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23 Tips to Become Your Own Boss in Nigeria

Become Your Own Boss: You’re ready. At least, you think you are.

You know what you want to do.

At least, you think you do.

You’re passionate, independent, motivated, organized.

It feels right, but what if all goes wrong?

Those wonderful children of yours aren’t going to put themselves through college.

Should you or shouldn’t you quit your day job and start your own business?

Become Your Own Boss

It’s a question more and more Nigerians are asking themselves.

The allure of the so-called “company man” is gone.

And the appetite for autonomy is on the rise.

According to a recent NPR story, 800,000 Nigerians walk out of their cubicles and start their own businesses every year.

Not everybody is doing it of course, just enough people to populate a city the size of the country.

The question is what’s holding you back?

The NPR report recounts the story of Dave Selden, who turned a love affair with beer into a company.

Become Your Own Boss

33 Books, that sells pocket-sized tasting notebooks not just for beer but for cheese.

Hot sauce, cigars, and other “self-indulgences.

Company has been growing steadily since 2009.

But it wasn’t until three years ago that he finally, reluctantly, quit his day job.

Selden advises taking it slowly, but two other entrepreneurs profiled in the NPR story.

Brian and Maggie Harlow, whose Signarama franchise provides businesses with everything from refrigerator magnets.

To storefront signs, advocate rolling up your sleeves and going all in.

If we kept depending on secondary income from somewhere else,” Brian says, “we would never push hard enough on this.”

There you have it: Two inspiring small business success stories, zero consensus about the best way to start your own.

What’s a restless, entrepreneurial-minded cubicle-dweller to do?

If you want to start a business but don’t know where to start, don’t worry–you are not alone.

In fact, given the new economic reality of our time.

More people than ever before have found the job .

They thought was waiting for them doesn’t exist.

Others have come to the conclusion that they would rather create work they love.

Constructed to fit with their own life goals.

No matter what the motivation is to be your own boss, you can start today.

1. Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Everybody knows launching a business can be an intimidating process.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of resources available to help you decide whether or not you’re ready to make the leap.

The Nigerian Small Business Association offers  questions budding entrepreneurs should ask themselves before starting their own businesses.

Forbes proscribes  reality checks you’d be wise to weigh your resolve against.

Entrepreneur proposes  signs you should look for to confirm your enterprising nature.

Though it doesn’t specify how many of these traits you need to exhibit in order to ensure your success.

If there’s one thing each of these surveys shares in common.

It’s that you have to do what’s right for you.

(You already knew that.)

1. Take a Stand for Yourself.

If you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances.

Admit that no one can fix them except for you.

It doesn’t do any good to blame the economy, your boss, your spouse or your family.

Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen.

2.  Do you have a Big Idea?

Is there a market for it? Is that market large and growing or is the space overly crowded?  Most importantly: Do you believe in your idea enough to put your own money behind it?

3. Identify the Right Business for You.

Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself (your personality, social styles, age) and listen to your intuition. We tend to ignore intuition even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself “What gives me energy even when I’m tired?”

How do you know what business is “right” for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:

4. Are you ready for a major lifestyle change?

If you go your own way, the days of clocking in and clocking out are over. The days of juggling multiple roles and working ’round the clock are just beginning. Be realistic about the time commitment.

5. Do What You Know:

Have you been laid off or want a change?

Look at work you have done for others in the past and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.

6. Are you good with people

It’s one thing to be independent-minded, but every entrepreneur will eventually need to tap the expertise of others in order to succeed. It pays to a people person with solid management skills.

Become Your Own Boss

7. Do What Others Do

Learn about other businesses that interest you.

Once you have identified a business you like, emulate it.

8.  Are you motivated by the right impulses

You should have a burning desire to blaze a trail and create something new, not simply get away from your current boss.

If you’re simply fed up with the status quo, or eager to get out of your existing role with the company, don’t start a business.

Schedule an appointment with HR

Become Your Own Boss

9. Solve a Common Problem:

Is there a gap in the market? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to market?

Note:This is the highest-risk of the three approaches.

If you choose to do this, make sure that you become a student and gain knowledge first before you spend any money.

10.  Can you take the heat? Ultimately.

There is way to ensure your success. Appetite for risk is a big part of the equation.

If there’s one thing every business owner have in common, it’s that the buck stops with them.

Become Your Own Boss

11. Business Planning Improves Your Chances for Success.

Most people don’t plan, but it will help you get to market faster.

A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus and confidence.

A plan does not need to be more than one page.

As you write down your goals, strategies and action steps, your business becomes real.

Ask yourself the following questions:
– What am I building?
– Who will I serve?
– What is the promise I am making to my customers/clients and to myself?
– What are my objectives, strategies and action plans (steps) to achieve my goals?

Become Your Own Boss

12. Know Your Target Audience Before You Spend a Penny.

Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services.

This may be the most important thing you do.

You can do this by validating your market.

In other words, who, exactly, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends?

And don’t say. “Everyone in America will want my product.” Trust me–they won’t.

What is the size of your target market?

Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?

There is industry research available that you can uncover for free.

Read industry articles with data (Google the relevant industry associations) and read Census data to learn more.

However, the most important way to get this information is to ask your target market/customers directly and then listen.

13. Understand Your Personal Finances and Choose the Right Kind of Money You Need for Your Business.

As an entrepreneur, your personal life and business life are interconnected.

You are likely to be your first–and possibly only–investor.

Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your personal finances.

And the ability to track them, is an essential first step before seeking outside funding for your business.

This is why I recommend setting up your personal accounts in a money management system such as Mint.com to simplify this process.
As you are creating your business plan.

Become Your Own Boss

You will need to consider what type of business you are building–a lifestyle business.

Smaller amount of startup funds franchise.

Moderate investment depending on the franchise.

Or a high-tech business will require significant capital investment.

Depending on where you fall on the continuum.

You will need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business.

And it does matter what kind of money you accept.

Become Your Own Boss

14. Build a Support Network.

You’ve made the internal commitment to your business.

Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies and vendors.

If you believe in your business, others will, too.

Network locally, nationally & via social networks.

Become Your Own Boss

Join networks like NAPW.com, your local chamber of commerce, or other relevant business groups.

Here are some networking basics:
When attending networking events, ask others what they do and think about how you can help them.

The key is to listen more than tout yourself.
– No matter what group you join, be generous, help others and make introductions without charging them.
– By becoming a generous leader, you will be the first person that comes to mind when someone you’ve helped needs your service or hears of someone else who needs your service.

Become Your Own Boss

15. Sell By Creating Value.

Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don’t want to be “sold.

Focus on serving others.

The more people you serve, the more money you will make.

When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself:

– What can I give them?
– How can I make them successful in their own pursuits?
– This approach can help lead you to new ways to hone your product or service and deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate.

Become Your Own Boss

16. Get the Word Out.

Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology.

Embrace and use the most effective online tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to broadcast your news.

Use social networks as “pointer” sites; i.e., to point to anything you think will be of interest to your fans and followers.

Even though social networks are essential today you must use them.

Don’t underestimate the power of other methods to get the word out.

Example word-of-mouth marketing, website and internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, columns and articles, speeches, e-mail, newsletters, and the old-fashioned but still essential telephone.

Become Your Own Boss

17.  Take Action

Start where you are with what you have.

The distance between you and the greater you is: action!

Part of starting a business is conducting thorough market and product/service offering research.

Become Your Own Boss

18. Evaluate your idea:

The more information you can gather about the potential demand for your product or service, about your competitors.

And about the needs and wants of your prospective customers.

The more successful you are likely to be.

Remember: 80% structuring 20% implementation.

Become Your Own Boss

19. Love and believe in what you do

Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Doing what you love is freedom and you will always do great.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed between successful people and unsuccessful people isn’t intelligence or opportunity or resources.

It’s the belief that they can make their goals happen.

Believe in yourself  and become unstoppable- nothing will work if you don’t .

The first step towards action is saying ‘I can’.

Become Your Own Boss

20. Check your direction, then learn from your mistakes

“Life is like a compass.

When you set your goals correctly it will take you to the right direction.

Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better.

And experience is the best teacher. Admit it, learn from it and move forward.

Become Your Own Boss

21. Evaluating your skill set and abilities

How would you describe your level of self-discipline?

What about your time management skills?

Do you get easily distracted?

Are you able to work long hours, late nights, as hard as needed to make things happen?

Really think about your answers here.

Become Your Own Boss

The presence of distractions or difficult circumstances in your life shouldn’t necessarily detract you from becoming your own boss; they just mean you need to be realistic.

It can be helpful to conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself at the outset before you even take the first big steps to becoming your own boss.

Where are you strong, and where do you need to focus your energy on improving your habits, or balancing the forces in your life that pull you in different directions?

22. Make it legal

Now that you have your business name, you may have already started the process of legalizing your new venture.

However, in the process of becoming your own boss.

There are other legal matters to attend to, such as setting up your business structure, acquiring any necessary licenses and permits, and getting your EIN.

Become Your Own Boss

23. Marketing your business

When it comes to marketing your business, your opportunities are, if not endless, pretty darn close to it.

Marketing tactics are really only as limited as your imagination.

That being said, a solid marketing strategy generally consists of a combination of online and offline marketing.

And online marketing is split even further into the spheres of paid advertising.

And the realm of social media, low-cost, or “guerrilla” marketing efforts.

Conclusion:

 If you take these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own boss.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone.

If you want to “be your own boss.

But you still feel stuck, reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs in a variety of ways.

You may be surprised by the invaluable contacts that are right at your fingertips.

People love to talk about disruption these days

Become Your Own Boss

But they usually aren’t talking about their careers.

Going it alone is by definition a hugely disruptive experience.

It can also be a hugely satisfying one.

Set your own hours.

Become Your Own Boss

Control your own destiny.

Contribute to the lifeblood of a dynamic local economy.

What’s not to love?

More and more people believe the risk involved is absolutely worth it.

Become Your Own Boss

The Harvard Business Review reports the number of “independent workers” in the economy is expected to increase from about 17 million in 2013 to 23 million by 2017.

The number could easily swell to 30+ million in the next decade, accounting for 50 percent of the workforce, up from 35-40 percent currently.

Skeptics may point out that many of these people were laid off from their jobs.

And had no choice but to go it alone.

But the HBR report makes it clear that the majority of these newly minted “independents” made the transition willingly.

Many are self-employed, or one-man operations, like Dave Selden.

But others run small businesses with employees of their own, like the Harlow’s.

Are we witnessing “The Rise of the New Economy” or a mere blip in the landscape of Nigerians working life? Time will tell.

The NPR article concludes by suggesting “passion for what you do” is the criterion against which all others should be judged.

That may be true, but the best advice may be not to waffle with your decision.

If you’re not ready to be “all in,” you may not be quite ready period. You have to be willing to go for it.

The world is a hyper competitive place.

And it’s only going to get more so.

If you decide to start a small business with anything less than 100 percent commitment,  one thing is certain: You won’t last long.

On the other hand, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Who knows? Your small business may just end up being the next big thing.


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