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Financial Literacy

SMEs: How to attract fund from banks, investors, donors

The leading cause of this high startup mortality rate is not the lack of customers or innovative business ideas or bad location, but poor access to finance.

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Business, female entrepreneurs, Palladium, Here are skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur,

About 50% of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) globally fail within 5 years of their existence. In Nigeria, this rate is even higher. The leading cause of this high startup mortality rate is not the lack of customers or innovative business ideas or bad location, but poor access to finance.

Similarly, contrary to popular opinion, the dearth of funding for SMEs, especially in Nigeria, is not just the result of limited funds from fund providers. It is also the result of the poor corporate governance structures that entrepreneurs have put in place for their businesses. Beyond attracting customers, many Nigerian entrepreneurs lack the basic understanding of what it takes to run a successful business.

Below are 5 simple but powerful corporate governance insights that will make your small business more attractive to banks, angel investors, venture capitalists (VCs), private equity firms (PEs) and donor agencies.

SEPARATE YOUR BUSINESS FROM PERSONAL FINANCES
A major factor that has limited the growth, development and scalability of many small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria is the failure of the business owners to separate their business and personal finances. Many Nigerian entrepreneurs run both their personal and business-related transactions through the same bank account, which is typically an individual savings account.

READ MORE: 4 reasons why some entrepreneurs succeed when they build their startups at this age

This limits in no small part the ability of such businesses to attract funding because their financial records and key performance indicators like revenue, expenditure and income are difficult to isolate and analyze by fund providers. Before any funder puts their money in your business, they must first assess its financial performance over a given period of time. When this financial performance is difficult to analyze because your personal and business transactions are muddled up, it becomes a red flag.

SMEs

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DOCUMENT ALL TRANSACTIONS
There is a good chance that you run a B2C business where cash-based transactions from walk-in customers are more common than e-payments. If that is the case, then your corporate bank account will not paint a true picture of the volume of transactions and activities that your business witnesses when analyzed by potential creditors and investors.

To augment your bank statement, you must imbibe good bookkeeping practices by maintaining a sales book or, better still, a bookkeeping app where you will record all your cash-based and electronic transactions.

PAY YOURSELF A SALARY
Cultivating financial discipline is critical to your success as an entrepreneur. It’s pointless maintaining a corporate bank account for your business if you are still going to dip into it from time to time to meet your personal needs.

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Of course, there is no way that you are not going to take out money from your business to meet personal needs, after all that is why you’re in business in the first place. But you need to put a structure around it so that it is not done indiscriminately.

If you must take out money from your business, the best way to do it is to put yourself on a salary. Determine what you are going to pay yourself as salary by analyzing your business’ financial performance over a six-month or one-year period. To ensure that salaries do not take up a huge chunk of your operating expense, keep all the salaries you pay out to yourself and other employees below 50% of your profit.

If an exigency that requires you to take more money from your business than your salary would ordinarily permit arises, consider the difference between your salary and what you are taking as a loan from your business to yourself, which must be repaid as soon as possible. Doing this will help you plug unnecessary leakages from your business.

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READ MORE: NSE launches Growth Board to attract SMEs with growth potentials

LEARN HOW TO INTERPRET A FINANCIAL STATEMENT
In today’s digitally driven world, data is king. If you’re not able to interpret, understand and leverage the data that is emanating from your business, then the world is fast leaving you behind. As an entrepreneur, your business data is your most critical asset. How you leverage it matters a lot.
If terms like balance sheet, assets, liabilities and cash flow sound too overwhelming, then it’s time for you to take a crash course in business accounting. You don’t need to be a chartered accountant to run a successful business, however, a foundational understanding of business accounting is essential.

TAKE YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE
About 60% of the global population currently have access to the internet. In Nigeria alone, there are about 130 million internet users out of an estimated population of 200 million and this number is growing exponentially every day. Today, many people get their information online as opposed to traditional channels like the radio or the television. If your business has not yet leveraged online platforms for branding, marketing and communication, what are you still waiting for?
Building a solid online presence for your business will expand its reach, expose it to a larger market, make it more accessible to existing customers and build its credibility. It is almost impossible for funders to put their money in your business if it doesn’t have a strong and reputable online presence.

CONCLUSION
Entrepreneurship is a fiercely competitive landscape. Little things can make a big difference and give you an edge over your competitors in the market and in attracting investments. Taking these five steps today will help you develop a solid corporate governance structure and stand out from the crowd.

Article written by Chinedu Nnawetanma, a private sector development strategist.

 

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Financial Literacy

How to move from a decent salary to a lucrative income (Part 1)

First, create an anchor position for your decent lifestyle; next, increase your earning capacity; third, earn a lucrative income and lastly, preserve the income that you have earned.

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See the businesses experts have recommended you should start in 2020 

There is a common element that is present among all working professionals that achieve financial freedom. This element is their ability to move from earning a decent salary to earning a lucrative income. A decent salary is an income that gives you a decent lifestyle, and a decent lifestyle is any lifestyle that is comfortable in the present.

So, when you hear working professionals talk about having a decent income, what they mean is that their present life is working. And that they can pay their bills without financial stress. A decent salary is thus heavily invested in maintaining life today. This means that income from a decent salary is invested in income-consuming activities more than income-preserving activities. While it is good to maintain life today. It is even better to secure life tomorrow.

This is because life is advancing towards the future and the future will soon be here. Also, jobs don’t last forever and when they go away, they take all the decent salary that is funding your current decent lifestyle. Thus, if maintaining a decent lifestyle throughout life is your goal, you must move from income that is heavily invested in making today comfortable to income that is invested in maintaining comfort throughout life. This is where having a lucrative income comes in.

READ: 10 Side gigs to venture into while working a full-time job

A lucrative income is an income that is heavily invested in preserving life today and in the future. Lucrative income is more focused on keeping and growing income for the days when salary is no more. This is because only preserved income will matter in those days. And those days are already upon us. So, if you are looking for the best time to prepare, today is the day. As the worst time to prepare is when you are already in the future. Becoming wise in the future will not do you any good. Thus, a well-structured lucrative income helps you prepare in three ways. First, it buys you financial freedom. Secondly, it expands your options and opportunities, and thirdly, it gives you financial peace of mind.

So, if your goal is to achieve financial freedom someday and maintain the decent lifestyle that you have become so accustomed to over the years, you must build income for the future by converting your decent salary to a lucrative income. The purpose of this article is to show you exactly how you can achieve that.

So how do you create your own lucrative income?

There are four steps to follow and each step must follow in the right order. The first step is to create an anchor position for your decent lifestyle. The second is to increase your earning capacity. The third step is to earn a lucrative income. And the fourth step is to preserve the income that you have earned.

READ: 5 financial choices you will regret

Step 1. Create an anchor position for a decent lifestyle

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You need to define what a decent lifestyle is for you and there are two kinds of decent lifestyles. The first is the financial freedom decent lifestyle and the second is the financial slavery decent lifestyle. The financial freedom decent lifestyle is the lifestyle that meets your basic needs and yet preserves a big part of your income. And financial slavery decent lifestyle is the lifestyle that sacrifices your savings.

To achieve financial freedom, you must choose the financial freedom decent lifestyle. This is the only lifestyle that can lead to financial freedom. The reason is that only saving a big part of your income can give you financial freedom. And You can’t out-earn extravagant living. Thus, you must anchor spending while you work on savings. To save a big part of your income you must save between 25-60% of your income. This means that you must anchor your decent lifestyle between 70 to 40% of your current income.

READ: Right financial behaviours to develop in 2021

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When you decide which anchor position is suitable for you, fix your expenses at this point and channel all extra income towards your savings. These include your bonuses, allowances, investment returns, and side incomes. Savings and expenses cannot grow at the same time. You must decide which one of them grows and which of them is anchored to a fixed position. Anchoring your expenses while growing your savings is thus, crucial to creating a lucrative income and achieving financial freedom. When you decide what a suitable anchor position is for you, you must stay anchored at this position until you achieve financial freedom.

So how do you anchor your spending?

To anchor your spending, you must first know how much you spend each month. If you are already within the 70-40% expense bracket you may want to look for other ways to push your savings beyond where you are. The key is to work towards saving more than you spend. But if you are outside the range, you are in a financial bondage position and are heading towards financial pain.

READ: How to invest for retirement

A financial bondage position is any position that puts your savings below 25% of your income. Most people are in this position and sadly they are anchoring their savings at a meagre 5-10% and growing their expenses. Saving under a quarter of your income is potential pain because you cannot maintain your current lifestyle at less than a quarter of your income. To maintain a decent lifestyle throughout life, you must save more than you spend and keep your spending anchored while growing your savings.

There are three savings positions to choose from if you want to speed up financial success. The first is called the quarter plus savings position. This is where you save a quarter or more of your income each month. The second position is called the mid-point savings position. This is where you save half of your income (50%) each month. The third savings position is the supreme position. This is where you save more than you spend, that is, above 50% of your income. To achieve financial freedom, you must decide whether you want to work hard on your freedom or do so on your expenses. Whichever you decide, it will be reflected in your report card at the end of your career.

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Step 2. Increase your Earning Capacity

The fastest way to create a lucrative income is to earn more income. To earn more income, you must increase your earning capacity beyond what it is right now. Increasing your earning capacity means increasing your ability to solve high-income problems because money is made when you solve problems for other people. To solve high-income problems, you need four key elements. You need knowledge. You need skills. You need Productivity. And you need Relationships.

Knowledge is information that helps you see how things work.  It is different from understanding. Understanding is derived from the application of knowledge. And from converting knowledge into skills and experiences. Productivity is getting more work done within a shorter time and creating more free time for yourself. When you produce more, you’re worth more. So, the key to productivity is to increase the quantity and quality of work that you do.

Relationships are also critical because income is produced within the context of a relationship. If you want to earn more, you must be worth more in knowledge, skills, productivity, and relationships. The sad news is most people only focus on acquiring knowledge. And knowledge may be power but it is the least income-producing element among the four. In fact, knowledge is useless until applied. To focus your savings on acquiring knowledge that has low-income value is not wise. Rather focus your savings on acquiring knowledge that can produce high and almost instant income.

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The second mistake I see people make when they want to increase their income is investing in the wrong skills. They invest in skills that have little relevance outside the career world. And lose all their investment once they are out of a job or in retirement. They also invest in low-income skills. A low-income skill is any skill that does not add any specific and measurable value to company profits and revenue.

The problem with low-income skills is that they produce low income no matter how hard you work or how much it cost you to get them. And the problem with career-related skills is that they can only be applied in the career world. In the career world, you have zero control over your income and the value that is placed on your skills. So, developing low-income skills or career-related skills does not only limit your income, it makes your life miserable at the end of your career.

To achieve financial freedom, you must focus on acquiring high-income skills. And there are three high-income skills to acquire. The first is creativity – the ability to produce wealth-creating ideas. The second is relationship building – the ability to meet new people, engage in meaningful conversations and build trusted relationships. The third is marketing – the ability to convince customers that you and your product are worth more than the price tag on them. Without these three skills, you can’t create a lucrative income.

The third mistake I see most people make when they want to increase their income is to focus too much on investing as the means for earning extra income. While investing is great and can grow your income. Investing is NOT an income-producing activity and cannot make up for the gap in your own personal ability to produce or earn a high income. If it could, successful business owners would have closed their businesses and faced investing full-time. But they don’t because they know that the only powerful way to produce income is through your own personal ability to produce and solve problems. They use investing as a means to preserve and grow earned income and this is what you must do.

Depending on investment income to make up for your own low ability to earn income is a loser’s game. And there are three reasons why. Most people do not even have the size of cash reserves that can produce the amount of passive income they can depend on. What they then do is demand more than a safe return from their meagre investments and lose their money. And then they repeat the process all over again or are scared to death to invest which is even worse. There is a limit beyond which investing becomes harmful and not beneficial.

The second reason is that growing income through investing is a slower process and there is a limit to how much growth you can achieve. While a person can earn N500 million in a day through their own personal ability to produce and solve problems. They cannot push the same results out of their investments without losing it. The only way to still earn high income today is to use your personal ability to solve high-income problems.

Growing money and earning money are two different activities, and earning money is more powerful than growing money. The third and final reason why focusing on investing may not work for you is that it takes money to make investment money. Once you have the money it’s easy to find someone that can guide you to invest it. And money only comes when you have a personal ability to produce and solve problems.

So, while you can use your personal ability to earn income from scratch, it takes a lot of money to achieve investing success. I know this because 80% of people end up broke and resentful in retirement despite years of investing. The problem is not that they did not invest. The problem is that they were focusing on the slowest path to achieving financial freedom. The fastest path is always and would always be through your own personal ability to earn income. To earn a lucrative income you must become an expert at solving high-income problems.

Step 3. Earn a Lucrative Income

A lucrative income is any income that is bigger than the workload. It is income you can earn part-time working less and earning more. You need this kind of income to supplement your already heavy workload. To earn a lucrative income there are six things that must do.

The first thing is to learn sales. You must be able to sell yourself, sell your message and sell your ideas to other people. The second thing you must do is choose the right industry. Not all industries are created equal or have the same capacity to produce millionaires. To earn a lucrative income, you must work for industries that sell high ticket products and can pay high sales commission.

The next thing you must do is choose the right company. Not all companies within an industry offer the same benefits. Some companies are more reputable than others and have strengths that others do not have. So, you must choose wisely.

Next, you must choose the right products and services. Your success in earning a high income is dependent on your ability to sell. Do not make sales harder by selling difficult to sell products. You will not only delay your income you will be frustrated to quit.

Next is to look for and join a platform that offers a diverse range of lucrative income-earning opportunities. If you cannot create these opportunities on your own.  And finally, you must take action and engage in income-producing activities in your spare time. These are the five things to do if you want to earn a lucrative income.

To succeed even further, you must follow the lucrative income guiding principles. There are four income principles to live by if you want to earn a lucrative income fast. The first is the funding principle and it states – if it would take money to get started, make the money elsewhere in sources that do not require money to start. The second is the freedom principle and it states – if you can only gain financial freedom by building solid cash reserves, better add a lucrative income to your main income and speed up the process. The third principle is the time principle. It states that if it would take a long time to earn income in a particular path, better get started now. The fourth is the people principle and it states that – if it will take knowing people to earn a high income, better become the person that other people want to know.

If you live by these principles and do the six things stated above you would increase your income dramatically.

Watch out for the concluding part of this series…


About the author

Grace Agada is a recognized leading Financial Expert on Nigerian Soil. She is a Renowned Speaker, Author, and Column Contributor in Punch Newspaper, This Day Newspaper, Vanguard newspaper, Business Day Newspaper, Leadership Newspaper, The Tribune Newspaper, and Online Platforms like Nairametrics, Proshare, and Bellanaija. Grace is the author of “The Financial Freedom MBA Program, “The Passive Income Retirement Blueprint” and “The Wealthy Business Blueprint” for Advisors, Consultants, and Coaches who want to get off the roller coaster of irregular income. Grace is on a mission to shrink the middle class and populate the upper class. Her ultimate goal is to create a tribe of professionals that are thriving in any economy. Grace has been featured on BBC Africa. Business Day TV. Inspiration FM. and inside Naijatv. She has consulted for Numerous Top Organizations, Company Directors, Senior Executives, and Top performing Professionals.

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Financial Literacy

5 financial choices you will regret

Your financial choices will determine whether you spend your life living in pleasure or ruin.

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SAVE, LIABILITY, FINANCIAL, EXPENSES, BUDGET

The topic of finance is heard by many but understood by only a few. At some point in life, everyone goes through the stage of financial stability, characterized by low debt and a decent income. The choices you make at that point can define your life, whether it would be spent in regret or pleasure. In this article, we would be discussing 5 financial choices you’ll regret if you make the wrong choice.

Are you going to be financially free? Be in ruins? Or maintain your average lifestyle? This is totally up to you to decide. Here are some wrong choices that you would regret and should, therefore, look out for.

READ: Why your parents are wrong about money

5 financial choices you’ll regret

1. Spending money on the wrong things and for the wrong reasons

This is arguable the most common practice amongst poor finance managers. It is characterized by lavish and impulsive spending. Emotions and greed rule people in this category. You become selfish to yourself because your lavish spending comes back to hunt only you. Do not buy things to impress others or things that you cannot conveniently afford. For example, purchasing that new car with a plan to pay up for the next 2 years is a terrible idea. Redefine your goals, and make decisions that would leave you happier in the future, instead of being in debt for the next few years, except it is an asset that would bring in income.

2. Falling victim of too good to be true traps

Every day, there seems to be that new opportunity to make millions by investing a few thousands. The truth is that these schemes are not new, scammers keep spinning off old tricks that ignorant people fall for. If anyone had the secret to make millions by investing a few thousand, they wouldn’t share it with anyone, at any cost. Even stockbrokers with all the tips can’t 100% predict how the market would turn out.

The truth about these schemes remains that only a few early birds benefit from the ignorance and greed of many. Focus, instead, on legitimate investments like real estate, bonds, treasury bills, and the stock market. Investing in Ponzi schemes is something you would surely regret.

READ: What bad stocks have in common with bitter relationships 

3. Failing to plan for your retirement

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Regardless of your present age, retirement is going to catch up eventually. How sudden it does depends on you. You can sleep at age 23 and wake up at 59, with retirement on the horizon. This is so because you failed to plan for it, and cannot account for the 36 years in-between. Having inadequate or no plan for retirement will bring you regret, especially if your pension funds is not enough to cover the rest of your life or too little to meet your expenses. You can earn millions during your active years, and have nothing to show for it after retirement. This is why it is essential to take your retirement seriously. It could well determine the nature of your last days.

4. Lack of financial goals and emergency funds

No one ever stumbles on financial freedom. It stems from a properly planned life and strategic decisions. Lacking financial goals presently may not look like a bad thing because the paycheck keeps coming in at the end of the month. However, in the long term, you would regret it, especially if something stops that paycheck from coming in at month-end. It is also expedient that you have an emergency fund saved up for emergency reasons only. This fund would be used to save your skin in times of trouble and get you out of tight situations.

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READ: Top 10 financial planning tips for newlyweds

5. Contradicting financial views with your spouse

Your spouse can become your greatest headache if your views on finance do not align with theirs. You cannot plan or save when you have a spouse who does not understand your goals or who disagrees with them. This is why it is important to talk it through, and see a consultant if necessary. Living life with a spouse with opposite financial views to yours is something you would regret because it leads to only one end, frustration.

However you spin it, financial choices are made by you, and even if you claim they aren’t, you alone will bear the consequences. Take charge of your financial life today, draw up a good financial plan, make the right choices, and you can live a life with few regrets and many benefits.

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