“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14: 28 (NIV)
It is the dream of every person to be financially independent, and one obvious way to achieve this independence is to own a business and run it successfully. In theory, it is very easy to put some ideas down and hope to get it translated into business as fast as possible, but in real-life, a lot of things should be done before the business becomes the type we have in mind.
As much I’ve have tried to discuss various strategic options and strategies available to turn ideas into a successful business, there are quite some other issues that have yet to be discussed which are critical areas that must be resolved if we must succeed in our proposed business. One of those issues is how to raise the start-up capital. Ever since I have been giving young and growing entrepreneurs strategy and brand management support, no other problems pose more challenges like the subject of money, especially the initial capital for people that are going into business for the first time.
Capital has turned a key success factor in realising any business dream today because without it the dream is like a mirage and yet capital is not easy to come by when starting a business. The government has not created any viable agency that can support the young and growing entrepreneurs with capital for start-up and expansion of the business activities. The financial institutions in the country have not also helped matters as many are reported to have turned down requests from young entrepreneurs for start-up capital. The trend makes people shun the idea of owning a business of their dream.
But can we say that because we find it difficult to raise capital, we are not going to live our dream? No, I don’t believe in that, for every good thing must pose some challenges, and not all things that start cheap and well. It is a fact that being able to raise the start-up capital is the first indication of success in business and that is why this appears as the first hurdle and challenge that any entrepreneur must overcome. I have seen how much people struggle to raise money for their business, and I have seen how easy some people find it to raise capital. However, I’m aware that the exercise may not be an easy one, especially for a starter. To demonstrate how bad this problem could be, a lot of good business ideas must be jettisoned by many who are wishing to live their dream, not for any reason but because they find it difficult to raise the start-up capital. This experience is common among the youth who are struggling to overcome the problem of poverty and unemployment. I’m also aware that there are quite many people were wishing to start-up one business or the other now but are still going about looking for where to get the money to start. Though the task of raising capital to start and expand business activities for both aspiring and growing entrepreneurs in Nigeria could be very complicated and frustrating, I still believe that the problem is not as difficult as many of us imagine.
Our problem is not because capital is hard to raise because many of us lack the necessary information about where to get money to finance our ideas. Besides, a lot of us to lack the skill to package and market our business proposals to convince our friends, family and lenders who are interested in giving out money. We often don’t present our case well enough to show that any money invested in our business is safe and that the business we are venturing into will be profitable and liquid enough to pay back as and when due. From experience, I have also come to realise that most people that are rich hate to give out money to business starters for fear of losing it. Just about a week ago, a proposal was sent to my millionaire mentor inviting him to subscribe to an exportation business. The proposal was sent to me for review and recommendation. I went through the plan and what I saw was amazing. The business proposal was prepared with the impression that there was quick money somewhere for anyone who could part with his money. At the end of the day, the impression created in the business proposal tended to brand these young men as cunning and fraudulent, and the request was consequently turned down.
Before our business proposal can attract the interest of any financier or lender, we must brand our personality as reliable and trustworthy. Besides this, the business idea we are selling to them must be seen to have some reasonable traits of genuineness. This area is lacking in most of the business ideas that are being paraded around now by many aspiring entrepreneurs. Except we build a personality that portrays us as honest and trustworthy, we may find it difficult not only to raise capital to start but to also remain successful in business.
Raising capital to study business can also become easier if we start our business in phases. The strategy is what I called the economy of start-up capital. Most people that are going into businesses these days make things very complicated for themselves in that they often plan to take off the business in grand style, hence they find themselves by having to look for so much money as initial capital. From experience, starting a business like this can be frustrating in Nigeria of today where there is practically no institution or government agency that is ready to finance the start-up business proposal. Most successful businesses that are operating today are built in phases, thereby avoiding the problems and delay experience in raising huge initial capital. We can reduce the challenges of raising all the capital at once by financing only the most critical capital items at each stage of the business growth. Take, for instance, I consulted for one retiree recently, from the proposal and feasibility he submitted to me. About 65% of the initial capital submission was estimated for fixed assets like cars and office requirements that are not critical for the initial take-off of the business. By the time I reviewed the proposal, I could revise the original capital outlay of Fifteen Million Naira to about Eight Million Naira, and since the business could do without some of the items containing the Eight Million Naira estimate, we phased the project to take off with just about Five Million Naira. At the end of the day, the man suddenly found himself very comfortable to start the business with just about Five Million Naira out of his savings without having to beg any bank or friends for money. I’m sure your business idea too can be managed in a manner that will make it easier for you to start living your dream quickly.