How Collaboration Can Save the Lives Of Startups & SME’s

I love Nigeria, our hustling grip and tenacity makes us stand out. A lot of us have a natural inclination towards entrepreneurship whether it’s searching for a well paying job or building a business. Our competitive spirit is always on the high. It no wonder every year more people come up with business ideas that would be the next big thing to happen. Startups waiting to be the next miracle in Africa or Nigeria (I am not left out of the fever), so we have silos’ of startups and SME’s trying to get by struggling immensely to stay above water in an already saturated market. An insight from StatisticBrain shows in percentages on a yearly basis the survival rate of Startup’s. Below is a snap- shot

Beyond factors of insufficient funding and infrastructure many startup lack what I call an ‘Isolation Agenda’.

The Isolation Agenda

I have this great idea and I am the only one who can do it the perfect way. The hustle begins, you design product, you look for funds, you market, you are doing all it takes to see that business idea/product come alive but it comes exhausting, and you might as well give up. 96% of businesses in Nigeria are SME’s/ Startups; majority are clones of another product in saturated niche, many have the right ideas but lack the right human resource (most cases don’t know the human resource they need), many are scared of partnership or expanding for fear of their idea being stolen, some lack the right business skills.

I had an interesting discuss with a friend a few days back, she was ecstatic about this new idea of starting a vocational school to empower unemployed youths. This is not a bad idea as unemployment is one of the ravaging economic problems in Nigeria. The issue I had with her idea, was it was very generic and there was nothing new about what she was going to bring on the table, that lot of other vocational training schools in various creative careers were not doing. Given that entrepreneurship is the new gospel (speakers preach it, newspaper sell it, the government approves funds for it but the problem still dey increasing in triples) for solving unemployment a lot of persons have turned to a one man team making his way through (in my opinion telling people to become entrepreneurs isn’t the one fit all solution for unemployment). My advice was for her to join hands with an already existing skill acquisition school and fulfill her own mission of empowering unemployed graduates making the impact she desires while learning the ropes.

If people in businesses, with like minds, similar objectives and a common goal come together, form a sort of partnership and agree to put their various resources on the table to build a conglomerate an SME can grow to become an organization that will transcend generations. Strategic collaboration is what will and can make this happen. It is one of the business principles upon which many multinationals thrive. How do we take advantage of collaborative efforts to deliver results?

Capitalize On Your Strength

This may be cliché, but it’s what makes you different, unique and stand out. Know your strength and focus on it. You can’t paddle the ship on your own without a crew. Do a SWOT analysis and if you can’t sit down to think in-depth, take a personality test it will give insight to your temperament, weakness and the kind of support you will need for your business. I recommend this test, very effective.

Stop Being a One Man Army

Having a sense of ownership, bearing the founder title of your startup is amazing, but the exhaustion that comes with it can lead to being stuck in the same place for a long time. It’s good to find a partner, someone who shares the same visionvalues and compliment(emphasis on the two because partnership is a business marriage, the wrong partner will lead to a lot of conflicts / divorce) the business. He should be willing to go all the way with you. Think about it what’s a Bill gates without a Paul Allen?.

Define Your Startup Needs and Put a Structure

What is the problem you are trying to tackle? what are your goals and objectives? How do you intend to solve this problem? What are the resources you need? In order of priority, what is the outcome of meeting that need? What opportunities are available? What’s your income generating model? Asking these questions will give a sense of direction to the framework of your business. Also, it helps you understand/ know what formation to adopt for effective run of your business and the skills to hire.

Quick hint: Take advantage of hiring interns and volunteers to make up your human resource gap, its’ a cost effective approach.

Partner with Organizations & Institutions in Business line.

This is one step in where proper homework must be done. There is nothing new under the sun; this means whatever your business idea is there is an organization out there that is doing the same thing or something similar. Such organization might be meeting a comparative need in the same niche and your business may be tailored to meet a need in that same niche. How can you small business leverage on a well established organization good will to enhance your brand? Sometimes funding (money) is not necessarily what you need to boost your business, but an endorsement from an organization, governmental body may be the right thing you need to get the money you need.

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