How to Start a Business in an Area of Little or No Experience

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Going by the increasing toll of unemployment in Nigeria and in most countries of the world, one option that readily comes to mind is

churning out business ideas and making a living from such ventures.
However, good as entrepreneurship may seem, certain challenges are likely to be faced by the aspiring/budding entrepreneur who, due to lack of experience in his chosen career path, finds it difficult to get noticed in the marketplace.

Amongst other qualities, experience, is obviously the most vital requirement needed for a successful service business. But this is not to say that some service businesses can't be ventured into with little or no experience.

If you are thinking of starting an interior decorations business, for example, you are most likely to do well if you have worked in an organization or with someone having similar interest. Consider someone who starts a business and offers human relations management services, but never worked in an HR firm or as an HR administrator for a company!

Experience readily brings the judgment you would need to manage your business. This is the single most important skill needed in the service industry (and perhaps, in all types of businesses).

All hope is not lost if you are just a fresher. You can start a particular service business, and do well even if you have not worked professionally in a similar field. "How?" you ask. I will tell you now.

Let me identify two types of experience. These are: 1. Hands-on Experience; and 2. Self-Acquiring Experience.

Hands-on experience is the type of training you get as a result of your involvement in a particular activity. Here, you learn the skill first-hand; you make mistakes/errors and get corrected. Over the years, hands-on experience has proven to be the most accepted method of staff training, and many companies are aware of this fact. An accountant just starting off cannot, in any way, be compared with one with many years of hands-on experience. Likewise, a veteran sales person will, in most cases, outsell a beginner.

It is, however, worthy of note that acquiring corporate experience is not limited to the hands-on level. In the self-acquiring experience level, you engage in a conscious, self-acquiring exercise in order to be ahead of the game in your chosen career path.
The following are methods you can quickly use to become an experienced business person:

1. Read books (authored by people who have several years of hands-on experience in the field that interest you). For instance, one of the professional books that have shaped my career is The Corporate Communications Bible by Robert Dilenschneider. In just one book, I was able to acquire public relations "wisdom" which had taken the author several decades to learn!

2. Attend professional training/short courses. Attending programmes of this nature gives you unique opportunity to listen to experts as they teach. In most cases, you get opportunity to ask questions and practice what you have learnt.

3. Subscribe to and read newsletters regularly (whether paper or electronic-based). Newsletters offer unique information that may not be found elsewhere. Your self-acquiring effort may just pay of by reading one more newsletter.

4. Associate with ‘senior' friends. You have no business spending your time with people who don't know as much as you do. Pitch your tent with people who have gone ahead of you (and are successful) in similar business. Have them mentor you. By doing this, their experience rubs on you.

5. Apply what you have acquired. It is important to note that acquiring does not equal applying. You need to apply the wisdom acquired. Start small. Offer a kind of service that you can proffer immediate solutions to. The more you use what you know, the more you get skilled in the art, and the more you become experienced in that area! In the words of Dr. David Oyedepo, "Every fact you locate and apply puts you in control of life's circumstances."

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Ayokunle Bankole

He is a self-starter, Nigerian serial entrepreneur, a company formation specialist of about a decade, and a small business advisor. He is currently on the board of Directors of some few startups: Delivery Merchant Ltd, Furnishing Effects Retail & Installation Ltd, Citizens & Expats Agency Ltd, and Global Infosolutions Nigeria Ltd.

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