Whenever one walks across various places or discusses with different people these days, you often hear the following: “I am a businessman”, “I am a businesswoman”, or “we have set up a business.”
These claims are backed up by the copious number of business offices or stalls set up across various locations, in both industrialized and developing countries. And then you hear: “I want to grow my business”, “I need to expand my business.”
Indeed, it is a thing of pride for one to describe him or herself as a businessperson. Business people are generally regarded as risk-takers who create or start a new opportunity or venture or reform existing ones in unusual ways.
But after establishing a business, one important question that a majority of these people fail to find a response to is: Are their ventures sustainable? This has been the bane of most businesses from time immemorial.
If a business cannot be not well-maintained, then, there is no need to invest time, effort and resources into what is a capital-intensive project. The majority of businesses which have spanned generations have been that successful because there is a deliberate attempt to ensure their continuity and stability over a long period.
In a bid to help prospective business owners or existing ones who may be confused about the current state of their venture, this piece provides tips on how they can successfully grow their business.
Ways to grow your business in Nigeria
Below are nine ways to help business people to grow their businesses in Nigeria:
1. Reconcile with, and re-evaluate your business plan
Before starting any business, either big or small, every business owner should have a business plan. A business plan is a document that contains the goals and objectives of a business, as well as notes plans on how to prepare for problems, harness the opportunities, allocate resources and focus on the key points.
A business plan should contain the following:
- Vision statement;
- Goals and objectives;
- Business profile and structure;
- Feasibility and viability studies;
- Economic assessment and cash flow management; and
- Expansion plans.
Therefore, if any business owner had either deviated from the contents listed in the plan or not properly conceptualised the aforementioned sub-points, then such a person has to work on it again to have a direction. Study your business records properly. See how to write a business plan.
For business people who did not bother to develop any plan and are struggling with their businesses, it is best to immediately draft it to understand where your business is placed and how it can be moved forward.
ALSO READ: Fintech in Nigeria
2. Understand your market and create your market niche
Business owners need to understand their choice market before they start any venture. Every business is unique and, therefore, requires different models to succeed.
Do not just start a business in any sector because some people were successful doing similar ventures. It does not work that way and may negatively affect you in the long run. Instead, conduct research into the sector to see if it is viable. Know if that particular sector is already overcrowded by established manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, so it may be difficult for you to be visible.
Understand whether there is an increased desire for a particular item and plan how you hope to make it effective and popular for customers. In short, establish your market niche: by creating a segment of a larger market that can be defined by its own unique needs, preferences, or identity that makes a specific product or service different from the rest.
All this is done through feasibility and viability studies, as mentioned earlier. A feasibility study is an appraisal of a business concept conducted to ascertain if there are any possible barriers to the success of such a venture or if it is capable of being practicable and successful. On the other hand, a viability study is an in-depth study that tries to determine how profitable a business idea is.
Both studies are very important as they help do the following:
- Provide realistic projection;
- Make the analysis of the cost of business clear;
- Indicate whether the business concept would be profitable or not;
- Provide adequate market information for the product or service; and
- Provide enough information on the competition for the product or service.
Through these studies, business people can have a better and more factual idea of where their businesses stand and know the level of work they must put in to grow their business further. These studies should be conducted at regular intervals.
3. Identify your customers’ needs and wants
This is closely related to the last point mentioned earlier. Customers have various desires, wants and needs. After all, the customer is king in the business world. Therefore, to grow the business, a business owner must be able to engage with customers to improve your business.
Identifying their needs and being able to fulfil them is very important. This can be done through a survey, although its administration may differ for big organisations (sending pollsters out or conducting it on social media) or small businesses (through word-of-mouth when customers visit them).
ALSO READ: Best banks in Nigeria
Also, business owners must focus on providing superior customer service. Business growth heavily depends on how you make your current and potential customers happy with their experience. Ensure that you do not allow customers to leave your business premises with a poor experience.
The power of customer testimonials implies that when you exceed their expectations, they are likely to tell their friends, family and followers about your business.
Business owners can also create loyalty programmes for their customers, as it is a great way to increase sales. Offering discounts to customers is a great way to entice them to patronise your business and attract new ones.
5. Identify new opportunities and be innovative
The core reason for business is the creation of new ideas or transforming existing ones in a remarkable way to provide value for society. Therefore, it is important for business owners to constantly analyse the markets to lynch on opportunities you could pursue either immediately or soon.
Take a look at opportunities such as adding a new product line that compliments previous purchases or increasing service prices for additional features. This can help business owners to retain their current customers, as well as gain new ones.
6. Ensure your financial plan is practicable and cash flow stable
Money, as the Holy Book says, answereth all things. The number one factor for businesses to grow is a constant financial investment. Without a doubt, if a good amount of money is not pumped into any business, there is a high probability that it will crash.
Therefore, a business person’s financial plan should contain realistic finance projections, risks and long-term goals. Also to be included are the calculations of the business person’s net worth (assets and liabilities), income, spending habits/trends, as well as sources of funding (either through debit/loan or equity).
In the same vein, the business’ cash flow – the increase or decrease in the amount of money for business ventures – must be stable at all times. If the withdrawal rate of money from the business account exceeds that of income, then there is a problem. It is even more problematic if a vast withdrawal amount is not reinvested back into the business. This will leave the purse to be lean, and then there is no money to expand the business.
7. Hire the right people
Another important factor needed for businesses to grow is having the right staff in place. As earlier mentioned, the customer is king, and it would be inappropriate for such person(s) to be dissatisfied with the level of service rendered. Majority of the time, the first person that a customer interfaces with are the employees of businesses. Therefore, business owners need to have a solid staff to help their business thrive and further expand in the long run.
Hardworking, dedicated, loyal, focused and respectful employees mean that businesses will be better equipped for continued growth. Also, businesses should hire staff that can fulfil the duties of their role and also provide unique perspectives that can compliment the business idea and plans.
In addition, be intentional about improving your staff’s professional development by registering them for relevant seminars and training and being interested in their welfare. This will show that you value them and their contribution to your business, and in return, they will give their best to help your company grow.
ALSO READ: Capital Market: All you need to know
8. Publicise your business
The revolution of technology has enabled a great percentage of the world’s population to own mobile gadgets and laptops to communicate. There is, therefore, no bigger opportunity than to publicise your business literally for free on the Internet.
Use the major social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) for marketing your business and creating avenues for interaction with prospective customers. Create a consistent schedule of content which your followers and customers will be able to see and interact with. Also, provide them with regular updates on available products and services.
Business people can also build a brand for their businesses for a fee on e-commerce websites, regular websites and blogs. This will provide visibility for your goods and services even more than tweets, or Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn posts can do.
9. Network with people and form strategic partnerships
Attending events provide an opportunity for business persons to network with other people of like minds. This enables them to discuss business ideas, offer their perspective and proffer solutions. Networking events and relationship building lead to sharing of industry insights and emerging trends by industry experts, and such data can potentially help grow your business for years.
The likely occurrences from these scenarios are either business deals signed or strategic partnerships formed to expand a business. They also open the doors for new customers, employees, and investors.
10. Incorporate business ethics
Apart from money, business ethics is another important factor for the sustainability and expansion of any business. Business ethics addresses moral problems and behavioural principles that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the behaviour of individuals and entire organisations.
Depending on whether it is a big or small business, business ethics involve the following branches:
- Corporate social responsibility: details the ethical rights and duties between companies and their host society;
- Corporate governance: concerned with the action and quality of leadership of organisations;
- Corporate manslaughter: mirrors the misuse of corporate ethics as marketing instruments; and
- Corporate ethic policies: focuses on the formulation of internal policies about the ethical conduct of employees.
Its principles have been stated herein in bits and pieces, but it is worth re-emphasising that any business that does not encourage honourable acts will surely drain. It provides a basic guideline that businesses can choose to follow to gain public approval and expand their business.
In addition, businesses must promote and act on the following principles to be deemed ethically responsible:
- Responsibility and leadership
Strategies to grow your business online
As previously stated, the Internet is the biggest gift for any business in the 21st century. The onus lies on business persons to properly utilise it to market their products and services.
Below are important strategies businesses can employ to grow their business.
ALSO READ: Natural resources in Nigeria
Build and maintain an online presence
Business people need to build a brand for their businesses, and the only way they can successfully do it is by maintaining a constant presence online. Many prospective and existing customers have an online profile, so it is only logical to grab their attention with your business when they show up.
A word of advice though: do not copy people’s strategies or repeat the popular marketing trends online. Instead, create a marketing trend or strategy that is unique and differentiates your business from the others.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are great places to market our business, literally for free. To access more business tools and promote your business to a broader audience, businesses can utilise the paid features. Also, generate buzz around your business with a giveaway or contest.
More importantly, businesses should create avenues for interaction with prospective customers. Response to questions and product enquiry is key and should be done constantly. It will be bad business ethics if business owners neglect questions from their followers and potential customers.
Build a website and/or blog
Businesses that have the financial capacity can move beyond social media pages by building and owning their websites or blogs. A good website or blog can drive traffic to your website, convert that traffic into leads and achieve long-term results for your business.
The content on the website or blog should include links to posts, pictures, relevant content about your company’s offerings, a section containing your information details and directives on how customers can reach out to business owners or administrators.
A poorly designed, visually unappealing home page will deter prospective consumers from spending time and properly interacting with your website or blog. Learn how to create a blog.
Use the right platforms such as WordPress to create that website or blog for your business.
Develop high-quality, valuable SEO content
Content marketing is a highly effective strategy for building your business online. By creating relevant content about your business and publishing them regularly either on social media or your website, businesses can attract and build an audience and get more targeted traffic from search engines without paying a dime. Contents should comprise a heavy dose of text, pictures and videos.
The information published must be factual, detailed, easy to comprehend and presented in a way that keeps readers connected. The number of posts a business can do daily varies. Some can publish five posts a day, while some can publish only one. What matters is that you must be active if you want attention from your target audience.
Importantly, while developing their content, businesses must consider the keywords users may be looking for. This helps such content to rank favourably in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) used by search engines such as Google. It also helps demonstrate that you are an expert in what you are marketing.
Develop a mobile site for your website/blog
As a basic necessity, businesses should optimise their website or blogs for mobile. According to statcounter.com, more than 54 per cent of people globally browse the Internet using their smartphones and tablets. It is, therefore, imperative that businesses create a mobile version of their website to make it accessible to the majority of prospective and existing customers.
Another way to grow your business online is by showcasing their products and talking about their services for a fee on e-commerce websites, regular websites and blogs. Paid advertising helps increase your business’s reach online as many people will be able to see your business message.
For instance, businesses can use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn ads to target the right target audience. Another avenue is the roll-up banners on popular websites or blogs. Also available for use is the e-commerce websites, where businesses can list their products for sale.
How to grow your small business
Small businesses are the livewire of any country. Although they are unable to provide the turnover and pay the level of taxes big corporations are levelled, small businesses offer opportunities to entrepreneurs, jobs for people, foster local economies and increase the activities and visibility of communities.
Below are tips for growing your small businesses:
- Have a detailed business plan;
- Expand your source of financing: This can be achieved through:
a) Obtaining loans from either family, relatives and friends or financial institutions.
b) Equity: trading a percentage of your business ownership for money from family, relatives and friends, venture capitalists, commercial or microfinance banks or trade creditors.
- Be prepared to take calculated risks;
- Be disciplined and adopt financial frugality for personal finance;
- Create a market niche and identify your customer;
- Publicise your business;
- Get competent and respectful employees;
- Build a passive income stream;
- Measure and track business activities;
- Prepare for expansion.
ALSO READ: Most popular cars in Nigeria