Becoming a successful entrepreneur in a business terrain such as Nigeria is a venture fraught with peculiar challenges. Considering the many little details that naturally go into setting up a business and nurturing it to a path of profitability and sustainability, many entrepreneurs can be forgiven for getting lost along the way.
However, ask any successful entrepreneur and you will discover that mistakes are a luxury an entrepreneur cannot afford. These useful tips from the Research and Development Unit of Yudala – Nigeria’s pioneer online and offline e-commerce outfit – will guide you from making these costly mistakes that may mar your entrepreneurial journey.
Thinking you can do it all alone
As an entrepreneur, it is understandable to think that no one can sell your idea or product better or more passionately than yourself. While this mindset may serve you well at the outset, this may significantly hamper your speed or lead to mental and physical fatigue/burnout, especially as you scale up. Even if your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) rivals that of Albert Einstein, you will benefit from relying on the expertise and input of other knowledgeable hands, employees, consultants or partners. These reliable external influences can help provide the much-needed new perspective or fresh strategy that will help take your business to the next level. This is also important for entrepreneurs who, out of force of habit, get stuck in a particular way of doing things simply because it works, without realizing that there might be a smarter, more efficient way to achieve better results.
Refusal to take pains before pleasure
This is a flaw that is predominantly rife among the new generation of entrepreneurs. Many have had their sterling entrepreneurial dreams cut short simply because they were not ready to start small and take pains before pleasure. Entrepreneurship is a difficult, arduous journey; one that certainly requires steely discipline and in most cases, gradual growth. Sadly, it is common these days to see many budding entrepreneurs embrace a flamboyant lifestyle at the first signs of success. If you choose to buy that expensive car or fly Business Class from the moment you close your first big deal, you may be making a mistake that could truncate your success. For long-term and sustainable success, every entrepreneur must be ready to take the business through a structured incubation period in order to survive in a highly competitive knowledge-driven economy. This demands not only moral and financial discipline but a determination to make huge sacrifices.
Not allowing technology lead
The world has gone digital. In fact, we are approaching the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also described as Industry 4.0: an age in which a range of new technologies are expectedly fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds in addition to impacting all disciplines, economies and industries. This is an age marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.
Whatever the nature of your business, you will be struggling against an overwhelming tide if your business is not technology-driven. The 21st Century entrepreneur is one that is not only technology-smart but willing to continually find new ways to automate his business. You definitely cannot keep up with competition if you don’t make the most of technology. With the growing utility of the smartphone and other tech-gadgets, a number of opportunities have emerged, presenting refreshingly new ways for consuming goods and services. For smart entrepreneurs, these technology-enabled platforms also lower business costs and the barriers to create and sustain wealth.
Allowing sentiments cloud business decisions
Sentiments or emotions have no place in business. The best and most successful entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: they are renowned for their bloody-mindedness when it comes to taking business decisions. The ability to make effective business decisions is one that could spell the difference between brilliant success and dismal failure for every entrepreneur. This is especially considering the fact that, as a business leader, you are bound to make loads of decisions every day that have a direct impact on your business, employees, customers or the marketplace. These include hiring or manpower requirements as your success heavily depends on the competence of your employees; expansion plans, operational or financial decisions. Such sensitive decisions are best treated as they ought to: from the perspective of its impact and benefit to the business.
Even if you operate in a niche market, the peculiarities of contemporary society and fickle attention span of potential consumers means that you must properly market your product, solution or idea for it to get accepted. Unconsciously, many new entrepreneurs often make this mistake of erroneously believing that their products/ideas are so novel or unique that they can get away with a meagre effort at marketing. For these ones, it is worth restating that the days of the maxim: “If you build it, they will come,” seems to be long gone. If you desire success as an entrepreneur, then you must admit the fact that your business must effectively invest in marketing. In addition to the word of mouth/free referrals that will come from constantly delivering great service, your business stands a better chance if you work out efficient marketing strategies that will necessarily accommodate content marketing, digital marketing, point-of-sales, promotional marketing, SEO, PR and paid advertising, among others.
Underestimating the importance of customer service
It is easy for entrepreneurs to forget one of the major reasons they remain in business: the customer. This mistake often creeps in when a business begins to acquire more patrons and success seems more within reach. That is when the tendency to treat customers with levity begins to rear its ugly head, often with dire consequences for the unsuspecting business owner. With access to the internet on the rise and social media coming to play a more important role in the swift dissemination of news and other information, you will be making a grave mistake underestimating the importance of keeping the least customer happy. Your business can quickly go from being the darling of your patrons to trending on social media for the wrong reasons. Instructively, the vituperations of a disgruntled customer can erode months of goodwill you have built up. Also, you must bear in mind that negative news spreads faster than good news. To avoid this pitfall, it is important to ensure that the channels of communication with the customer are kept open. Feedback is essential and you can ask your customers to provide these through your interactions with them. This way, you can keep your fingers on the pulse of the customer, identify areas of weaknesses and understand the customer’s expectations.