Recently, I spoke to a group of young Entrepreneurs currently attending FATE Foundation‘s Aspiring Entrepreneur Program, a program I recommend for anyone just starting out in business.

FATE FoundationI spoke on the topic: “E-marketing as a strategic marketing tool in the era of Globalization.” I was pretty excited to take this class for 2 key reasons;

  1. eMarketing is something I do, day in, day out – so it’s going to be real fun to me.
  2. I played a role in making this course a permanent part of FATE Curriculum and I am full of smiles 🙂 that my little effort paid off.

But, it was sort of a mix feeling for me because 3 years ago I was a student at FATE Foundation, that was when we wanted to launch Natureline Solutions. In fairness to FATE, I learnt so much about business and we did everything humanly possible to see that the business succeeded, we created a good business plan, hire experienced consultants to lay the foundation with us, put systems in place etc. But things did not just pan out as we had expected. To cut the long story short; the company has more or less seized to exist in Nigeria, at least for now. Another, bitter-sweet lesson for me!

So, I decided to start by sharing some of my personal experiences with them before talking eBusiness/Internet, so as to enable them understand that success in business requires more than a good business plan or fantastic business model, you need to have passion, determination, faith in your dreams etc.

I proceeded to tell them how extremely important it is to keep their overhead low and one sure way of doing that is by Leveraging the Internet and technology properly.

I admonished them to start now because the Internet will not always remain easy and cheap, especially if you want your website to rank high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs.) You can be sure that the number of websites getting online is on a geometric increase.

What amazes me most is that a number of people still believe that Internet penetration is low in Nigeria and I don’t mean the lower class alone, this includes the middle and upper class. You might ask, how do I know this?

Well I have trained thousands (mostly free) on the subject of eMarketing, Internet Marketing, Blogging, email Marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing etc. and each time duty calls, I ask a couple of questions and I know the kind of objections and excuses I get.

I am not saying the Internet is all-in-all, no far from that (only God Almighty is). I also not claiming that the internet doesn’t have its negative sides – I am so scared for my innocent children and can only pray God guides them through the ‘crazy’ world of cyberspace.

That said, the Internet still holds great opportunities for the average small business owner especially those with little or no cash, as long as they create the time to do what it takes.

Notice I said “create the time” because one of the greatest excuse humans easily make is “I don’t have time” and my response is usually; you will never have the time except you create it.

Seriously, a lot of business owners still don’t have a clue what we are talking about. People still look at Nigeria with that eye(s) of “nothing works” I have tried to let them know that eMarketing and eBusiness  would work in Nigeria and has come to say. Yes, things are not what they should be but it will not always remain this way.

I had fun with these young, talented Nigerians and my final words to them where this:

  1. Keep your dream alive, don’t let anyone kill your dreams
  2. Make sure you register your domain and keep your domain registration details safely – don’t leave it to your IT guy.
  3. Make sure your website has a blog and possibly add an eCommerce platform so customers can buy from you depending on your industry.
  4. Leverage social media with tools such as Ping.fm, Tweetdeck, Seesmic etc.

That’s it. Just like I said to them, I say to you; All the Best!!!