Having to put down every detail about this season of my life made me emotional. But most importantly, it made me appreciate how far I have come in these few decades of my life. Still expecting the whole gist, find out why in subsequent paragraphs…Smiles.
It was my 200 level second semester holiday. It was a long one, so I thought, what would I be doing at home? I didn’t like the idea of learning a craft and guess I didn’t have enough knowledge of acquiring some job experience but I sure didn’t want to waste those beautiful three months. After staying a few weeks at home, I became bored. While thinking of what to do, the entrepreneur in me rose up. I accidentally became one though. I thought of making chin chin for the house; my sister and everyone else at home were excited at the idea.
Cooking is one of those things that excite me and I sure like to put good food on people’s table. ( You can pay me a visit to find out how true this is).
My younger sister had five hundred naira on her, I did my calculation and found out I needed some more cash, so I approached my mum for a short-term loan. If you know my mum, you’d realise getting money out of her hand is like getting Baba B to address the country. Fortunately, it was my lucky day especially as I came up with my business plan of selling the chin chin since I had a ready market of menial workers all around the building sites in our neighbourhood.
My sister was upset about the idea since it meant there would be no free chin-chin in the house which anyone could munch on at any time of the day. My sister albeit remained supportive as she helped me with the mobile sales of my goods and commodities.
The following day, I went to the market, got all my ingridients, prepared my chinchin and packed it. We decided to do a market survey by going out with few samples.
My first day hawking goods
Okay, calm down, I wasn’t carrying goods, on my head, I went out with a handy bag with my chinchin neatly packed in it, you woudn’t even know I was selling anything if I never told you.
I was shy and was about giving up after walking some distance without making any sales. But my sister however, gave me the encouragement and enthusiasm. She was my ready comapanion but always got some snacks as compensation perhaps that was enough motivation but her love to see my business prosper was more motivation.
We met our first customer and he asked us what two beautiful ladies were doing selling chinchin. We told him, we were students. Perhaps that propelled empathy as he decided to buy for his workers even when he didn’t feel like eating.
Mama! we made it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We excitedly jumped after making our first money. Did I tell you my dad never knew about the business? he wouldn’t have approved. He never allowed us to work let alone hawk in the sun. Though he later found out that we were doing business and didn’t object.
Anyways, our adrenaline catapulted by 100percent after our first sale, we tried some more places and made sales. From there we met people like Ezekiel, Fatham and the rest who became our loyal customers. On dry days, we would still visit them because we knew they would buy from us.
After the first day, our customers suggested that we added drinks to what we sold and because of the nature on their jobs as site workers, they needed something heavier than chin chin.
By the end of the week, I had made more than three times, my investment. I pleaded with one of my investors to let me reinvest the money while I refunded one. Before I knew it, I was making meat pie, eggroll and fish pies( Though my clients preferred fish pie. You know why right).
I started the selling of drinks by collecting them from a shop nearby and refunding her after the day’s sales. Soon, the poor woman started to misbehave perhaps she felt I was suffering to have chosen to sell snacks and drinks to site workers. I didn’t let her bother me, I remembered, I learnt how to make delicious zobo at a two-week vocational training I attended before gaining admission into the University. Sharp girl, I went to Sabo market in Ikorodu, got my zobo ingredients and started to buy flour and all that in wholesale quantities. Oh! my mum also gave me an ice bag which I used in carrying my cold zobo alongside ice. I continued the business till I finally resumed back to school.
On getting back to school, I didn’t realise I had lost my complexion and lost some weight from the daily stress my new business had caused me.
One of my classmates, Mary didn’t forget to give me a welcome back speech. She said, ” Omogbolagun, why are you so dark and skinny? as if you went to suffer during your holiday.” I laughed out loud in response. ( Yeah, that my hysteric-deep laughter).
I was dark and skinny but I gained a whole lot.
SEVEN LESSONS FROM MY BUSINESS ADVENTURE
Guts is enough: Sometimes, the key to achieving all you have dreamt of is guts. You just need that confidence to start. I am glad I summoned the courage to start the business because it sure made me adventurous with anything. It made me become someone who wakes up in the morning and go after the dreams in my heart.
Power of building: I watched in amazement as my business grew within weeks and few months. I started with a small shopping bag, later I had to use the small transparent bowl to showcase my eggrolls and pies. Before I resumed school, I had started to use the bigger white transparent bowl to sell. Over time, people started to know me with what I did and I had quite a number of customers.
Independency is a virtue: This was one of the things that drove me into doing the business. I was tired of being at the receiving end. I also wanted to make money and at least take care of myself. I stopped asking for money for recharge cards, sanitary pads and my well-prepared noodles. Oh! I also loaned my parent money whenever there was an emergency. Till now, I am not used to being dependent on people. Maybe it’s a strength or weakness, I don’t know but I sure enjoy the freedom of spending my own money. CAVEAT: If somebody’s son gives me money, I collect oh, gone were the days, I rejected kind gestures (lOl).
An idle hand, the devil workshop: The whole business started with the fact that I didn’t enjoy being idle. It gave me a sense of responsibility. It built that spirit in me that idleness was a matter of choice. When I finished my NYSC, I went back to my business when jobs weren’t forthcoming. I got tired of asking for money to visit the cyber cafe as my phone couldn’t do much. I would sell earlier in the day and visit the cafe later in the day. Someone got me a temporary job that involved spending time on the internet. I got the money I spent at the cafe from selling my kunu. Even though the job didn’t pull through but I learnt so much about research.
Resoluteness is king: That experience sure made me resolute. It solidified my belief that I could prosper in whatever I chose to do. I always left the house with a target and until I made my target for the day, I wouldn’t turn back. It made me firm in my decision that I could make clean money and that it would only take some time to get the big break. My resoluteness has carried me through many hard times. One of the reasons I am not easily swayed.
Innovation is life: My real-life experience made me understand the power of innovation. Thinking of how to be better at my business, how to keep my customers, how to beat the competition and stay relevant in the market, made me more of a solution provider. There were days when sales were slow, I would simply take a drink while my sister ate egg roll while going about our business. I understood what that did to people when they saw others eating. Before you know it, people would call us and say let us also taste what you are eating. (Lool) The girl has got to do what she needs to do to make sales. And it goes beyond just the business, but in every area of life, one needs to always think of a better way of doing things.
There is power in consistency: When I started, I wasn’t very good at the many things I was making especially my egg roll and kunu but as I kept at it, I kept getting better. Sometimes, giving up on the things that you aren’t doing well isn’t wisdom. The cure for it might just be that you continue pressing into that thing till you become a master at it. Remember the words of Matt Moris that, “It takes 30-days of consistently doing something to form a habit.”
Let me know wa you think of this article in the comment section. Muaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
TemmyFlorah is a lover of God, a journalist and an enthusiastic person who believes that nobody is useless except as a reason of choice.
Temmy had her own share of fear which held her down from discovering her real identity.
Having gained her freedom, she helps and encourages others to break free from whatever holds them bound.