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Friday, June 28, 2013

Take the decision and stick with it........Bills Bills Bills

2010..... Final exit Dangote

"But Dangote is not stressful, you can combine it with your business and be collecting your salary, don't resign!" This was the advice I got from almost everybody around me. Someone even promised to get me a book, "things you must do before you resign", it had something about saving at least 6 months of your salary before you quit, not that this is a bad idea though. She had a business by the side too and was saving to resign (she is still saving three years after, I don't blame her, taking the leap is not easy). My hubby was skeptical too, but I got his buy in by promising that I would dust my CV after 2 years and look for a job if it didn't work out. I pleaded, please don't let me go to my grave with the regret of wondering what could have been because I never tried.

How did I get to this point of no return? When I started the business, I joined every entrepreneur association I came by, Wimbiz (women in management and business), Spirit of enterprise, other groups and fora on facebook. I was attending seminars, reading online material and partaking in as many networking opportunities possible. The climax was the Wimbiz annual conference, I attended all the seminars and break out sessions at the conference, listening to and meeting people like Bukky George of healthplus, Funke Bucknor of Zapphire Events, Tara Fela-Durotoye of House of Tara, Ibukun Awosika a serial entrepreneur. It was electrifying, not that they painted a picture of a life of affluence or no work, but there is this joy that comes with walking in your purpose and they all had it. I wanted this too and it was at this conference that I made up my mind to take the leap and run with Trezorlandia. 

My friend and co-entrepreneur, founder of The Jobmag center, Maureen Iyasele was one of the most excited people about my decision. She hadn't taken the leap at the time, but she encouraged me and gave me a soft landing with a business development project at the center. That soft landing was great because building a business my people is not a joke! You would go through many phases, from motivation to despair, to "what have I done" to ......... Persistence is the key, no matter what happens, once you have made that decision, you must stick with it if you want to succeed.

Slowly but surely you will get there.......

Life Skills Learnt
If you didn't like reading before, now that you are considering entrepreneurship, you better imbibe the habit. Information is power. It will save you from making mistakes that others have made. Reading is not restricted to print material, the internet is a fantastic resource center, a word of caution though, not everything you read there is true or right.

2013...... 28th June

This is the week of bills. I found the perfect picture to show the way I feel! 

God help me!!

www.bills...... #dazall

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inside the mind of a startup Entrepreneur by Irfan Ahmad

I found something that I can't resist sharing.Trust me it's good material. I never really knew about info graphics till I found Irfan's blog When you have a minute, please have a look at the info graphic about the mind of an entrepreneur. Here's the link below;

Notice all the things founders should be able to do, ideally? Hahaha!! It's funny, but that is the truth. I think I am in the bootstrap stage. What stage are you at?

Hope is not a strategy......

2010...... Dangote+Trezorlandia+Family

The year 2010 was a busy year, I was juggling a full time job, a business and family. I tried as much as I could to keep a balance and not have any drama. Lucky enough the valentine's day in this year (one of Trezorlandia's busiest days) fell on a weekend. There's a small story for the first one which was in 2009 and for every single valentine's day actually. I will share those of the other years in separate posts.

Valentine's Day 2009, never was. Here's why. A cousin of mine told me I could get items from the states delivered in Nigeria in three weeks, so I gathered my savings and ordered teddy bears (red ones), some keep sake items and other things I thought would be nice. A week to valentine's day, I started to panic because there was no sign of the goods nor could my cousin give me a specific date for when the goods would arrive. She said the shipping company had some hitches. A day to the d-day, she calls to say she's sorry that the goods would not be in till the next week! Omo!! See crying (told you already that I like to cry, we just start o). I was stuck with goods that had valentine written all over them. Gbese!

About my talk in the the first paragraph concerning juggling three areas of my life with no drama, I lied, of course there was drama! Are you kidding me? One time I had to package a surprise for a client's anniversary. I booked a table for the pair at southern sun, got fresh roses and had them placed on the lady's seat, bought and signed the cards and arranged them on the table, got the cake and arranged with the waiters to bring it in at an agreed time, you know now all the works to create an ambiance. I was running back and forth between my office and southern sun, just to make sure everything was set. Of all days, this one was a really busy one at Dangote, I had a few reports to turn in. Still, I managed to set it all up and then rubbed my hands together and waited for feedback from the client. They were booked for about 7, so I was surprised when around 7:30 my phone rings and its my client. Here's the conversation that ensued,   "Sade, what is my name?" Oh oh, where's this going? I answer him and he goes "then where should my name be on the card?"!! Shucks! I had signed the card wrong, with his name at the top and her name under *Opens crying tap*, I stuttered a little, confused and completely ashamed of myself. How could I have? I apologized profusely and offered a discount, but he was too angry to even answer and just went like whatever. Chai! I called the next day after crying at my cousin Bimbola's desk, while she consoled and tried to calm me down, she was like haba egin (ondo for addressing an older relative) it is not that bad now. He wasn't as mad as he was the day before, whew! The thing about such mistakes is, you never, ever make them again! Unless you have screws lose in your head. At least not the same mistakes.

During this period, my brother Kehinde and partner Emy were so helpful, I will forever be grateful for the roles they played in building trezorlandia. With her crazy busy schedule, Emy would take time to have phone meetings, take care of offshore orders and was just there to listen to me whine and lament about this supplier and that supplier. She invested her time and money. Kehinde was there for me at every call, attending meetings on my behalf, reviewing documents and looking for new clients to convert. We hopped on okadas (motor bikes) to do out first interview with Lara George on gifts because I had to be back at work on time.

Interview with Lara George

I borrowed my friend Ayo's video cam for this and stayed up all night to learn how to use the video cam software to do the edit. When there is no money, you have to work extra hard. Use your brain, nothing is rocket science. In my uncle's office back in the day, he had this message on his wall that went something like " Lord somebody (I forget the name now) tried to replace a bulb in his house and got electrocuted, serves him right, you should learn to let professionals do their job". This may be true for electrical engineering or maybe medical sciences but to work a software, especially when resources are scarce? Naah!

I cannot but mention Happiness Enweremadu, who is my full time staff till date. She was more than a blessing, very smart and never complaining. I would send her from one end of Lagos to another and she would not miss a thing. When I was leaving Dangote, with no office, no guaranteed source of income, no nothing! I asked her if she would like to work with me and without much thought, she agreed.

At the pace at which it was all going, I reached a point where I had to ask myself, Sade are you doing this or are you doing this? I had to make a choice, a choice to leave my guaranteed income in the comfort of Dangote and pursue my dream of building a business that I know will outlive me. I  use "know" now because I can't be hoping at this stage, #hope is not a strategy.

Of course making this decision is never an easy process and it wasn't for me. I will tell you about how I made the final move in the next post.

2013........25th June

I have been a bit lazy, aside from the fact that I was down with malaria. I am in that place where I just don't feel like doing anything. Imagine that. Somebody that is looking for money o. One major challenge with this journey is the ability to stay motivated, in the face of all the challenges and struggles. Motivation is so important. Like the artists you need to find your muse and hold on to it.

I haven't been to the hub in almost a week. So much for my strategic positioning near the Budgit guys. It must not go to waste! I started the Abraham Lincoln book finally, but the first few pages have been a bit of a drag, efiko style writing, booooring! I am under pressure to finish it though, as I have opened my big mouth, more like used my big fingers to type it for the whole world to read that I am going to read it (I hope this makes sense? lol!). So boring or not, I will do my best to finish it, so help me God.

It's gone quiet again. No birthdays, no anniversaries, no weddings? People! Where are you at? Oluwa, connect me by fire!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Start from your sphere of influence........

While some sit and wait for the government to transform the nation, others are getting involved in creating this change that we all seek. Which group do you fall into?

I got in contact with a group called the generation for societal change last week through my friend Ikenna (my chemical engineering family!). He was booked to speak to some of the engineering students of the university of Lagos but was held up, so he called me and asked if I could fill in for him. Why not, I love getting involved in things like that, its my own little way of being a change agent. Besides, I didn't have anything booked for that time, so I checked it into my schedule.

It was nice to be there again, surrounded by students with hopes and dreams. Nothing much has changed, I could spot the efikos, the cool guys and all the groups we also had back in our day. I was called up first, to speak on the benefits of hard work. I didn't have anything planned per say, but I tried to make it as interactive as possible and here's a summary of the points from the session;

  • Start with identifying your purpose, only then can hard work truly be beneficial and it wouldn't even feel like work. 
  • The benefits of hard work go beyond money, you also want fulfillment at the end of the day.
  • You can work hard and have all the money in the world but not be truly wealthy. A wealthy man has "Access", he has touched so many lives and as such has access to benefits that money cannot buy. There are some places you cannot get into even if you had all the money in the world.
  • In the end, it pays to work hard.

Next up was Tayo Bamiduro, he spoke about building your reputation and career and here are a few of the points he made;

  • Your integrity is your most valuable asset.
  • Building a good reputation requires consistency, you are only as good as your last performance.
  • Be passionate about one thing at least and follow it through.
  • Be interested in things that are happening around you and not just your vocation.  
  • Learn the art of reverse engineering. You do not need to re-invent, rather think next level.

There was a lot more that was said at the program, but these are the few points I can remember. I am positive that we managed to get through to at least one person that day, if not more.

Health is wealth.....

I think I have been struck by malaria, I have had this headache for two days that is persistent. Since even the panadol adverts say, "if symptoms persist, consult your doctor", I am going to do just that. Before I head out though, I wanted to leave a quick note.

When you are passionate about something, you can so easily get carried away. You need to do this, you need to do that and you need to do all of them now! Calm down. It's a pity that we do not have many good examples of fully Nigerian owned companies that have crossed the 50 year mark (what am I saying, 20 even!) but here's the thing, think of your business as a going concern. It's not a project you need to start and finish in a given time. You are building an institution, hopefully it will outlive you. Take one step at a time.

I once had a chat with Bukky George of health plus and she said something that stayed with me. She said she kept taking what she calls "baby steps". It's easier said than done, I know, because even I let pressure set in a lot of times, but if you let stress get to you, you can't function optimally nor can you make informed decisions. I know there's so much you need to do, but if you're in this  for life, you have enough time to perfect one thing at a time and to take care of yourself!

Slowly but surely, you will get there........

Have a great week ahead. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This girl is tired!

It's been a busy weekend, from the GSC (Generation for societal change) event to the Owambes' ( typical Nigerian party) plus work. I need to write about the GSC experience, but not tonight. I am completely knackered. In the meantime, you can read about them at

Were you at any wedding this weekend? Did you notice any lady in an orange lace dozing in her seat? Yea, that must have been me! hehe. I almost fell off my chair. I hope the paparazzi didn't get a shot of me. This Lagos city life is a hard-knock life!


Here's the reason why I am just uploading this post. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The foolhardiness of Entrepreneurs……..Supplier management

I remember I mentioned that the website story was a whole post on its own. Today, I’ll tell that story.

Me and my fancy website.........

A couple of people say oh I want to start a business but I need capital before I can start, hmmmm. Let me tell you something that might shock you, over-funding for a start-up is more of a problem than lack of funding. In fact, when you have no money you are forced to be more creative with your decisions and actions. So rather than sit there and wait for that lump sum of money to fall on your lap before you move, why not sit down and think deeply about what you need this capital for. This word “Capital” is highly overrated. You’d be surprised how much you can do with so little.

The buzz was up on facebook and I was feeling really good about Trezorlandia. It’s time to get my own website I thought, a full e-commerce website for gifts. From the start I had a picture in my head, a picture of a world class website and I was determined to get it. I engaged a company owned by a family friend. This guy was very professional and unlike many other techies I had met he was also a very practical business man. This is someone who has never worked for anybody; he started running his company as a student. When I told him my grand idea, he drilled me, asking me all sorts of questions. Have you optimized the use of your facebook page, have you tried the facebook adverts, are you sure you want to do this now, what is your client base and the questions went on. What is wrong with this man sef! Just get me my world class website already! This was all I cared about. I wasn’t having none of this talk about reconsidering or settling for a static website! Bleh!

He gave in eventually seeing how adamant and determined I was. We haggled a bit on pricing and agreed on an amount that I am ashamed to say (because now looking back I can think of a million and one more productive things I could have done with that money). Let’s just say it was over half of my yearly upfront payment from my salary, chai! I paid the initial deposit and he got to work. He was a passionate hard core programmer and was working round the clock to get me the look and feel I wanted. He did tell me before we started the job that he was more a programming person than a graphics person but would try to bring my idea to life. Try as he might though, I wasn’t seeing the picture I had in my head, so I moved on. Half my upfront down the drain! Still this didn’t deter me, I was still with Dangote and next month’s salary was coming, so no problem. It was like I was in a time warp, I was stuck in this place where everything was frozen and the only way out was the website. Crazy!


This picture just captures what its like to be trapped in a time warp, your head is spinning and you can't move

I got introduced to Rotimi, a young free lance graduate of Lasu who went to school with my cousin. When he showed me samples of the work he had done, I was wowed! Just the picture I had in my head and he wasn’t even a programmer. With my first attempt, we were trying to re-invent the will, building our own shopping cart and templates from scratch, but Rotimi showed me existing templates that only needed customizing and a few tweaks to get the desired results. Of course this option was way cheaper and I jumped at it. Within three months or so, my fancy website was up and I was super excited

Next hurdle was the e-payment platform; I went with interswitch by default. I got this offer with GT-pay where I paid half the price being charged by interswitch to integrate the platform with my site but I had to get my own programmer. I took the offer and boy did I pay for this! Once you go this route you are on your own, all you get from interswitch is support and emails to say, we ran the test, this failed and that failed! It was a horror movie. All the money I thought I saved went from programmer to programmer. In the end I got that final email from interswitch saying the tests were successful and my fancy trezorlandia website was going live!! Yaaaay!! A very brief and short lived yaay, because the anticlimax came next.

All this time I was so focused on getting a website, I had no plan whatsoever for how I was going to drive traffic there or how I was going to keep the website updated (I have a content management system o, but only one me doing everything, na yam!). Above all, I was drained financially and emotionally from the whole exercise. The website is still there, but I can tell you that I have generated far more sales through facebook and twitter than I have from my super expensive e-commerce website. Jibola was so right!

Life Skills Learnt
  • Listen to those who have been there before you, it’ll save you a lot of cash. They weren’t lying when they coined the term “Cash is King” In fact I saw somewhere yesterday where someone rephrased it this way, “Cash is King Kong”
  • Be passionate, but at the same time rational. Think every step through before you take it. Better still, seek advice.
  • Capital is overrated.

At this point I want to give you a challenge. You don’t need to submit it to me, you can if you want though,  it would be nice to see what people come up with and I would share if you let me.
  1. If you had say N5,000,000 cash to start a business, what business would it be and how will you allocate the funds.

Please, no long story, I am not asking for a business plan now, just go straight to the point i.e. I would start a fish farm, I would use 1m for this, 500k for that and so on.

Are we game? Mail me at

2013…… 19 June 2013

The anniversary surprise went well. All is well that ends well. I went to another supplier to sort out the balloons and made it in time to set up the recipient’s office table before he got in.

I stayed up till late to sort out my bank reconciliations on Xero and I am still not done with them imagine! I went to bed around past 1. Accounting is no joke.  I also got my promotional gifts website sorted, there’s no story with this one, it took one week and cost next to nothing. I kuku don’t have any money now so I have to give myself brain, hehe. Here’s the link to the site;

I need ideas on driving traffic there. I have listed facebook adverts, direct email marketing (that was why I was compiling that list a couple of days back) and twitter as the options for now. What do you think?

Meanwhile, remember my son’s lesson teacher right? Ever since I conceived the thought of firing him, the man has been ill! I haven’t even said nor hinted anything yet, if not I would have assumed it’s a ploy. E ma gba mi ke (help me)! How do I now fire him without looking like a witch?

Entrepreneur Tips

Supplier management 101 J - Use multiple suppliers, categorize them in order of reliability and maybe price.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Listen to your customers..... @thebeat999fm my traffic companion!

Today there is no story from the past. I am barely managing to type this.

2013…… 18 June 2013

One of the points I always make about gifts was confirmed to me yet again today. When giving a gift or recommending a gift, it is not about you or what you think, it’s about the recipient, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient, ask questions, get to know their likes and dislikes and then make informed choices. I had a birthday cake to deliver for a 9 year old. When I asked what cartoon character he likes, I was told to get muscle man or rigby, muscle man being the preference. For those of you that do not know muscle man, search on google and tell me what you think! Better still I have put the picture here for you to see. Ugleee huh? No offence to the artist please o, muscle man's picture fits his profile, if you watch the cartoon.Just saying, he won't be my first choice on a cake. My cake baker too wasn't too excited about the choice either; she said to me why didn't you suggest the common characters others use, I am not sure muscle man will come out really nice on a cake. Well, that was what the child wanted and that was it, no negotiation. Even when I picked up the cake, she still wasn't too sure about it. However, any doubt that I had in my mind was cast away by the time I delivered the cake, his mum and aunt were more than excited, dancing and singing the muscle man theme song. Bliss! What a good way to start the morning.

The cartoons these days!

The cake

My day was off to a good start until the menace of Lagos traffic showed its ugly face! Demonic tin! It has the ability to cut your productivity in half. I spent almost all the remaining half of my day in traffic, clenching my fists, singing along to all the songs on beat FM and laughing at Douglas and Gbemi's handover jokes, it is no wonder that I know practically every song on air. It’s one of the few ways I manage to stay sane. What would I do without my radio.

 I had a few things to pick up in preparation for an anniversary surprise delivery tomorrow. As if traffic wasn't frustrating enough, I get to the store where I was expecting to inflate my foil balloons with helium and guess what? Little Missy at the store goes “ we only inflate balloons purchased at our store”!  Are you kidding me! After enduring almost two hours of traffic to get here? I tried to reason a way out with her, look I am not inflating this things for free, I am willing to pay, but no, once the oga at the top issues an order, there’s no brain work needed, no work around, no offer of help, no let me call my boss and see what we can do, nothing! Just take your money and go. Naija customer service sucks! Anyway, I then ask if they have a foil balloon with the inscription “I love you”, no! Okay, how about “happy anniversary” no! What balloons then do you have! Mother's day, Ben 10 and one flowery looking "just for you" one, heck no! Aaaargh. How so frustrating considering I had to deliver early tomorrow and this was almost 6pm. I composed myself and left the store, I would have to find another way. In the meantime I needed to survive the traffic home with one important piece of my job left undone.

The icing on the cake is now the Internet expiring at the very wrong time. Mscheew! I am going to sleep joo. You'll read this post tomorrow.

Entrepreneur Tips

LISTEN to your customers. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oluwa is involved.......Paying Customers

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that I had a business plan.  I assumed that was a given. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or overly elaborate and don’t think mine was because I have an MBA, IT WASN’T!

A business plan is meant to be a working document not a one off one, you need to visit and revisit as you go. Things change, customer needs change, technology changes and so on, so if you have that static document that you filed away years ago, you better go and dust it and review it (I feel like I am talking to myself here…. Hehe!).

So back to the Dangote story, where were we? Ah the sharks.

The projects that saved my life…….

Even before Tony’s last day in Dangote Tony’s angels got the memo from camp E* – “You have been redeployed to the office of Mr. K* on the 3rd floor, with immediate effect!” Lobatan. They were going to have us for toast. What to do now?! You know what though, when the K-switch sang “Oluwa is involved” he must have been referring to me, because just when I was ready to move downstairs Oluwa indeed stepped in.

Everything starts from the 9th floor, so we were always in the know. We had been seeing this man, Mr O*, hold meetings with the telcos and submit reports and findings to Ahaji Aliko. A few times, he asked me to help with reports (he hadn’t built his team yet) and I did. Dangote was looking to diversify into wholesale fiber distribution, they were about to build Alheri, which later became DANCOM technologies. At the same time, Folake Ani-Mumuney had come on board and was leading a Dangote rebranding project. I had a few encounters with her as well, while on the 9th floor.

Right about this time, Alheri kicked off and Mr. O* was building his team. They needed someone on the team to handle the CUG project (Closed User Group; staff members on the CUG could call each other at no charge) that was being implemented across the group. My friend Zainab told me about this and spoke to Mr. O* on my behalf. This was the project that saved my neck! He stuck his neck out for me by presenting a justification to Aliko and submitted a transfer request for me to join the DANCOM team. This was how I left the cement business unit and resumed with DANCOM.  Whew! The project was important to the group and touched every single person, so there was no way “you know who” could kick against my transfer.

On the other hand, Folake stuck her neck out and put in a request for Tony’s angel number two, Utibe to join her team.  She was planning a media reveal for the new logo and needed volunteers from different business units to partake in the planning and distillation of the new brand ethos, I volunteered. There was an intranet project as well that was to be implemented across the group which I got involved in. My hands were full, but I enjoyed every minute of my time on these projects.

There is definitely a God somewhere!!

Life Skills Learnt

  • Service Management: We had to do a lot of service level agreements with the Telcos, we sent out RFPs (request for purchase) often and so on. I also got to go for an ITIL foundation training.
  • Branding: Working on the rebranding project with Folake exposed me to a lot of new things as well as the importance of branding.

2013…… 17 June 2013

Nothing gives me greater joy than getting feedback from a satisfied customer. Today, I got one of those and I am going to ride on those words for the rest of the week! Yessir!

I can say today was one of those fruitful days, I had an early morning delivery and got a last minute request for party packs to be delivered today. At first I was thinking, it’s short notice, I had plans to go to the hub, yada yada, but I gave myself brain and boned the hub for today. This was a paying customer! Nothing compares to a paying customer.

You won’t believe it if I told you I haven’t started the Abraham Lincoln book *covers face*. There’s just so much to do and so little time. Whenever I get in from my daily runs, my boys latch on to me and tail me around the house.No kidding! Can’t complain though, I am blessed to have them and it’s their right to demand for their own time. I had some cooking to do as well, before my nanny uses indomie noodles to finish my children, I try to fix their lunch as often as possible (all she has to do is warm), but on days when she needs to use her initiative, she defaults to indomie. I cannot understand it. I have to do a timetable and insist that she sticks to it.

I got the most fantastic customer service treatment I have experienced in a while today at the Akin Adesola branch of GTB. The guys there are really courteous and willing to help. I wonder if it is because their banking hall is so large and so the pressure is reduced or their branch manager is really good. I bet it’s a mix of both.

Entrepreneur Tips
  • Do everything within your power to keep your paying customers!
  • Celebrate your successes no matter how small.
  • Your business plan should not be a once and for all document, review it as you go.
  • Above all keep calm, Oluwa is involved!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The birth of Trezorlandia.......... Abraham Lincoln and failure

I apologize, I have been MIA, my body revolted against the late nights I was keeping. Seeing as I am not ready to go over to the other side yet, I had to respect my body and take it easy. Plus the father’s Day preparations got the better of me.

I know we are expecting to continue with the Dangote story, but I can’t afford to ignore the most significant part of my entrepreneurship journey, how and when Trezorlandia was born.

The birth of a dream…..

At the interview with Tony Hadley, he asked me a question, it was one of the questions we had rehearsed a couple of times in school, but I could not give him the rehearsed textbook answer, because he had this look that made me feel like he really wanted to know. “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” For the first time, I didn’t just blurt out the textbook type answer, I thought long and hard and for some reason I said, I see myself running an online shopping business. That was the first time any thought about owning my own business had come to me and of all places for that to happen! Lol!

I got the job and carried on happily with it but I always just had this nagging feeling, like I could be doing more. I sold wristwatches on the side, Ankara fabrics too as well as anything sell-able to my colleagues. My office was not too far from the market so once again, most of my break time was spent combing the stalls. Then one day it hit me, I wanted to help purchase and deliver gifts.  This was something I had been doing for fun back in school and even at work. I didn’t know what to call it or if it was possible to build a business around that so I hit the web. Believe it or not, something that sounded like such a novelty idea already existed as Gift consulting! I immediately knew for sure that I wanted to be a gift consultant.

When you have that aha moment, you best be surrounded by “cheerleaders” or you would never take off. My brother, Kehinde, my friends on the 9th floor, Utibe and Zainab were my first set of cheerleaders. I shared my idea with them and they were even more excited than I was. I could go on and on about this but I have a note on facebook that captures the story. I cannot say it better now than I did years ago when it really happened.  If you’d like to know please follow the link below;

When you start a business, what are the first steps to take? There’s no hard and fast rule, but there should be best practices. In my case I didn’t follow any laid down principles, I just wanted to start and I did what I felt I needed to do;

  1. Shareholders: I knew I couldn’t go it alone, I needed a team. I thought of people who I could work with on building the business and involved them, my brother for PR (Public relations), My friend, Emiola for purchases offshore (I also felt she had a knack for selecting gifts) and my husband for IT. This was my own idea at the time. I wasn’t thinking of money, I still had a job and was financing most of the business from my salary.

    Another way to go though, would be to get shareholders to finance the business capital (money you need for the business), this is known as Paid up Capital. Paid Up Capital in simple terms is the amount of a company's capital that has been funded by shareholders, it can be less than a company's total capital because a company may not be financed solely by equity (shareholder’s money). Before you go this route however, do a proper analysis of your startup costs, ensure that you only spend money on the important things. 
  2. Logo Design: I went through a process of selecting a logo. I engaged about three different people and my partners and I looked through loads of logo designs. As simple as this process sounds, it was not that simple. Making decisions can be tasking. At last one of my brother’s talented friends, Munachi Duru designed the winning logo. I saw it and just knew! There was a connection and my partners felt it too.
  3. Set up a facebook page:  This is a free (everybody say “Free”, free is good) and fast way to build your market. I come from a large family and I harassed and harassed every one of them to like my page and suggest to their friends. I owe a lot of the likes I have on the page now to my brothers Adeleke and Kehinde and my sister Tolu. Till date I have never used the paid facebook adverts and I have 1,805 likes.
  4. Create engaging content: It is one thing to create a facebook page and another thing to keep it active. My head was always spinning and I read a lot online. There’s so much information out there about anything you want to do. This helped me keep my page fresh. I also realized this was an all new type of business in Nigeria and I had to educate the market on why they needed the services of a gift consultant. I put out a few notes and featured a few videos. 
  5. Company Registration: I immediately engaged a lawyer and registered the name Trezorlandia.  This has its good and bad parts especially if you haven’t got your accounting sorted. Now I would suggest you hold out a bit and do a pilot run before you go ahead to register the business. I say this because at the time of registering the business, I did not take into account the tax issues associated with it. And years went by before I really started to trade officially with the already registered name. 
  6. Account Opening: It is very important to separate your personal finances from you business finance. I am just getting really strict with this. Ensure that all your transactions, as much as possible, are done through the business account. Nowadays you have to have your TIN (Tax Identification number) before you can open a company account.
  7. Website: This I need to dedicate a whole post to, remind me later.

2013…… 16 June 2013

It’s father’s day today. I finished my delivery runs early and still made it to church, especially since I didn’t make it last week. I teach in the teen’s church and feel like I let them down when I don’t show up. A lot has happened since my last post, but I cannot begin to bore you with everything, so I picked one that made me think a lot. First I must thank my cousin Jide Ogungbesan for his feedback on the blog. I am more than proud of him :-) 

On Saturday, my mum asked me about the youwin grant! Omo, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her I didn’t get it. She would conclude that enemies are after me and ship me off to MFM prayer city camp for deliverance. No way! I mumbled something that made her believe it wasn’t out yet (may God forgive me) and truncated my visit pronto.

On my way home I started thinking about Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and co. We are told they failed so many times and yet did not give up until they fulfilled their dreams. We are then expected be encouraged by the story of these men and just follow suit, but who has read the story about how they handled these steady stream of failures as they claim? That’s the bit I need to hear about, living through the failures. Thomas Edison, they say made 1,000 failed attempts before inventing the light bulb! I am thinking 1,000!! 1,000!! Haaaa. How did he not run mad, how did he not give up? How?!  I just need to know…….

I have downloaded the biography of Abraham Lincoln; I hope I get some insights to share when I am done reading. In the meantime, I'll continue to cope the only way I know how. (watch out for my entrepreneur's survival tips later)

Entrepreneur Tips

Please refer to the top on steps I took when starting my business. They may not be the gospel, but you can get some insights as to what to do and maybe what not to do.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tony Hadley....... Slim the Dancer!

Working with Tony Hadley……

Tony Hadley was a really great boss. I learnt so much from him. He once asked me to submit a report on the cement industry, I put the report together using all the excel skills I knew and was feeling good with myself, he just looked at it and said to me, Sade presentation is everything. He showed me a similar report from someone at J.P Morgan and said if I gave you this report and your report, which one would you pick first? he didn't need to say anymore, I got the message.

For the first time in my work career, I was in a position where I had an Ariel view of a company’s operations, right from the top. We were seated on the 9th floor, same floor as Aliko Dangote (Not like that added anything to my pocket, but I just couldn’t resist throwing that in, *shinning teeth*).For those of you who think being filthy rich means you get to put your feet up, think again, the man Aliko is one of the most hardworking men I ever met. He was always in the office, even when he travelled out of town he came straight to the office from the airport. His case was tending towards an excessive obsession though, I wouldn’t want to live like he does, but I respect him. It is not by chewing gum that you build an empire like that, no matter how flawed.

I attended high level meetings regularly, as the secretary of course! Mofolusade the sece (you have to say this with a yoruba accent to get the joke). Tony had a big vision for cement and it was clearly documented in black and white. You should see the way he documented stuff, concise and clear. We had steering committees as well as weekly and monthly Executive meetings at the head office and all the different plants. He built a team of the best professionals ever; Mr. Adeleke taught me a more professional and audit compliant way of writing minutes, he was one very thorough man. Utibe! My girl Utibe, how can I not mention her; we were called Tony’s angels.  We came in at a level higher than many people who had been there for years, so we were labeled and hated by some right from the word go. Tony tried to carry all stakeholders along and most people came on board, most people except Mr. E*! He saw Tony as a rival, an enemy. He declined to attend every single meeting Tony called, creating a parallel and opposite team in his own domain.

It was madness! One time, he slammed the phone on Utibe. Utibe managed Tony’s calendar and had to send out reminders to cement executives for meetings. She called Mr E* and he screamed “who are you to call me directly, I don’t report to your boss, don’t you ever call me again!” See as our mouth wan drop. She told Tony and he just smiled and said, E's probably stressed out, I should go see him.This was high level politics playing out, right before my eyes. Where was Ochora, she took us in “Managing Corporate Power and Politics” at LBS. Then, it was just theory to us, now I was witnessing it live. Dangote group is such a big company with so many power players, fighting for Aliko’s attention. It was just crazy. Call it the game of thrones.  We would get approvals for something in camp Tony and it would get intercepted from Camp Edwin. This went on and on, till Tony couldn’t take anymore. Really, how does one progress that way, especially when you are as straight forward and professional as Tony.

Tony opted out! There was some drama and I missed it because I closed at 5, but Utibe gave me the low down when I got in the next day. Tony’s angels and the professionals he had invited to join his team were left hanging. It would only be a matter of time before the sharks got us. Yawa!..... To be contd

I have a few pictures from the good dangote days here.

But here's one I like;

*Names changed

Life Skills Learnt

  • Organizational skills – Tony had his weekly, monthly and yearly plans laid out for Cement. 
  • Time management - Tony was a sucker for schedules and timing
  • High level documentation and planning – I need to fish out all those Tony’s documents again, they would be useful for me now.
  • Presentation - Power point is such a powerful tool, a lot of us under utilize it.
  • People management – If you didn’t have the right people skills in dangote, you were dead dead. How do you get people to cooperate with you, give you reports as at when due and so on without this?
  • Meeting management - Our meetings were sharp and to the point, we sent out agendas a week before and stuck to the agendas as much as possible (there was always that one person who would go off on a tangent, lol)
  • How can I not add POLITICS and POWER play!!!

2013……..13 June 2013

Sometime last year, I volunteered to start taking reading classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first school hour. I rotate the classes from reception through grade 6. At first it was just something to fill up my calendar so depression didn’t find room, but now I look forward to it and make out time as often as I can.I have been doing this for over 6 months now. Children are simply amazing. I learn a lot from spending time with them. It has also helped me understand my son a bit more because I see what other kids do and this tells me he's not doing anything strange for his age group.

After my reading session today, I visited a young big dreamer (I mean that in a good way) and my heart was filled with joy. Anybody who can dare to dream in Nigeria should be respected. He runs a dance studio called the bodylanguage studio in Illupeju. Chibuzor Ikonta, simply knowm as Slim, is an epitome of passion. This guy loves to dance and he can, not only can he dance but he is also a really good teacher. He’s not so much into the regular hip hop and co type dance routines but rather he's into Salsa, Cha cha, other latin and some inidan traditional dances. But just as I read somewhere, you need way more than talent to run a successful business. He needs a business development manager asap , so he can focus on his creative side. If you are young and you think you have skills, send me a mail, but let me tell you upfront, it’s a commission based salary, so you really have to want to do this.

We were working on developing gift vouchers for dance classes. I have always though it a unique gift idea. A voucher for paid dance classes for a week, a month and so on. We talked about that and other things. Mainly the usual stuff entrepreneurs talk about when they meet, challenges with funding, with finding the right kind of staff, with time management (so much to do, so little time) ecetera. He’s had to deal with so much at his young age, yet he’s sticking with his dream and vision. I so wish Slim all the best. That’s a link to his facebook page below, if you’re interested.

After spending some time with Slim, I stopped by at the hub and put in two hours of good time, drawing up plans and following up on emails.

On accounting, I uploaded my diamond bank statements to Xero and while doing reconciliation I think I noticed a posting error. I know I withdrew 180,000 for sure and what I could see on the statement was 18,000. I hope I am mistaken and probably have things mixed up, because if this is not the case what hope is there for me in that bank?! Sheesh.

I am still waiting patiently for the first person that would ask for gift advice on @asktrezorlandia. I will so celebrate ehn!! You will think there is something else there. 

Entrepreneur Tips

  • Apply yourself to things that add value to you and the society as a whole. Start with your sphere of influence. Entrepreneurs should be change agents.
  • When you can, spend time with other entrepreneurs, listen to their story and share yours.  For me, it is a source of encouragement and inspiration, I think you might find it to be too.
  • Find synergies where possible between your business and others, this gives you leverage. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Interlude……. Shout outs

Appreciation mode......

I am in a good mood tonight and my 2 year old must be too, because tonight he has refused to go to sleep. So we are up typing together. Bad parenting habit, I know, but I have tried all I can, I think he just has too much energy to dispel tonight.

I got a call earlier today that made my day, in fact two calls. You all don’t know how encouraging it is to know that people are actually reading this blog. I am humbled. I may not have plenty of cash in the bank (matter of fact, I don’t! for now though), but I feel like a million bucks!

This is why, before I continue with my journey I need to give a few shout outs. I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble. I know there are more people reading the blog than I am about to list, but I can only know of those who have left comments and who have contacted me to say something. Not that I don’t appreciate every single one of you, but as you read in private, I can only appreciate you in private. J

My shout outs go to;

  • My husband, Seun, for enduring it when I stay up to update this blog late into the night.
  • My sister Tolu, for giving me the boldness to start this as my first editor. She said to me, sister, you are good to go! Post it.
  • Funmi Amoo, my sister too and chief whip, she calls me to harass me whenever I fail to update.
  • My brothers, Kenny Madin and Lekimadin and my sister Taiwo, they all read my blog despite their crazy schedules. What can one do without family!
  • Captain Bob!! My uber amazing dad and to Captain Fola Akinkuotu, two senior citizens who have actually taken time read my blog.
  • Mrs Remi Abere, our IBM mentoring program sponsor. It meant the world to me when I posted the blog in the group and you commented. I know how busy you are.
  • My neighbour, Mrs Magdalene Ugborogho, thanks for your encouragement
  • Those who have left comments, Ayotunde Itayemi, Bamitale Alimi, Ikenna Ikonta, Clement Oke, Akpo Siekpe, Lolade Shakioye, Lucy Akintade, Bode Faleti and Oluwaponmile oloyede. Your comments make me feel I am being heard! Three Gbosas to you.
  • Dr. Tega Edokpolor, my girl from way back when
  • Bimbola Akintoye, my “not so younger” cousin. Lol! Guys, it was she who collected my LBS form for me.Thanks for putting a call through today.
  • Juliet, aya Captain, my former colleague from Dangote. Muchos gracias, your call meant a lot.
  • Jolomi and Temiloluwa Unilag Chemical Engineering family, I see you
  • Madam Shea Butter, Sumbo Adeleke, my friend and co participant on the IBM mentoring program

There’s another set of people I need to thank, those who went ahead to follow the handle, “@asktrezorlandia”. If you know what it takes to build twitter followership, you would know what I mean.

@Looceye, Lucy kanu  The very first follower!
@chiccarpenta my girl Padebi

You are appreciated!! 

The Shell disappointment........ Market day

Shell, Shell oh Shell……..

The Shell Recruitment day was fun. I had never experienced a more practical interview system. I bonded with one of the candidates and we are still friends till today, her name is Seun, interesting girl. I saved money on accommodation too, thanks to my friend from way back (chemical engineering family), Emiola. She hosted us. The interview was in stages, a case study, a group discussion, and a one on one interview. I remember one of the questions still, like it was yesterday – “You are sitting in for the managing director of a company, he has left you a hand over note, a crisis with the villagers where you operate, a staff issue (can’t really remember) and something else with a supplier, how would you address the issues, what would be your priority?”. This is not quite word for word, but it was something like that. Then we had a negotiation where we had to do role plays of three communities presenting their community’s project for approval to be the CSR direction for the year. I felt at home, this was like being in class back in LBS. At the end, they refunded our flight fares (using old rates!!) and told us they would get back to us.

I got back to the hotel to find my baby ill. He probably reacted to the water or change of environment, but at the time I was scared to bits! As much as my friend and sister tried to calm me down, I still couldn’t get myself to relax. I stayed up all night, crying and calling every doctor I knew. I couldn’t get any of the prescriptions they recommended (Oral re-hydration therapy mixes, mainly), because it was late already (Port Harcourt shuts down early) and the next day was a public holiday. I almost went mad, he must have passed stool about a fifty times, no kidding! I counted the minutes and the hours to my flight back and headed straight to the doctor from the airport. Babies can make you look like a liar sometimes, because by the time we got to the hospital, this young man that was looking like he was about to cross over to the other side, was now all bubbly and stable, imagine! My sister so made fun of me ehn, after all the stress I put her and Emiola through.

While waiting for my Shell response, I got an offer with Dangote as a business analyst with the new Cement Chief Executive Officer, Tony Hadley. I had barely spent a month there when I got a mail informing me that I was successful! *Screaming*!!!!!!! I was asked to come in for my medicals and I did. I got a call from their HR rep asking me if I wanted supply chain management and I said that was fine. I wanted to go back to the department where I interned but I wasn’t fussed about that. Shell is Shell, wherever. Another HR rep now calls shortly after to say they wanted me at the department where I was before and would like to have an informal chat with me, she said don’t worry, it’s just protocol, to get to know you, you’re in already.

I had to find a way to escape from the office that day. I expressed my concerns about timing, since I was working somewhere already and didn’t want to disappear for too long. I was assured that it wasn’t anything serious. My people, lo and behold, I get there and I am ushered into a room with three men sitting across the table. I can still picture their faces. Two fone speaking Nigerians (fone being pidgin for foreign accents) and a Caucasian, think he was Russian or something. I was distressed already because this wasn’t what I was expecting; besides I had to rush back to the office before it was obvious I had disappeared. Of course the friendly chat didn’t go well. I knew I wouldn’t be recommended for the commercial group but still had hopes of getting in to SCM; at least this was just protocol they said. Awon oniro buruku (Liars, simply put).

There was silence, a long deafening silence. I mailed the rep I had been following up with and she said she had been reassigned. What!! She referred me to someone else who referred me to someone else and that was how the wild goose chase began. I called Nick, German and Beth, everyone I knew there. German had even assumed I had resumed and was settling in. Then they send me a mail saying I was being retained in their pool and would be posted to a department as soon as there was an opening. A year later (Yes o! a whole year), I get an email saying my records in the pool had expired and so I should re-apply.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this was how Shell never was! Till today, my mum still can’t get over it. We were practically already spending Shell money.  At every opportunity she says in ondo “Do baa shey fofi wo ti wi shell beyi, wo bati ra moto wuen”. Let me help you translate before you crack your head, “If only you were in Shell now, you would have bought a new car”. I feel her pain, but sometimes I just need her to stop, it drives me crazy. This is by far one of the worst disappointments in my life, ever! I didn’t cry then, but years later, I was having a bad day and I stumbled on one of the email exchanges we had, I broke down and wept a bucket (I can cry oo, leave that one!)…….. I have moved on, but I must get filthy rich so I can hunt those three men down as well as the HR Rep and spit in their faces!! Call it whatever you like, I don’t care.

Cry me a river

Life Skills Learnt

No matter what life throws at you, you have to pick yourself up and keep moving, don’t you ever stop!

2013…….12 June, 2013

No ccHub again today, I had market runs, I can hear some people say as usual! Hehe. It comes with my job. Of course that is why you are just seeing this post today, because I got home and passed out right after homework. Old age is setting in, I never used to get this tired before and I didn’t even have a car. I think I need to start taking supplements, Yuk! I hate drugs.

Entrepreneur Tips

Of course you can’t be expecting anything here now! Not today (yesterday, technically, but you know now). I can’t kill myself.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shell Internship ....... The Hunt!

2007, Shell Internship……..

At the end of the first year, we had to intern with a company. There was an annual career fair which was a grand event and had different companies come in to interview and recruit interns as well as graduating students for full-time positions. In attendance at my first career fair were a couple of the big banks, Oando, Cadbury and Shell. We had been drilled and prepared for this event; we had mock interviews, etiquette classes, communication skill classes and so on.

The day came and we were all dressed to impress, guys looking dapper, girls looking all spiffed up! I went from stand to stand; at the shell stand I had a brief encounter with German Burmeister, head of the commercial unit of shell. It was brief, but I knew I must have said something right, because he asked me to write down my details with the Human Resource representative that came with him, not everybody was asked to do that. The offers started coming in and I along with another boy from my set got spots with Shell for our internship. We were the biggest boy and girl of our set! Hahaha

Working with Shell was fun; I was assigned to Nick Tombs who gave me a project on Unitization; through the project I got to interact with people across departments and continents, collecting data and gathering information. What’s more, the office was right in the heart of Lagos, near the market!! Most of my break time was spent there; I was on a buying spree for anyone who needed to buy anything. When you are at peace like that; happy with your job and happy with your life, things start to happen. It was while at Shell that I conceived my first son, after trying for over a year. Life was good. My friend, Olamide, an LBS graduate who had a full-time job there, was in the same unit as I was, I nearly killed her with talk about how it had to be shell or nothing!! Omo, na here I go die put (A pidgin expression). The internship came to an end soon enough and I handed in my report and went back to school to finish with my big stomach.

Time flew by fast. I had my baby and almost deferred again because I had a C-section and felt I couldn’t bear the pain, but my mother came to the rescue, she let me have her driver for the last few months left and also started coming in to school with me, minding my son while I attended classes. She is a blessing, I tell you. She did this until I got a nanny so that she could go back to work. Towards the end, we started getting interviews and offers for permanent jobs. There was another Career fair as well, this time for the interns to be in the next set and for us, the graduating set. Anyway, I got the long awaited mail from Shell for an interview, a whole day in Port-Harcourt tagged the Shell recruitment day. My baby was barely 4 months and this was a time when the main Port Harcourt airport was closed so the flight rates were on an all time high. I didn't mind though, this was Shell we were talking about. I begged my sister to come with me, we bought two tickets, packed our bags and my baby’s bags and were off to Port Harcourt………. Yaay me! (Yeah right)…….. To be contd.

Life Skills Learnt

Research and report writing, determination – I could have deferred after the baby, but I pushed on and finished with support.  

2013…….11 June, 2013

No ccHub for me today. I spent the day hunting for a bathrobe. This Naija can just like to cramp your style. The process of bringing you ideas to life is one hell of a process. I recommended customizing a bathrobe as a gift for a client; she liked the idea, now to find the bathrobe had to become a hunt. Not that there are no bathrobes in the market, but when you have a particular specification you want, it becomes a problem. You don’t want a gift that your client won’t wear, or that their skin would react to, so you have to be really sure that you get the right quality and specification. I have to be on top of my game by knowing my customers and their different tastes and preferences. They are my bosses.

There is an issue I have with many Nigerian businesses; very few of them specialize.  We have a few who are known for what they stock, like Simbabe who does balloon and balloon accessories, strictly. Another challenge is that they don't stick around for long. They open this place today(especially on Awolowo road and VI in general), and next thing you know, they have either moved or run down altogether. It is because of things like these that I am sometimes tempted to carry inventory, which has never been the plan. The idea has always been to be the link between the supplier of any item that can be considered as a gift and that client who needs a gift. So let me use this medium to call out to all stockists of unique items; you need me and I need you. I know you’re out there somewhere, let us connect.

I took to twitter, after scanning shops that used to be and shops that still are in VI and Ikeja and got a few referrals but nothing still. Then I started to call up friends who I thought would know, at last, someone had just what I wanted in stock, whew! That feeling you get when you win a quest! Awesome.

I finally got my Diamond bank internet banking details, so I was able to spool my account statement and get it uploaded to Xero. UBA’s next. I have mailed my account officer, but no reply, imagine! How do you not reply a customer? I wish I had only one account to deal with, when it’s not as if the money is so plenty I have to split it all over. But here’s the summary, I opened GTB by default, then UBA because a customer forced me to (she was spending good money), good thing I did because I have a few customers outside Lagos who prefer to use UBA. As for Diamond, I got tempted to open it because they are SME friendly.

In other news, my car is falling apart! I need that major break like yesterday….. God help me!

Entrepreneur Tips

Today they are no tips coming to my head. It happens. I never said I was an expert anyway. I hope you learn something from the post like the fact that customers are important.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Lagos Business School.......Day 1 @ccHub

The LBS (Lagos business School) Experience……..

Between my husband and my father, (bless them!), my fees were paid. I sold my wedding gown and my sister’s chief bride’s maid dress and saved the money as back up money for the little things. My mother was scandalized, but every time I looked at that huge dress (couldn’t even fit into my small wardrobe) sitting there, I thought to myself, what a waste.

 If you went to a federal university in Nigeria like me and then experience education outside the country or at the Lagos business school, you would agree with me that you would wonder what on earth you spent Five years (as is the case of an engineer’s) of your life doing! If you don’t know, let me be the first to tell you that you haven’t been to school until you have been to school! Covenant and Babcock people, I am not referring to you (apart from your rules and regulations, you have a somewhat proper school experience). I am not saying that my five years was a complete waste, but you go through school like you’re groping in the dark in the most of the government owned schools. We were focused on turning in assignments and passing exams, not the actual learning.

From the gate of LBS to the classrooms, everything spoke serenity! The environment, the staff, everything was clean and pristine (clean is a big deal! We are in Nigeria). Lecturers as we knew them, were referred to as facilitators and they were, in the true sense of it. Compared to the “note hand out” style I was used to, here there was an interactive and robust style of teaching.  We had Thad take us through a brush up of algebra and basic statistics. Watching him talk alone, you knew he was passionate about knowledge transfer; every class was insightful and fun. Engineer turned Accountant, Mr. Owolabi took us through book keeping and accounting, he broke complex things i.e. Debit and Credit, General Ledgers and Balance sheets (Greek to me before the MBA) down in a way that even a baby would understand, well almost!

Okay, enough of all the sweet talk, the initial excitement wears out when the real work starts and it did before we could say Jack Robinson. We were divided into groups and I was the group leader of the most laid back and playful group of our set, Group B, we got results still, that was the point now. I wonder if they did some sort of personality test and put similar people in groups. Group A, headed by efiko Blossom (she always had her hands up even before the facilitators posed their questions, lol!!), was the most efficient group of the set.  LBS drilled me into shape; we had a business casual dress code and had to be in class before the facilitator. If you were as little as one second late, you were late, finito! Try as you may with your tales of Lagos traffic, I am pregnant (I was in my second year), any of those stories and you were reminded that the world was not a fair place, besides traffic was not peculiar to you. This is Lagos, deal with it! There was a time I was running late; Ajah traffic has always been a menace, my friend Pamela and I got out of the car and hopped on a bike from VI to Ajah straight. If only my FCMB Bosses could see me now! Never late for a class, hehe, even with the same mainland – Island commute. Life! It’s about perspectives about how important something is to you.

We graduated in September 2007, full of dreams and hopes and we were more than ready to take on the world.

You know the funny thing, Entrepreneurship was a final year elective and I didn’t take it as an option. Imagine that! Most of the people I know that took it on the other hand, are working for someone, somewhere.

Life Skills Learnt
Punctuality, Accounting appreciation (can’t say I became a guru per say), Business Ethics, Group dynamics and leadership skills, Communication Skills (Because every class was interactive and you were even graded for your class participation, I learnt to speak up and listen too, off point participation attracted sanctions)

Me and my MBA baby!

2013…….10 June, 2013

I resumed at the hub today. Feels like I am in school again, everybody looks so busy, buried in their computers. I picked a good spot, because shortly after I settled in that seat, guess who turns up? The Budgit founder, Awesome! His data analyst sat right beside me through the day, we had had some chit chat about the hub and who’s doing what. I have a mini list of people I must speak to already. Working at the hub has its disadvantages though, first of all I almost froze with the air conditioning in that place, then secondly I got so buried in work, I didn’t realize how time flew by, now I am as hungry as a lion. These are small things that can be fixed though and I will.

Back to business, Father’s day orders have started trickling in, can’t complain. I just have to keep on going and I know it’ll be fine. Speaking of which, not one single request for gift ideas has come through on @asktrezorlandia! Na wa o, and this is a free service, meaning even if something is free, if people don’t see the need for it, they won’t use it. Perhaps those who need it don’t even know it’s there. That must be it.  I need to make people aware that it’s there.  Marketing, marketing, marketing!! It’s all about marketing. Help me Lord. No wonder the marketers boast that they are the soul of a business. I am beginning to see how this is true.

I stumbled on something yesterday that I think I should share. I found it useful, I hope you would too. A couple of entrepreneurs sharing what they wish they had known early in business.

They are short and straight to the point. My winning ones are;

When I started out I wish I had known that … outsourcing work would free up so much more creative time for myself. From little things such as the cleaning the studio to actually getting the products made for you.”  - Dominic Crinson – Designer

“I wish I had known that it’s all going to be alright and that anyone can do it with enough hard work and self belief. If I had known that when I was young, I could have saved myself from hours of worry and self doubt.” -Medeia Cohan – Programme director

Marketing is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. We tend to underestimate how difficult it is to reach people, and more importantly to keep their attention. Throwing money at something never necessarily solves a problem and having a voice and personality is one of the most effective tools anyone can master.” - Doug Richard – Entrepreneur

 I think this guy read my mind! Also, notice the post about financial planning? Doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone; it’s a global struggle for entrepreneurs. Try Xero! I tell you, since I got on board, I can see some sanity coming into my accounting and hence finance would be easier.

Entrepreneur Tips
  1. Obviously from the post, you already have an idea what my first tip is. MARKET!!!!!  Never under estimate the importance of this to your business. You can have the best product or service, without a market you have no business.
  2. Have a clear Objective, it’s so much easier to get help when you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
  3. Business is not just about your talent but also your business acumen
……..Slowly but surely, you’ll get there.”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I am Free!.........@LekeAlder and his #JesusMBA

Early 2006, Exit FCMB…..

Sometimes you know what you need to do, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. It could be because of fear of uncertainty, fear of what people around you would say or think or jut fear in general. This was me by 2005 in FCMB. I would be so miserable on Sunday night and wonder why and then it’ll come to me that it was because there was work on Monday. I was what you would describe as young and restless, I wanted to do so many things, but all I got to do was wake up, go to work, come back home and pass out.

IT under the new leadership was taking shape; I was doing my little bit to stay relevant, trying not to complain about the work pressure and hours. If I ever thought of resigning, I thought about the salary (Gold handcuffs!), the fact that I had somewhere to go everyday (sitting at home can be depressing). The day came though, the last straw that broke the camel’s back……

I was on weekend duty, Saturday and Sunday. I did Saturday with no event, then came Sunday; at the time I had recently been placed on antibiotics because I had typhoid, but in the banks (naija style), you fall ill and you have one day at the most to see your doctor and get your prescription drugs unless you were practically dying. As a result of this unspoken rule, typhoid or not, I came in, looked around, not much going on yet, so I dashed to Mr. Biggs to get something to eat and take my drugs. Alas! I got back to meet an epistle waiting for me in my mailbox. The boss had sent me a really nasty mail and copied my direct report, Mr. Anyanwu. I remember it ending something like “This is your last warning”! Whaat! To say I was livid doesn’t cut it. What kind of life was this! I made up my mind right there and then that I was out. Call it pride, but I am Ondo and yes we don’t take nonsense! I would rather eat sand.

Luckily, a younger cousin had told me about Lagos Business School and I was interested. An MBA expands your mind to say the least. Besides, I was tired and needed a career change, the MBA was the only way I could think of.  So that day, I went to the site, filled the application form and started the process. At this point I had no clue where the money was going to come from and I was surrounded by nay sayers making comments like “What is the guarantee that you would get a good job after the MBA” as if getting a job is the main reason to go for an MBA *rolling eyes*. I also recently got married and was worried that resigning would put my husband under a lot of pressure, but my husband was tired of the crazy schedule on my behalf as well, lucky me.

Anyways, long story short, I got admitted to the Full Time MBA programme to resume 2006! I was elated until I let the nay sayers get to me again. I decided to defer, I was afraid. Thank God for family, having great support compares to nothing. On my way home, we stopped by at my parents, my husband and I, and I just mentioned to my mum that I was deferring, she jumped off her bed and screamed at me (yea, my mum is a drama queen J), what! I rebuke every evil spirit! Sade it will never get easier, do you think it’ll be better next year or the next, what about when children come? Do the MBA now and put it behind you. That was the one best pieces of advice I ever got from her. God bless Mothers!

It felt awesome when I walked into my boss’ office to hand in my letter…….. Good bye FCMB!

Life Skills Learnt

Whatever you have to do, do NOW! There will be no perfect time to do anything. Not that it is impossible; but I can’t imagine having to do an MBA now with my two sons, all that energy!! Naah men.

2013…….09 June, 2013

Its Sunday, I spent my whole day at home. I dressed the boys, got myself ready only to get to the car to find a totally flat tyre. My Dad made us learn to change a tyre before driving any car in his house, but today I couldn’t be bothered to even try after getting all dressed up and not with the boys running riot while I tried to change it. No no. Televangelists will do for today.

Another work week begins tomorrow. Haven’t planned my week yet per say, but tomorrow I should visit the ccHUB conclude my membership rights and access. I followed @LekeAlder on his #JesusMBA this morning, good stuff.  I will borrow some of his points as my tips for today. He had about 40, but these three hit home for me.

Entrepreneur Tips

A leader must be able to take good decisions under pressure. This is a major test of leadership.
What is profitable in the now is not always good for business in the long run.

At the end of the day, the future of the organization, its fortune and culture will be determined by leadership decisions.