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Careers: Starting a New Business

By Remi Ola-Samuel

Building A Business From Scratch Takes The Right Ingredients. African economy needs a serious diversification and expansion. Jobs are getting more and more difficult to get, the streets are littered with graduates from all fields and the employer database keeps shrinking. Job search can get really frustrating particularly when you fall into the online job seekers club where thousands of websites tell you to submit your vitae and after months, nothing seems forthcoming. We’ve been made to belief that starting your own business needs quite a whole lot of bucks but my experience says no and honestly it’s a No! You can start your own business, at your own pace and with what little you have, the most important thing would be putting the right ingredients, my mum says, ‘ti obe ko ba po, o ma ndun ni’! (starting small, makes sense overtime! Sorry, I’m Yoruba and needs to flaunt it!).

Every business has a why factor. There is a reason why someone starts a business. Whether they are following a passion, see a need that isn’t being met or something in between, there is always something that gets the process started.

Not every business has a how factor. This is the hardest step. A business has to answer how questions before it even starts. How will the business operate? How will it identify and attract customers? How will it scale? Often entrepreneurs know little about marketing, accounting and other business disciplines. Or they simply don’t know how much work it will actually take to be successful.

First and foremost, an entrepreneur has to have passion. Passion is what allows an entrepreneur to work long nights, be patient as the business grows and battle through adversity. As discussed earlier, a business must assess its goals and have a clear vision. Not only should a business know how it plans to succeed, it should know how it could possibly fail. Entrepreneurs can believe in their business too much. No business is fail-proof. There is always competition and obstacles that are visible from day one.

Once everything good and bad is identified, it’s time to start talking money. Many marriages fail because of arguments over money, and businesses are no different. A young company has to assess what it will spend its limited money on immediately, what it can wait to spend on later and what does not need to be considered. That office pool table may look cool, but not every business needs to, or even should, copy Google and buy it. Large purchases should be made later in the cycle of a business. Once a business is operational and starts making profits, expenses like rent and payroll are deductible as taxable income. Before then, though, they are just expenses. That’s why it’s important to delay many operational expenses.

Smart spending combined with bootstrapping – starting a business with the bare minimum costs – can put a young business in the best position to succeed. Most businesses don’t turn a profit immediately. Limiting costs, so a business can survive the lean months, is vital to success. These tips are just the beginning, but are a good start when considering whether or not to start a business from scratch. Anyway, as we all enter into this new year, start dreaming and walk thinking!

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