As I write this, the nationwide strike against the Nigerian government’s removal of petroleum subsidy has just kicked off. There is very light vehicular traffic – very unusual for a Monday morning – on the adjoining roads to Berger Bridge which is the take-off point for the Abuja protests. At this time, my heart bleeds for entrepreneurs, 9japreneurs and all other small business owners that have been affected in one way or the other by poor government policies, especially having to spend large amounts on fueling generators to power the business premises. However, 9japreneurs must be resilient and keep finding strategies to keep the business growing regardless of the challenges in the market and in the nation.
On that note, I have decided to share some smart tips that can help kick-start and sustain business growth. The key here is to practice this tips and modify it to suit your business situation. I am not a fan of “one size fits all solutions” since the consulting industry has taught me that no two clients/scenarios/problems are ever completely the same.
Tip 1 – Maintain discipline in all aspects of your business venture
Discipline is very critical to sustaining growth in any business and 9japreneurs must take this seriously for your venture to succeed, especially in a society where government policy is still very unstable. This discipline must cut across all areas of the business including financial spending, hiring, sales, granting credits, performance management etc. If you can afford it, it pays to invest in the development of policies and procedures in order to have a standard process by which you will carry out your activities.
Most importantly, as an entrepreneur, you must divorce yourself from the business venture especially when it comes to spending funds. You must be disciplined enough to ensure that you are not eating into the profits without knowing it. Rather, set a fixed monthly salary for yourself and stick with that.
Tip 2 – Understand Your Market and Stay Ahead Of The Competition
In today’s highly competitive market, it is very important to have a deep understanding of the market and devise strategies to stay ahead of the competition. It is not enough to try to maintain your market share, rather your company must strive to increase it. A constant review of the successful strategies and unsuccessful ones will give a 9japreneur an idea of where to focus company energy. Also, you must be quickly responsive to changes in the market place, though in a fashion that is risk aware.
Jason Jennings passes advice to stay ahead of the competition with the titles of two of his books namely:
- Think Big, Act Small
- It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small… It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow
The strategies in these books are succinct enough to help you stay ahead of the competition at all times.
Tip 3 – Adapt Quickly to Changes
Everything in today’s world, both in business and otherwise tends to change by the minute and 9japreneurs must be able to respond to that change in good time in order to sustain business growth. You must have your ears to the ground and quickly respond to changing customer tastes, payment methods, financial regulations etc. there is so much to keep up with in order to stay ahead.
As an entrepreneur, you must keep an open mind, think of sustainable means of growing your business, re-evaluate previous successes and failures and also foster a culture of innovation. Remember that innovative people are usually able to come up with solutions outside the status quo.
Endeavor to take this tips bit-by-bit, practice them, de-brief them and evaluate reasons for success. According to Entrepreneur Magazine “The more thoroughly you plan each stage of your business activities before you begin, the greater the probability that you will succeed when you commence operations.”