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Universal Guide to Starting Your First Enterprise

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Regardless of how happy you are with your current employment, at one point in the future, you may decide to start your own business. There are so many benefits of this kind of a career move, ranging from the fact that you’ll be your own boss, all the way to the fact that your income will drastically increase, once your business grows out of its proportions. The best thing about this is the fact that never before was there a better climate to start a small business or a startup. In fact, as many as 97 percent of startups employ less than 20 people, which means that by starting modest, you’ll quickly be able to catch up with them in size. Here are five guides to help you get there in no time.

1.      Put your thoughts on paper

One of the most important things that you need to understand is that no matter how great an idea sounds in your head until you put it to paper, you won’t know what you’re dealing with. Writing a real business plan is one of the most effective methods of verifying your business idea. Second, if you decide to look for investors, later on, they’ll insist on seeing your business plan (possibly even checking out a prototype). Either way, it’s something that can come as incredibly handy.

2.      Decide how you will fund your business

The next thing that you need to understand is various options that you have available when funding your business. The majority of entrepreneurs use their personal savings or loans to start a business, which leaves them with full ownership of the enterprise in question. About 38 percent of these startups and small businesses are financed from funds borrowed from friends and family members. Other options that you have available are venture capital or angel investors, yet, attracting these investors is not an easy task. Finally, in some fields, it’s possible to go for crowdfunding as a fundraising method.

3.      Determine a business structure

Depending on the origin of your initial capital, you might need to opt for a more complex ownership structure than you’ve initially intended. Still, even if you don’t plan to run as a partnership, it’s crucial that you determine a business structure of your enterprise as soon as possible. If you’re a sole owner, running as a sole proprietorship may seem like an obvious choice. Nonetheless, this is a scenario that can be quite risky, due to the fact that, if things go wrong, you risk even your other personal assets. Therefore, it’s advised to go for an LLC (limited liability company) for the sake of safety.

4.      Take your first steps as an enterprise

Once you’re done with the groundwork, you need to take steps that will legally make you into a business. First, you need to register a company which will require you to submit necessary paperwork or go via an online platform, which is a lot simpler. Second, you need to get a tax ID number. Once this is done, you can start establishing both your online and offline presence. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to the point where your business is making a profit.

5.      Don’t rush in

The last thing you need to understand when it comes to running your first enterprise is that you can’t afford to be reckless. First of all, no matter how good your idea may sound, there are so many ways a startup can fail and, even if you’re careful, some of these things might happen to you. Therefore, take it easy, don’t invest more money than you can afford to lose and start by taking calculated risks in order to learn the industry. Most importantly, if your enterprise doesn’t require too much time, it might be wise to keep your day job for a while.

Conclusion

In order for this guide to be universal, we had to focus on those issues that aren’t industry-specific. Acquisition of specific tools, experts and getting your hands on all permits and certificates is something that you can worry about later on.

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NCDMB: The agency providing funding, incubation and mentorship opportunities for technology startups and innovators

Segun Balogun

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Win up to $10,000 Seed Funding in the NCDMB Oil & Gas Technology Hackathon 

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Technology (NOGTECH) programme is the first ever Oil and Gas hackathon with the primary aim of fostering innovations in the oil and gas industry as well as creating a platform for the proliferation of local content. The programme is headlined by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) with partnership from Learners Support Consultancy and BrentHub.

NOGTECH aims to address the challenges faced by the nation’s oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors by ideating, developing and prototyping digital technology solutions that solve these pertinent problems. The programme is promoting innovation by offering seed funding, business mentorship and incubation to the winning ideas.

Call for Submissions

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, disclosed that “five teams will get $10,000 equity-free grants each”.

 

 

In a webinar session titled “Innovating for the future of Nigeria’s Oil & Gas Industry and its Linkage Sectors.”, Engr. Wabote revealed that submissions into the programme will be scrutinised based on several factors.

”Participants must be a team/company of at least two or more members with at least 75 percent of the founding team as Nigerians. The team/company must be a registered, or intending to register as a profit/business entity. The solution described in response to the challenge must be driven by digital technology – Software, Hardware or both.”

He also disclosed that “the solution must either be at the ideation stage, prototype level or a launched solution that hasn’t gained commercial traction. The team must be available to participate in a three-day hackathon as well as a three-month incubation programme, if selected.”

Solving the Industry’s Toughest Challenges

NCDMB is determined to unearth scalable solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges. Some of the identified problem areas include the rising problem of pipeline vandalism, increase in cyber-physical risk, widening skill gap, supply chain and logistics inefficiency, rising carbon footprint and issues surrounding transparency, accountability and civic engagement.

Innovators are encouraged to proffer sustainable and scalable solutions to these biggest challenges faced by industry stakeholders.

Pitching to Investors

Ultimately, the winning teams will have an opportunity to pitch their prototypes to investors. But before then, the NOGTECH programme is taking place over several weeks with the selected ideas advancing on a stage by stage basis.

The first stage is the call for submissions where teams and startups are encouraged to submit their ideas. Shortlisted teams in each of the challenge areas will first be invited to present online to a team of experienced entrepreneurs and industry professionals. The most promising teams will then be selected to participate in an all-expense paid 3-day hackathon. Submit your ideas here

During this time, shortlisted participants will have a couple of days to collaborate and build their prototypes or fine-tune existing prototypes with guidance from industry stakeholders, experts and mentors. At the end of the bootcamp, teams will revalidate their solutions and have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of judges.

Prizes for Winning Teams

The winning five teams will undergo a 3-month incubation program where each team will get a $10,000 equity-free grant, a work-space, expert mentors, global partners and unprecedented market access over three-months, ensuring they become commercial and investor-ready.

At the end of the incubation, the teams will participate in a showcase day to demonstrate their progress. This showcase will aim to connect them with investors and industry stakeholders where they can further amplify their market access.

So if you are an innovator seeking opportunities, identifying them and seizing the ones that then match, then you have to apply to NOGTECH.

In order to participate in the hackathon, innovators, teams and startups can get started here.

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Blue Ridge Enhances Machine Learning Capabilities for Price Optimization

Segun Balogun

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 Blue Ridge announced today enhancements to its suite of next-gen cloud-based Price Optimization solutions, which leverage machine learning to quickly identify opportunities and simulate pricing strategies for peak margin, profits, revenues and sales. The pricing suite supports end-to-end pricing transformations, a strategy proven to minimize disruption and drive significant earnings expansion for distributors and retailers.

Blue Ridge’s Price Optimization solution quickly identifies both overpriced and underpriced products while providing accurate recommendations for aligning prices across products, channels and price points including wholesale, list and customer segment. The solution provides daily alerts on competitive price changes to react quickly in price-transparent ecommerce channels, as well as make recommendations on reducing excess inventory to create significant value and profit margin improvement.

“Today’s enterprises and brands have seen the impact when supply chains and demand signals disrupt markets,” said Ray Wang, Principal Analyst & CEO, Constellation Research, Inc. “Those leaders who had the right price optimization tools were able to respond with agility, resiliency, and speed to account for new signal intelligence and ensure that customers were satisfied, margins were met, and supply chains were not disrupted.”

A report by McKinsey & Company illustrated the latent benefits of intelligent pricing, estimating that “A one-percent price increase would yield 22 percent increase in EBITDA margins, and a 25 percent uplift in stock price. Moreover, pricing has a disproportionate impact on a distributor’s enterprise value, with an increase of 20 percent for a one-percent increase in price.”

“The highly competitive and increasingly digital landscape of consumer buying today requires that distributors and retailers analyze things like minimum advertised price, psychological price points, willingness-to-pay measurement, and even list and net pricing, as well as macroeconomic influences before setting prices,” said Cliff Isaacson, Blue Ridge Executive Vice President of Product Strategy. “Machine learning-based pricing tools allow our customers to make those decisions swiftly and confidently, so they can always operate at max-profit point.”

Blue Ridge Price Optimization uses machine learning capabilities to continually optimize pricing across all products (not just top-tier items), segment and perfect pricing for each customer, and give distributors the upper-hand in supplier negotiations:

  • Comprehensive Pricing Strategy: Simulate different pricing scenarios and predict the impact of a price change before implementing it.
  • Competitive Positioning: Respond immediately to price changes from competitors, as well as supplier rules, segmentation, positioning and price change frequency.
  • Intelligent Analytics: Purpose-built for the distribution and retail industries, Price Optimization’s intelligent science learns from price changes and results over time to steadily improve price recommendations.
  • Customer Segmentation: Identifies customer performance, discounting and pricing opportunities based on willingness-to-pay and past performance.
  • Rapid Results: In under 90 days, businesses can have intelligent Price Optimization recommendations for achieving both short-term and long-term S&OP goals, continually refined year after year.

Price Optimization joins Blue Ridge’s suite of Supply Chain Planning solutions, which help customers increase forecast accuracy, improve customer satisfaction, and assure product availability to customers without creating a costly inventory surplus.

“Price Optimization combined with Supply Chain Planning solutions creates a huge financial game-changer for retailers, distributors and manufacturers in today’s volatile market,” said Jim Byrnes, Blue Ridge Chief Executive Officer. “It uniquely blends science and synchronization to solve our customers’ biggest problem – what they don’t know. With Price Optimization, our customers have the insight to pivot quickly and grab significant near-term savings; shape and align longer-range S&OP processes; and consistently deliver pricing that’s both competitive and profitable.”

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Ecobank Group and JA Africa partner to promote financial literacy skills among Africa’s youth

Segun Balogun

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Junior Achievement (JA) Africa and Ecobank Group announce their new partnership- “Banking on Africa’s Youth.” The partnership will undertake a campaign that will tap into JA’s vast online community, comprising over one million young social media followers spread across Africa. It will educate and mobilize over 600,000+ young people with financial literacy knowledge, as part of Ecobank’s Junior Savers initiative which in part seeks to grow financial inclusion for young Africans using Ecobank’s mobile/digital resources.

The purpose of the online campaign is to empower potential and existing Junior Savers account holders with the requisite financial literacy knowledge to understand and begin to build a culture of savings as part of their personal financial habits. The campaign targets youth groups, online influencers, and communities with knowledge of some basic financial concepts.

“The Ecobank Group is committed to building financial literacy and money management skills amongst the youth as they transition into Africa’s productive workforce,” said Nana Araba Abban, Group Consumer Banking Head at Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. “Our collaboration with JA Africa will enable us to positively impact young citizens who are our investment in the future of the continent.”

The value for customers will be expanded to include financial literacy concepts: earning, budgeting, spending, and banking. The campaign will involve participants advancing progressively through the four concepts. JA Africa will launch the campaign to reach different youth groups in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal through all its media outlets over a period of three years.

Speaking about the program, JA Africa’s CEO, Elizabeth Elango Bintliff, said, “This partnership with the Ecobank Group reinforces both JA Africa’s and the banking group’s commitment to financial literacy and inclusion for all Africans, especially the youth. We believe in educating a new generation of leaders with the knowledge they need to navigate their economic futures while giving them the tools to succeed.”

Africa’s youth today are growing up in a new financial world where technology plays a big role in in their lives. This partnership will go a long way to reach and influence behavior of millions of unbanked young people on the African continent by giving them the requisite financial literacy skills to become financially informed adults in the future. According to the World Bank 2018 report, young Africans are less likely to have a bank account than adults on the continent. At the same time, they are more likely to have a mobile phone, engage with friends and be aware of digital channels. Current technology channels, especially social and digital media, provide the avenue to reach and engage young people at scale. The campaign therefore seeks to leverage technology to achieve its goals.

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