Capturing Startup Fears
Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host): Hi everyone. This is Bekeme and you are listening to the Good Citizen radio show, the show is brought to you by CSR-in-Action and is funded by ACT Foundation and ACT Foundation is a ground breaking organization established in 2016 to support non-profits in health, education, entrepreneurship and leadership and of course it’s obvious why they support the good citizen initiative, because this initiative is about citizen leadership, because we are all leaders; we are here for a purpose and we should realize that purpose by fulfilling our duties and responsibilities as Nigerian citizens or residents. This is the Good Citizen radio show, as for me I have had a really good week but one thing has actually marred it for me and it is the ban of okadas. I don’t use bike but I know the effect that it has had on people. I have people who work for me who cannot be on time, who have had to trek 30 minutes to 1 hour to get to their destination. It is not even funny at all. I watched a video, to worsen it, of a group of northerners moving back to the north and he was announcing with glee that they were going back. I can understand a government introducing policies to manage migration and all of that because we all know that Lagos is over populated but I don’t understand why you would think that it is fine for economic migrants whose livelihood has been taken from them to be moving back and for you to even find it funny. I don’t know what is funny about that so if you are one of those people that have been saying ‘we have been sitting on a thinking time bomb’, you are the time bomb. How many of us actually come from Lagos? How many of us have ancestors who are from Lagos? When the table is turned, would you be happy to be on the other side? And for those of us who have lived abroad as someone said on our WhatsApp group, you would understand what it means to be an outsider, even thinking about it just even sending my CV across, I have to change my name at the beginning to seem more on their side, I worried about picking up calls, when I was called for interviews I considered that they might find my African accent different and it did happen, so imagine that fear and then you are happy that a fellow Nigerian has lost their means of livelihood and is moving back and you are excited. I think that this is something that Lagos state government needs to revisit, again I understand the severity of the government by doing what is right by its people but if you want to make this sort of policy, it makes sense that you give people a period or better still instead of totally disengaging people from certain areas, just as the young woman I watched on video said “don’t ban but regulate”; make people wear their helmet and all of that so this has really been worrisome and if I was one of those social media addicts, I would have been ranting and raving on Instagram but back to what we are here for today, the show today is focusing on Conquering Startups Fears but speaking of the north, did you know that the Jos Plateau Indigo bird, a small reddish brown bird is found nowhere else on the planet but plateau state in Nigeria. Isn’t that interesting? So we have some very exotic animals in our part of the world and do you know that for those of you are always shouting Mallam when you want to insult somebody, Mallam actually means Teacher, so if your favorite pastor goes to the North they would be called Mallam and then Aboki, if you know the person is truly not your friend please don’t shout Aboki because Aboki means friend. It is wrong to be derogatory to any other person, it is absolutely wrong and unacceptable if you do not like for something to be done to you please avoid doing it.
So, for you entrepreneurs that are about to start off, don’t start off with what you cannot continue, don’t be offensive to people because you would not like what you get back. When you walk into an office, be polite to the very first person that you meet starting from the security guard, to the receptionist to the administrator, because you don’t even know what the culture is in an organization and even if you did know, it is just plain respectful to be respectful to people. There is nowhere that they said the path to be successful is smooth. Without endurance and perseverance, there is nothing you can get out of life and if you look at the greats: Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Thomas Eddison, all of these guys are proof that you will fall many times but you just get to stand up again. And it is that fear, unfortunately, that has killed many dreams. If you do not start, there is no hope for you. I have always procrastinated for instance about playing tennis and I know it’s not entrepreneurship, but it Is the same thing. I have always said this year would be the year I would start tennis tournament and I never did anything until last year which I did only once but I said this new year I am going to win and get a trophy and guess what I already have a trophy and we just ended the first month of the year, so we just have to take that first step. Entrepreneurship is much more than a job, it’s a lifestyle and we all know that life ain’t smooth, it is not straightforward so what do you do when life doesn’t go the way you want it to go.
So, on the show today we have the very people who should be talking about startup fears in entrepreneurship, they are members of Lagos Island Connect. Lagos Island Connect is a consortium of CSOs and other stakeholders Including Nigeria Network of NGOs and New Nigerian Foundation, Women Consortium of Nigeria, CSR-in-Action and many others founded by Mrs Yemisi Ransome Kuti. The purpose really is to develop the capacity of youth within Lagos island, they are already entrepreneurs many of them are and I know that the young men here are because I have sent pitches to the WhatsApp group and many of them are like “yes, I can run this.” Here today, on the Good Citizen radio show, we have Sabiu Garba popularly known as King Sobrino the first. He is graduate of Lagos state University, he is a trained presenter, he is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Management and is currently the mentee of the LCCI funded by the Lagos Island Connect. He has played an active role in many shows, many concerts and is one of the organizers of the LIC youth hangout. We also have Michael Abiodun on the show today. Michael Abiodun is a seasoned communications strategist and a Google certified online marketing consultant and the communications manager at LIC. He is the founder of Media Craft Studio Limited, a full-service advertising agency that helps business succeed with their online marketing and public relations. Thank you for coming on the show.
Michael: Thank you for having us.
Host: So, today we would be talking about the challenges that you may have faced as young entrepreneurs. But before I go into that, I want to remind our viewers that we have started lots of interesting giveaways and I would be giving out this lovely blouse from Hype and Steam. You can find out more of it from hypeandsteam.com.ng and my beautiful platform shoes. I would send you pictures from social media for a number of people to win. So one person wins the blouse while another wins the shoe and Hype and Steam is also giving out three wristwatches. You will have to follow me Bekemeo or Bekememasadeolowola on different handles twitter and Instagram and then follow Good Citizen @goodcitizenng and basically just follow us tag 5 people to follow us and get them to comment. The best comment wins and I would choose those people personally or at least I would try, for you to win this nice blouse you have to be saying the right kind of things and you have to be a good citizen.
Back to you guys, tell us have you had any challenge whatsoever starting up a company in Nigeria, Lagos in particular?
Michael: Yes definitely a lot of them.
Host: Such as?
Michael: For me, mentorship. I knew I wanted to start up a business but I was procrastinating it but a time came when I knew I had to start. I had to go learn graphics design that was how I started; I got a friend of mine who was already into it to teach me. Working with clients was hell because I didn’t have a mentor to put me through on how to speak to clients and to also teach me soft skills, all these caused headache as I didn’t have prior agreement and also know what milestone to measure and just give clients a specific price without considering the other change that clients would make as the job progresses. I believe one of the biggest challenge was mentorship for me so I learnt it the hard way.
Host: Where you born in Lagos?
Michael: I was born in Lagos
Host: Do you have a degree?
Michael: Not yet.
Host: So, why where you intent on becoming an entrepreneur and why does it have to be graphic artistry?
Michael: I grew up as an artist as I could draw so I have the talent of visual and art as I was creative and I am also a musician but at a point I love doing this music but this music wasn’t bringing as much as I wanted and I knew I had to do something else. I have had interest in web design and graphic design for a long time, but I never started any, so in 2017 I had to make a decision to choose between music and being a web and graphic artist. I spoke to a lot of mentors some told me to focus while some said I have a lot of talent and I should go after one so I had to start something that was how I got into graphics design.
Host: So your major challenge was mentorship. What about you Sabur, King Sobrino the first?
Sabur: Getting to be an entrepreneur had always been something I really wanted to do but at a point I got a job in an investment company. Along the line I started in the operations department after a while I moved to the marketing department then I turned out to be the GMD’s personal assistant then I was promoted to Bureau de change manager. At a point, I got thinking about everything and I asked myself how do I correlate what I get from this job to do what I wanted to do? I have been into music for about 20 years and I wanted to be in the entertainment industry but I have not been successful what that so I discovered I had a lot of other gifts I have not really tapped into so it was a war of the mind to decide which path to take as thought that if I divert into business it would take my attention away from music. I had to resign at a point to start up something called the VoiceIt Multimedia – it is a company servicing on media, event styling and branding. The first challenge I had was how to register the company, which name do I choose? I had a long list and tried several times but I was told names had been taken so I relaxed for a while before I registered Voiceit media I had registered twice before but I never liked the names. Those where the challenges I faced over time, you know every business needs money but some people would claim they started on zero level…
Host: I actually started on the zero level, so we are not claiming
Sabur: …but for me I am of the argument that starting on zero levels means ideation. Maybe your idea you might not need to spend money on your idea, as it’s an inspiration. But at a point there are somethings that you need to spend money on.
Host: If it is a service, you might not need money but if it’s a product definitely you would need some finances. What exactly did you need money to start, to do, to buy?
Sabur: One of the things we do at Voiceit multimedia are voice over and also clothe branding. So we needed some samples of cloth to show people that this is what we do, then we need some samples of up to date voice overs
Host So did you need to buy equipment’s?
Sabur: Yes, we needed to make payment for studios, put up a studio, pay engineers
Host So I guess that is where partnership comes in, if you could require some level of partnership right, so for a startup who may not have money to rent studio time, has to find ways to be of adding value to whomever, maybe a person who has a studio you know in that case you would definitely be stooping to conquer. So, if they say go and fetch water so you can get studio time that is what someone would be willing to do.
Sabur: Of course I got to a point, some of the things that are happening these days that we get to see, so many people want to make quick money and so when you pitch partnership they look at you like so this person want to leverage on our platform. They are not really seeing it, by the time they want to want to accept your partnership they give some conditions that may not be palatable to you.
Host: I understand that, but what I am saying is when you need people as a startup you can be very aggressive hungry for something to happen, but I have learnt that when you meet people and you seem more interested in befriending them first, they are more amenable to helping you. As oppose to meeting you and thinking you really don’t have much of brand value, but you want them to do something for you in exchange for something. What usually helps is that you befriend that person or entity and you support them free of charge – you help them do certain things and are not open to getting something in return – and then they are more open to you. Infact, they may suggest it by themselves just for future purpose; I know that it has worked. What I believe has helped and I think helps other entrepreneur wherever you are is people just feeling like you appreciate them because organizations as we all know are made up of people and those people want to feel good about you, they want to meet you and think I like this person or I would like to associate with this person because if they don’t know you they cannot seek to associate with you but if they think this is a standard guy and we have known him for a couple of months he is just really helping us maybe we should do something for him, I think that should be something you might want to consider.
You’ve talked about mentorship challenges, you have talked about basically deciding on what to start and also financing, financing is a key challenge even though I tell you that though I started with zero but I can tell you for free that financing was a problem because at some point I need an office, people need to come and see me and certain other things, and you even need to look good and sharp for appearance sake because of the saying dress the way you want to be addressed. We are going to take a short break and we would come back on the Good Citizen Radio show.
Ok so we are back on the show and I have my very special guests all the way from LIC – Lagos Island Connect – yet they are independent entrepreneurs as well and we have been talking about challenges dealing with start-up fears. But before I go on, I want to remind us that our partners Hype and Steam and Ryanne John are still very much in the building and they are giving us very special offers for this valentine season and they are encouraging you to go to hypeandsteam.com.ng to get 70% of all items. Go there quickly before it ends.
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So guys, you are from LIC and prior to the subject today you are talking about this youth connect hangout and the topic for this one is “the entrepreneurial mind” what are you hoping to get out of this?
Sabur: The entrepreneurial mind conquering startup fears is an all-encompassing topic by the league of people who have suggested topics and the speaker for the event is the director general of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dr. Muda Yusuf, he would be the one to speak and engage the youth, it is actually an hang out coming up on Friday 14th of February 2020
Host: If you love yourself come for this first before you start thinking of Valentine, it is the future we are talking about it is not one day of gift, this is a very special gift and it is happening at Onikan Youth Service Center, which is the third most coolest neighbourhood in the world according to CNN. I have been to the youth center before and it was very nice and cool also I can see that lucky winners are to win things at the event like Laptops, mobile phones, smartwatches, books and lots of other consolation prices, so what would people expect to get out of this like why would I want to come?
Sabur: I think the most important thing people need to look out for is this, whether or not you have decided to be an entrepreneur now the most important thing is to come learn because if you look at our environment today no one can promise anybody job anymore also because you are in a job today doesn’t mean you would be there forever, so you have to plan your future to be an entrepreneur, you need to gather your skill set, you need to start having this entrepreneurial mind also to look forward to taking a financial risk and hoping to get profit in return
Host So, I still don’t see the financial risk, but I can understand taking calculated intellectual risks for those who might be afraid of carrying a chunk of money and invest in something because that also can be dangerous because we live in a volatile environment but I do think that if you want to start something you should start it, you can’t carry on procrastinating. The advise I always is to have an accountability partner, if you want to do something, speak it, speak it into being or for some you can always write it down and go back to it, whatever works for you be it write it speak it just do something about it, print a business card and start telling everyone this is what I do so I think this is what I think people can get out of the program. So a last question for either of you before we go for a couple of seconds what would you have done differently, what would you tell your first six month self when you started.
Micheal: I am going to tell myself to learn a skill, I believe the concept called wealth triangle to start by learning a skill you can use in exchange of money then from there you go to a business that you can scale before you actually start making investment. So its learn a skill, do a scalable business and then invest.
Sabur: I could not really pick something up right now but what I could think about at the moment is that when I decided to go into entrepreneurship it was a tough decision for me, it wasn’t something I planned to do at that moment so I could say what I could have done differently is to really have a time goal that at this particular time I would start and hop out of the job.
Host Thank you King Sobrino the first and Michael for coming on the show and what website can people register on to attend the program
Michael: The website is www.lagosislandconnect.org/ych
Host Thank you all once again for coming on the show, you have been listening to the Good Citizen Radio show my name is Bekeme and the show is brough to you by CSR-in-Action and funded by ACT Foundation, it happens every Friday at 8pm on Inspiration FM, the number one family radio station, I hope you all have a great weekend.
Thank You. God bless. Bye.