Opening a business and keeping it open 2: Information management

Opening a business and keeping it open 2: Information management

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We had, in the previous part, discussed the importance of research in the process of creating and lunching a new enterprise. Opening a business entails a number of activities that must be carried out by the promoter of the venture. One such activity is to search for and acquisition of significant knowledge of the business and its markets.  Of course, information could be obtained by several means, including hearsay. However, for very important issues like setting up a business, which may involve taking risk with scare financial resources, direct research is advised. That is why we stated previously that research into the business is the first critical step the entrepreneur needs to take as he plans to launch a business and keep it running. The essence of research is to generate data on the subject of interest, without which the entrepreneur might not be different from a pilot flying blind and not assisted by technology.

Other key responsibilities, which the entrepreneur must discharge, include the discipline of putting down in black and white, all that is going on in his head as validated by his research findings into the business. This takes the form of a Business Plan that espouses his idea and its underpinning philosophy.  This has been one of the greatest challenges of the entrepreneurial class, especially at the SME level, not just in Nigeria but also in other developing countries. It is generally easier to dream up an idea, and talk about it, than to put it down in the form of a plan – a leading issue in the search for solutions to the inability of SME projects to attract requisite financial support, especially from the deposit money banks.

Dreaming up a business idea and documenting it properly in a plan sets the stage for other equally important activities. The entrepreneur has to decide on the corporate stature of the business. He has to choose whether the business Is going to have a personality of its own, in which case it would be a legal person, with its own rights and responsibilities; or it will be a mere extension of the promoter’s person – a business name registration, like Success Enterprises, John and Sons, etc. Businesses with legal personality are accountable for the obligations they create and promoters are not liable for losses beyond the capital they invested in the business. These activities normally precede the choice of name and raising of capital for the take-off of the business. The sources of the capital would depend on the nature of the business. If a firm with corporate personality is contemplated, issues of shareholding and the extent of members’ liability (limiting members’ liability) have to be sorted out. Most small businesses begin with the promoter’s personal savings and family resources.

The reward for good work, they say, is more work. Having opened a business and got it off the ground running, the real challenge begins – the challenge of keeping it open. . This is the issue of sustainability. It is when a business is successful that the challenge of keeping it going dawns. To get to number one in your line of business, they say, is not the big problem. The hard part is staying on the number one spot. A major requirement in the process of keeping the company open is information. It is not expected that anyone would be at a loss as to why information is so important in the sustenance of corporate success? Risk managers will tell us that we can only control what we can measure. Everything else is uncontrollable. In a similar vein, anything about which one knows nothing, one is most likely to either ignore or at best criticise. We need information to maintain our competitive edge. It is a good piece of information to know that a competitor has entered our market. Untamed competition is one of the killers of business. Even the giants in an industry would prefer a world of their own, in which competition is either non-existent of small. When competitors arrive on our turf, we must know within the shortest possible time what product or service they are deploying. This way, we are able to plan if we are to deploy appropriate countermeasures. We must know what they are bringing to the table. If it is the same old product we have been selling, we want to know their motivation for coming in. If it is a new product, we must respond immediately, either with our own version of the new product of upgrade our technology.

It is information that sharpens the so-called peripheral vision that has made and marred many corporate giants in the last few decades. Not only do we need information, we also need the capacity to interpret data made available to us. The story of Kodak and digital photography is still fresh. The two-way nature of information comes alive when we give and receive it. Not only do we need information on all possible sources of competition, we also need to give out adequate information on our products and services. Information on the company must be properly managed and every effort must be made to prevent unnecessary media crisis.

  1. Step 1: Do Your Research. …
  2. Step 2: Make a Plan. …
  3. Step 3: Plan Your Finances. …
  4. Step 4: Choose a Business Structure. …
  5. Step 5: Pick and Register Your Business Name. …
  6. Step 6: Get Licenses and Permits. …
  7. Step 7: Choose Your Accounting System.

 

  • Keep abreast of the competition. Don’t assume anything about the competition such as whether it’s stronger or weaker than your company. …
  • Know your product inside and out. …
  • Communication is key. …
  • Take care of employees. …
  • Strive to be better. …
  • Stay within budget. …
  • Don’t be greedy.

 

Emeka Osuji



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