Foundations of Business Success

The foundation of any building is the hidden part of the building that gives it support and stability. A building that doesn’t have a solid foundation may collapse under serious pressure or storms. Builders would be quick to alert you that the kind of foundation that is ‘dug’ for a skyscraper is not the same as that ‘dug’ for a bungalow.

In business today, many startups have folded up because they did not start out on the right foundation.

A survey report on failure rate among new businesses in Nigeria shows that only 50% of businesses that start each year exist up to 18 months and less than 20% after 2 years. While this may look alarming; I am optimistic that despite the tough business environment it is possible to do things differently and stand out from others if we are determined to do things differently.

Little things matter; for example, how many people bother to write a detailed business plan before setting out in business and while that alone may not guarantee success in business that can to a large extent help you in thinking through and planning to mitigate potential threats that could arise within those start-up years.

One other lesson learnt from my architect friends is the fact that while one may get away without a detailed building plan if all you want to put up is a “batcher”; the rules change if you want to put together a “high rise” building or an edifice; it is in your best interest to get the experts involved and get all the necessary permits alongside a detailed building plan.

Just like in Building so also in Business; a lot depends on the vision you have for your business startup; if all you want to do is put together something to get along then it will show the little details but if your desire is to build a brand and business that outlives you then I think you need to have answers to the following questions that are critical to business success.



You should not be involved in a business you know little or nothing about; the fact that somebody is trying to persuade you about a new business opportunity with amazing returns or somebody else is making it in a particular area doesn’t mean it is an all comers affair.

I discovered that a lot of young entrepreneurs have a habit of jumping into businesses that they have no basic knowledge of and end up getting themselves ‘burnt’ in the process.

The first thing you need to do if you identify a business opportunity in a particular area is to do a proper research/analysis of that business; What are the risks involved and are there qualifications, patents, unions or licenses that may aid/hinder my success/failure in that business? What are the peculiar skills needed for success in that area of business?

For example, the skill sets needed for success as an event planner may be different from those needed for a software developer.

It may also be necessary to also work closely with or understudy someone who is already in that line of business. Whether you call it business mentoring or apprentice, the place of experience and training in business should not be underestimated if you must go far in business because every business has its own ‘trade secrets”


Every business is selling something, and that is apart from the goods or services that you are offering. While it is very important that you know who your target market are; it is also very important to know what they really want and I don’t mean your goods and services.

There must be something that differentiates you from the competition and most times this may be the only real reason why customers would overlook the other shop and come to yours. Some call it your unique selling proposition but I see it as the value you are bringing to the table that would give the customer that compelling reason to buy from you and remain with you.
Intangible factors such as integrity, courtesy, reliability, convenience, quality, credibility and excellence could become major determining factors for your business success.

That is why your values need to be intricately infused into your business model from the beginning and that becomes real brand image over time. It does not matter how much you pay someone to “brand” your business with wonderful adverts to affect customer perception; the bottom line is that your business will ultimately be a reflection of who you are.

Because if customers are attracted by a well thought out marketing campaign but the customer experience they get when they finally come is not what was promised you may end up having dissatisfied and unhappy customers.

The truth is your success in business is directly related to how you attract and retain your customers because they pay the bills for every business.


This question should not be answered in a hurry because while most people would say they want to make a living, become their own boss or become truly wealthy very successful entrepreneurs usually have a higher purpose.

Entrepreneurs are driven by different factors some are driven by survival and are usually okay as long as they make enough to take care of their immediate needs; others are driven by the need to exploit a genuine opportunity and for these set of entrepreneurs profit is everything and rightly so; but there is another set of entrepreneurs that I have come across who are driven by a passion to solve a problem or make an impact in society.

This last set of individuals without setting success as a goal most times end up becoming truly successful. Impact-driven entrepreneurs are more interested in the number of people they can reach and are always innovating and reinvesting in the business to remain relevant. Maybe this is the reason why a “bookselling business” like Amazon started by Jeff Bezos from his garage in 1994 that did not even post a profit during its first seven years would today become the world’s largest online retailer and cloud service, provider.

The answer to this question could help you clarify your vision and mission and help you stay true to your core purpose while continuously improving and reinventing yourself to meet customer needs.

-Culled from the Young Entrepreneurs Guide to Starting your Dream Business by Victor T. Briggs

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