We came across a Facebook post suggesting that certain businesses perform better when they are unstructured compared to when they are structured. The person asserted that a renowned Nigerian blogger, Linda Ikeji, is struggling ever since she became structured, but that is quite a baseless assertion without specific indices or metrics to measure the performance of her business. The argument had so many holes in it, we didn’t even know which one to address or ignore, but our take away was that many people do not understand what structure means.
Here are some insights on structuring your business:
1. Structuring does not mean leaving your product-market fit. If you were doing very well by selling food to Tricycle Drivers and then you go build a gigantic edifice with air conditioners in the name of structuring, you are just burying your business alive. The drivers won’t follow you but will switch to another option.
2. Structuring does not mean leaving what is working and going to experiment with the unknown. If Linda Ikeji leaves what has been working for her to new terrain, she may struggle before getting it right again, if she does.
3. Structuring does not mean you stop innovating. If you become relaxed simply because you got structured, you will lose out. The more structured you become, the more you have to be on your toes innovating.
4. Structuring does not mean fancy offices and glam. It is not about “I have arrived”, you will be pushed over to the sideline.
5. Structuring is about becoming BETTER ORGANIZED as the business grows gradually. When a bukka woman teaches her daughter to cook the meals as well, it is structuring. When she teaches her Son how to go buy foodstuff from the market, it is structuring. When she keeps proper inventory of the foodstuff to check them against daily sales to ensure there is no theft or unrecorded debts to customers, it is structuring. When she can take a break and business is still ongoing, it is structuring. The list goes on.
6. Structuring is about creating systems and processes, no matter how basic. You cannot seek a serious business loan with your personal account, you need to open a business bank account and that requires BVN, a registered business, Tax identification, etc.
Our investor at Mapemond asked us, “what if I die, what will happen to my investment in your company?” our answer was all around systems, processes and ultimately, structuring.
You cannot desire to be another Dangote, Otedola, Elumelu, Jason Njoku, Ibukun Awosika, and all these people and not be thinking in terms of structure over time.
Davido and WizKid will direct you to their managers if you want to do business with them, even personal brands have their own approach to structuring. That is why they create DMW, Mavin Records, and the likes.
We have to break the fetters and manacles holding us spellbound to the hustle and survival mentality while thinking that we can build a big business by staying unstructured and evading FIRS and the rest perpetually.
Global Ventures that…
All the fancy desires will not happen by mere wishes, you have to build structures diligently and consistently for several years.
If your clients’ work will be on hold because you have malaria, your business is an endangered specie.
We don’t like to think about it, but what if you die? What happens to the monies you collected from people? Pending salaries? Etc?
Please share this, let’s empower more entrepreneurs with the right knowledge.
If you think otherwise, then this post is not for you.
We wish you well in your endeavors.
2. Good Business.
The whole idea of branding is to market your business in such a way that it has a fixed place in the minds of customers and the market at large. What this implies is that branding on its own will not make any difference if your business model and strategy are flawed.
You could have all the fanciful designs, inspiring ambiance, well-painted walls, fabulous signage, pleasant service delivery, visually appealing communications, and all other concepts, they will all amount to nothing if the business is not generating enough revenue to be profitable.
So here are a few things to consider in building a good business.
a) Business Idea. Beyond hobby, passion, or copying what others are doing, your business idea should be aimed at solving a problem. An idea that meets a need will beget a good business.
b) Product Viability. Beyond your assumptions and excitements, does your product really work? Will people actually pay for it? Does a sizeable market exist for the product or service? If your product (or service) is not viable, you cannot build a good business around it.
c) Business Model. A good business is one that has clearly defined sources of revenue. You must have a plan of how exactly the business will make money repeatedly.
d) Business Strategy. No experienced person starts a business and leaves it to chance. You need to have plans on breaking into the market, gaining market share, retaining customers, and so on.
e) Growth Possibilities. As the years unfold, a good business should be expanding in revenue, workforce, market size, new products, and so on.
f) Systems & Processes. You need to organize the business as much as possible. Establish guiding rules and operational procedures for finance, HR, procurement, bids and tender, and every other aspect of the business. Develop and maintain a global perspective.
g) Corporate Governance. This pertains to the leadership structure of the business. If you want a business that can function without you or even outlive you, a business that keeps everyone accountable, and for quality decision making, you need a solid corporate governance structure. A good business leaves a legacy and creates a succession plan.
Your business model and strategy is like a socket with electricity, branding is the plug, it must get into the socket and the switch turned on. If you want a solid brand, keep working at building a solid business.
Building profitable and reputable BRANDS is what we love doing.
More lessons coming on what makes a solid brand.
As the spirit of enterprise keeps gaining momentum across Nigeria and Africa, I want to encourage startup founders and small business owners, to feel the pulse of their target market and ensure their ideas match the needs. As an entrepreneur, you might need to go back to the drawing table to reexamine what you are proposing to your prospective customers.
Do not just run with an idea that inspired you from New York, London, China or Toronto, translate the idea to have practical touch points with your target customers in your own primary market. Often times there is a tendency for entrepreneurs to be carried away with several sparks of foreign ideas, alien from their immediate environment. At the long run, their new product or service is hardly relatable and does not match the needs of clients.
If researches are too expensive for you, just pay closer attention to the lifestyle and behavioral patterns of people in your surroundings, engage in conversations and most importantly listen more. Also, study the ventures that are doing well and gain some market insights.
Have you observed how mobile phone retailers operate? Have you ever noticed the Supermarket and Fast Food Restaurant Chains? You should pay closer attention to them. Try to do a recollection of the strength of strong brands; remember Facebook thrives on the need for humans to connect, AirBnB thrives on accommodation (housing), Uber on physical cars, and so on. What is the point? Understand your local markets; housing, transportation/ticketing, health, finance, labour, fashion, education, etc. and plug your idea accordingly.
Making money is about the market, not what tickles your fancy. It should be registered in your mind that the essence of being in business is to satisfy the needs of longing customers who are always in search of a solution to their many problems. With this mindset, you will be meeting the demands of the market.
Before you think of going WIDE, first go DEEP. Test the waters, I believe that’s why the tech enthusiasts have what they call ‘beta’. Ensure you test your assumptions before you take the plunge. Carryout a proper market research, analyze and think through your innovation before it goes public. Whether it is a new idea or revamped one, tailor it to fit your target clientele.
Every entrepreneur has what it takes to churn out quality success stories, so remain encouraged in your pursuit. Finally, I leave this here;
“Innovation does not start with ideas but with customer insights” – Els Grabt
Written by Maple Dappa
Do you need help in drawing a market plan? We can help! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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