A long time ago, when I needed to start a business, I consulted my friends first. I told them the kind of business I wanted to start. It was a perishable product.
My friends advised me to start immediately. Some even told me that Immediately after I started, they were going to be my customers.
I was motivated. I went and talked to my neighbors. I told them of the business I was going to start. My neighbors celebrated with me.
“You go make market no be small. Open am quick quick. So you get this kind of business Idea for your head, na im you no start since? We go buy from you sharp sharp.” A neighbor assured me.
Two days later, I went to the bank and withdrew my capital. I invested all in the business. I was convinced that anyhow it ends up, I will get back my money by the time my friends buy from me.
But it never turned out like that. After production that very day, I called my friends and they came to see what I had produced with empty pockets. People who were supposed to help me grow and support my business, came with hungry stomachs to feed themselves. Some collected on credit promising to pay back.
The neighbor who had been the one encouraging me, wasn’t even around to buy from me. When he came back, he just walked to his room and waved me.
I sank into depression after work that day. I had produced goods of seven thousand naira but ended up with just one thousand naira in my hands and five hundred naira left over’s.
The next day, my friends returned again with their hungry stomachs, seeking yet another free food with a promise to pay back. Yes, I was tempted to give to them. I was just starting and was scared of chasing customers away.
But I noticed something while I sat outside with my goods. Strangers were the ones buying from me.
It was strangers who bought and handed me the one thousand naira notes I made the previous day. It was strangers who purchased my product and referred people to me. It was strangers who told me what I needed to add to make my product more enticing.
When I realized this, I picked my product and left my street. I walked around and I met strangers who bought from me and paid in cash. These strangers were the ones who made my business grow, and not friends.
I shared this story as a lesson to people who are planning to start a small-scale business, with the hope that their friends will be their target customers. Hear me well and very clearly, your friends may not buy from you. That neighbor encouraging you may not even ask about your product. Strangers will. These are people whom you have never met before. They will be your customers and will help move your business.
Your customers are out there. Go in search of them, and don’t give up on that business idea just because you didn’t make it the first time with the people around you.
Until you stop depending on the people around you to lift you, you will not realize the opportunity and potential you have been missing, if only you had taken that bold step outside.
Never depend on friends when it comes to marketing your products!
My name is Praises Chidera Obiora and I am the best at what I do.