The Streets Business School [2]: Real Life (Nigerian!) Stories of U-30’s Going Into Business

Let me start with the condensed words of my great mentor, Robert Kiyosaki:

“The journey into entrepreneurship isn’t a perfect road. It is never tarred. The road is rough, but will lead a consistent you to a happy and desired destination.”

Alright, I admit. I did tweak a few of Robert’s words above, but you get the idea.

 

Question: Did I have the money to face the real challenge?

Answer: Nope.

I woke up with determination, contacted my information provider so we could work out the theories he provided me with before being faced with loads of ‘practical sessions’.

“Femi”, he said, “to start this business will require about 300k minimum.” I swallowed hard. That was big money to a starter like me. Where do I get it from without spilling my crazy ideas to millions of discouraging folks who’ll never see how things can be done?

This is what I found. Your money may not be enough at some point, but you need to have a bigger and sufficient WHY to push you on board amidst the foreseen and unforeseen situations.

My tiny savings and loans from my siblings got the boat in the water. Time to row practically from theory to street reality.

One of my reasons that you may understand is this: I hate doing one thing for long with the same result. Salary will always remain constant for as long as you fear to break out. To be candid friends, the job broke me out while I was already in the plan to pulling out myself so I guess I can say the rejection was mutual.

 

The real lesson

It’s not always palatable but you must be fed with the realities of the streets. If big bosses like Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki could call themselves learners, then sitting is just disastrous for you and me. Remember what I said about avoiding the mental ‘park’ mode in Part 1 of this story?

 

I started out with my little money and some borrowed cash. The streets business school soon tossed me my first lesson- unannounced of course. I ‘wrote’ my first test without even realizing I’d done it. That’s how it works here- you get the test first, then the lessons follow. All that glitters ain’t gold. Some are diamonds of course. Others are just cheap gift wraps. How do you know what’s what? The streets never tell- at least not immediately.

I got a beautiful offer; call it my first business breakthrough of some sorts. It was a telecoms material and it looked promising. I did a quick mental calculation and the profit margins looked juicy. Hmmm…this business thing is quite good after all. Unknown to me, it was very difficult to sell.

Because of that snappy decision to BUY ON IMPULSE, I got my fingers burnt (felt like roasted really) to the tune of almost losing 110k! Now this might be lunch money to someone reading this, but to me at the time, it didn’t feel that way at all! Talk about dead on arrival- my business was almost over before it even got off the ground.

How did this happen? My intention was to scrap the material. I suspected the material contained copper and I took a supposedly experienced materials analyst (a mallam…loll) along to confirm this. I later discovered he didn’t know any better- we were both equally ignorant- but I was the one with the cash! Of course, he ‘confirmed‘ the presence of copper (‘koffa’) whereas the material contained aluminum. Value slashed. Money lost. Well almost lost.

A quick course in recycling: copper resembles aluminum in some cases if not properly checked. We prospected for copper. We ignorantly bought aluminum. Translation? A loss of about 80% if I had paid for the full copper value from the start. But look at it this way: what if it were copper for real? My profit from that single transaction would have been at least 200%! Are you getting the picture? Life (a great life that is) is about taking risks and daring to do things even when you are not 100% certain of success.

Since the materials were relatively new, quick and decisive action had to be engaged to cut my losses and possibly turn this losing deal to a winning transaction. Immediately after the business misfire, I quickly went to the market where this material could be found to do some reconnaissance under the pretext of being a buyer (you wear many hats when starting out- be willing to do so with a good attitude). I placed my bid and came to the conclusion that the market value lay around 50k per roll- and I had 30 rolls to dispose. 30 rolls of ‘mistakes’.

If the materials were selling as well as I initially thought, I would let go at a ridiculous amount and still make over 300k. But that was not the case.

Next move- call on my network. I simply can’t stress this enough- business is a team sports. Want to survive the brutal lessons of the street business school? Be smart enough to surround yourself with a network of knowledgeable people who are interested in your success. With some effort, I secured a buyer via a colleague at my former workplace and negotiated a deal that made my investment return safe with a tangible profit. Pheeww. That was close.

First major test over.

The lesson: never buy on impulse. Yes, profit is made when you buy, not when you sell.

Second lesson: Keep relationships alive. Just one of my contacts salvaged the matter by linking me to a person who bought the materials off me.

Thanks for reading today. More street experiences coming in subsequent weeks.

Got ideas or suggestions to share with me? Leave a comment below and let’s get talking.

 Are you an U-30 entrepreneur/business person and would love to share your story and lessons you’ve learned from real-life business experiences? Your story could inspire someone and give them that final push to go for it. If you’d like to be a part of this series, we’re just a mail away. Reach us at grow360friends@gmail.com, let’s get talking. Holla!

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