From harnessing the elements to create power, recycling waste and exporting food; Africans are coming up with mind-blowing business ideas every day. But what exactly is responsible for the fresh air of optimism brewing so much confidence for these small and medium scale entrepreneurs? It definitely has to do with some trends that have been hidden from plain sight.
As a result, this development provides an additional reason to start considering your dreams and ideas that have been kept away for too long. If you’re already in business, here are some factors that will help you thrive:
A popular consensus on why most entrepreneurs kicked off business ownership is the poor satisfaction with their regular 9 – 5 jobs, which was no longer fulfilling for them coupled with the economic recession that has led to the downsizing of many organisations. While being dissatisfied maybe the nudge that entrepreneurs need to start their own businesses, most of the small business owners thriving today are following their passion not the money. Successful entrepreneurs are seldom motivated exclusively by money and are still able to attain wealth because they believe in what they are doing and infuse personal values into how they build their business. Starting a business to add value and not just money, will also help you make better long term business decisions.
The Age of Entrepreneur
Although the 45 – 65 year bracket is still the most popular age bracket for entrepreneurs, there has been a significant increase in entrepreneurs who fall within the ages of 30-39 and below. Starting a business as early as possible has unique benefits because the owners are better suited to bear the potential risk of failure and it enables one to reap the rewards of success longer. As a young entrepreneur, you have the energy and motivation to run a business but these decline as you grow older. You are also more adaptable to situations which implies you can build many businesses in your 20s and 30s. So, if your first business venture fails, that experience allows you to bounce back faster and to launch a better business plan.
Type of Business
Besides being passionate about a particular line of business, it is important not to get swayed by just what you have a passion for. Pay attention to the type of business that will thrive in a certain economic clime. It is foolhardy to think selling winter boots in Ibadan will thrive however fashionable it may be. Of course, there are many entrepreneurs willing to take the leap in starting their own business from ground zero but have you considered purchasing an existing business or franchise? Although taking over an existing business has its challenges, it also has some encouraging benefits such as having an established brand, customer-base, and a direct cash flow. You may want to try this option since this groundwork has been laid out for you, while you just focus on growth instead.
While some business owners still rely on the traditional methods of raising funds such as loans, credit facilities or equity, crowdfunding has made it possible to test your business idea in advance. It is a great alternative financing option to explore for the growth of your business. It helps you to achieve two things – secure terms for free funds except for equity funding and a large group of early adopters. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, also provide electronic payments directly from their websites. The basic principle of this method funding is to offer a pre-sale of your goods and services to your target market. When the money has been pledged, it is your responsibility to ensure that the products or services are delivered. Asides raising capital, entrepreneurs are exploring crowdfunding as a beta-testing mechanism to validate their products before further investment in product development.
Many business owners tend to feel a bit skeptical about segmenting their market because they think their different market segments are too small to be broken into market units. But many entrepreneurs thriving in the small and medium scale industry understand that no business is too small to stand on its own, having a brand identity. Mrs. Ajayi who runs a dry-cleaning business, manufactures washing agents and toiletries such as hand wash, air fresheners and disinfectants and also offers office-cleaning services. Instead of relying on the ‘one-size-fits-all’ messaging and branding, she segmented each arm of the business into different market units even though they are all related. Segmentation is basically reaching the right customers through the right message at the right time by using information such as location, product interest, communication channels and so on.
Every startup has its own peculiarities but more small businesses are breaking out because entrepreneurs are embracing the Lean Startup method. According to Eric Ries, the lean startup method focuses on using easy-to-execute strategies in order to make more informed, less costly decisions. By using technology to automate daily, repetitive tasks, small business owners can remain lean when building their business because they don’t have to invest greatly in large office spaces since the workforce is still minimal or get caught up in ambiguous expenses.
A striking feature about most of the entrepreneurs launching out today is the demographic; a majority of today’s small business owners are millennials! As the biggest demographic segment of the African population, many small businesses are thriving because a large number of their CEOs are subject-matter experts. Millennials are driven, chase their passion, and are also able to learn fast and adapt quickly. They know how to network online and understand the power of affiliations.
These opportunities however, are not only available to millennials, but for any individual who is willing to apply the right set of elements in the entrepreneurship revolution happening in Africa and across the world.
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