Yaaay! Mrs Abbah screamed excitedly as she received the alert of the additional lump sum she needed to commence business. Glad that she would finally be able to start-up with the additional support from her hubby, she moved her left hands softly over her sleeping baby’s hair dialling her husband with the other. Her face shone in delight as she spoke excitedly. Yet, by the time the conversation ended, it was replaced by a deep frown. It seems the conversation led to some thought provoking questions which Mrs Abaye had earlier thought about but not figured out. When finance is out of the way, what are some other hidden challenges that mothers have to sort out when starting business?
When starting a business, most people consider finance as the most important factor. Yes finance is very important in business but it is highly possible to start a business without any huge financing. For mothers who are contemplating a business, child care becomes a key consideration. This particularly depends on the nature and mode of operation of the particular business. Most women have to consider the cost and type of child care options available. This is because, not every type of business would provide an environment to nurture babies. For example, most large markets and shopping malls in Nigeria do not even have in-built nursery sections where shoppers can nurse babies. How can the shop owners conveniently take care of their own kids in these places? This is why a customer would walk into some shops and leave immediately. Customers would not wait to inform you that they have been chased away by the foul odour emanating from your recent diaper change or soiled nappies. To avoid such re-occurrence, take time to search for child care centres or a creche nearer your business place. In addition, when you have small children in-store, ensure the internal ambience and odour is maintained. You can also consider designating a particular area for your child care duties. That way, you would have less soiled clothes and diapers flying all around the store. Do not make is so glaring that your store or business place also serves as a nursery. This is very common in Nigeria but it can be avoided.
When starting a business, it would be wise to consider the different timing of your key stakeholders especially in selecting your business location. In this instance you might want to include your choice of child care provider as a stakeholder. For example, if your place of business is far away from where you live, you might want to consider the opening and closing times of your potential child care centre before making a final decision. It would be unwise to constantly have to leave your business place at peak times to pick your baby. Remember that consistency is key in business. Customers would not wait for you so try to plan well.
Creating a unique differential advantage
Most often people get so caught up with trying to access funding for their business that they forget other crucial things, For example? Of what benefit is it to obtain finance when you have not figured out how to utilize it effectively? How do you want to make your product or services stand out? What are the benefits or aspects of your product or service that your competitors cannot duplicate easily or as profitably? If you are going to be selling what everyone else is selling then you need to think about how to make yours different. This is the aspect most business owners usually fail to decipher. A proactive entrepreneur would surely want to consider ways to differentiate their product or services in order to foster sales. If you are finding this difficult, you might want to discuss with others, ask questions, talk with a mentor or better still speak with an experienced business consultant.
While finance is very essential when starting a new business, there are other factors that are pertinent especially to new mothers. These include, type and cost of child care, potential timing of operations and your unique differential advantage. On the surface, these factors might seem unimportant, but the impact of ignoring them whilst starting out can be can be significant on the long run.
Ngozi Eneh Ojo , a writer , business researcher and consultant drives development of women in Sub-Saharan Africa through empowerment and entrepreneurship.