"setting up a business isn't easy, the opportunities are few, the pitfalls many." Since charity begins at home, It becomes necessary to use my neighborhood and the nature of my partly Entrepreneurial job as a case study.
First is finance. I strongly believe in the idea coming first. But before you can kick off any business, you surely need fund no matter how small. A lot of prospective entrepreneurs are financially handicapped. Aggravating the situation has been the little attention. Banks pay in terms of giving out loans. I was offered a diminutive loan by two Banks (a Commercial and a Micro finance) two years ago with so many strings attached. I had to turn it down because it was to my detriment. The closure of most Micro finance Banks has not helped either.
Secondly, learning the business is also another huge challenge. It has taken me more than six years and I am not done with learning. A lot of customers are also dubious making it hard to trust. Studying the turnover of traders before selling on credit has been arduous. Some do not have the capacity to pay for their demand, some issue dud cheques, some others end up closing shops. Giving a facility that is not your money requires the grace of God. I also welcome the idea of starting small, master the business and then expand. I met the head of the marketing unit of Nigerian Breweries PLC last month when he visited our outlet during his approval rating. He said, "some rich men that have stagnant fund will want to become NB PLC distributors. Most times we advise them not to. It is better they start by doing bulk breaking like you, learn the business before they become distributors." He was right, a lot of businesses make this mistake. They start big and along the line, they crash.
The third one is employment and training. We employ and train people that assist in loading and off loading. More often than not, these boys are lazy, not consistent, lack skills and in the end quit. The oldest hand we have has only worked for 18 months. Many of them look for what to steal from the Warehouse.
Another challenge that is facing entrepreneurs that are connected to drinks in my neighborhood has to do with Manufacturers and distributors who sell to our customers at reduced prices, in some cases at the same price they sell to us. To make it worse, they lure some of them like Beer Parlors with chairs, Tables, Refrigerators etc.
Fifth is accountability. Many small scale business operators do not do stock taking. Two supermarket owners I interacted with lost a fortune and nearly closed shop when they discovered the sales girl they employed was busy stealing their money.
Another challenge is power. We record low turnovers whenever there is poor electricity supply. Most times, people want something cold. Retailers who cannot afford to buy Generators to power their Refrigerators face similar challenge.
Lastly is discipline, some 'Ogas' are truants. They rely on information that is given to them by workers. Most them run their businesses with mobile phones. Some of them stay away from work for weeks or even months. Without accountability and the continued absence of a Boss during working hours facilitates stealing.