BUILDING FINANCIAL MUSCLES FOR 2024
Recently, someone asked me if taking time for due diligence when starting a business can be seen as a form of procrastination. We will review the context of procrastination in a later publication but let me just note here that doing due diligence – researching on a business idea, preparing a feasibility study and a business plan, talking to people who have been in the business and succeeded – is a basic requirement for starting up a business and should be followed faithfully. It becomes a problem when you take months for what should take weeks or days or you get your reports ready and leave the files as decorative documents in your laptop. What is worth doing is worth doing at the right time and the right time is now.
So, back to the online business suggestions that can help you earn extra income and go ahead to become financially stronger in 2024. Again, I suggest you read the last two posts that specifically reviewed the processes you need to follow to start off your own online business and the first five suggestions of possible businesses that you can run alongside your present job or business. Like other businesses, this line of business requires hard work alright, but the greatest appeal is that you can set your timetable to fit into your present reality and of course, the more effort and attention you give any venture, whether business or relationship, the more you get out of it, all things being equal. For each business idea, take time to listen to people that are in the business already. Fortunately, there are many free sites where you can get access to these kinds of information. Review them diligently, find mentors and supportive business communities that can help you through any challenge you might face.
Here are a few more examples of online businesses you can take up this November and begin to build up on.
Dropshipping is one of the simplest businesses to start for beginners because it’s low-risk yet quite profitable. A successful dropshipping business can also jumpstart many other businesses because it provides a base that can support other ventures.
This business model involves partnering with suppliers to sell their products on your platform; the vendor or product owner handles storage, inventory and delivery while you focus on marketing the goods to prospective customers. When a prospect gets interested and makes a purchase, your job is done technically; the owner of the product takes over and makes sure the customer gets the product or service paid for.
The entire process of taking the prospective customer from the stage of awareness to interest, desire and then action (purchase) is handled by you.
For this business, you need to have an active website where customers can get all the information they need about what you are marketing. However, experienced people in the business advice that a sales funnel is what you will need most to move people from the awareness level to action level and they confirm that it takes conversion ratio from 20% when you are using only your website, to about 70%.
A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase. It is obvious that it is not everyone that is made aware of a product or service that ends up purchasing that product or service. A sales funnel helps the seller to make the conversion ratio appreciable (up to 70%).
A sales funnel helps you to align your marketing and sales efforts so that your prospective customers receive the information they need even when you don’t have the ability to deliver it directly as a sales person. You keep posting information that address the needs of the customers and tie this information to the benefits that your product offers. The posts are all geared towards the same; to fan the customer’s interest and desire until the sales process is complete. I am sure that many of you have received this type of information as emails or social media posts about products and services that you showed interest in at some point online. They may go on for over a year and sometimes never end until you make a buying decision. Even after a transaction has been concluded, the customer is still kept informed about the product or allied products that may still be of interest to him/her.
This is why it is easier to sell a second product after the first because trust and cordiality would already have been established between the seller and the consumer. This is also why you can start off other online businesses because you already have a data base of consumers who trust you.
To run this business effectively, you have to carefully evaluate the suppliers/vendors before collaborating with them, to avoid issues; some vendors promise much but deliver little and some are so tardy with their delivery that they may undo the work you have done. Always go the extra mile to ensure that your customers are satisfied.
SELL HANDMADE GOODS/ARTS
Right now, artists and artistes are receiving more recognition and patronage for their creative works. Sales of handmade goods and articles can be sold all over the world. The internet has helped art and artisans’ craftsmanship to appeal to the global business world. You can sell one-of-a-kind goods that customers can’t find anywhere else and for this you can set a price that you like.
One way to do this is to start your own eCommerce site or sell on some other more established sites like Amazon, Etsy, Jumia, eBay etc where you are exposed to millions of buyers. That said, affiliation with large marketing sites comes with fierce competition with fellow merchants for buyers’ attention. Also, your sales income is shared with the site. For artists, products like photographs, graphic designs and fine arts can be sold on a large scale by creating your own online store and signing up with a printing service like Printful. This method allows you to make more artwork/photographs and concentrate on marketing the business while the printing service takes care of the procurement and shipping. This way, customers can print and frame your art themselves, reducing costs.
However, the drawback to this method is that people can duplicate your files. Always include a copyright notice with each piece of art and take action if infringement occurs.
START A CONSULTING BUSINESS
Consulting is the best business idea for people with advanced knowledge in any specific area. As the name implies, a consultant comes in to help organizations or a group of people to review situations and solve problems, including marketing, operations, technology, human resources and relationship. There is no short cut to consultancy because pedigree must be verifiable and most times, it is satisfied clients that do the bulk of advertising for a consultant. It is important though to advertise your expertise by constantly posting articles, comments and opinions in the relevant field via social and mainstream media.
Consultancy can be through a classroom experience either onsite or online. It could also be through the sale of courses or modules.
Unfortunately, new small business owners offering consulting services may struggle to find clients. To start, focus on generating leads through LinkedIn and cold email pitches to grow your pool of prospective clients. Sending letters from a professional email address will increase your chances of success.
SELL USED GOODS
Sale of secondhand goods is a cheap way to start an affordable online business that gives a good profit. Look for used items of decent quality around your household or purchase pre-owned goods from secondhand marketplaces. Fashion items, furniture pieces, toys, electronic gadgets and other household items are easy to sell in this business. You can determine their prices by looking up how much competitors sell such products. In some cases, repairing or remodeling the item may be necessary to increase its value. While not prerequisites, having basic handyman or crafting skills and a creative eye are beneficial in this business. Good photography skills are also necessary to show the goods off effectively.
The pictures are displayed online and leads are published on your social media handles.
Start now and keep going!
Fatherhood with Ibe
THIS IS A LOVE STORY
Motunde and her husband, Teddy told me separately that their five years old marriage was over but I had to insist that they come together to see me. I just couldn’t believe them; I felt something had to be done. If it wasn’t an annoying prank then it was one of the most shocking turn of events among several in the year. I am no marriage counsellor but I always feel sad when a beautiful love story ends abruptly and shabbily. I always wish there is something I can do to close up the cracks, like use an adhesive to hold them together. It was even more heartbreaking in the case of Ted and his wife because they were a really sweet couple. They looked beautiful together and were finishing each other’s sentences literally; it was as if they had known each other a lifetime, discussed every aspect of their relationship and were ready with solutions to every challenge.
I met the couple in Dubai about four years ago. I was walking into the hotel that I was lodging in when a young man wearing a very sharp suit walked up to me briskly and introduced himself. His appearance got my attention and being Nigerian helped too. He wanted to confirm my own identity and said that I had taken him and his course mates through a few lectures while they were in Law School. We talked briefly and then he beckoned to his wife to come and meet me. They were on their first wedding anniversary vacation.
They were full of laughter, jokes and plans for the future. I spent a while with then during that trip and enjoyed their sharp minds, their ease around each other and their mutual respect for each other and the people around them. I remember thinking that although they were just one year old in marriage, they were a poster couple for what marriage is supposed to be like.
They told me that they had deliberately delayed starting a family till after their first year anniversary.
“We felt that we needed at least a year to just be carefree, getting to understand each other.” Ted said, smiling mischievously at his wife. “I’m looking forward to having a baby but it makes me a bit anxious to think of sharing Mo with anyone.”
We all laughed. I told them that a baby required a lot of attention but they could try sharing the care for the baby as equally as possible so that the child becomes a part of the tight group.
“We hope to have the first baby before our second year anniversary.” Mo added, smiling shyly. “And Ted has promised to cut down on his business trips so that he will be as hands on as possible.”
“That is correct but Sir, the main reason for cutting down the trips will be because she will not be free to travel with me. Mo works as a freelancer and so far it’s been great because she is always available to accompany me on my business trips. With a big tummy or an infant, she might not be disposed to such trips.”
“May be just a few.” His wife said placatingly.
I just watched their exchange with approbation. They had the same views on number of kids, whether or not to have a live-in nanny or even a maid, boarding schools, visiting in-laws, household finances, everything. They both had lucrative jobs and were doing quite well financially but they still had agreement on how to show appreciation to their parents, siblings and other close relations/friends. It was quite admirable.
When I left Dubai, we had become more than mere acquaintances. Back in Nigeria, the couple visited me quite frequently. Infact, in my mind, I started seeing them as family. And then one day, out of the blues, Motunde called me and said she wanted to be the one to tell me herself, that she had moved out of their home and was going to file for a divorce. It took me a while to process what she was saying.
“Is this supposed to be a joke?” I asked, a little irritated; I had no time for juvenile jokes.
“No Sir. Ted and I are done. We tried to work things out but….”
“But what? It didn’t work out? When last did I see you two?” I asked.
“A little less than three months ago, Sir. We were already working through the problems then.” She replied after a little hesitation.
“And what are these problems.” I was actually getting upset.
Motunde and her husband may not have known it but their love story gave me great joy. It was refreshing to watch them. How could she just jump out of that mould and begin to talk about ‘moving out’ and even divorce? She had just done five years, for crying out loud.
“You and Ted need to come and see me. I will be in Nigeria from Wednesday next week and I will be around for a whole week. Fix a time and let me know.” I said sternly.
She tried to protest about calling Ted but I cut her off.
I felt quite upset and called Ted myself. He answered on the first ring.
“Good afternoon Sir,” he greeted hurriedly. “I was just going to call you.” He said.
“That’s good. I need to see you and your wife over the weekend. Let me know which day works for you.”
“Sir…Sir, I don’t know how possible that will be. Motunde and I are no longer together due to irreconcilable differences. That is what I was going to tell you, I just didn’t know how to say it.”
“I am expecting you and Motunde together in my house this weekend.” I repeated, enunciating every word. “Let me know the day and time way ahead.”
I don’t know what I am going to say or do but I am going to try my best to make sure the two love birds find their wings again. I won’t let them ruin this love story.