Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Boardroom with JJ Omojuwa, Kola Aina and Kola Oyeneyin



So guys legitimately, my last post was really lit and numbers are really climbing. It almost 1.5 times the number of any views I got on any other previous post. I hope this one is equally as good, but let's wait and see....

By the way yeah, can I urge you to endeavour to put your thoughts and ideas and words of encouragement in the comment section below, so that our ginger can be refueled regularly when we read through (although its only me for now, it sounds good to think that one day one day, this would be some sort of newspaper type gig, with columnists and all that.... I know I dream big, allow it fam), because blogging is not an easy work, but it's our work o, soft work.



So my people, remember I told you that I had a really had a lit day meeting and learning from celebrities in the tech space. I really had a tough time picking what post what come first between this post and my investor pitch post. But they were literally too lit experiences. The investment pitch would be the littest though if I can seal a N30 million naira investment deal.

 Because after that, all of you would be calling me daddy, because HubbonNG would be able to pay all your fees, for you and your siblings. But for now, we broke ASF.


Anyways, where there is God and there is life, hope is not extinguished.

So let's get down to the main thing (no "long thing" but "strong thing"... LOL , it's a dbanj line for those of you that don't get the joke.)

THE BOARDROOM

So I had seen a notification either through one of my business whatsapp groups or through an email, the memory is quite blurry on how I got the memo. But it stuck out to me, as compared to as many masterclass offers that I get on a daily basis, but this one was really lit.

Why you might ask?

Simple! it was FREE


But there was a catch, obviously you know there had to be a catch. If there was a business masterclass planning to teach people how to run a business, they would literally have to rent National Stadium because people would also come because they think they would be sharing their own "divends of democracy".

No that's not the catch. I would've not minded if they shared money after giving us the 'nuggets'. But the nuggets are definitely better than a few thousand naira I would get from anyone.

Here's the catch,

We actually had to make an application.


Crazy right?

Each of us had to say a bit about our business and what we look to learn from the program. So as I do for any application to anything, I take a good 2 hrs to read about what that opportunity was created in the first and who are the convener/creators of such a platform and the ideology that they share.

Last last, I was lucky. Can't remember what story I spurned to get in! But I did get in.


Fastforward to the D-day.

I remember I had told my mum about the event and the celebrities I was going to meet and learn from like JJ Omojuwa. (Kola Aina and Kola Oyeneyin are equally lit, but you guys have to free it, you're not twitter celebs)



Well these guys really fueled my passion for HubbonNG and I came home with some really amazing lessons and I felt I had to share them with you all.

So, I am going to take their nuggets one by one in order of how the event begun.




KOLA OYENEYIN, CEO VENIA GROUP, CONVENER "THE BOARDROOM"



I have to start from the most experienced Entrepreneur because he started a business when the country was either in military dictatorship or when we were still figuring out what democracy meant. I don't think we have quite figured it out yet, but oh well. I still love you Nigeria.

He knows more about starting and running a business in a "turgid" society and economy. I would like to say, he has seen most of it. (This is Nigeria, you can never see all of it, nothing is impossible in Nigeria).

He first spoke about an "elevator pitch". He asked us to imagine as if we were data analysts in a firm with 150 floors. And we had a chance to book a meeting with the boss between the 100th floor and the 138 floor where his office is at. It meant that you really had a 2 minute window to tell the boss the really amazing idea that you had that would make the company, a million dollars. That's the idea.

You had to say the absolute minimum that would exert the maximum effect with that short time span. You have to say just enough that captivates the listeners to want to know more. So whether it's to your boss at the office or in my case, investors.

He stated that 90% of businesses fail within the first year of launch and another 90% fail between the 2nd and 5th year.

He then went unto speaking about his own 12 pillars of building successful businesses, which are:

1. Start Small, Run Lean

Whenever people want to start businesses, they usually mention that capital most times as their hindrance. But it most times isn't. Most times people don't even give people money based on an idea of a business that they want to get involved in. He advised that in any business that you are doing especially as a startup, you might cut costs as much as possible and carry out activities that are essential for the growth of the company. Keep a small team and ensure everyone has a role to play.

2. Structure (Dig deep act large)

He explained that he had started his company on his own and all he had to do to make his company seem larger than himself, he created multiple emails and acted as multiple personnel in his company. If he worked towards a deal, he used his email, if he wanted to do a follow up, he used the marketing account and if he wanted to send an invoice he used the accounts email. Although he ran the business alone for a while. He had to work hard enough to cover a lot of roles, but made it seem like he was working with a team with more than 5 people in it.

3. Be Hands-on

He advised that as a startup, you must know exactly everything that goes on in your company. That you cannot just start a business and start delegating tasks and run the risk of staff whom you've hired to underperform. Never do a business that has a role you cannot handle yourself. This prevents the problem of being indebted to a member of staff that could leave the company.

4. Show and Tell

He mentioned that the most effectively method to running a team is through showing them how to carry out a task, carrying out the task with them, watching them carry out the task and letting them carry out the task. This would not only make them understand that you don't just boss people around and know nothing, but you can do their job well if they aren't ready to do it.

5. Negotiate Everything

As a startup entrepreneur, your business would be full of deals. Either with your customers or with your suppliers. You have to go the extra length to get the best deals possible.

6. Sleep with your cashflow

"Revenue is deceptive, profit is a hype, cash in king". 

You must always know what's coming in, whats going out and always ensure that the company has money. That is what is most important.

7. Culture

What is your company known for?

In this case, he talked about despite maintaining a good image of your business to outsiders and to your customers. It is equally important to maintain a positive culture within your staff at the company. You need to ensure that they understand the ethos of the company and in your absence the staff would know what steps to take especially in terms of being frugal with expenditure. You must be ready to build an excellent culture in the company.

He used examples with countries.

Germany is known for efficiency. The US is known for the "American Dream" and innovation. Nigeria is known for our "resilience and our unbroken spirit".

8. Know your onions

There are some companies where the boss literally dishes out orders without the staff knowing exactly what is required of them. He advises that the boss explain to the staff perhaps using the "show and tell" manner so that they don't slack with the ideology that you do not know how to carry out the task that you require of them.

9. Hire Smart people

He emphasized on this point. He ensured that it is important to employ smart people to work with you, that despite the fact that they apply themselves positively towards making your company better and achieve better results, they also inspire you to be a better version of yourself everyday so that you don't seem like the dumbest person in the room. He also mentioned how important it is to create a talent pipeline, where you offer internship opportunities for students at university or just after they graduate and train them so that they always come back to offer you even more.

10. Innovate or Die (Grow big or go home)

He used the example of Nokia and how they eventually failed. It was not a problem of how they carried out their business but for the fact that they refused to innovate. And this was as a result of Android coming on board and offering the IOS to other phone manufacturers.
You need to always think about what you can better. You need to be aware that whatever you think your USP might be right now, would be part of the basic feature of a new company that comes into your industry next. Be ready to evolve and grow.

11. Make friends with Bankers/Investors 

He wondered how many people in Nigeria didn't like banks especially when they are the only institutions that are liquid enough to give you money at a moment's notice. You need to make friends with them as well as enable them to know exactly what is going on with your business and how it is performing from time to time.

12. Build Legacy businesses

He said that when planning your business, you should start thinking of a business that would stand the test of them, a business that would outlive you, not a business to just ensure that there's food on the table. Not a business that does not run because Oga is not around. Countries like America thrive because of Legacy businesses like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Rothschild etc.


If you were wowed just imagine who comes next...........

I know you want to know.




JJ OMOJUWA, CEO OF ALPHAREACH

I am going to be out with it, the reason why I decided to be at this event was because of him, I wanted to put a face behind the persona that was ready to dish it out on Twitter. You probably follow him on twitter and don't even realize it yet. He's probably one of the most sought after people in the Nigerian Twitter Space. But last last, you know I had to take a picture with him.


He was too damn real during his speech. And from how he spoke you could tell his confidence and his strength of character above everything else. He made some tough calls along the way but they are an integral part of his success. He works in the media space as a social media guru and a digital marketer. He gave us some nuggets specific to that industry as well.

You can tell that I am a fan.

I have a picture with him last last , you who have you taken picture with? LOL

So I tried to write down as much as I could (I cannot come and die)

In hindsight, I could easily have tired recording all of them and posted it later. Eiyya sorry!)

I am just going to list out 10 things he said. If you're interested in knowing more, write down what you want to know in the comment section.

1. The conventional is dead

There is no norm, the only norm is that in this era, things are changing at a breathtaking place.

2. See value beyond cash

He explained his experience and things he did that  where he never thought about the cash, but the impact that experience would have on his life.

3. People pay for perception

 He spoke about business in whatever sector you're in, that most customers are usually drawn to the perceptive value of whatever you're selling. People want to feel that they are getting a great deal whenever they buy your product. That is why Mercedes is more expensive than Toyota.

4. Always have cash

He had always had the Entrepreneurial mindset and he mentioned the fact that it was always vital for him to have cash. He mentioned that he had to go through times where he sometimes had to forgo certain meals to have cash to carry out priority activities.

5. In business, Be Unique

In whatever you, you must always try to stand out and be different. That is the only way you can be picked out from a crowded space. Your content, your business, the way you portray that business must always be different to raise awareness.

6. Social media amplifies the reach of your brand

He asked who among us didn't have presence on social media. He then quickly retorted that they were wasting their time. He stated various important reasons why social media is vital towards the amplification of the reach of your business. If you had social media accounts, you could create awareness about your brand/product to a large pool of people as compared to trying to sell your product from one person to another.

7. Carve your content uniquely for each distribution channel

He mentioned that people need to understand that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are inherently different. Twitter has a character limit , used for punchlines, short videos, pictures and Hashtags. Instagram for a captivating picture or video, Facebook for everything, but more text focused. LinkedIn is more business related, so it should have less banter in it.

It means that whenever you want put content in, you have to take cognizance of the fact that you would be putting out content for varying types of customers and you must place your content in a manner that it would appeal to the people that see your content in whatever channel you decide to place it.

8. What are people saying and how can you use that information to develop your product.

He spoke about why he jumped on certain "trends" and "controversial stories" and how he used those experiences to carve his own conversations. He stated the importance of using trends to carve content and drive interest about your product. For example, creating an independence day advert for your product and with a green white green touch to it. More people would get to see it and perhaps it would boost your brand awareness.

9. Record activities

He spoke about the fact that any event he was at, he documented them and put them online. He remembered the first time he was invited to a talk abroad, they had informed him that it was because of an event he was at that he recorded and put on Youtube that they came across and made him a prime choice for an invite.
This part really got to me because I forgot to record my Entrepreneurship talk event at HillSide School, Gwarinpa. But I am too sure I would go back for something much better.

10. Research (Text is common, the world is on gifs and short vids)

He emphasized on research and how the way content is being conveyed to appeal to people better constantly changes. He noted that, in his opinion, people were quickly moving away from text media into video media, particularly gifs and short 30 sec videos. And this is true because content from many of the car manufacturers have already begun on it. He said he was able to figure that out through research. It is important to research to ensure that you always stay on your A-game.


Great Yeah?


Don't close the post just yet, there just one person that has appeared on this blog before for his golden nuggets of advice.

Who might that just be?



KOLA AINA, CEO, Ventures Platform, Investor

You guys might remember, the last blog I wrote about him was at the Yali Face to face meetings on Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs where he spoke about what led him into investing and how he decided to create an ecosystem that would allow more Nigerian Startups to thrive through the acceleration program that they run at Ventures Platform. and yes you know I would not forget to take a picture with him.


He spoke within his industry and he spoke on "8 steps to building a fundable business".

1. Start with a why?

Most startups are born out of  personal encounters and experience coupled with a sense of urgency to solve that problem that their founders experienced.He stated how important this trait is as building a business is very hard and the ability to continuously draw strength from the problem that you face would enable you to drive commitment to focus on solving that problem despite the many challenges that might arise along the way. It should be tied to your purpose in life. You should be able to tell a compelling story why that business is important.

2. Start

"Ideas don't come fully formed, they become clearer as you work on them" - Mark Zuckerberg

You need to build an MVP however shitty it is and get customers to start using it. You need to understand that there's never a perfect time to launch, you just have to create the first version and keep iterating. Just get started.

3. Focus on customers, not investors or banks.

"Know what your customers want, and what your company does best"

He stated that the fact that you're getting investors or you can easily get a loan from a bank can give a false sense of success. The only people that can tell if your business is succeeding or failing are your customers and they are the only ones that deserve your premium attention.

Kickstarter thrives on customers raising funds for businesses and that's what they focus on.

4. Establish a Moral compass.

He mentioned these various attributes are important; Discipline, Empathy, Accountability, Transparency, Humility

It is important that you need to be disciplined enough to put in the work needed to grow your company. You should empathetic to the needs of your customers. You should be accountable to the business and the people you work with and your investors. You should be transparent to put down only information about your business that you are sure of. You should be humble about what you have achieved, do not bloat your figures to show you have done more than what you have actually achieved.

5. Stay Gritty

"No matter how hard it gets, you must keep on fighting! Winning is the only option"

You must be ready to forego certain immediate fun things for the fulfillment that you would get when your company is finally successful (delayed gratification). You should be able to "burn your bridges". Do you not give yourself a lifeline in business because once it gets hard, it makes it easier for you to "jump ship". You must be ready to focus on your goal in the long run.

6. Show Traction over time.

"Keep your eyes on the metrics that matter"

Paystack transaction value increased from a N100,000 to N1,000,000,000 from November 2015 to July 2017.

You need to identify the one metric that matters to your company. It is important that you also set acheivable milestones and you keep your eyes on it as well. Always record progress so you can tell whether you doing well or not.

7. Don't forget the basics
a. Keep your accounting books. You can do it the good old way or make use of apps like Accounteer.
b. Fulfil your business obligations like taxes to avoid litigation.
c. Have documented agreements with your staff and people you do business with to avoid stories that touch.

8. Have your "BHAG" - Big, Hairy Audacious Goal

Investors are looking to buy into your BHAG. What is your goal, what does your company want to achieve after a couple of years? What is the vision? What is the end goal?



Wow that the end ( I never experred it! LOL. So now I can go to bed, lol jokes I still have tons of work head of me.)

I could not definitely cover everything that the amazing business leaders had to say as well as explain the amazing opportunity I got to network with other Entrepreneurs as well as meet competitors.

Special shoutout to the CEO of BrownBox.

I hope you enjoyed reading this action packed post half as much as I enjoyed writing this.

There weren't many gifs this time were they? LOL

Don't forget to place your thoughts, feelings and suggestions of what you think I should write next in the next blog post. I am anxious to see what you want to want me to write about.

Best regards,
Ejieji Muna
(CEO, HubbonNG)













8 comments:

  1. This is amazing I just what I needed to start the week!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We appreciate that you enjoyed the read? What would you like to read from us next? Failures and its effects?

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  2. What an awesome piece. What a pity, it had to end. Please I need more of this. So insightful, enlightening and engaging.

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    Replies
    1. I am glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. What would you like us to write about next? You can subscribe to our blog. Our next post would be on the Mandela Washington application.

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  3. Awesome piece and very insightful. Be rest assured I took notes. Thanks for sharing with us, more of it please.

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    Replies
    1. Many many thanks. Our next post would be on our application on the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Hope you would be interested in that?

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  4. It's an interesting piece, but I'll like you to give us heads up for events like this. Some of us don't just enjoy reading the narratives of wonderful events. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. Boss I definitely would be keeping you updated. Most times it's so short notice. But I would do better next time boss. Hope you registered for the Young Entrepreneurs of Nigeria Summit, in Abuja that is coming up this November?

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