Congratulations on getting a start.
I am going to give it to you straight out. On how 3years ago when I saw lagos angel network offering 5M for equity. Even though I had maybe like 100k in my akant and was f**king broke. I sat down and knew this sort of money would get us into trouble, I told my colleagues then, this one na suffer money, I didn’t even bother pitching, I got to work. cos, especially when starting out, be ready with experiment money… money that will go away and surely won’t come back… so, if 3M don waka, and its so easy to waka… wetin i go tell lan and Glory to God. 50 employees and counting, and 30 Billy for the akant now…
Rule no. 1. Keep everything affordable. Extremely affordable.
For example: Don’t go and buy brand new computers. A basic intel celeron or pentium goes for over 80k brand new. Silly rookie move. Go for london used core i5. change to ssd if you can and get min. 4-6GB ram. This removes excuses from employees. And if you want; I can get you Hp pro book 6460b core i5 320GB 4GB for say 65k. holla. but I recommend ssd, system becomes 10x faster. Mine comes with 1year warranty. SO, good as new.
Same rule for furniture, cheap chairs… don’t go for poor quality o… simply go for second hand grade A quality.
- Keep everything affordable. Extremely affordable.
Don’t go look for expensive rent. if your folks have a place that is accessible to employees. stay free. rent. this is exactly what I did. My father gave me the backspace of his place, and I managed it practically till now. I used every space space I could see. This is not only about the money, but also the confidence that , at all at all, you can always fall back on something. It allows you to breath.
- Choose a great product!
I can’t over emphasize this. Choose a product that even when you can only do 1 round of marketing, the customer sees the value, and so they can probably buy in without further convincing. Cos, finding the right marketing strategy can be tricky, I nearly went mad on this. knowing fully well, I had a right product, but finding a way to get the market moving was tricky I failed like 3x… hired consultant(s), not 1 o…hired marketing boys… until I had to sit and try , and fail, then we found the right fit… and push and pushed… I give you another example. why is it that, everyone in oil and gas has money, cos, the product is right product. same thing with telecoms. … you can’t afford experimenting when you are broke. You got to give it your best… hit it hard with the right product. Best to probably consider a needs product. low margins but sure banker. and if you can innovate around it like we did… then even better…
- The real work. Work on your business not in it. Create a system driven result oriented process. Don’t go look for expensive employees.
Why? 1. You can’t afford to keep them for long even if you get them on board. 2. THey will wreck your finances. 3. They can only do so much. Messi or ronaldo can’t play all 11 positions, so best to be average 11 players than 1 messi . messi will jah commot.
This one is where you have to really shine yourself, else, you are f**cked. Cos, I had to learn training ssce olders. managing programmers, outsourcing, back to back, I learnt the essence of an organisational chart, position’s contract, workflow, checklist, goal oriented system. the System is the solution , in fact, still learning the matter: AT&T. In fact, this no. 4 is the primary reason why even when I was 25,000 customers and 5years ahead of jumia and konga, they still came pushed me away and nobody knew I existed. So, I had to really learn this by trial and error.
I created my own finance dept. HR, Customer Service, Operations, Sales, Marketing and so on and so on… BSC were too expensive and too in experienced that I still needed to train them, why waste my time with them when I can train a OND or SSCE older and get same result, cheaper, and sustainability.
5… Work Monday to SUnday, and sleep at work if you can. be absolutely committed. No eye blinking.
Cos, am the errand boy, the go to guy for everything…my father gave me an extra room, i left my adeniyi jones rented duplex (owing landlord anyways)… moved to 1 room, put a bath in there, and I sleep eat, built a kitchen and worked like a dog. … killed any social life… no clubbing except 1ce in a while… last time I was out of 9ja was like 6years ago… even though I have a 5year pali. my bro, no time to check time. Mentor sef dey hustle, networking to me is overrated if you have not done your homework.
Have absolute faith, there’s actually a thin line between success and failure… in my experience, just a little thing, but takes absolute faith, the market won’t be faithful to the faithless founder. You got to look out for what makes you special.
I almost forgot… know your market like nobody else… chai… this one is the killer… you can be broke but still be so knowledgeable about your market that you can use the knowledge to create magic. My bros, Dangote actually said this… he said… if they wake up 10 top guys now in dangote, they can recite everything about everything on how dangote is a big boy… and this is the key… know as he dey go.
Carry one or two people along… so sometimes you might need someone to cry to, or talk to, or even borrow from, it’s easier if you have 1 or 2 people who have emotionally bought into your idealogy than just a new guy…so, my guy jet and my bro c, were my go to guys… if I called jet now at 5am, and he had maybe 100k in his akant, I am 101% sure, he wont’ story me, he’ll leave his house and go to the atm and transfer to me, within 10mins. serious… now I am looking for go to guys in millions… sef… so, I do the same for him too… you see the problem in 9ja is that, there’s no liquidity. no banks, micro finance is shit… to raise just 1M is impossible except through friends and family… so keep the real one close, not the fake stingy ones o…and don’t owe them too o… be sure you are borrowing for short term stuff… don’t go and use their money to buy land that won’t give return back until 10years o…
Well, even though, I have only been to church like one or twice in last couple of years… I cannot rule out the favour of baba God… cos, I could have been a G boy… but the fear of God was what stopped me, so I will recommend in my opinion to believe in God…
Well, if I can find more later, I will add, for now. this is the little the last few years have taught me. Thank you.