1. The Library is a primary resource for information. Government agencies have a variety of publications which may be useful. Some colleges and universities have reference libraries which may have a circulation section available to the public. Also research institutes and some large corporations have libraries with sections on specific topics. Libraries are the storehouse of information which may be useful in operating a small business.
Books, periodicals, reports and newspapers may contain information which can be of help in solving some of the problems in operating a business.
2. Internet can be used to carry out research and to find useful information and data. Examples of these search engines are Google, Bing, Ask etc Also E-mail can be used to communicate with providers of information who have websites on the internet.
3. Subscribing to Trade Papers and Magazines. Desirable entrepreneurs should have time to read articles especially in understanding new trends and developments relating to business. It is advisable to keep a file of pertinent articles for future reference. Example of such is the page 4 of punch news papers (Nigerian Newspaper) which carries articles that are related to entrepreneurship and business.
4. Industrial Data is helpful in comparing a business to other similar businesses. The data is available from trade associations or government agencies and includes ratios such as; stock turnover, cash discounts percentage mark-up etc.
5. Membership-Based Organisations can provide services such as conducting research, organizing education and training programmes, implementing new technology, responding to members’ questions and concerns and disseminating information through newsletters, magazines and special reports. Example of such membership-based organization is MAN (Manufacturers Association of Nigeria)
6. Training Programmes can help entrepreneurs to develop formal plans for improving their managerial skills and ability. Training courses and adult education programmes are designed by many institutions, agencies and associations. Entrepreneurs should be aware of these personal development possibilities and take full advantage of them. One of such institution is (CMD) Centre for Management Development at Magodo area in Lagos (Nigeria).
7. Employees. The people who work for a business can provide answers to specific problems in a business. For example, entrepreneurs might ask employees for their advice and assistance about stock display or customer attitudes. Employees are in a good position to give valuable advice providing they know that their opinions and suggestions are valued.
Also customers can supply very special information about the products and services they buy. Customers should be asked about their opinions because they are an excellent source of information about the relative strength and weaknesses of a business operation.
8. Other Business Owners. Most businesses have common problems and owners are generally willing to discuss their problems with one another. Occasionally, the competitive nature of business may discourage this frank exchange, but if business are unrelated and do not compete for the same customers, entrepreneurs may be willing to share ideas concerning solutions to a common problem. In this way, all business owners can benefit from this interaction and improve their business operations.
Apart from the membership-based organisations and training programmes, the government of Nigeria, like its counterparts, the world over, has realized the importance of entrepreneurship development and has over the years formulated various public policies to encourage, support and fund the promotion and development of entrepreneurship. Development in small and medium enterprise are what give a developing nation like ours the base for employment creation, solid base for creating a middle class and encouragement for the use of local raw materials and technology.
Among these establishment for the promotion and development of entrepreneurship are:
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC)
It was established in 1976 and formally management in March, 1977 to minimize the bureaucratic bottlenecks and increase autonomy in dealing with members of the organized private sector. Its goal and mission me to make the non-oil export sector a significant contributor to Nigeria’s GDP and to facilitate opportunities for exporters to promote sustainable economic development.
The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC)
This is also an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria which is vested with the mandate to promote the development and utilization of Nigeria’s industrial raw materials. It is today, Nigeria’s focal point for the development and utilization of the nation’s vast industrial raw materials. It is hoped that RMRDC through its numerous programmes, will promote new investments in the other local resources and encourage industries to substitute local raw materials for currently imported ones.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN)
This was established in 2003 to promote the development of the MSME sector of the Nigerian Economy. The agency positions itself as a “one stop shop” for micro, small and medium Enterprises Development. The mission is to facilitate the access of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs and investors to all resources required for their development. It compiles, reviews and updates all existing economic policies, regulations, incentives and legislation affecting MSME operation within the state. Other institution established was the Industrial Development Centers (IDCs) which is to provide extension service to SMEs in such areas as project appraisal for loan application, training of entrepreneurs, managerial assistance, product development as well as other extension services.
In conclusion, we all need information to operate successfully, and with the internet, much is available. Some of these information will come to you automatically, e.g. company annual reports, membership newsletters, press briefings by ministers and heads of agencies and departmental brochures, etc. Finding and subscribing to good newsletters (free or subscription based) can ensure that quality, relevant and up to data information regularly comes to you. In this age of e-government, it has become much easier to source information from government, ministries, and agencies. You can receive updated news or updated web pages or both. Newsletters and services like these can assure a quality, regular inward flow of information.