Key reasons why first-time businesses fail

Statistics show that about 50 per cent of first-time businesses fail within their first five years of operation, experts say. In this report, Okechukwu Nnodim and Ayomikun Abiola highlight the major reasons why first-time entrepreneurs fail in business

Businesses succeed as much as they fail. To run a successful small and medium scale business in Nigeria, aside adequate capital investment, some basic criteria must be strictly adhered to by the entrepreneur. Experts note that the neglect of these criteria contributes to the failure of most businesses.

Entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out in business must appreciate the fact that shrewd businessmen treat business failure as a milestone on the road to success. They must try to bounce back notwithstanding the fall. Experts note that real entrepreneurs count on learning from their mistakes, and use the experience to move to the next idea. Owners of start-up businesses should learn from the mistakes of others to avoid the pain and suffering associated with business failure.

Below are major reasons why first-time businesses fail, according to experts and medium scale business entrepreneurs interviewed by our correspondents:

 Lack of business plan

Many young entrepreneurs often neglect the essence of writing out a business plan for their venture. Experts note that you should not believe the myth that a business plan is not worth the effort. The Managing Director, Nordmark Communications, a medium scale communications firm in Ojo, Lagos, Mr. Daniel Nze, says no matter how small a business might be, the entrepreneur must take the pains of writing out a plan. He notes that the time and energy put into writing down a plan shows that the entrepreneur truly wants to transform his idea into a business.

Improper execution of ideas

It is one thing to come up with a business plan and another to astutely execute the idea. Experts note that an idea alone is really worth nothing. According to them, the idea is useless if not executed. They note that the entrepreneur must be a risk taker and one who takes strict business decisions in order to do well in this area of idea execution.




London Metropolitan University’s Licence Revoked.

London Metropolitan University‘s visa licence revoked.
A London university has been banned from teaching overseas students, leaving more than 2,000 undergraduates potentially facing deportation.
London Metropolitan University has had its ability to sponsor students from outside the EU revoked, and will no longer be allowed to authorise visas.

The UK Border Agency said it had “failed to address serious and systemic failings” identified six months ago.

A task force has been set up to help students affected by the decision.

As well as stopping the university, which has 30,000 students in total, from accepting new applications, losing the licence could also affect thousands of existing overseas students at the university.
The National Union of Students (NUS) said it could mean more than 2,000 students being deported within 60 days unless they find another sponsor.

‘Panic and heartbreak’
The university’s Highly Trusted Status (HTS) was suspended last month while the UKBA examined alleged failing, preventing it from being

London Metropolitan University

London Metropolitan University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

allowed to recruit overseas students.

The UKBA’s decision comes a day after Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, called on the Home Office to clarify the situation.READ MORE…
Courtesy Chukwuemeka Uno..

Nigerians advised on writing of Will

IT has been disclosed that only one per cent of urban literate Nigerians write will, out of which 90 per cent of them are over 60 years.

This revAelation was given by Mr. Rotimi Edu, a Lagos lawyer and insurance practitioner while delivering a lecture on Will and Testament: Tool for Estate Management, at a public forum recently in Lagos.

Edu noted that writing of will was germane to peaceful transfer of wealth from parents to wards or children and other beneficiaries, but had been grossly under utilised due to some noxious traditional beliefs that must be discarded.

He lamented that transference of wealth had generally been a problematic issue in the African society, due to the reticence of many towards writing of will and its administration.

Edu knocked the bottom off the popularly held notion that only the affluent needed write will, stressing that anyone above the age of 40 years must accord the posthumous instrument premium attention.

“It is always advisable not to die intestate, given the fact that obtaining a probate document for such individuals are quite cumbersome with its attendant discomforts and delays,“ Edu asserted.


Business plan and profitability communication (2)….By Goke Ilesanmi

MARKET ANALYSIS… It is important to think in advance about the type of information you need to ask and  ask people the same questions each time, so that their answers can be compared and summarised. A convenient way of doing this is to prepare simple questionnaires, which can be used by entrepreneurs to remind themselves of the questions to ask.

Product quality survey

As regards the choice of fruit or vegetable product business mentioned last week, consumers are familiar with the types of fruit or vegetable products that are already on sale and surveys on these products are therefore easier than those for a completely new food. Questions can therefore focus on the things that consumers like or dislike about existing competitors’ products.

However, if prospective producers want to produce products that are new to an area, they need to have samples for potential consumers to taste and give their opinion on whether or not they like the products and would be willing to buy them. For the purpose of hygiene, when asking people to taste a product, a supply of spoons should be provided so that each person interviewed can use a clean one.

Although initially, new products have the advantage of not having competitors, the process of assessing demand is longer and costlier than that for products that are already in existence. Additionally, because about 80 per cent of new products fail, the risks are higher. When you want to go to a new area of business and want to do your feasibilitystudy, explain to each person you interview that you want to start a new business, and that you have prepared a sample for people to try. Ask them if they would like to taste the sample and give you their opinion on what it is like.

Market size and value survey

A different set of questions are needed when assessing the size of the market for a particular type of food (the total volume bought per month or year) and the value of the market (the amount of money spent on the products each month or year). At the same time, it is possible to gather information about the type of people that buy a particular type of food and where they buy it from. The information gathered from potential consumers, using appropriate questionnaires can be analysed by the entrepreneur to get a good idea of the quality characteristics of the product that consumers prefer, the total demand for the product and the total value of the market.

Market size and value questions

These are some of the questions you can ask regarding different segments of the market size and value:

About the market size: How often do you buy this product? Do you buy different amounts at different times of the year? When do you buy most? How much do you buy each time? When do you buy the least? How much do you buy each time? What is the amount of food in the pack?

About the market value: How much do you pay for a pack of the food? What is the price difference for larger or smaller packs? Does the price change at different times of the year? When is the price highest? When is the price lowest?

About the customer: Would you say that you have a low, medium or high income in your family? In which age group do you belong?

About sales outlets: Where do you usually buy this food? (Market stall?; Supermarket? etc.). However, this process involves making a number of assumptions and it is important to consider the following: (1) are the people interviewed really representative of all potential consumers? (2) were enough people interviewed? (3) were people giving accurate information?

Repeating questions

If a producer is unsure of the quality of information that has been given, he or she should ask more people the same questions to check the answers obtained. Clearly, the more people that are interviewed, the more accurately the information will reflect the real situation. However, a balance has to be drawn between the time and cost of interviewing a large number of people and the accuracy of the data obtained. As a guide, 50 to 75 interviews should result in a good idea about the market for a product in a particular area.

When analysing data collected about market size and value, it is often helpful to find official statistics about the people who are expected to be the customers for a new product. Similar information is sometimes available from local government offices, tax authorities and chambers of commerce, although it may not always be up to date.


‘Diminishing conventional brand communication, bane of businesses’

The Chief Executive Officer of Poise Nigeria Limited, a Lagos-based firm that specialises in the business of Total Personality Development and Business Image Consultancy, Mrs Mari Isibor, has identified decline in the effectiveness of conventional forms of brand communication via advertising and public relation as one of the major problems hindering more customer-dominated business climate.

Isibor, who made this submission in Lagos at a brand communicatiopn summit, in collaboratrion with London Metropolitan University with a view to having an expository session on creating a consonance between the brand and the manner it is communicated; said a research had proven that the traditional forms of advertising awee failing to impress the targeted audience due to poor brand communication  management.

“A brand is not a slogan, it is the way a company behaves, and how the customers perceive the organisation.  And to maintain a strong brand, it must be  built from inside out.  Employees have the power to either reinforce or break a brand’s promise every time they interact with a customer, shareholder or even another employee,” she added.



Awolowo Foundation goes on cyberspace….

As part of efforts to further the frontiers of the unequalled exploits of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as a pan-African thinker and politician of note, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) propagating his social and political ideals, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation (OAF), has launched a website.

The address of the colourful website is and it was designed by Living Projects Limited and sponsored by the Foundation, which has been generating ideas for those in government at all levels through an annual special dialogue now compiled in books as invaluable contribution to literature on national development.

The founding philosophy of immortal Chief Awolowo as well as OAF’s mission/policy statement and Governing Council/Board of Trustees, books and famous quotes by the sage, pictorial records of the Foundation’s events and many more are prominent on the website.

Also featured is the novel Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Prize, which is awarded once in two years to a Nigerian, within or outside the country, who demonstrates excellence in leadership and good governance by making vital contributions to national development.

The maiden edition of the prestigious prize holds March, 2013 and will coincide with the 104 posthumous birthday of a man still being referred to as “the issue in Nigeria politics.” Visitors to the website can avail download nomination forms for the coveted prize.



Be a Person Who Practices Non-Situational Integrity By Denis Waitley

Integrity, a standard of personal morality and ethics, is not relative to the situation you happen to find yourself in and doesn’t sell out to expediency. Its short supply is getting even shorter, but without it, leadership is a facade. Learning to see through exteriors is a critical development in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Sadly, most people continue to be taken in by big talk and media popularity, flashy or bizarre looks, and expensive possessions. They move through most of their years convinced that the externals are what count, and are thus doomed to live shallow lives. Men and women who rely on their looks or status to feel good about themselves inevitably do everything they can to enhance the impression they make – and do correspondingly little to develop their inner value and personal growth. The paradox is that the people who try hardest to impress are often the least impressive. Puffing to appear powerful is an attempt to hide insecurity.

In the Roman Empires’ final corrupt years, status was conveyed by the number of carved statues of the gods displayed in people’s courtyards. As in every business, the Roman statue industry had good and bad sculptors and merchants. As the empire became ever more greedy and narcissistic, the bad got away with as much as they could. Sculptors became adept at using wax to hide cracks and chips in marble and most people couldn’t discern the difference in quality.

Statues began to weep or melt under the scrutiny of sunlight or heat in foyers. For statues of authentic fine quality, carved by reputable artists, people had to go to the artisan marketplace in the Roman Quad and look for booths with signs declaring sine cera, which translates in English to mean, without wax. We, too, look for the real thing in friends, products, and services. In people, we value sincerity, from the words, sine cera, more than almost any other virtue. We expect it from our leaders, which we are not getting in our political, media, business and sports’ heroes for the most part. We must demand it of ourselves.

Integrity that strengthens an inner value system is the real human bottom line. Commitment to a life of integrity in every situation demonstrates that your word is more valuable than a surety bond. It means you don’t base your decisions on being politically correct. You do what’s right, not fashionable. You know that truth is absolute, not a device for manipulating others. And you win in the long run, when the stakes are highest. If I were writing a single commandment for leadership it would be, “You shall conduct yourself in such a manner as to set an example worthy of imitation by your children and subordinates.” In simpler terms, if they shouldn’t be doing it, neither should you. I told my kids, “clean up your room,” and they inspected the condition of my garage. I told them that honesty was our family’s greatest virtue, and they commented on the radar detector I had installed in my car. When I told them about the vices of drinking and wild parties, they watched from the upstairs balcony, the way our guests behaved at our adult functions.

It’s too bad some of our political and business leaders don’t understand that “What you are speaks so loudly that no one really pays attention to what you say.” But it is even more true that if what you are matches what you say, your life will speak forcefully indeed.

It’s hardly a secret that learning ethical standards begins at home. A child’s first inklings of a sense of right and wrong come from almost imperceptible signals received long before he or she reaches the age of rational thought about morality. Maybe you’re asking yourself what kind of model you are for future generations, remembering that people are either honest or dishonest, that integrity is all or nothing, and that children can’t be fooled in such basic matters. They learn by example.

To remind myself of my responsibility to live without wax, with sincerity and integrity, I took the liberty of re-writing Edgar A. Guest’s poem, “Sermons We See” to apply to setting an example as a real winner for my children and grandchildren.

I’d rather watch a winner, than hear one any day. I’d rather have one walk with me, than merely show the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear. Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear. And the best of all the coaches are the ones who live their deeds. For to see the truth in action is what everybody needs. I can soon learn how to do it, if you’ll let me see it done. I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run. And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true. But, I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do. For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give. But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live. I’d rather watch a winner, than hear one any day.

Hey, politician, business leader, motion picture producer, television actor, rock star, sports star. Hey mom, hey dad. Don’t tell me how to live. Show me by your actions. You’re my role models