You can run your business from your bedroom

If you drive through the streets of Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, you will see evidence of hard economic times. High operational costs have forced some businesses to close down their brick and mortar offices and stores. You will find many ‘To Let’ signs in front of real estate that suggest that the cost of renting or purchasing them for economic use is high.

It would appear that businesses have to adapt to the economic times or die.

If you look again at the streets of Lagos you will find clues on how to adapt to the times. You will find in transport hailing services like Gokada, Maxng, Uber and Bolt how successful adaptation lies in how they use digital tools to do business.

Compare the mode of operation of the traditional Lagos yellow taxi with an Uber taxi. Before it connects with a customer the yellow taxi idles away in a park waiting for a passenger, or drives about empty till it is waved down by a passenger on the road. After a journey the driver of the yellow taxi has to bill the passenger for his idle time or he will operate at a loss! The Uber driver on the other hand relies on digital technologies to connect with passengers. Sometimes an Uber driver connects with another passenger as the journey with a current passenger ends. The Uber passenger is billed more efficiently than the yellow taxi passenger. The Uber taxi also operates more efficiently than the yellow taxi. The differentiating factor is in the use of technology.

Many businesses in Nigeria are operating like the yellow taxi.

Working in a sector whose business is to develop and provide digital tools and services for other businesses I am in a position to see how customers use the digital tools we develop for them. Some customers use digital tools in ways that surprise to achieve outstanding results for their businesses. For some other customers, the technology tools we develop for them appear to be added operational cost with little benefits.  How much benefit a business gets from digital tools depends on how skilled the operators of the tools are in application.

For marketing and customer acquisition, the skilled operators are conversant with digital platforms like Google, Nairaland, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest and can market the business effectively on them. They can communicate effectively too with the audience and turn them to customers. The successful businesses are willing to pay to advertise on digital platforms to reach a large audience.

With a well-designed website, adequate presence on digital platforms, a mobile phone, a personal computer or tablet with suitable applications a business can be run from a bedroom. Marketing and customer acquisition is only one way digital tools can be used to the benefit of a business. There are other ways in computations, operations, administration, data collection and analysis, and business intelligence.

There was a time when the yellow taxi was the novel technological solution to the problem of private commuting. Today, the yellow taxi looks like a dinosaur because it failed to adapt to the changing times. The adapt or die situation is as old as mankind. As technology keeps advancing businesses must evolve and adapt with it or face difficult times.

Ugochukwu Ukwuegbu ( )

For Caseray Solutions Limited

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