While writing this article, I recalled an entrepreneurship course was introduced few years ago into the University Curriculum by the Federal Government in a bid to address the high unemployment rate among the youth; by educating students in their last lap of study on job creation due to the disappearance of the much sought after “white collar” jobs.

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A defect I discovered in the programme was that the approach was reactive in nature and as such, could not satisfy its purpose. Is the problem abated? – Still, no.

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Sociologists have pointed that man had always wanted to be free; though this freedom can be informed by lots of factors, but the bottom line is that man wants to take charge of his destiny; take control of his time, his finances and lifestyle. Being a successful entrepreneur to a large extent gives these benefits. As a business Analyst and SME Advisor, I would say here that being an entrepreneur is not an all comers platform.

If you are thinking of taking the entrepreneurial decision and running a successful business, you should stick to the following steps:

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1.  Develop A Business Plan: This is perhaps the first step to take before venturing out on your own as an entrepreneur and before making any financial commitment to the business.  Business plan, in summary, is an outlook of what you want to do, where you are coming from, where you are and where you wish to be in no distance time; it gives you the prospects of the business and reveals the pitfalls you are likely to encounter.

Draft your business plan to show the strengths and weaknesses you are likely to encounter in the business. Whereas experience has shown that people mostly prepare Business Plan just to impress the banks in order to secure loans. Business Plan should not just be to secure funding from commercial banks, but also a solid foundation to a successful business.

2.  Know How To Raise Fund: Funding and access to funds play a pivotal role in the takeoff and sustenance of start­-ups. Access to funds is one of the factors affecting the take-off of many business ideas; while existing businesses have folded up or remained dormant after some periods largely due to unavailability of funds for expansion. Access to capital, low-interest rate and long term repayment have been established to encourage the take-off of many business ideas, and likewise help to sustain such businesses. Statistics shows that eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a business fail within the first eighteen (18) months.

A research by Basil 2005 indicates that most Small and Medium Enterprises, particularly in Nigeria die within their first five years of existence. Another smaller percentage go into extinction between the sixth and tenth year, while only about five percent to 10 percent of young companies survive, thrive and grow to maturity; majorly due to inability to raise capital for starting and expansion at the due time.

Experts recommend entrepreneurs starting up new should finance their start-ups through these means as the risk involve is minimal in contrast to taking loans:

a) Family and friends

b) Personal savings

c)  Venture capital

3. Have an edge: Experts have often counsel that for you to succeed in turning your ideas into a profitable business you must possess the passion to oil your dream and you should go into an area you are enthusiastic about.

This, of course, is true, but passion alone cannot guarantee business success, in my walk as an SME advisor; I have often seen businesses start and sadly fold up, because the owner just had passion and nothing more. To have an edge implies you must have some pinch of experience. Passion may open the door, but experience keeps you long enough on the business.

When you mix passion to experience, the result is awesome. So before you dive into that business, ask yourself; what do I know about this business? What technical and operational skill do I have? You will be glad you answered those questions objectively.

4.Think Big; Start small: Thinking big does not necessarily mean you will start up big. It simply implies you know where you are going; you have the big picture of your future, but needs a humble start. Every business idea must have a long-term and short-term goals, your short-term goals are precursors to achieving your long-term goals. This is where you have to also keep your operation simple. You can start-up in your room, house or even garage. Many six-digit companies today, started from an informal setting.

5. Be innovative: As an entrepreneur, you have to generate sound ideas that would differentiate your products or service from that of your competitors. Your competitive ability is hinged on sound corporate practice and continuous innovation.

You are definitely not the only person rendering that service or selling that product. What makes you unique? What makes your customers stay loyal to you? Why would they prefer your product to that of your competitors? The questions are many, but one thing that differentiates you from your competitors is the power of your creativity.

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 6. Build A Good Team: Nobody knows it all, don’t forget. You are never an all brain. As your business is expanding and the need for more hands becomes pressing, you must build a formidable team of support to help you share and power your dream. You might not be good in all the business functions, get suitable people to handle some areas while you focus on your area of strength and basic function.

7. Consult With Experts: While you might have the skill or the passion, you would still need the services of professionals in your chosen area of interest. Somewhere and somehow, you would need a candid advice or professional opinion. It hurts to know that with a little piece of extra information you could have averted that pitfall. Be teachable and be willing to seek advice as you take the bold step.

These seven points are useful trip prospective entrepreneurs must implement in order to successfully navigate their way to the top.        

Leave a comment: Are you in business? What has been your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur? 

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