Continued from Part 1 – And I knew that kind of thing happened. People who didn’t like you for one reason or the other, wanted you not to get all your credit, so, because of that armor against hate and penchant to exceed expectations, I was able to overcome all obstacles. And luckily for me, I came from the side of business where your performance can be easily seen. I mean, you can be in a company and in some departments, people may not be able to relate your performance with your results, so, people can decide to do all kinds of things with you. But as a sales person, if you say my target is 10 million and I deliver 20 million, you can’t hide it. When I have delivered 50 million it’s called system-based, you can’t overlook me and promote another person, because, somebody is going to ask you, ‘why are you doing that.’ So, these are the things that work for me and they still work anywhere today, no matter where you find yourself. The moment you make, I teach people, I teach, I say look, if you run a career, if you are a career person, try and make yourself nearly indispensable. Of course, they say that nobody is indispensable, make yourself nearly, make yourself nearly indispensable, and you will be valued. If they are sending people away from the company, you will be one of the last to go. This is because anybody that runs a business wants a productive staff. No matter what else, they want people that can yield return on the investment they are making on you as an employee. So, that is the greatest thing anybody can do for himself. Once your leg is inside the door, proof yourself, that’s all. What you need is an opportunity for the door to be opened. And when the door is opened, you step inside and from that moment, even if people were wondering should you enter or not, but by the way you address yourself, the man will step back and say okay, come in, what did you say you are looking for. And by the time you finish, he will say, okay, follow me inside, you know, gradually, you get in.
CFA: In other words, one can start and make money right in Nigeria?
Sam: Oh boy, I haven’t made money anywhere else in my life. It’s all here. This is the place, and to be sincere to you, there are fewer places with the opportunities you have in Nigeria, sincerely, fewer places you can make money with greater ease than you can in Nigeria. Why? We are a large population, large market. Two, we have under-supply of many things. Many things in Nigeria are in short supply, name it, many things, so, that means that if you are creative to be able to understand some of those things that are needed, you can fulfill those needs or solve those problems if there areas of problems to be solved, create the value. There are so many things that are of low value that really need to be brought to a high level. So, between fulfilling needs, solving problems and creating values, you will be able to get every kind of work that you need to do.
CFA: Whao! So, that takes us to the next question. What is your take for small businesses in Nigeria at the moment?
Sam: Yes. Small businesses everywhere, are the bedrock of most economies. But unfortunately small businesses in Nigeria are not faring very well and that is because of the lack of understanding of the basic principles of enterprise development. We have some cultural handicap, where we have the tendency to mix so many things. We bring in familiarity; we bring in too much emotion. We make too many assumptions over things. And those things cause problems for us as business people. Business has basic principles to run businesses, and if you overlook or undermine any of those principles you have challenges. That is why we have a high mortality rate of small businesses. Small businesses don’t grow. Very few grow in Nigeria because they are faced with so many odds. And that is the second factor. The first factor is we are not running them with the appropriate principles. The second one is that there are many odds out there in the market place that are working against the survival of small businesses. The odds are many. So, it’s tough to run small businesses. Most successful businesses in the world once started small. So, even in that, some will still go through. Some will still overcome those challenges and become big businesses.
CFA: Now, what advice would you give them to help them in their struggles?
Sam: First is, understand the principles of running a business. Business is an endeavor that is built on principles. And if you understand the principles and obey those principles, you will succeed. So I am asking every young person or entrepreneur, everybody that wants to do business, to take a step back and ask himself, ‘do I know the principles of business?’ 70% of businessmen who operate today do not have no plan. They have no business plan. They didn’t make one. Today, they are making none. They are just hoping, beating here and there and just hoping that things would work out. Just let’s try. Let’s put effort. Let’s do this. You will see they do this, they try, you see they do that, they try. If I ask them, What is your budget for this month, what is your target?. They don’t have. In fact, what did you sell last month? They don’t know. No record. What about last year? What is your vision? Where do you want to take your business to in five years? Ko si (no idea). And yet, they want the business to succeed. What is the financial need of your business? “I need money.” How much and how do you plan to pay back? What is the Cash flow that is going to come from your business? Have you sat down to look at your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities in your market area, the threats that are inherent in your industry? Many don’t. Many. So, that’s why they are confronted with problems they don’t know how to deal with. Some say there is no money. Yes, there is no money, but many have gotten money and lost it. Many don’t even recover their cost. They just plunge into business. They buy something for one Naira and sell it for one twenty or one fifty and they think they are making margins. And they haven’t taken it because they have no records to show exactly how much it costs. They don’t remember their transportation. They don’t remember that they have to charge the rent of the building where they are, the electricity, the salary they pay to their staff and to themselves. You know, too many things go wrong with small businesses. That’s why in my Foundation, Sam Ohuabunwa Foundation For Economic Empowerment, We are looking at how to assist small businesses to do well because, I have also been involved in some small businesses. Some failed, some succeeded. I know why those that failed failed and those that succeeded, succeeded. So, I can help people. That is why I am also in Consultancy. There is Starting Consult, where we are looking at enterprise development. We are looking at governance and leadership and corporate management. Those things that…, you know, human beings make businesses succeed and they are also the ones that make businesses fail. So you need to see the inter-play between all the factors of business. Factors of production in classical Economics.
Part – 3 -Wait For It!