Inflation has affected everything and everyone, and it seems like everywhere you turn, there are complaints about the constantly increasing prices of food, water, transport, fuel, and other necessities, vis-a-vis the static income of most workers. Business people are facing a new set of challenges as they try to sell increasingly expensive goods to customers with less and less money to spend in successive months.
In this article, we’ll hear from some small business owners about how they are fighting their way through inflation, the sacrifices they have made, their policy changes, and other adaptation moves. We trust that you would learn a thing or two from the things that they have done to handle the challenges that come with inflation.
The traders spoke in an interview with Olayinka, a Smartpreneur correspondent.
Iya Muinat Buka, a foodseller in Igbogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos, told Smartpreneur that foodstuff and raw materials have continued to get more expensive, and she has had to make reasonable decisions to stay in business and forge ahead.
“The business hasn’t been the same for me since the beginning of this year. I have contemplated severally [about] stopping the business but I don’t have a choice but to continue. The bag of rice that I buy for N18,500 before is now N23,000, which I cook within a week as I cook every day. Pepper, meat, and other ingredients too are now thrice the usual price.”
When asked if her profit margin remained the same, she said, “I have reduced the quantity I sell to people and that way, I tend to sell more and make gains as I did before, but with plenty of calculation and budgeting.”
Ore’s Signature, a mini importer, has had to stop her mini-importation business after running it at a loss for a while due to the hike in dollar rates.
“Mini importation is one lucrative and profitable business I enjoyed doing until now. I ran at a loss of about N57,000 because the price I told my customers wasn’t’ the same at the point of carting the goods down. The rise in dollars affected me and gave me a mental breakdown for weeks. If there is a bounce back from inflation, I might consider doing the business again.”
Recall that breadmakers recently embarked on a 4-day warning strike due to the increased cost of operation and raw materials for bread making. We spoke to a baker who requested anonymity.
In his words, “I feel devastated that bakeries are about to go on strike because I know the implication of that on parents who will make breakfast for their kids and every other person that loves to eat bread. In our bakery here, we had reduced the quantity [and] yet increased the price and to be honest, we don’t have an additional profit as people would think because butter, flour, [and] sugar is now expensive and there is no actual increase in our profits despite increasing [the] selling price.”
Mrs Orlando, a provision seller, shared her ordeal with us and is hoping for a better Nigeria. She said people do not have a choice but to keep buying since they all live in Nigeria and everyone is aware of the situation.
“Everyone understands the situation of Nigeria and so they patronize me. Although, sometimes, they grumble and I have to convince them, while some walk away or change their mind to buy something else. I haven’t been happy; last week, I bought a product only to find out it had 13 days [left] to expire. Customers didn’t buy as much as I had expected because it was expensive and of a reduced quantity. I had to dispose of the rest. I am not gaining more than I have always gained. We keep hoping things get better.”
Some business owners have had to stop operations due to the new reality they have to deal with, while others are taking the Structural Adjustment Programme seriously, making a lot of cut-downs to keep their slim profit margins and justify their existence. While there is hope that things get better, every entrepreneur needs to make a decision based on the current reality. One cannot afford to stay rigid about business processes as every new day comes with new challenges, necessitating little tweaks here and there to stay afloat.