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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.