A key issue for startups, MSMEs, SMEs, Fintechs and other tech enable businesses is a lack of knowledge in respect of accounting and tax basics, legal, regulatory and compliance matters which affects the growth and sustainability of their businesses. On Tuesday the 17th of April 2018, diverse entrepreneurs ranging from hair care, furniture making, catering, fintech, courier services etc. attended the OOLLP EXPO Series, a workshop designed to address this key issue of a lack of knowledge.
Abas Idaresit a technology entrepreneur and CEO / Founder of Wildfusion, Africa’s leading independent marketing organization with operations in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria spoke about his own experiences when he started out. Abas emphasized the need to have a long term vision of the business and to seek the right partnerships, ensuring that you have legal and financial advisors.
With nearly 2 decades of experience in auditing, financial control and reporting, financial due diligence, ERP implementation, loan and equity financing, tax planning and compliance, Femi Wright, managing partner and co-founder of WYZE Concepts and Associates discussed the basics of accounting. He noted the challenges of a founder having to wear many caps and mixing personal and company funds in one account. Femi outlined the advantages of accrual accounting over that of the cash based system.
Governance and Compliance Lead in our Corporate Services Group, Funke Fawehinmi discussed the various legal structures and noted that in choosing the appropriate one, the business owner needs to consider the type of business, the attractiveness / marketability and the growth potential of the business. Funke noted the key concerns of potential investors in SMEs which include the management structure of the business, the liability risk and the ownership of assets She also noted how an understanding of employment terms and conditions as well as intellectual property rights are key to successful business operations.
Muyiwa Ogungbenro, our Tax Practice Lead shared his extensive knowledge on the various taxes applicable to businesses and business owners. Muyiwa highlighted the major taxes, percentages, the need to file returns and pay taxes and the long-term implications of paying taxes on the business. He compared the tax implications of different business structures and concluded that start-ups need to seriously consider tax planning as soon as they decide to commence operations. Muyiwa also shared information on pioneer status, its applicability and objective.
In closing, Adeyanju Olomola the lead coach at The Source Coaching Ltd with over 18yrs of diversified experience in retail sales, service delivery, reputation management, crisis resolution, public affairs and corporate and internal communications spoke about having a business that outlives its owners. She emphasized the need to know what you want as a business owner, having the right kind of association and getting advice from experts to scale up and compete. Adeyanju gave an example of the Odutola business empire that laid the foundation for modern commerce and industry in Nigeria noting that a proper business structure could have led to the survival of the businesses post the demise its owners. Adeyanju noted the need for small business owners and middle management cadre in organizations to seek support in skills required to excel.
During the Q&A sessions, our participants asked specific and detailed questions about ways to attract valuable talent as a small business, protection of ideas and intellectual property when pitching to established organizations, the advantages of a limited liability company over a limited liability partnership, whether an existing business name can convert to a limited liability company, qualification for pioneer status. The questions generated robust discussions and sharing of experiences. At the end of the workshop, participants were able to further engage our resource persons for more information and discussions were rounded up during lunch.
Most large companies have their roots in SMEs, case in point being Unilever Nigeria Plc According to a Central Bank of Nigeria Financial Systems Strategy Report on MSMEs by Yemi Kale in 2013, approximately 96% of Nigerian businesses are SMEs. SMEs are an important source of employment generation, economic dynamism, competition and innovation, thus contributing to the national growth and poverty alleviation. At the Lagos State Tourism Summit held on Monday, 16th April 2018, lead speaker, former president of Ghana, his Excellency, Mr John Mahama noted the need for government to involve the SMEs and local businesses in the tourism sector. So if hotels are being built, local industries should supply furnishings, bedding etc.
The importance of startups, MSMEs, fintech and other tech enabled businesses cannot be underestimated. It is therefore imperative that they continue to be provided with the much needed information and knowledge to assist in their establishment, growth and development, sustainability and survival even after the founder is long gone.
Each year, OOLLP organizes a number of free workshops providing much needed information on laws, business etc. for various sectors. Previously organized workshops have been for the HR sector, and the film and music industries. The just concluded workshop was the first to be tagged the OOLLP EXPO Series.