The conversations below are from friends on Udo Okonjo FB page who had questions related to success, purpose and business. My fellow Igniters have helped answer and tackle the questions.[symple_divider style=”solid” margin_top=”10px” margin_bottom=”10px”]
Q. How do I survive and succeed in the midst of negative and small minded people who I just can’t avoid?
A. There will always be nay-sayers around you, sometimes you might even doubt yourself. It is important to find someone or people who can mentor you. Find someone in the same business that you are in (doesn’t have to be) that you admire or you admire their business practices. Read books about them, how they started, go to their website and find out how you can use this for your own business. In my own business I have always benefitted from a coach and always look at other business owners that I admire and find ways to emulate areas that I admire into my own business with my own style of branding. As a business owner you sometimes feel very alone, however finding a mentor or a coach can be very beneficial. Also avoid telling people who have are not supportive of your efforts about your business efforts. Let your hard work speak for itself. Also from time to time go back to the reason why you went into business in the first place.
As a business owner you are a leader. As a leader you must place an incredible high value on your confidence. Cultivate it and protect it all costs.
Kwavi Agbeyegbe, Founder & CEO, Kwavi.com, Atlanta Georgia, USA[symple_divider style=”solid” margin_top=”10px” margin_bottom=”10px”]
Q. Just started work as a customer care officer, but really want to go into business (baby stuff, I have had this in mind for a long time but no cash to start off) how do I begin this journey? I think I have not made much money to even rent a shop.
A. Renting a shop is not the way to start selling your own products that is a couple of years down the line. Do you have a bedroom and a phone, internet connection, network of friends? You are more than well equipped to start. Do you intend to make the baby stuff or are you a distributor; would it be your brand? If so, I would focus my energies on building a credible brand. It sounds like you may have a new business, but we need more information to help you better. But don’t think of a physical shop, doing things online is much more viable in today’s world.
Q. A younger friend inboxed me this question. Sir, I have a lot of business ideas but can’t accomplish due to lack of cash. Is it possible to start a business with zero capital? If yes,how? And if no, how do I source for funds. I really need your advice in this direction.
A. Lack of cash is nothing but an excuse to starting a business. Wealth is vested in the right idea and the right network, NOT cash. Take one idea, focus on it, research it and find out who will benefit from your idea. Create your minimum selling value – this could be a proto type or an elevator speech, but it is a tangible proof of the value you can add, created with the minimum possible cost.
Walk confidently to people that would benefit from your idea and sell, sell, sell. Do not accept ‘No’ for an answer, with every rejection, find out why and hone your service or product, then get out there again. Get yourself a linkedin profile, facebook, twitter, pinterest. You don’t even have to pay for a cab. Connect with your potential clients’ online, watch your grammar, your spelling, your brand.
But one thing, if your idea does not add value to anyone and is just a hair-brained fantasy or a get rich quick scheme, none of the above will work for you.
Q. How do I survive and succeed in the midst of negative and small minded people who I just can’t avoid?
A. Avoid them! Okay, I read that, you can’t, they are too close. Can you tell them to shut up? No you cant’ so find some time away from them, get a mirror, look into the mirror and affirm positive thoughts. Then continue reading Udo Okonjo’s blogs at www.udookonjo.com, subscribe to her newsletter, attend as many events where she speaks. Also find yourself a mentor and meet with them regularly.
Q. The problem with us in Nigeria is not the Business. It’s actually the Capital.
A. I do not agree! In 1994 as a broke Youth Corper in Port Harcourt, I made and successfully sold ‘teddy baskets’ for Valentines Day by going to Aba to buy teddies and materials, using cane baskets from Benin. I made more money than I earned the whole year as a youth corper, and I raised the capital which was really minimal by living within my means, using friends’ cars as transport and haggling with the cane basket distributor. It worked!
The problem in Nigeria is a lack of creative ideas, and the motivation for business being making money quick, not adding value to the client or building a credible brand for the market place.
Q. I’m a single mother of three and each time I try harder to make my business stand firm, it will start fluctuating. Please what is the cause of this? Though at times I know my expenses are bigger than my income. Thanks
A. Well done, single mum of three, it is difficult to ascertain the cause of this without speaking to you in more detail. But my heart goes out to you. Try and find someone who is successful in their business and have a conversation with them.
Q. Often we say source of capital is not a barrier to achieving a business idea or dream, I have had a business idea now and can’t raise the funds. My gross margins are about 60% but cost of doing business in this country is high and conservatively this reduced my net margins to 30%. This means I cannot use a bank loan of even 20% to finance this and sensitizing my sales by 20% reduced this margin to 20%. I have had to reach out to family and friends and finding it difficult because they think the business somewhat risky because margins are thin. Very few businesses actually give that much more. With growth in this business, my margins have the potential of increasing but in the short to long term this is it. Now I am wondering whether I have the wrong idea/dream. How do I raise these funds? For me this is a barrier and I have many friends with good business ideas and funding is a key challenge.
A: Do you have a business plan? To help you we would really need to see it as the advice we would give would be dependent on your business idea, the SWOT analyses, cash projections and marketing strategy.
Keno Ogbo, Director, Spiral Web Solutions, London UK[symple_divider style=”solid” margin_top=”10px” margin_bottom=”10px”]
Q. I want to start a small business of my own. I learnt dress making and makeup artistry but am afraid I lack the confidence to start up…what can I do?
A. I’m afraid there are no short cuts…I say with all due respect and sensitivity. She’ll have to start where she is at. Let her start by marketing family and friends but she needs to charge for her services. no free lunches cause she’ll have to plough back into her business each time she makes a sale and as she does her confidence will grow she’ll get word of mouth referrals and pesto she’s in business. Luckily I think she can carry her makeup case about easily and sew from home. I think renting a space might be a little down the road but she’ll need staying power and eventually will get there… For the lady who would like to buy and sell why not look for a wholesaler who can let you carry their wares without buying and then you pay when you sell. Pitch sales to colleagues at work family and she’ll see her sales steadily grow. They should please start where they are at.
Omotayo Adeniji, Owner Buttercup Cakes, Lagos
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Q. How do I survive and succeed in the midst of negative and small minded people who I just can’t avoid?”
A. Sometimes there are people that you can’t avoid like family members. But you can spend little time around them if you know that they are negative. If they come up with negative talk change the topic or leave the discussion. You need to guard your heart and that includes what you allow to enter it. You have to be disciplined with yourself and keep boundaries.
Q. How can someone succeed in life?
A. It starts with belief. You have to believe that you can achieve whatever it is that you set your mind to do. Then write down your goals with SMART objectives to help you succeed. Smart goals should be specific, achievable, measurable, realistic and timely. I also think you need to focus on one major ‘goal’ that you want to achieve. For example if you want to start a MBA programme, keep your goal on that and then once you have achieved it move on. Don’t be all over the place doing so many things at once. Focus and keep practising and in due time you will succeed at whatever you set your mind on.
Rita Okoye, CEO, Majestically Rare – Events & Publicity, Lagos Nigeria[symple_divider style=”solid” margin_top=”10px” margin_bottom=”10px”]
At the end of the day, you can make excuses or you can make progress. The bottom line is that success at anything takes persistence (that ability to continue at a plan until you achieve a yes). It requires diligence and dedication. And oh it involves a looooooooooong journey, something many aren’t interested in. If quitting is an option to your dream/business, perhaps it’s not important enough. If you ask enough people, explore enough options, start from a modest place, ultimately success will follow.
As for self belief, confidence…these are none negotiable in the success journey. You will need sometimes to cut off some people, including family members (sadly), for a season if your life and self belief depends on it. Cutting people off doesn’t have to be physical; it’s a posture of not letting their opinions through your ‘heart gate’ even if it makes it past your ear gate.
Everyone needs to find people who affirm them, but start with affirming yourself.
A big thank you to my fellow Igniters, Keno Ogbo of Spiral Web Solutions(my brilliant web designer), Kwavi the awesome founder and CEO of Kwavi.com and Co Foundate at Atlanta MD Weight Lodd, Omotayo Adeniji, Owner of Buttercup Cakes, CNN featured designer cake creator, and the Majestic Rita Okoye, CEO of Majestically Rare, and Ignite Resources publicity consultant.
Great answers from everyone and even greater questions. I applaud all who asked for your openness. If you need more details, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or send an FB inbox message.
Chief Igniter: Udo Okonjo