Ade Olabode: Small Business, Here Are Trends To Watch Out For In 2016

It’s great to be in 2016! As small business owners, a New Year signifies new beginnings.

Notwithstanding the current uncertainty of oil price ($35 per barrel), ForEx restriction (can’t spend on foreign denomination transactions) etc on the economy, this year promises to be an exciting one.

As this could be the year that these 3 trends with so much promise (and false starts?) finally fulfil their true potential.
Why does this matter to small business owners? It could make the difference to give you increased profits, more time with our family, improved relationship with our suppliers, employees etc.

Here are the areas that could make the difference for Nigerian small business owners:

Payments
Okay, I will be the first to admit that we’ve been promised a lot in the payment space for a long time. So let me summarize just some of the headline problems you might have with payments now:

–          POS Cards/machines are simply not reliable

–          Payment online is chaotic and needs a saviour

–          Endless fragmentation of payment solutions

The good news is that quite a few solutions have been showing promise and might bear fruit this year. Startups from Paga to PayStack, are solving the problems in various ways. Established players such as Access bank (MobileMoney Wallet PaywithCapture) are also getting in on the act. And we even have collaboration (e.g. Unified Payments launched PayAttitude with 5 banks). With all the activity in the payment space (and confusion?), this year might just be the one where we get the much needed breakthrough.

Logistics and delivery
Let’s start with a simplified breakdown of the problems. It can be narrowed down to poor or nonexistent infrastructure (e.g. bad roads, poor transportation hubs etc) and lack of data (e.g. missing house/street names etc). In respect of small business owners, this severely impacts on the delivery of goods and products. For instance, it’s hard enough to transport your products from Idumota to Ikeja (both in Lagos state), not to talk of Ibadan, Oyo state.

Mixed news here, to be honest, but overall, I’m positive that progress has happened. New outfits like Max.ng. Ace.com.ng have started delivering parcels/goods for and on behalf of small businesses. Even with the 2016 budget with N34bn allocation to Works, Power & Housing ministry by the FGN, it shows some traction is happening. While it’s not yet time to pop the champagne and celebrate that all problems are going to be solved, there’s a lot to be hopeful.

Finance
Every year, we’ve been promised (by Banks and Federal Government) that more and adequate financing will be provided to Small business. There have been loads of conferences, seminars, lectures etc dedicated to solving it. Access to finance is one area that it’s crucial for small business to grow.

Do you agree with above top 3 areas? Or what area do you think will be more useful if we improved? In all, it’s right to be hopeful that something good is bound to happen this year (did I hear you say Amen?)? Let’s know your thoughts in the comments.

Finally, I appreciate everyone who reads my column here on BellaNaija. To reward your attention, I’m providing you a free 60 days offer to PrognoStore. PrognoStore is Point-of-Sale software for small business which helps you sell your goods/services, track your inventory and gain insight to run your business. It’s all you need to run your small business. Simply go to www.prognostore.com/signup and enter Free4Bella for promo code to get 60 days free.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

21 Comments on Ade Olabode: Small Business, Here Are Trends To Watch Out For In 2016
  • uber January 6, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Thanks Mr. Olabode for this…it’s a relief for a starter like myself

  • elly January 6, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Thnkz…pls i nid more advice. Cus am opening a small. Scale biz!lets have ur phn no..

  • Onyie January 6, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Hello Ade. I just discovered your articles on bellanaija and they are indeed insightful for small businesses. I agree largely with your write up above but i would like to add that while finance is a key resource for small businesses, another key resource is largely ignored in Nigeria. This resource is “people”. I am a startup junkie (if there’s such a phrase) who has had the opportunity to work with both large organizations and small businesses.

    A big problem small businesses have is finding good people who share in their vision and are willing to work for a minimum until the business grows enough to be able to pay large salaries and benefits. I currently work with a startup, my compensation is at the barest minimum even though i have an MBA and i do this because i believe in the company’s vision and growth forecast. We have however found it very difficult locating people who can fill positions we need filled urgently because everyone with the skills we require want large a compensation package or are just not willing to invest time and skill with a growing company.

    So i guess what i’m trying to say is that asides from finance, small businesses also have the people problem to figure out.

    • Ade January 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

      I feel you and agree wiv you, but peeps have to eat and pay bills ….currently doing my MBA (which costs a lot) and I certainly need to recoup with profit. What do you think can be done to “handle” this kinda case?

      • Onyie January 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        I don’t know that there’s one particular solution. My MBA was really expensive too and i almost didn’t finish but i forged ahead with the belief that it was a necessary evil if i wanted to achieve my goal of being well -grounded in my field of interest.

        Now, i am sure i could have held out for a job with a large company when i completed my program but this opportunity came along and i just thought about the experience i could gain from working with a start-up that was just beginning business. This experience is priceless (you have to admit that as a business owner yourself). The skills you get from such an experience are priceless. So it may be based on the individual willingness to trade-off the large compensation package for the skills earned and also stock options offered to early employees. Sadly like i stated not everyone wants this so maybe the solution could be the establishment of a hub of people who are startup junkies like me. People who know the value to be gotten from working with a company that has the potential to grow large enough to eventually pay the large compensation packages.

        I am actually an advocate of freelancing. I strongly believe that startups (especially ones who don’t have large startup capital) should make use of freelancers in the early stages of development. We have Upwork, fiver etc but we don’t have one made up of a community of just Nigerian graduates who won’t mind working on a freelance basis or part-time with the potential to become full-time employees when the business grows.

        Like i said there’s no one suggestion i can think of and i know bills have to be paid but this could help small businesses solve their people problem.

    • Ade January 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Great points Onyie! You’re right about the people aspect and definitely worth a writeup on. It’s definitely hard to find and KEEP good people. I’m glad you find my articles useful…thx for the kind words.

      • Ni Ne January 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        There’s actually an emerging freelancing site for Nigerians and it’s called podlancer.com/

    • ola January 6, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Onyie, Please I am very much interested in working for this startup you mentioned. I have an MBA also and I have worked with one of the ‘big four’. I am a serial entrepreneur. Please do contact me oolaa02@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  • serah January 6, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Thank you for this article. if you dont mind please, i will like to have your email add as i intend starting a buisness of my own and need to go over some of my fears with you.

  • Ba January 6, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks for your insightful writeup. Small businesses are the yoke for industrialization and economic development. And I think the most pain point that need to be address is the logistics and delivery sectors. I can’t point enough how that sector is ruining commerce especially small businesses that want to grow and expand.

  • LL January 6, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Please when you mention logistics company. DO NOT EVER MENTION THE FRAUD CALLED ACE..NG , i am a merchant with some of the eCommerce sites and i have my own website, i had the unfortunate experience of using ACE courier services especially for my Christmas sales, and i am still regretting till now 1. they increase their rates without informing us the sender 2. they refuse to pick your calls when you need urgent info as a sender, even after paying them to register with them instead they insist you send them an email because they will not respond to phone calls 3, when you send email they ignore the email 4. as i write this, they have collected money from my customers on pay on delivery orders and have refused to pay me for weeks now. i totally regret using their service and please ACE pay me my money you collected from my customers because i work hard for my business

    • Ade January 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience with ACE. I’ve not personally used them before but I’ve only heard good things about them, so I’m surprised about your feedback.

      In anycase, I’m going to drop a line to them pointing out that there’s a not too happy (or satisfied) customer, hopefully someone reaches out to you.

    • Ace is FRAUDULENT January 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Omg LL! I was going to type the exact thing till I saw your comment . I conCUR !! Ace is a fraudulent company run by arrogant individuals disguising under cloaks of helping ecommerce smes. Please if you have small cash, Fellow SMEs buy your own bike!!!! It might seem like a lot but it’s a worthy investment . I haven’t tried max.ng but ACE run by Tunde Kehinde and his turkish partner Ercin is a SCAM, you will lose money and clients . I was a merchant with them and I’m sure if you ask around, other merchants that have used them would advise you to RUN

    • ACE January 7, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi LL, we appreciate the feedback. We at ACE understand how you feel, and regret the experience. We would like to state that you are important to us, as we are set up to serve you and delight your customers. Kindly let us know your company name to enable us look into your account and resolve the issue.

  • been there January 6, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I doubt Ace gives a hoot what customers think (one major problem many businesses in Nigeria have-poor customer service). you can check Techcabal, some months ago one of ACE’s customer put up a post about horrendous service from them, i was appalled at the way ACE handled this in that forum. and you should see the number of other complaints

  • been there January 6, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    @onyie- you are right to an extent.

    but i the worry for most, will be, when the business starts making money, the business owners will not reward your resilience.

    i really do hope it works out for you as there are good ones out there too.

  • juliet January 7, 2016 at 6:40 am

    I have been part of start ups for over 12 businesses and currently run mine. I do agree with your article, the current administration has no plans for small businesses. In looking inward with the current restrictions on forex .We don’t produce much in Nigeria. Loads of businesses will close down if legitimate businesses are not allowed to trade. The effect will be mass unemployment = crime

  • ACE January 7, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Hi all, thank you for your comments, we appreciate the feedback. We at ACE understand how you feel, and regret the experience. We would like to state that all merchants are important to us, as we are set up to serve you and delight your customers. Please @LL kindly let us know your company name to enable us look into your account and resolve the issue.

  • HMC January 8, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Great and inspiring article.
    The Nigerian factor and mentality is still there to criticize a new products or service, especially if it is web based.

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