First Epistle to Uche Danlami, my ambitious entrepreneur friend, on 1 July 2018

First Epistle to Uche Danlami, my ambitious entrepreneur friend, on 1 July 2018

This “epistle” from Wole Oluyemi (@WoleOluyemiCo) to Uche Danlami is one of the structured series of writings from the author on SME business management, corporate governance, finance strategy, tax strategy, market entry strategy, corporate political strategy, financial accounting and financial reporting strategy. This series from Wole Oluyemi, usually referred to as the marketplace evangelist, is to complement the Business Unusual Seminars and the BizUnusual Mentorship Program (BMP) that are being hosted by him, as part of the initiatives of Roedl & Partner to enhance the development of sustainable SMEs and family businesses across Africa.

 

  1. This epistle is to Uche Danlami, a sister from another set of parents, closely joined by our faith in the great opportunities that we both have in this country called Nigeria. I thank you for the great respect that you have for me, to be able to display readiness and eagerness to voluntarily seek for my mentorship through the BizUnusual Mentorship Program (BMP), despite knowing that I am also a “hustler” in the Nigeria business scene.
  2. I am writing you this message from the balcony of my house, sitting on a small local stool I bought from a furniture company that has now folded up. The furniture company was located around Berger in Ojodu, near the location of the recent fatal tanker explosion that destroyed about 50 cars during the past week.
  3. I bring greetings from my friend, David O., whom you have not met. David is also a believer in your potentials and that of several other Nigerian youths that are strong enough to venture into entrepreneurship in Nigeria. As I once urged your cousin, John Abubakar, let me emphasize that you need to carefully avoid disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, disrespect to elders, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth.
  4. I am particularly pleased and excited, that despite the challenges of the Nigerian business environment, you have continued to achieve significant growth in your business. While I respect your strong beliefs in the efficacy of prayer, I am delighted of the strong efforts that you have continued to invest into your business, especially in the areas of branding, social media communications, marketing and business development.
  5. The entirety of your branding and marketing activities is gradually positioning your products as a premium brand. This is further elucidated by the positioning of your flagship stores in Ikoyi, Lekki Phase 1 and Ikeja GRA parts of Lagos. The product marketing brochures and the product pricing are also emphasizing the premium status of the products.
  6. As I mentioned during one of my recent keynote addresses, perception is reality and it matters in business. The perception of a customer about a company determines whether the customer will continue to patronise that company, or even bring referrals to the business. Premium product status, elitism and nobility are all perception games that can be carefully used to influence the consumers by only knowledgeable people.
  7. I am sure that Dr. Malcolm, the eloquent and brilliant marketing lecturer during our MBA program at Lagos Business School, will be very excited with how you have implemented your marketing strategy through a well deployed “5 Ps of marketing” – product, pricing, place, promotion and p Every entrepreneur needs to ensure consistency in his or her product, pricing, place, promotion and people strategies.
  8. The 5 Ps are key marketing elements designed to help an entrepreneur think about business strategically. For any new start-up or growing business, the 5 Ps of marketing can help strategize about the different areas of the business and how the business can add value and offer a product or service different from the competitors.
  9. The product element refers to what you are offering as a whole – what exactly are you selling to your customers? That is, what is your unique selling proposition (USP)? This includes the value added features, branding and packaging as well as service and warranty terms. For example, a cosmetics producer who is looking to grow such business might think about giving the customers a free gift-wrapping service as an additional incentive to encourage patronage.
  10. The price element refers to the way prices are set for the products or services. It generally includes all the parts that make up the overall cost, including the advertised price, any discounts, sales, credit terms or other payment arrangements or price matching services that are being offered. Of course, the pricing will also depend on the business’s position in the market. For example, if a business projects itself as a low-cost hotel service, then the pricing should reflect that choice. Any entrepreneur that aims to grow his or her business must consider if the pricing reflects the company’s business positioning.
  11. The place element refers to how you deliver your product or service to your customers. For example, you could choose to provide your product from a shop, over the internet or through a distributor.  The profile of the targeted store location(s) needs to be clear and shared with the team. In addition, there might also be a consideration as to whether an e-commerce platform could be advantageous for the business.
  12. The promotion element refers to all the activities and methods being used to promote the business and products. This includes sales, public relations, direct marketing and advertising. For example, if the target market for a business is the millennials, then social media marketing might be a key component of the promotional strategy.
  13. The people element refers to yourself, your staff and your customers. I will encourage you to pay special attention to your “people” strategy and your recruitment processes. You’ll need to consider both your staff and customers if you’re thinking of growing your business. There must be a clear process – job opening, setting of requirements, application process, selection process, salary determination, employee communications, performance reviews, promotion determination and performance rewards. None of these should be based on sentiments or emotions.
  14. Based on your request, I met with your accountant last week. He appears like a previously unidentified recruitment error (P.U.R.E.) to me. Although he was scheduled by my Executive Assistant to meet with me by 1PM, he only arrived at my office at 3:30pm without any prior apologies. He mentioned that one of his uncles came to the office to greet him and he forgot about the appointment until your Front Desk lady reminded him. I had to reschedule my meeting with him to last Friday.
  15. Again, the accountant arrived one hour late for the 8AM meeting on Friday. The Front Desk Officer/Office Assistant was already waiting for him at our reception as she mentioned that you wanted them to go together to the FIRS Tax office by 10AM, straight from my office. It was during my curious questioning that I realised that the accountant was employed because your pastor referred him to you after being unable to secure a job for about three years after his graduation. He mentioned that he had a Third Class degree from that College of Education in the North that was recently upgraded to a University status.
  16. During our discussions, it appeared that he might be unable to prepare the required simple accounting reports that you require, despite all the explanations and tutorials that my colleague and I provided for him. However, the Front Desk lady, Uzoamaka, a marketing graduate from YabaTech, showed a lot of interest and enthusiasm on this task. She appears more knowledgeable and capable in preparing the required reports. While still at my office, she was already searching for online resources where she can further improve on the knowledge gained at the short meeting on Friday. She is definitely hungry for knowledge and experience.
  17. Although we gave the task of preparing the draft accounts to both the accountant and Uzoamaka, the Frontdesk lady, it was only Uzoamaka that sent in her report to my collegue by Friday evening. It was an excellent job as the profit and loss account was well prepared and explained. It appears to me that she might be able to combine her FronDesk role along with that of the accountant; hence this could be an opportunity to further right size and optimise your payroll costs. I will, however, suggest that Uzoamaka’s salary be adjusted upwards to reflect this additional responsibility.
  18. Uche, let me also appreciate your attempt to prepare the financial accounts for the 2018 half year that ended 30 June 2018. Although the report suggests that the business has continued to be unprofitable, let me assure you that it is not uncommon to see a start-up business in an unprofitable position at the market entry phase. However, it is a good idea for you to have a budgeted plan, no matter how simple that budget is, in order for you to track your business performance. What you don’t measure, you cannot control or track. I will suggest that Uzoamaka be made to always prepare the monthly financial reports so that you can always review the business performance on a monthly basis. For smaller start-ups, there are simple MS Excel templates that can be adopted for this purpose. I have always shared such templates with participants in the BizUnusual Mentorship Program.
  19. I am hopeful that you will observe the above guidance without prejudice, doing nothing that will work against the true person that you are, a survivor and a conqueror, despite the challenges of our nation.
  20. I became aware of the tax issues that your company is having at the moment. Unfortunately, I need to quickly attend a media interview on the impact of the recently approved 2018 Nigerian budget. In my next epistle to you, I will provide you with my thoughts on the tax issues and how SMEs like yours needs to structure your business to avoid having tax issues.
  21. From my side, I have some good news to share with you as well. I hosted the Business Unusual Seminar again last month. We had about 25 participants from all business sectors at the session. It was very interactive and fun. The food was absolutely amazing! Subsequent to this session, we have now gotten requests from Ibadan, Abeokuta, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Calabar for us to bring the seminars to those wonderful cities. The next few months is definitely going to be busy.
  22. Please extend my greetings to John Abubakar, your cousin. Due to my recent frequent travels, I have not been able to have an extended discussion or communication with him since the middle of last year. I am, however, very hopeful that he has continued to make great strides in his career.
  23. I pray, as we like to do here, that you would continue to make substantial advancement in your business, as we enter the second half of the year.
  24. I remain your brother and friend. I will be excited to discuss further with you later in the week on any of my social handles – @WoleOluyemiCo on Twitter, Instagram and FaceBook.

 

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