sarah set up a business selling shoes and bags to young, career men and women. She can’t afford a shop in a central location, so she carries her goods in a car bought for her by her husband and is constantly driving around to the offices of her customers to advertise and sell her goods. In a typical month, she has up to N60,000 in her account which is just enough to pay for her next shipment of goods and fuel her car to get to her customers.
Sarah has been in this business for about 2 years now and wonders how she will make money on days when, for some reason, she can’t go to her customers. As well, she is worried she has nothing to show for her being in business, except that she drives out every day at about 11am and does not return until about 8pm. Yet, her customers owe her for several months and she seems helpless to get her money out of them.
What can she do differently?
She needs to quantify her inputs
Sarah needs to put a figure to everything it costs her to deliver the goods to her customers and get her money out of them. She must determine the cost of her time, fueling her car, repairs and maintenance, airtime for calls to her customers, etc. This will help her to see whether she’s making profit or merely recycling money.
Nothing fancy in the immediate, if she lacks the skills and can’t afford to pay professionals. Simply using her phone to take pictures to advertise on her DP and call for an indication of interest is sufficient. An e-commerce website, of course, is a better option. This way, she does not have to drive all the way to advertise new stock.
She needs to bill her customers for credit
In business, there is a cost of credit. Sarah needs to work this into her pricing system. Money earned today is more valuable to her than money earned tomorrow. So, anyone she’s giving goods on credit is as well borrowing money from her and must pay interest.
” Money earned today is more valuable to her than money earned tomorrow “
She needs to set up a proper payment system
Whether it’s online or in person, Sarah needs to help her customers make a commitment immediately they are convinced they want her goods. Shortly after they have it, people generally lose interest in something they had longed for for a long time. So, an opportunity to do an online transfer ahead of her visit to her customers, or a POS machine to facilitate immediate payment for goods is key.
She needs a more-efficient delivery policy
Rather than drive all the way to supply goods to a singular customer, she needs to come up with a delivery policy (say, up to 3 days after payment is confirmed) that works. That way, she will only go out for deliveries, maybe, twice a week and conserve fuel costs, at least.
“she comes up with a delivery policy”
Abusiness should have a life of its own. It is meant to outlive its founder, rather than go to sleep because the founder is unavailable to run the business. A business should have its own savings and investments, just like individuals do.
So, tell me, are you in business or merely busy?