Are you prepared to beat the challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with in our clime? Do you have the grit to succeed despite all odds?
A lot of people feel entrepreneurship is a walk in the park but on the contrary you need to be prepared for the inevitable. Every niche of business has it pitfalls but ample preparation increases your chance of survival. This entails knowing beforehand that there are challenges entrepreneurs deal with and having a plan to conquer every challenge while being flexible to change plans as the situation arises.
This article is not meant to scare you from living your dream as an entrepreneur rather it is meant to prepare you. As an aspiring entrepreneur if you have the characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur you will definitely overcome the challenges entrepreneurs in this clime share in common.
Different challenges are synonymous with different climes but listed below are some of the most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs in our clime:
- CASH FLOW
This is one of the most common challenges entrepreneurs in every niche deal with. How liquid is your business? Is there readily available finance for your business? Are your friends and family willing to support with cash and necessary resources? Do you have willing investors ready to commit their resources to your business? If you can successfully answer these questions then you are already a step ahead. It is advisable to have a cash reserve before the business kicks off because things do not always go as planned in business. You can raise funds by working part time and solicit funds from people that share as much enthusiasm for your business as you do. Cut unnecessary costs by doing as much of the work you can yourself, employ freelancers when starting out so you do not pay salaries for long and when the bucks start rolling in do not go on a spending spree rather reinvest in your business because it takes months to years for a business to balance out expenses such as operating costs, salaries and miscellaneous expenses. A lot of businesses have packed up due to not adequately preparing for this.
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT BUSINESS
How viable is your business? Apart from doing something that you love ensure you are providing something that people will buy into. It is one thing to provide goods or services it is another thing for them to be purchased. If they are not purchased that is time, effort and resources gone down the drain. The right business is a business that you have passion for, that delivers quality and also adds value to your consumers.
- REGISTERING A BUSINESS NAME OR COMPANY
This is the next hurdle to cross after knowing the right business to engage in and ensuring there is steady cash flow. The amount of time it takes to do this can put you off and the number of people that fall into scam traps all in the name of trying to fast track the process involved is increasing by the day. Imagine going to CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) to do the registration and you are told to go make payment at the bank before coming back for the forms. Some people buy forms from people outside the building who sell at double the price without guarantee on the authenticity.
- FINDING AND RETAINING CUSTOMERS
As a new comer in any industry it requires time to find customers and retain them. The industry is already saturated with all sorts of promises to customers and customers have committed themselves to certain offers most especially since people love to do business with who they know. Attracting these customers and getting them to do repeat business is one of the common challenges entrepreneurs face due to the offers they have been enjoying in terms of prices, customer service, commissions, quality of products and services. It is imperative to look at what the competition is already doing and do something they are not to attract customers. Distinguish your business by adding value.
This is one of the challenges entrepreneurs need to deal with but do not take cognizance of. They get caught up in the daily operation of the business instead of continuously thinking of new ways to do things or new unique business ideas that can set them apart from the rest. It is best to entrust the daily operation to a manager and do the thinking the business requires to get to the next stage or level as you are the one with the blueprint for the business.
- LACK OF SUPPORT AND A THINK TANK TEAM
It is a common challenge in our clime for people to write you off as soon as you make your intention of setting up a business known. They start telling you how unqualified you are and stories of failures they know. This was my major challenge for years; the people I had high hopes in never supported me either with kind words or financially until I finally decided to start despite all odds. Now I advice people to only seek advise from entrepreneurs because the people that say it is not possible are most likely not entrepreneurs. They are afraid to leave the security a 9 to 5 provides. It is also rare to find a group of people you can brainstorm with except you are surrounded by exceptional people so be watchful the kind of people you attract. Ensure you attract people of like minds.
- CORRUPTION, POLITICAL INFLUENCE, GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND POLICIES
These are very common challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with in our clime due to the unstable economic situation and a select few dictating market conditions. We have seen businesses pack up as soon as the government changes baton due to either the new policies not favoring them or them not being in the good books of the new boss. I once got a job along with some people in a Parastatal but lost it because a new boss was sworn in; you can do the math as regards how many businesses that were cut off also. Corruption is a pain in the ass of businesses these days because it allows some unqualified businesses rob the qualified ones thereby reducing their chances of survival. If politics will have a say in your business ensure you have a wide network range; be neutral and play nicely with all the sides. Directly or indirectly this allows you to continue in business no matter the side in power.
- TAXES AND LEGAL ISSUES
Most new businesses do not see the need for having a lawyer because they feel it is one more expense they cannot afford not realizing it is even costlier not to have one on your payroll. Also it is important to have a financial expert that can advise as regards taxes to avoid being over taxed. The tax adviser is to ensure you pay what is commiserate with your business’s income and personal income thereby increasing your profits over time.
- SENTIMENTS AND SELF DOUBT
A lot of potentials have been thwarted due to sentiments. It is either a friend or family member saying you cannot do it or it is you looking at the present economic situation and writing yourself off. The best time to start is now. Once you start the rest of the journey becomes so much easier. Someone succeeds does not automatically translate to your success and someone fails also does not mean you will fail. It all depends on how far you are willing to go.
- TRUSTWORTHY BUSINESS PARTNERS AND INTEGRITY
Due to the race for profits a lot of entrepreneurs end up partnering with unscrupulous entities. Do not be in a haste to make profit; slow progress is progress so ensure you check out the track record of whoever you decide to partner with. Can you take them for their words? Will they run the business if you are not there as they would if you were on ground? You are the face of the business not your partners so their actions bounces off on you thereby making your integrity questionable. If your customers have need to question your integrity it will reflect in their patronage.
- LOYAL EMPLOYEES
It is a challenge these days to have loyal employees; everyone wants to be where the grass is greener. Not to blame anyone but a little loyalty goes a long way. To get your employees loyalty you need to know it cannot be bought, treat them like family and make each one know that their contribution is appreciated that way they do not sell you out to your competitors. Ensure your employees are team players, pay them what is commiserate to their input and make sure you reward outstanding performance. I once worked at a company where the management kept promising the sales reps commissions but they never got it, overtime a lot of the sales reps left and became competitors taking along the customers they brought. Therefore be slow to hire and quick to fire.
- DIFFICULTY PROCURING LOANS
In our clime the banks make it very difficult for small and medium businesses to procure loans. Asides the high interest rates they have a list of requirements which most likely a business just starting out will not meet. Imagine asking a small business owner for a landed property that has a C of O (Certificate of Occupancy) which is very expensive to procure as collateral. Asides their requests the bureaucracy wears you out. In our clime we do not have angel investors unlike the developed countries and the few that decide to support your business financially are only out for the kill neither does the government support businesses with loans. If you are borrowing read and digest the terms and conditions; if you do not understand get someone who does to avoid being cheated out of your business.
These are the most common challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with in this clime to succeed. Do you feel I have left any out or have you any personal experience feel free to drop them in the comments.