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These days practically everyone is thinking of dumping their 9-5s and starting up a business. The motivational “aspire to Maguires” are also fanning these flames. 

Of course, it is great to have one’s own establishment. However, here in Nigeria, there are quite a number of challenges intending entrepreneurs have to overcome.

Nigeria has been ranked 131 out of 190 countries on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report for 2020. This means the country is not…well let us just say we are hopeful that things get better moving forward. Ladies and gentlemen, you know we must tread carefully with our keyboard at Impact! *grins* 


The Trials of Victor Olamilekan

Now let’s examine the ordeals of Victor, a Relationship Officer at a new generation bank. He decided to turn his hobby of baking into a full-time establishment. He quit his job and started out with big hopes for the business. 

Victor had heard about the difficulties small and medium enterprises face in the country. He however believed he was smart enough to navigate the system. He fought an almost epic battle to establish his business and even turn in a profit.

According to Victor, below are some of the challenges he faced. 

  1. The “We Are Working On It” Syndrome

Victor wanted to get his business registered and the approval of the food regulatory bodies.

Each time, he faced a stonewall of bureaucracy. It took him months to complete the business registration process before he could get The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and co’s approvals.

Quite the moral person, Victor didn’t understand the tipping culture evidenced in certain offices so learned the hard way.

2. Anything like reliable market data for Nigerians & by Nigerians? 

Yes, everything is on Google. But we want it Nigerian. We want it speaking “home” and “us” as our realities are not all “penthouses” and 24hr electricity. So Victor thought to study the market in his line of business and also find competitor analysis.

This is because he had a dream of becoming one of the largest producers of pastries in his city.

Unfortunately, he found almost nothing on Nigerian customer experience & behaviours towards local-based pastry and sweets companies. This dampened his enthusiasm a little further. But he chose to forge on.

He was going to do it himself. He signed up for greatness; the entrepreneur’s path and this came with it.


3.  When he says YES, Lenders say NO

Before Victor ventured into the business, he believed having a great proposal and business plan were keys to getting a loan in Nigeria. Well, he may be partly right. The only problem was he relied heavily on his school textbooks on how to get a business loan. But banks wanted to be certain of his credit worthiness. Would he be able to pay back? 

They needed a look at his bank statements. How long has he been in business? Was the business registered? They needed to be sure about those too. This was not university.

Interestingly, he was fine with these requirements. Just one shock! The interest rates from these lending establishments were astounding with some going as high as 25%. Victor was exhausted already.

He then discovered he might be putting his “almighty-next-big-thing “ business plan on a hold. 


4. Infrastructural Problems

This was one challenge Victor prepard for but it turned out he could never be fully prepared.

Getting a space big enough to house busines operations required more than motivational speeches. They needed insanely huge amounts of real cash. Lagos rental housing was a topic for another day. But he had to settle for something.

And the power supply. The area he housed his operations got less than 12 hour supply of electricity. He had a diesel generator and had coughed out quite a considerable amount buying fuel per month. 

After some months, it was only “common-sensical” that he’d increase the selling price of his products to survive the unending storms. 

5. Nigerians love packaging & marketing hysteria! (Branding & Marketing)

Victor took branding and marketing of his business seriously. He knew without sufficient awareness his products wouldn’t reach his target audience.

Hence, he went the traditional way. He advertised. He invested in radio and TV ads. He also printed flyers and distributed at strategic locations.

These efforts slightly improved sales.  


The light bulb moment! Victor finds a solution

So how did Victor overcome these challenges? One day, he googled the “biggest pastry company in his city” and found something that shook his entire business idea & plan. This was going to change his mindset about doing business in Nigeria forever.  


Learn from Victor’s footprints:

  1. He started small!

He knew he didn’t have the resources and the capital. These were okay too. He was going to start everything in his “room.” Yes, his room. He didn’t quit his job to just be a pastry guy like everyone in the crowd. He quit to make impact and change how Nigerians experienced “pastry” products. 

2. He stopped sleeping on “Digital!”

The biggest pastry company in his city slept on their digital presence. Yes, they were big offline. But he saw a huge gap his idea needed to fill quickly. They weren’t so heavy online. It was a golden opportunity for Victor. He registered his Google My Business page and optimized every keyword available. My goodness! Nigerians were really searching for the best birthday cakes and wedding cakes in his town. Sadly, they received only search results from towns far away.

Brilliant! This was indeed bigger than him. He had almost slept on selling online too.


3. Content & Social Media Marketing was something else

Remember, one of Victor’s initial challenge was finding worthy market information in his industry. Well, he did a little beyond Google. He carried out a small scale survey in his immediate environs to gather data. Then he realized people do wait hours to have their orders delivered. Even products like bread arrived to retailers and consumers stale.

He also learned Nigerians respected business brands that did more than selling. Customer service was important. The bakeries didn’t get their logistics right and were not good at communicating lags. Nigerian customers related more with brands that included customer experience in their product marketing.  

So on his social media, he was vocal beyond baking. He went to local schools and offered discounts to parents willing to celebrate children’s birthdays. He shared discount opportunities in his school alumni WhatsApp ground. He captured his customers’ celebratory moments and shared them on his business social handles. This consistency got him more than he expected. Most of them were shy but the results made them special.

4. A New Way of Looking at Business

Victor also turned around his marketing plan and leveraged digital marketing into his traditional. For him, digital marketing was cost effective and less stressful while also steadily giving results. It was a plus to his traditional marketing not a replacement.

So he reached out to former colleagues in his former company. He never pushed them to buy. Rather, he wanted them to know he was into baking and wouldn’t mind referrals. Oh yes they did. Orders were getting overwhelming from schools, weddings, churches, and workplaces. He was indeed ranking high on Google when users searched for pastry related products.


5. He had to outsource

He couldn’t do all himself. His business required management focus more than ever. He needed to employ staff and outsource marketing to experts. He had read about email marketing and how he could break into business environment with them. His business needed a website too. He had to outsource these things and focus on the original plan. The plan was coming true…to sell pastry products differently, to impress customers, to make impact!

At Persuasion network  we do more than helping Nigerian businesses attract customers online. We believe that every Nigerian business should have all the support services and tools they need to grow their businesses fast, empower their staff and make impact! their environment.

You should join us. We are on a journey to increase sales for 1000 businesses in Nigeria. 

Sign up to leverage our powerful support services and tools in SEO, email marketing, social media marketing and websites to make impact now.

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