Building a million dollar business in sub-Saharan Africa is the dream of many. In fact, millions. But not many have succeeded at this. Only a few have been able to build a million dollar business from zero. Obviously, this isn’t an easy job. There are just a few reasons responsible for the success or failure of entrepreneurs who have successfully built big businesses, and those who have failed at it.
- Risk Management
Perhaps, one of the areas where many young entrepreneurs ignore. Your ability to identify risks that affect your business is very crucial to the very survival of your business. Next is learning how to manage risks with the best tools available to you. You don’t have to run away from risks like many failed businesses did, but rather manage them. Only then will your business be rewarded with growth. All successful businesses manage risks on daily basis. Start scanning the environment within which you operate and every other factor that can affect your business in the short and long term. Do not forget to look internally as well for such factors as key personnel, concentration on single product or market, overdependence on debt financing, among others.
There’s no way your business is going to grow if you don’t sell your products or services. No matter how excellent your product is, you must learn to sell it. Coca-cola and Samsung are spending billions of dollars marketing and selling their products, despite the huge popularity of their brands and product quality. Why not sell yours? To be a successful seller or salesman, you have to learn everything from the fundamentals. Consider buying books (Brian Tracy’s books) and attending seminars and taking courses that improve your skills. Only then can you grow your sales –and your business.
- Cash flow Management
Bringing revenues and growing it exponentially each month would not guarantee a successful business. There are household brands out there making millions of sales and yet recording losses at the end of the financial period. Prudent financial management is very vital to the growth of a business, and cash flow management is at the heart of this. The life in your business is based on effective control of cash flows. There are businesses that declare profits, yet their bank account has nothing in it, neither is there hope of immediate collections. Effective cash flow management is what puts you in a good position to pay wages and salaries without delay, pay suppliers when due, receive your money from customers when due, avoid unnecessary overdrafts on your bank account, and many others. To remain in business, you need cash. Money makes the world go round.
- Negotiation Skills
Have you ever made a deal only to regret it moments or days after? Sometimes, to the point of wanting to go back on your own words? That certainly is poor negotiation. I have negotiated deals worth hundreds of millions in the past on behalf of my employers –most of them I was very proud of myself and a few that I really felt like knocking my head hard against my office wall. Negotiation in business is a skill. You develop over time. And negotiation isn’t just about good verbal communication. There are times to start from a position of strength and there are those times when you know it’s a matter of practically asking for a favour –as long as it gets you a good deal! Being able to cut good deals for your business will always bring tremendous growth.
- Leadership & Networking
What do you do when you acquire a failing business? Most entrepreneurs would fire the leadership and bring on board new leaders. Reason is simple; the leaders are responsible for taking the business down in the first place. To grow you business you must become a good leader, not just a good manager. Good leaders bring out the best in everybody and make sure business forges ahead in strength. Here again, you may have to take lessons where necessary to polish up your leadership skills. Only then can you lead your business into success.
Networking is the engine of today’s business growth; from small corner shops to global brands. This has even been made easier with the growth of social media platforms that make networking comfortable for even the most introvert person. Go ahead and send a friend request to that person you have never had the chance to meet in person. Then you can request to meet in person. It’s not as simple, but make the effort to network for the sake of your business. Only then do you get new business leads.
- Excellent Customer Service
There’s nothing as futile as spending dollars to acquire customers only for them to walk away the next day. There’s something you’re not doing well. It has to be poor customer service –if you’re product is right. Take feedbacks from customers who do not come back to buy as well as those who have been with you over the years. A simple analysis of the responses should quickly lead you to what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Your next step is to initiate remedial actions, in consultation with customers, of course.
- Know Your Business and Products
Sometimes I meet people who tell me they are running their own businesses and would like me to tell people about it, that is, direct customers to their door. So I ask them “what kind of business it it” and they fumble with the response. If you don’t know your business and products well enough, how do you expect to sell it to someone? To succeed with your business start-up, must know your business thoroughly! You must know what you are selling, what you stand for, the future of your business, who your target customers are, what the product can do and cannot do. These you must know without any ambiguity. There are stories of successful entrepreneurs who say they started without knowing what exactly they were doing, but you cannot also bet on becoming successful by not knowing exactly what you are doing.
Knowing exactly what you’re about and where you are heading towards gives you a clear direction for you to follow and remain focused.
These factors will help you lift your business from where it is to the next step at least, if you take them seriously and improve yourself in each area. These are the secrets of many successful businessmen.