Stories by Bimbola Oyesola
Investing in a courier service can be a gold mine for a go-getter entrepreneur, irrespective of your background. This is one of the investments that could be taken up by anyone and when we say anyone, it means, a fresh graduate, a would be retiree or somebody who is presently looking at an investment window. Even in this recession, courier business is still an option as you can start a courier business overnight and with an exceptionally low level of initial investment.
The proliferation of online stores even make it a bankable business besides the avalanche of opportunities in other sectors of the economy. Courier business, in addition, can be run directly from home, which makes it easier for anyone with little capital for rent to commence and grow.
Starting from home can also afford you the opportunity to provide local services with a personalised approach that the larger companies sometimes cannot provide.
The courier industry is still thriving with most of the market being dominated by the big international companies such as DHL, Federal Express (FedEx), United Parcel Service (UPS) and TNT. But the fact that most local transport companies now offer courier services show that it is lucrative.
In this business, you can play yourself into the lead by offering services that are tailored to your clients’ conveniences, for example, evening and weekend deliveries when people are in their homes, and this is a growth market due to the boom in internet shopping.
Courier service involves transporting goods and documents from point A to point B, but that’s the easy part. A successful work-from-home courier business opportunity depends on a lot more. Many entering this business take baby steps at first, acting as subcontractors for established carriers before heading out on their own.
For Nigeria, the main forms of transport for courier services include vans (which require the most investment) and motorcycle (where you need a motorcycle license). However, there are certain other things as well that a prospective investor needs to take care of.
Starting a courier service business requires some knowledge of the industry and understanding of the competition around you. Although as mentioned earlier, you do not require much initial investment to start a courier business – if you have a van, you can start right away – but investing more money is always a progressive approach and helps you succeed at a faster rate.
Following is a small guide that covers the basic aspects of starting a courier business:
•The first step is to select an attractive name for your courier business. Your initial setup does not need to be enormous or huge for it to have a proper name – you can even start providing courier services individually. The name should be attractive, consist of fewer syllables and should be able to reflect and relate to transportation and courier services.
•After selecting a name, it is time to take care of the legal aspects before you actually start working.
•Another basic but very essential step is to create a proper office for your business. If you are short on budget, consider taking a commercial place on rental basis. Having a proper office setup helps you find more customers and business. And if you are running from home, create a separate room in your house for the business.
•The next step is to devise your business operating policy. At first, decide the target areas you want to work on. Do you want to target the residential sector or the commercial sector? What type of courier services are you going to offer? Will you be delivering items within your local city or across different states? These are only some of the policies you need to define before you start your courier business.
•The next step, which is one of the most important one, is to analyse your competitors’ businesses and refine your business strategy accordingly. There will be several weak spots of your competitors that you can target, but that can only be revealed through extensive research and analysis.
For example, if many people complain about the high service charges from local courier businesses, then you know you can take a major chunk of business from them by offering low-cost deliveries. Moreover, if there is no courier business with express deliveries on offer, you can attract more customers by offering rush-hour, express or same-day deliveries. A little survey in your local neighbourhood will be sufficient to know all this important information. Almost all businesses use couriers to some extent, and your research is finding those companies that have urgent requirements to send small packages, parcels, and documents a short distance or a same day service. When building your business plan, think about how many jobs you can handle and how you’re going to keep your customer informed of the progress of the job. Once the job is completed, you’ll need to invoice the customer and collect payment, so excellent customer service is key. Having some form of courier software that cannot only keep tab on the bookings received but also invoice and keep your accounts up to date is important.
•Publicity. Advertise your courier services as much as you can. Heavy advertisement does not necessarily mean expensive advertisement. Owning a website, promoting in local newspapers, leaflets, entry in Google Local, among others, are some of the cost-effective marketing tactics that are able to yield huge results. Word of mouth marketing is especially beneficial in this industry so once you have your first few customers, offer a “member get member” type of marketing promotion to win new business.
Later on, you can start expanding your business by hiring more employees, purchasing more vans and growing your business network by contacting more individuals/businesses and taking new contracts.
Nigeria, EU trade hits €39bn
Nigeria’s total trade with the European Union (EU), in the last two years has risen to €39 billion with the EU accounting for 31 per cent of Nigeria’s total trade.
Stating this at the pre-event press conference of 5th EU-Nigeria Business Forum (5th EUNBF), held at Eko Hotel, Lagos, the Head of Trade and Economics, EU, Mr. Filipo Amato, said the EU investment stock in Nigeria grew from €23.8 billion in 2013 to €25.3 billion in 2014.
He said, however, that with the fall in oil prices, EU-Nigeria’s trade declined by 26.7 per cent to €29 billion in 2015.
He said, “Nigerian exports to EU declined by 35 per cent while imports declined by seven per cent over the period. Unfortunately, about 97 per cent of the exports to the EU are oil and gas.”
To reverse the trend, Amato said 5th EUNBF aims to strengthen the EU-Nigeria business relations through identification of opportunities in the global textile value chain; expose Nigerian SMEs to opportunities in the EU market through the platform of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and explore the financing options available for funding of the power sector and diversifying the energy mix in the country.
Key private sector actors and policy makers in Nigeria will have the opportunity to exchange business ideas with their counterparts from Europe during the 5th EUNBF taking place in Lagos on November 10 and 11.
He said this year’s event with the theme, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Economic Growth”, will focus on creating opportunities for EU and Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to increase their businesses through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
He added that it will also identify opportunities in the textile value chain and proffer options for accessing long term finance for the critical power sector in Nigeria.
“The EU-Nigeria Business Forum is a collaborative effort of the European Union and its member states present in Nigeria, and has held every year since 2012. It serves as a platform for investors and business people to interact to gather essential market information and build strategic partnerships to boost domestic investments and access to the EU market,” he said.
Recession: Stakeholders urge FG to grant import waiver on analytical equipment
By Charles Nwaoguji
Stakeholders in industrial microbiology have called on the Federal Government to grant tax and import waiver on every analytical equipment imported into the country as this is currently very expensive.
The President of the Association of Industrial Microbiologists of Nigeria (AIMN), Dr. (Mrs.) Joy Ehiwuogu-Onyibe, said the current economic recession is biting hard on the members of the association, especially those importing analytical laboratories’ equipment.
Ehiwuogu-Onyibe, who stated this at the 2016 conference/annual symposium of the association, noted that the cost of equipping analytical laboratories for toxins profiling and quantification in products is not within the reach of microbiologists.
She explained that to take product development, manufacturing, processing, analysis/quality control and products market to the next level, government must create enabling environment.
She noted that the only way to grow the Nigerian economy in the face of present downturn in oil fortune is to maximise the agricultural sector’s economic potential.
“We can only reap the full benefits of the current government’s focus on agriculture by producing quality hazard-free products, and adding value to agricultural produce through processing to ensure raw materials for local manufacturing and export,” she observed.
She pointed out that the oil boom of the 70s led to negligence of agriculture, which contributed 65 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) prior to the era, adding that in 2015 agriculture contributed lower than 18 per cent to the national GDP, while processing and manufacturing in Nigeria have never been given the deserved serious attention.
She stated that the highest contribution of manufacturing to Nigeria’s GDP is estimated to about 10 percent, which is the reason Nigeria depends totally on imports to satisfy domestic needs.
“If we as a people want to build this nation for our future generation, attention must be focused on agriculture, processing and manufacturing. If we are sincerely serious about job creation, these three activities present a solution. Product from these three activities should of necessity meet quality specification for consumable products, especially with respect to toxins and pesticide residues,” she said.
Also, speaking at the event, the Director of Microbiologist, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. (Mrs.) Ekaette Dike said that due to the high cost of equipment needed to test of products, many producers, importers, exporters would consider the option of not accurately quantifying such products before sales and export.
She appealed to the government to look into policy framework and actions to put in place to address situation.
“Steps to ease the cost of equipping analytical laboratories for toxins profiling and quantification in products is crucial. We own it a a duty to this nation to put the right structures in place, implant quality culture, and engineer the right systems to safeguard health. This will also position Nigerian products as globally acceptable quality product,” she explained.
In her paper presentation with the theme, “Toxins: Threat to Economic Growth”, the Head of Department, Microbiology, University of Lagos, Prof. Olusimbo Olugbo Aboaba said that the agriculture which should be the bedrock of the economy is still underdeveloped due to the inadequacy to adopt modern farming techniques.
She noted the manufacturing sector’s greatest setback is high operating costs due to power generation., adding that as such Nigeria has continued to send out raw materials and buy back finished products at a higher price.
She stated that one of the reasons why Nigeria export agro products are rejected in abroad which supposed earns the government foreign exchange is the use of banned organophosphate pesticides by Nigeria farmers to produce.
She called on the government to take all measures to protect citizens from noxious environmental factors and ensure good safety and environmental practices to prevent the bioaccumulation of toxins in the food chains.
ICCN holds 2016 dinner
By Charles Nwaoguji
It would be a gathering of businessmen and women within and outside the country when the International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria (ICCN) sets the ball rolling for the 2016 edition of its Annual Dinner.
In a statement by the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria (ICCN), Mrs. Olubunmi Osuntuyi, the 2016 edition of the Annual Dinner is to mark the 80th anniversary of the ICC International Contract Terms (Incoterms®) rules, which were officially established in 1936. ICC Incoterms® rules are designed to explain a specific set of responsibilities of the buyer and seller in a contract for the sale of goods relating to transport and delivery.
Among dignitaries expected at the event is Prof. Segun Ajibola, President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), who will be the special guest of honour/keynote speaker. Others include corporate chieftains, notable business leaders and captains of industry in both the private and public sectors of the economy as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
The IFC FIT Initiative Certification programme is a three-month online capacity building training leading to certificate of achievement from ICC Headquarters, Paris and Institute of Export, UK. The e-learning programme was designed with two important goals including the training and certification of international trade finance professionals in their core area of expertise and thus enhance their productivity in their day-to-day roles and to build an online global network of international trade professionals who can share expertise knowledge on an online platform.
It would be noted that International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), founded in 1919, is the largest, most representative business organization in the world. Nigeria joined the ICC in 1979 and was re-organized in 1999 sequel to the realization of the benefits, which the business community could derive from broad network of over 90 countries with National Committees linked with ICC Headquarters in Paris.
ICC’s global network comprises over 6 million companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries. More than 2,000 experts drawn from ICC’s member companies feed their knowledge and experience into crafting the ICC stance on specific business issues.
The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G20 and many other intergovernmental bodies, both international and regional, are kept in touch with the views of international business through ICC. It has established several Commissions to examine major policy issues of interest to world business.