in this article. I have researched these points and they are proven to deliver results when thoroughly pursued. So how can anyone living in Nigeria identify business opportunities in order to know what and where to invest in? While this article answers this, the follow up question of what should one do to effectively exploit the identified business opportunity? would come another day – I may do a blog post on it.

6 Ways to Spot a Business Opportunity in Nigeria
These are 6 out of many ways to spot a new business opportunity in Nigeria. Kindly note, there is nothing new under the sun and so if a business is common but you can find a new way of doing it, then there is a business opportunity. Listed below are 6 ways to spot business opportunities in Nigeria.

Improved Marketing Approach
Some businesses struggle with getting customers or keeping them and this shouldn’t be happening if the business is well managed. If you discover a situation in which a most operators in a particular type of business lack good marketing approach but there is sufficient demand for its products and services, that is something you shouldn’t overlook, the ball is in your court to device a strong marketing plan to change this.

Assess Government Policies
Government policies whether new or abolished can create new avenues for businesses to thrive. A particular government policy for instance may be frustrating businesses in a particular part of the country, if that policy is lifted things will change often meaning increase in sales whereas introducing a new policy can create new demand for a product or service or drive down obstacles affecting demand. So when government introduces or bans a policy, ask how does this affect businesses and in what locations?

Social Trends/New Social Behaviours
The behavior of people at a particular season/time of the year, in a particular place or in response to changes/fads can become a new source of income to businesses. For instance the selfie stick for mobile phones is in response to selfie taking as a social trend, the rising demand for Gucci slippers in Nigeria (although most are fake) is in demand because of social media frenzy by Hushpuppi

Competitor Flaws
When people in a particular business are not doing something right – in terms of satisfying the client or offering quality service - it is a chance to make a bold statement by setting up a business which would avoid making those mistakes. Take for instance the most popular Amala eatery in the Abuja is fast losing many of its customers because of their costly service as well as rude, dirty and lousy waitresses. At this eatery, you can be on the queue for long and when it’s your turn you receive a cold and unhospitable treatment, the waitresses look unkempt and some may even insult you. Some people have noticed this too and opened other Amala eateries in response and of course I patronize the newer ones because they are also cheaper and serve better food.

Underserved Market Needs
Some particular markets are not well served. Take for instance the lucrative Abuja to Lagos transit route. People rarely ride in good buses with well-trained drivers and pay an affordable fee. If a bus company can provide good drivers, comfortable buses and affordable fares, naturally travelers will chase them. The leading interstate travel businesses in Nigeria started this way (I won’t mention names) before the hiked their fares. It is a proven strategy that creates quick big sales. Just provide the correct market need and you are good to go.

Defective Product Features
A particular product may not be very good in terms of how well it can serve the customer needs. Some products for instance have low shelf life, others may be hard to move while some others might satisfy the customer one way but create problems in other ways. A savvy entrepreneur will see this and look for a newer better process that will produce a superior product.

I will conclude this post by saying, look for problems that a product or service creates or fails to solve or look for customer complaints or problems affecting people in groups, the operating business environment and therein lies the business opportunity and when you find one, remember it makes sense to plan to have it up and running profitably with a professionally written business plan to guide you.

Paul Onwueme is a professional Business Plan writer since February 2014, has achieved respectable results with his business plan writing service with several of his clients securing funding and leaving positive feedback about his writing service. You can connect with him via phone: 0803 206 4106 or email: paulonwueme@gmail.com