The sheer ingenuity of how some people seem to be smiling to the bank in this recession while others seem to be falling into depression, compelled me to share these 4 tips that have helped me make money in the current economic condition in Nigeria. I hope that these tips help you also to make some big bucks in this recession.
1. Trim your expenses by trimming your personal staff
My Indian friend and I always make fun of how we live like queens in a third world country. However, at one point, I realised that I had several people in my house on my payroll, people who contributed to the reduction I noticed in my monthly income.
I had a security guard, a gardener, a house help, a nanny, a personal trainer and a driver. I soon discovered that not only were this people contributing nothing to my household income, they were in fact contributing to my weight gain. Therefore, I decided that I needed to review the functions and usefulness of my domestic staff.
So the first thing I did was to let my driver and personal trainer go. I started driving myself and spending more time playing with my children as a form of exercise. I downloaded Google map and joined a car pool. As a result, I was able to cut down my car expense by about 60%. My need to meet up activity time with my children made me realise that doing some activities added more value to my weight loss plan than the bi-weekly kick-boxing I spent my hard-earned money on. Therefore, up next was my house help and gardener. Thereafter, the security guard had to add gardening and car wash to his duties to remain on my payroll.Needless to say, I have not been this trim financially in years.
As a business, there are several things and people on your payroll that are not needed especially for a small business. Why would you have an office assistant as one position and a cleaner as another position? Why have an employee as a permanent staff that you only need at certain times in the month or year? It would save you a lot in staff costs if there is a review of your business payroll to determine who to retain and who to let go. In the end, your business will either sink or swim in a recession depending on the actions you take.
2. Put down the Internet
The cell phone has become a major expense for most people. The money you spend on airtime and data would make sense if it improved your business in some way. I as an individual decided that I would research and do mobile packages that gave me the best in terms of airtime and data at the lowest cost. Then I prepared a schedule of how I would spend my time on the phone. So I not only have more time to focus and to do things that brings me better return on my investment, I also save money.
For a business, all telephone service provider have a cheaper plan for businesses that you can take advantage of. Also, evaluate if you need a 30G monthly data for all members of staff in your company if you are not an e-commerce company. Would it perhaps be better to have individual Wi-Fi for each staff member? It may help to monitor how much data and airtime each person uses.
3. Say No to that equipment
Most start-ups in Nigeria start out by buying all sort of things they do not need. Such items like renting an office space, buying furniture and electronics. Why do you need an office space for a two-man company when you have a 3-bedroom apartment with only you as the occupant? Why does your company have an office car if your company is an IT company? Do you really need a 20kg packaging machine that costs thrice as much as the 5kg machine?
If you would just say “no” to the cravings of shiny new items at the start of your business and focus on growing the business, you will reap the benefits. Therefore, you should be focused on putting your profit back into your business at least for the first three years.
4. Backward integration cannot be over-emphasised
Backward integration is a business model whereby a company takes direct control of how its products are supplied. For example, a company may buy another company that previously supplied its raw material. That is, a butcher may own a ranch so that he does not have to buy slaughtered animals from an outside ranch. Another example is a bakery business having a wheat farm where it uses the wheat to make the flour for the products in the bakery.
Most businesses in Nigeria need to start exploring the possibilities of backward integration. There is so much cost savings potential here. For example, producing the raw materials you use in your business instead of importing them will save you import duties and the associated costs and also spare you the head ache of looking for foreign exchange. Patronising local producers in Nigeria is also another option to explore.
In summary, as a business you must be aware of your business operations and processes to enable you to spot opportunities for cost cutting in this recession. Also, recognise when to invest more money into your business and when to hold back. This would save you and your business a lot in the future.
By Eyitayo Ogunyemi
Has it happened that you intended to communicate a point but your client interpreted your message wrongly? This usually happens when written business communications are vague, morose and without a sense of simplicity. The end result, more often than not, is that potential clients “move on” to the next service provider. To take your business to a bigger level, you must write with clarity in such a way that your potential clients easily get your point. When you achieve this, your clients become happy to engage you, because they understand your terms and their own obligations. Below are five hints to write to win both existing and potential clients:
1. See your words as PRECIOUS GEMS, you won’t give them out carelessly, so write what you mean and mean what you write.
2. Prefer the positive expressions to the negative expressions. I like the way Deborah S. Bosley gives the picture of how our brain reacts to words we read in her article Positive language makes our brains happier
Your selling point may be connected to the use of certain negative words (drug industries for example capitalises on the use of negative words and then tell potential clients how their drugs cure those negative vices), one of the solutions in such instance is to use as few negative words as is possible.
Another arm of this lesson is to avoid using double negatives because they make the readers engage in “mental gymnastics”. See for instance the following statement:
“You may not disengage from the terms of this Agreement unless….”
The challenge with the above example is that, like the rule in mathematics, two negatives make a positive, so where you have “not” as the first negative and “dis” (from the word “disengage”) as the second negative, you have a positive statement which will communicate a wrong intention. It could have therefore been put this way:
“You may disengage from the terms of this Agreement if…”
To conclude on this, greater chances are that when you write in the positive sense, you will use fewer words.
3. Your choice of words should be determined by your likely readership. For instance, your colleagues will probably not patronise your business because they are your competitors, so why write as if you are addressing a colleague?
Potential clients easily get worn out trying to know what you mean when you use technical words (which only your colleagues are licensed to understand). What you must therefore do, is to put the technical words in simple contexts.
One last note- if you must use technical words, make sure that you create a portion to interpret those words in the plain English sense. If you are preparing an online article, link those tech words to other sites where they are exhaustively interpreted.
4. Avoid the repetition game. Many people do this because they are afraid that they have not been heard. For whatever reasons, the thing about repeating yourself is that you become boring.
Here is an example from my archive:
“ON no ground whatsoever or howsoever shall we be liable….”
You will notice that one of “howsoever” or “whatsoever” could have been sufficient, or a more simple word could have fit in perfectly.
5. Engage your clients in the active voice:
“Active voice” is when the subject of a sentence performs the action in the verb, while “passive voice” is when the subject has the action performed on it.
In elementary school, we were taught that when the passive voice is used, it means something is being done for the actor, but active voice puts the actor in charge. When you apply that explanation to your business, you will realise that passive written expressions make you look frail, while active expressions give a sense to your clients that you are in charge.
You don’t say: “The account will be audited by us”
You should say: “We will audit the account”
Communicating in the active sense helps you to be clear on your thoughts and also clear on who should do what, and what is to be done.
Investing time to communicate to your clients with clarity and simplicity is an act that should be taken serious when preparing your marketing strategies. The Businessperson that engages his/her clients with simple written expressions has a good chance to have the most clients (observe the trend for instance in Insurance companies). The days are gone therefore, when it is assumed that the black man appreciates the content of a book by its cover.