As entrepreneurs struggle to navigate through a tough economy and build a thriving business, business leaders across different industries have identified research and technology as tools Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs) in Nigeria can leverage to build sustainable businesses.
Speaking during the Halisi Business Seminar, themed ‘Building Resilience in Uncertain Times: Growth Strategies for 2023,’ experts said without adequate research and adoption of technology tools, SMEs may struggle to break even in their businesses.
Bolu Essien, media manager, West Africa, Mondelez International who spoke during a panel session explained that importantly, for every business is research because an entrepreneur with competitors will have to research to know more about his or her potential customers and what the competitor is offering.
“If you are selling a product or you own a business, you want to know the people you want to sell to and where you can find your customers. You need to know if your customers are on Instagram or LinkedIn or Facebook; these are what research does for you.
“Entrepreneurs also need to know what customers are complaining about. Since you are not the only one offering this service, there are others and customers could be either happy or not. Social listening makes it easy for you to know what they are complaining about,” Essien said.
Also speaking at the business seminar, Oluremi Martins, founder of Natural Girl Wigs, said that business research doesn’t have to be too complicated.
According to her, talking to friends, course mates and colleagues that entrepreneurs think may be interested in the kind of things they want to sell can be helpful.
“Barrier to entry as regards starting a business today is low because you have social media that can help you reach people. So, just take advantage of the free things around you first before you start scaling up to spending a lot of money.
“My business started from me as a consumer of the kind of products I sell. So, I wanted a hair that looked like my own and didn’t look too foreign. These are like hair extensions I can add to my hair that would still look natural. I found out that there were other women like me who wanted this kind of product,” Martins said.
Yinka Onigbinde, business director at 360 Hubspot said research is the fundamental thing that entrepreneurs need to do as a brand because it gives them all the information they need to know what the business they intend to go into is about.
“Research helps you identify where the problems are and helps you understand what your niche is, what to focus on and what people what to buy from you,” Onigbinde said.
Tolani Thomas-Allinson, founder and principal consultant at Halisi Consulting company said that For SMEs to grow, they need to create a mailing list and expand it, focus on client retention, build a strong referral network, adopt marketing strategy based on return on investment, introduce new offerings, learn and adopt new technology and establish credibility in the business.
Halisi Consults is a business development and consulting company that provides solutions to start-ups, small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria.