This firm is a dry cleaning outfit that started the business almost the same time we started SFD. They use accounting software to keep all their records. They pay a particular sum on monthly basis to fully use this software and sometimes around December they tried to explore other free accounting software to reduce cost but the firm owner noticed he wasn’t getting the best from the free software. One of the weeks, we couldn’t get to track their FT as the free app didn’t have the details needed as compared to the paid software so he could not provide FT for that week then he switched to the paid software. Last week again he explored another software that only provided a summary of sales without breaking it down into details. Remember, every penny counts in a business so I understand the firm owner’s struggles. Above is a picture of the front desk using our tab to communicate with customers.
This particular firm has not been making sales for the past few months. But I’m glad that for the past 2 weeks now, things have changed for the better. She now makes income from her business.
This firm just resumed today after the festive season. Added another business (flight reservation) to her printing, photocopy, etc business in order to have more income. She got an additional asset to the ones she previously owns. She just told me about the new purchase today due to the festive season break.
Shortly before the festive holiday, this firm has another outlet of business (retail and wholesale of bags, footwear, perfumes human hair, and other resources) which was demolished so she had to move in all these goods into her 2nd shop which she uses for organic cream, liquid soap, organic soap, and other beauty care which she produces herself.
So her organic/liquid soap shop now houses her second source of income outlet now in the same location, same management, and sole ownership. A view into her shop now shows all these different lines of business. Her second source of income is now recorded separately.
The firm owner excitedly told me today that his daily financial transactions (SFD) being recorded makes him double his efforts in his hustling and makes him do more work. He also got a new employee that resumed work today.
Last week, I visited my respondent and he was thanking me which I was confused about. I asked myself what could be the reason for so many thanks coming from him but when I asked him the reason for all these thanks, he narrated a story about how he does not know anything about his financial record and how he spent his money on unnecessary things previously but during the period of the interview he realized that he spent too much money on things that are not necessary of which he cut down as soon as he found out. He thanked me for educating him.
The manager of this firm who is a student has always been cooperative with me despite her busy schedules (combining work and school together).
On Monday, when I and my supervisor visited her for the firm’s financial record, she narrated how a guy walked into the business center and made away with her phone. But thank God she quickly noticed her phone was missing, so she ran after the guy (the guy had already stopped a bike) and confidently requested her phone from him… of course, she got it back!
The supervisor and I admired her courage.
This firm owner is into the sawmilling business. His son who used to be one of his employees resumed school since the resumption this year. He informed me when I visited the first week that he got a new employee. Yesterday he made a remark that the new employee keeps his records properly which makes it easier for him to provide Financial transactions weekly now.
The firm owner was glad to be a part of SFD Nigeria, as we resumed this year with an aspiration survey, he said this project has helped him understand the reasons for keeping records and understanding his business better. He also said he will start implementing some of the actions needed to structure his business, such as paying himself a salary every end of the month. Regarding his burgled store sometime in November, he said some of his customers whose items were stolen are still coming for replacement and refund. He is yet to give me an actual figure for this loss as he said he is keeping all the records and by the end of February he would be able to give the actual cost of the total loss.
I am yet to formally meet with the owner of this firm. When we started SFD, I was informed that she was out of the country for holiday but she doesn’t fully involve in the day-to-day activities of the school physically. This has put a kind of constraint on some survey questions that need the input of the firm owner. i.e: Formalization survey, Aspiration survey, and decision-making survey. The admin officer who is my respondent was unable to provide answers to the formalization survey and said he would direct those questions to the firm’s consultant. He also told me that other surveys can be directed to him but he also visits the organization once or twice a week. I hope to meet with him soon.
Last week as I visited the firm, I met with the firm owner who welcomed me well as usual. He started with stories of one of his employees who has been stealing from him all along but he got caught this time.
How he got caught:
The firm owner said he had built a sandal ready for sale and all of a sudden the sandal went missing and all of his employees didn’t know how it got missing. He said he decided to deduct the amount from their salaries. One fateful day one of the firm’s customers walked in to complain about the sandal that didn’t fit well and he told the particular employee who sold it to him to adjust but he refused after collecting money from her. That was how his secret of stealing leaked. He was also known for repairing shoes without remitting payment to the firm owner. Please note that this particular employee is efficient at the firm. He opens the firm as early as 7:00 am every day and he is always at the firm to tend to customers. The firm owner said even with all of his commitments, he doesn’t see the reflection in his turnover. Long story short this employee resigned voluntarily.
I finally met with this respondent on Wednesday after my last visit on 22nd December.
He narrated to me that on the 24th of December, after returning from the shop to his house, he dashed his foot on a stone and fell, and in the process, he hit his chest against the steps to his house. 3 days after he started experiencing sharp pains in his chest and having difficulties eating and breathing well. He was taken to the hospital and several tests and scanning were done. He spent over N200K (460 USD) on medical bills.
Glad he’s back to his feet and very strong now.
He told me his new employee is doing well. He was busy today and could barely spare time for his weekly transactions, but after several hours of waiting, I was able to get the transactions done.
The respondent is into tailoring and the sale of tailoring materials.
She has 2 shops annexed into one. While the walls of one shop are made of iron, the other shop was constructed with wood.
She stated a month ago that she hopes to save some money next year to change the wooden material to iron in order to secure her production machines.
The artisans quoted N350,000 (805 USD) for the job. When I went there today, I saw that the metal construction is going on and the price estimate was now N470,000 (1080 USD) as against the initial 350,000 quoted.
She said she has to do it because the more she delays, the higher the cost.
Due to the reconstruction, they had to suspend their business activities. Most of their production machines were taken to a safe place outside their business premises. She is happy though because she is able to achieve her set goal.
She’s into agricultural production (Livestock farming). She made the complaint that her sales are not daily unlike other people’s even though she knows that livestock farming is not a daily sales business. I reassured her it’s part of the 1-year project of knowing what goes on with small business firms.
I traveled to the village and was having network challenges. Came in on Sunday the 16th but because of the sit-at-home, I resumed on Friday the 21st. She said people dealt with her this Christmas and that most of the clothes she made the owners didn’t come to collect it. That she called and they said they haven’t been paid so don’t have money to collect their clothes. She said it was the express ones that gave her money. She hopes they come to take their clothes by month end when salaries are paid.
She said it’s the only amendment she has been doing this January.
The respondent said her brother is the only person she discusses her business with and that he was the one that encouraged her to buy the Industrial machine she has been saving for after she made the money to buy it during Christmas but wanted to use part of the money for something else. She also said she has not seen one of her employees since this year and that’s the same one that stopped before December.
This respondent goes for closing prayers at church most evenings so closes early. Workers have resumed for the year.
The respondent said her mother’s surgery has been conducted and was successful and that she has been moved from the ICU to the normal ward.
The respondent said this is her best time of the year because it is the season they make clothes and get money. She said she had to work Saturday and Sunday this week in order to deliver the work given to her on time.
She wants to register by next year so she can apply for loans if need be. And she has not been able to apply for loans because of collateral and lack of registration.
She said she Never thought of registering the business before this project but the questions from the formalization survey made her start thinking towards that angle.
The repeated special event survey questions also opened her eyes to using the internet for advertising her work.
(This is the story our FS referred to at our last meeting)
His wife lost her cousin so he traveled to her village. Their sales girl is yet to come back from the village so he has to manage the shop alone. He locked up the place when he went for a school run yesterday but his wife is due back that day.
He said they are looking for a school area to expand their business so that patronage can increase and that where they are now is not good for their business, and he also has strong competition in the POS business that is making him earn less.
The respondent said he lost his phone during the celebration period and had to buy one phone. He was happy to get the phone from L-IFT
Her employees have not yet resumed for the year. Business is also dull which she says is normal after the first week of January. She was on her way home when I met her last week Thursday although it was still afternoon. She said the shop was lonely and she was scared something might happen to her. I managed to do Reporting by the roadside.
The respondent said decisions are made between him and his wife since the business is where they both work and his family eats from. He said he has noticed that when he tries to go against his wife or do things without her knowledge that it usually backfires.
This firm is a milling firm and oftentimes I try to visit the firm when he is less busy or not so busy that he would give me all the attention needed, especially when there are survey questions to attend to. Thankfully, I have been able to figure that time out which has helped me cover pending surveys.
As I was entering his corner last week I saw one of his workers and told her about the employee PPI survey and that I need her consent before I administer the questionnaire. Prior to this time, I had informed the firm owner and also informed her about the survey last year but because the firm owner was not physically present and I couldn’t administer the survey. As I saw her last week I brought out my consent form and explained all that the survey entails, handing over the paper to her to read and append her signature. That was how the story started; she said she will provide answers to the questions but she is sorry, she can’t append her signature. I told her that without her signature, I can’t ask her those questions. This means she didn’t give consent and it will make it seem as if I forced her, which is very wrong. Immediately, I saw that I couldn’t win her to sign. I kept the form in my bag and went to the firm owner’s shop to collect my FT and administer other surveys. Apparently, she was the only staff present that day.
Upon resumption, this firm owner was so elated to share the progress he had in sales in the new year. He said one of his customers shared his business on some WhatsApp group she belongs to and ever since then he has been getting referrals from those groups. Not only that, but the new catches were also referring other people and it has been an influx of sales for his business. I noticed from his FT that there was no record of expenses, which I called his attention to. He replied that they now prefer to do bulk purchases of materials every fortnight as the prices of some materials he can get nearby have doubled. He prefers to buy them from the main market in other to maximize profit.
He lamented about some of his birds that had retarded growth and he had to sell them off at a loss due to the dastard act of the person that brooded the birds for him at an early stage because of bird flu ravage. The person used substandard feed for the birds which eventually affected their reproduction and they were unable to lay eggs at all. He exclaimed that this is a challenge he is experiencing and is still managing some more birds that are in the same category.
The printing and Photocopying firm was established in 1997 and started operation in a small apartment. The need to expand the business made the owner relocate to the current location in 2016 with an annual rent of N90000 (207 USD). Business has been good since she came to this location with so many customers gained.
After the death of the Landlord last year, his assets were shared among the children and one of the children who got the building where this firm is located as his share informed all the occupants of the building including the respondent to vacate the house to enable him to carry out a major rehabilitation of the building.
According to the respondent, the new landlord came with some people last week to evict them from the building and this has left her in a state of confusion about how to handle this new challenge. According to her, she intends to temporarily relocate the firm to her husband’s business premises pending when she will get another good location.
Her greatest regret was that she may lose many of her customers who had known her in this location for the past 6 years. In addition, relocating will cause a financial burden on her which she said she was not ready for this time of the year.
Today is really a happy day for me. One of the respondents I called to schedule today’s interview, gave me the best news that she had given birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
In my session with the firm owner whose firm is into palm kernel oil production today, she lamented the fluctuating price of processing kernel oil in the international market which has affected prices and demand for their product in recent days.
She also lamented low product yield which in recent days was discouraging her and fellow neighbor firms in the cluster from production, in their quest to reduce losses.
The decision-making and Strategy survey with my respondent into palm kernel oil production today provided new insights.
She disclosed having to make business decisions herself, though open to listening to the opinions of very close persons, especially more experienced neighbor firm owners in the cluster, which she sometimes considered.
She disclosed only hiring whoever she’s convinced is right, while always checking around different remote markets and suppliers for the best prices with a good yield rate of products.
She proved amenable at pricing, adjusting prices according to weekly market fluctuations, while factoring her production costs and profits in addition to considering her customers purchasing power in extreme cases, bargaining more during sales on the whole.
She recalled a recent opinion that paid off, having been advised to try sourcing raw materials in a particular remote market thanks to current scarcity.
Thankfully, it paid off with more affordable prices and better product yield on processing.
The last time I met the respondent was on 23/12/2021. Since then, I have not been able to meet her and all the calls I placed to her were neither answered nor returned which was not her usual practice as she has always called back each time she missed my calls.
Yesterday, one of the employees took me and my supervisor to her house in order to ascertain what the problem could be. On getting to the house, the respondent informed us that she lost her husband last month and he is yet to be buried. This she said made her not pick up my calls for some weeks now as she was not in the mood for business now. We both sympathized with her over the loss of her husband before leaving her house.
At this firm in carpentry and furniture making, only one out of the firm’s two apprentices was at work while the main employee traveled today for a family emergency.
The firm owner attributed both absences to reasonable causes.
In the decision-making and Strategy survey session, the firm owner indicated making most business decisions himself, though he conceded sampling the opinion of neighbor firm owners he’s closer to within the production cluster.
He also said he researches a lot, especially asking many work-related questions on Google as he believes in learning every day. Notwithstanding all the practical experiences he’s gained in his field of work.
In all, he indicated having the final say in making business decisions.
He narrated an occurrence that made him act on advice given when he had a furniture production contract post-lockdown in 2020 and the client bargained for a poor price.
He was so desperate for work as it was a tough time for his business and family.
He sought the opinion of the neighbor firm owner from his tribe who is a close friend and after doing the maths with him plus seeing a very minimal profit, he was advised not to take the job which he heeded.
And it happened that in the same period, fiber-board and some materials experienced a sharp increase in price.
Looking back, he realizes he would have been stuck on executing that job with the price increase if he had taken the job.
I observed that only 2 of 5 employee and an apprentice was available at this carpentry and furniture-making firm and on inquiring, the firm owner attributed it to a slow January business-wise, with minimal production.
According to him, it was best to allow his staff freedom to be absent other than having them stay idle in the firm, while he bears responsibility for their lunch even with little production.
At the medical laboratory, the firm owner though exhausted was happy to have been able to run the firm all alone this January since her employee left unexpectedly.
She noted gains in recruiting two new employees she expected to start work next week on a two-shift basis, indicating her desire to extend the firm’s operational time to 12 hours.
She also expressed displeasure at medical organizations she offered laboratory services to who were paying her under 30% of the price she offered private walk-in customers for the same service, an analysis she made on services offered to both categories of clients this month. She indicated her desire to approach these organizations soon to discuss more reasonable terms as the current prices were agreed out of her desperation to attract clients even to the detriment of the firm’s finances at the commencement of operations.
She discussed detailed plans to optimize services offered by creating a viable blood bank in addition to offering Health Management organization services for employees of private organizations with good staff strength; plans which are in an advanced stage.
The firm was opened but my respondent wasn’t around. I was told due to a power outage he had to take clothes to another location to iron so he can meet up with customers’ delivery.