Building a successful tech start-up in Nigeria is not the easiest thing. The country has its set of challenges due to lack of investments, limited development and scarce talent. However, it has a budding, supportive and vibrant start-up community. As in any other country, aside from actively leading the company, founders in Nigeria will unavoidably face issues with the product, their team, legalities, finance, sales, and marketing. Everyone’s start-up is different, however, there are key tips to help you succeed as you build your business. Jovago.com, Nigeria’s No. 1 online hotel booking portal has 10 basic tips for tech start-ups.
- Ensure customers have need for your product
It is all about the customers – the people who will eventually use your product. Any start-up or already established company that fails to focus on catering to the needs of the customer is not going to make any headway. Ask yourself what problem is my product / service solving or who is it helping? Is it really needed? Talk to your potential users and more importantly, listen to what they have to say, that way you will know if there is actual need for your product.
- Do not ‘make haste’
Most of us in Nigeria have the mentality of “make haste while the sun shines”. Do not apply this principle if you have plans to succeed. While the rush to launch a product is normal, you need to breath and consider every single detail first. Doing things too early, is almost as damaging as doing it too late. Slow down when it comes to key decisions, think and implement checks and controls.
- Explore every role
A tech start-up would require expertise on different roles, from product management to engineering, then marketing and sales. Founders should try and perform every role before hiring someone to take it over. This will help them understand who they are hiring and what their exact job specification should be. It will also make it easier to communicate with and understand future employees.
- Select a good team
The people on your team will be your biggest asset. Ensure you hire carefully and slowly. Skill and experience is much more essential than certifications. Egomaniacs are a risk to hire, as they make a work environment hostile. For an early-stage startup, it’s imperative that the team buys into the long-term vision. Also, always use a contract.
- Manage resources
Trying to build a successful company with as little as possible is one of the biggest hurdles startups face. Keep salaries low and invest a portion in office perks like free lunches, happy hours and office trips. Also, founders need to hold off hiring new people until they are necessarily pressed to do so. Hiring talent ahead of demand may be good, but it is a fast way to burn through money. Again, it is always best to hire locals.
- Don’t Confuse Market Size for Adoption Speed
The fact that the market is large may surge your potential consumer base, but it also can lead to the creation of huge, interconnected online marketplaces that make local production and distribution of similar products a breeze. You have to factor in copycats or legitimate companies working in a lower price range. You need to mitigate this risk by producing a high quality product which could easily be differentiated from fakes.
- Create an easy medium for customers to contact you
Making your start-up impersonal and inaccessible to customers could cause more harm than good. Don’t be afraid to display your phone number and email on your website. For early stage start-ups, contact from a potential customer concerning your product is very beneficial as it gives you opportunity to learn about your customer’s wants and needs.
- Use equity as coinage
Using equity in exchange for professional services is one of the ultimate things you can do when you are starting a company. Explore the use of equity and an employee stock option plan with your lawyer as a way to exchange professional services in lieu of cash and to incentivize employees. However, be careful when you do this.
- Make social media a priority
For founders , making the social media a priority can be a challenge for a start-up. Start with concerted effort on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and other basic platforms, as a large number of customers use social media as a way to make a buying decision and send feedback.
- Have a simple plan
Create a plan for your business even though you probably won’t follow it. Although the business plan is the norm in the traditional business world, it is not extremely necessary. What is important is that you put your thoughts to paper – a clear definition of the problem, solution, business model, how you are going to do it, competitive landscape, and so forth. Having a simple plan rather than a full blown business plan is much less time-consuming and tedious.