Running a Business: 2019 Academic Year

In all things, give thanks. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In the words of People Magazine’s 2019 sexiest man alive, Apostle John Legend, in his beautiful song “All of Me”, 2019 was the year of ‘my head is underwater but I am breathing fine’.

First, it started off with things no longer seeming true. Rules of engagement suddenly being changed. Perfect structures/agreements being pulled down. Words being used wrongly. And if there is one thing I find hard to forgive or forget, it is the disrespect clothed in “I thought I wanted to, now I don’t want to again”.

Then, came the doubts. Have I read the situation wrongly? Were there clues I had missed? Did I take the wrong steps? Was I wrong? Am I doing this right? Did I make the wrong decisions?

Then, I was proven right. Not totally but just enough. Enough for me to realize that yes, I do give good advice, but no, since I am not the one in the pinching shoes, good advice is sometimes discarded for better mental health. To a caged person, all holes, no matter how small/tight, feel like exits.

Then, came unforgiveness. I find it hard to forgive the disrespect mentioned above. And it doesn’t help if the person is someone close. It replays and replays and replays and I will never ever put myself in that position of disrespect ever again.  And that limits all our interactions. I am still trying to forgive. I have put it up in prayers.

Work was fine. I got promoted. And yes, getting validation from senior colleagues can be a great self-esteem booster.

People been dey pray belle for me after 2 children. I just dey laugh. Every time the prayers get too much, I go and recheck my family planning. Don’t be having unprotected sex and then start wishing away belle o. Go and do FP. Please, I take God beg you, research the FP wey dem give you well and at the first sign of things being off, go back to the hospital.

I picked up my M.Sc. certificate five years or so after completion – 70.22% weighted average. They said that is a distinction. I still owe myself a celebratory lunch. Is 2020 the year I go back to school? I don’t know yet.

I struggled with church attendance and Bible reading this year. Bible reading has not been this poor in a while. Praying for help.

I run an online business. And that is hard. So, I ran with the hype that one can register one’s business by oneself and decided to give it a go. It was a lesson in perseverance. I started in January and got approval in December.  

So, here are a couple of things I learnt this year in business.

You need money to enjoy business. You either have money or borrow money or leverage on an existing business. Small scale businesses die because the owner has a small need and pulls it out of the business. So, find money.

Every kobo counts. Every expenditure should be accounted for. Keep your overheads as little as possible. Track your money.

Leverage your connections, family and friends. This might be hard especially when you are trying to avoid selling on credit but your best advertisers are your people. Don’t be shy to tell your people about your business. And if you must sell on credit, have well-defined dates/times you will remind them

Stand firm with your pricing. People will bamboozle you if you let them. You determine what a fair price is. Stand firm.

According to Milton Friedman, “The business of business is business”. Do not be afraid to ask for your money especially from your people. I found this hard. I still do but I have learnt to ask even if my voice is shaking. Asked someone cash or transfer and the response was so off. I still asked.

It can be painful when people make enquiries and don’t buy but don’t get discouraged. Answer all enquiries with all politeness. They may not buy now. They may buy later. They may refer people. They may never buy at all. Still, be polite. I got many of my biggest referrals via people I don’t know nor ever interacted with. Be polite.

If you run an online business and don’t have money to run ads, post as often as you can. This is hard, I won’t lie. I still struggle with both Instagram and Facebook but do it anyway.

Most online buyers many times come in from 15th of the month to 5th of the next month. I think this is due to salary payment. So, don’t slack on your posts from the 6th to the 15th.  There are outliers who will buy at any time of the month. Be in people’s consciousness. Also, ask for dates/time to remind prospective buyers of their impending purchase.

Create more than one income line from your business. My business has 6 lines. Truth is, sometimes, one line gets out of favour, another line picks up. It is rare for all lines to be out of favour. Once that happens, revamp your style.

Sometimes, issues arise with customers, valid or invalid. Avoid negative press at all costs. Offer refunds, offer change, compensate if need be. 

I am ambivalent about sales. Do it if you feel it is necessary. Don’t be pressured. Don’t run yourself into debt because people are doing sales and you aren’t.

Above all, be truthful to yourself and to your customers. This will save you a whole lot of explanation.

To my family, nuclear and extended, my lover, my children – you make life worth living, thank you.

To my online family, thank you.

To Baba God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, thank you for your endless love.

For 2020, the goal is the same as 2019 – to be better in all areas than the last year. So help me God.

Thank you for sharing all these business lessons we take so many hard lessons to learn. Have you started making profit? When are we buying car? Carry us along o.

Miss Anon

"With a false name, I can be anybody..... anybody as long as I am careful about the way I write. All that anyone would see are my words, my feelings, me." - Orton Scott Card (paraphrased) Are you Miss Anon like me?

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