First of all, I’m not a professional football. I currently run 2 tech companies, a family (two lovely kids) and play weekend football. It was a dream more than 20years ago to become a professional footballer, but as they say, “life drama; we are actors, but not the script writer”. So, for the entire life of me, I’d breath and lived football until I met computer. Few memories I have were from my elementary and high school day. Getting screened to play inter school matches for my primary school, to qualify, our sport master will step is hard shoe on your bare foot and you are not expected to cry; we were 10-12years old. If you passed, you most likely would be able to kick “health” football. Screening for Principal cup in high school was also some memories and top of that was winning inter-class competition multiple times before I finished high school and playing “peace” match for my school in my final papers against a fearsome and extremely violent enemy (Orishigun School).
These days I play five-aside football and this January, I officially joined as a member. Our practice is to record every goals and assists per March for each quarter through the year. And we get monthly updates of our progress. When I joined in January, I just wanted to have fun and express myself; so by the end of the quarter, I won the highest assist with 12assist and 12goals. So, I decided the next quarter I was going to hit 30 goals and 20 assist in the quarter. I hit the goals target but not the assist. Below are key lessons I take away from the entire experience and how it has translated into life for me;
What goal is your goal?
If you have no goal, you with hit no goal! It’s that simple. In life as in business, you have got to set the goal you want to achieve. Do you want to grow x2 or x20 Month over Month? Do you want to increase your earning capacity, how much per month/annum? Or maybe, you want to increase your twitter followers, how many do you want? At the start of the quarter, I set a target of 30 goals, that’s whopping 250% increase from my total for prior month. I wanted to stretch myself; I wanted to push the limit. So, the target was there and all I needed to do was to run towards it. When you have a goal, your plans, punctuality, conducts and actions will be working in tandem to achieve it.
You are as goal as your team
I remember during the first quarter; I played consistently with a particular set of players, we usually won as many as 5-6 matches in a row before anyone could defeat us. We were well coordinated, I played from the midfield, so, I stopped play from the opposition and started ours, the two guys up front were pretty sharp, a pass within themselves and we would have a goal. Days things turned sour, it usually boils down to the team. In five-aside, you are as good as every other member in your team. You have a weakling and you all pay for every single mistake. Another thing we did quite well was to rotate keeping through the team. For every set we won, we would switch role. It allows the player to catch his breath and inject fresher leg from the keeper-turned-player. You can have goals all you want but if you are in a bad team, you will run, complain and sit on the bench for a long time because it’s most certain you will lose every match. So, when setting up a business or team in your company, you need the best hands (and legs ;)) to achieve maximum result. Don’t be average!
A lot of people talk about how Barca plays, I have taken critical look at their team dynamics and the thing I could pick up there is their fluid style of play which is based on positioning, for every time Messi passes the ball, he’s already running to a particular position, all other players run into spaces while creating same for other players to run into. Before you wake up, someone is already waiting in the box to receive the ball and finish up. When your goal is to score goal, your ultimate position is the final third and box (arc 6) 18. You take a shot or go for rebound. That’s what Messi and Ronaldo do…always there to take a shot or tap in the ball. In business, you have got to recognize your SWAT, what stands you out from a competitor, where to locate your target customer, where to seal a deal and how you communicate what you sell. In life, we have got to be where our opportunities will locate us. If you are not there, you can neither see nor take it.
In ecommerce, we focus on conversion rate as success or failure of a campaign. If 100, 000 people visit your site, how many placed order? In football, if you score 2 out of 10 shots taken at the final third then you need to take 150 shots to hit 30 goals. Knowing how to score involves knowing where to shot and where to place the shot. Second post, pick your spot, be accurate and make the shot hot are the keywords. If your shot aren’t that hot, like mine, you have got to be conscious of how to pick your spot, so even if the keeper goes for it, it comes as a rebound or he pushes it into the net. That happens a lot of time. I know my shots may not be good enough to score from 30 yards, out…I focus on getting into the arc, attempt to dribble the last man or hold the ball to call attention of all the opponents, imagine 3 of 5 players rushing to attack you, it makes your decision easier just release the ball to your other players and they can do something awesome with it. In business, it’s not about the quantity of your customer, but their life time value, how much are they spending on your product? For as long as the product remains relevant to their lives how much will they spend? How do you make them “stick”, how do you convince them they need to get it from you, now? How do you ensure you write ONLY one proposal to seal the business deal? Remember the 80/20 rule, 20% bringing 80% of the revenue/profit.
To win, you have got to keep playing
Since we only count goals score during the game time, (Penalties and goals scored during the warm-ups don’t count 😉 ) your team needs to still be playing. In five-aside, defending is as important as attacking, if you score goals, and you missed your attacking move at any point in time, you are doom! Every needs to sprint back to defend. I see some people waiting to receive the ball inside while their team is being attacked, that’s one less man to worry about. What usual ends up that is that, your team get scored and you have to leave the pitch for the bench. You can’t score no goal anymore! For you to have a change at success, you have got to keep fighting. You can’t wish your way to success, you must start again after every failed attempt…you must keep pushing.
I intended this to be just 500 words…but it’s 250% more…that’s about how many percentage I hit in the quarter 😉
A guy made a statement in 2005 asking why I used to walk like a rich man. Then I was still squatting (I slept on a couch in a room with 6 grown up adults). I could remember my answer straight back at him. I told him, “ah ah, you dey doubt am? I be rich man now!” I didn’t have a personal computer yet, still saving money and I wrote my codes on paper.
We need to realise, this battle starts from your psych, first from your mind before physical. If you never become it inside, you can’t have it outside. That’s how life works.
So, each time I discussed with my fellow employee where I have worked that I’m billionaire and got scorned…I knew what am saying, I don’t only say this thing….after our talks and jokes, I grind it out late night and on the street to make it happen. Gradually what is on “book balance” is moving to “available balance” (some of you will get this wink emoticon ).
The goal is not to brag or talk down others, the goal is to remind my subconscious about where we are going and the need to stay focused and grounded. We can’t get there without creating or adding value. We must increase inside out! ?#?dreamon? ?#?dontbegoodbegreat?
Primarily, I’m a programmer! I say that because for most of the last decade (7.5 of 10yrs) I made my living through writing code than anything else. I was able to fit into other work roles because of my reading taste and curiosity to satisfy a cause. As a financial adviser, public speaker, writer/analyst, business analyst, product manager or release manager. I still love to program but I don’t get the thrill just to make money, I want to build something that can touch your lives, that’s why I came to programming in the first place! So, each time I build stuff that make lives better, i feel genuinely happy than anything else.
Their roles are very crucial as nothing can be achieve if no one is willing to roll up their sleeves and bang the codes together. And the better and faster this can be done, the best for an idea to achieve its goal.
At the end of the day however, the “why” is most important that the “how“! Coding is just one part of the jigsaw and it will only be a missing piece if we have a puzzle at all. For coding to make sense, it needs to fit into a bigger picture of solution that moves humanity forward, whether in business, lifestyle or government. So, if we don’t really know what to build, we may as way be writing a new Linux distro…for people living in Lagos.
Visionaries and Executors
I don’t know but a lot programmers (engineers) seem really dismayed to see people who aren’t engineers become CEO of tech companies and the general remark is to pull the “engineer card”! The question is, if this person does not have the vision/idea, tenacity and organization skill to bring key people, including engineers to pursue the dream, where will the engineer fit? Maybe, coding up a requirement drafted by a product manager in one big software company or IT support company.
The role and importance of visionaries is to connect the dots, how do you walk past a certain street and sense the need to build a solution to their problem? How do you think getting stranded and not getting a cab should inspire you to start a cab hailing service worth >$30billion? How do you think giving people platform to sell to millions of Nigerians should be your own headache? The visionaries can come from any background, marketing, sales, product management, software engineering or whatever form! You have got to have the ability to connect seemingly unrelated dots together to create something meaningful.
For us all, average users, we all have our problems in small pieces, how can you envision a solution we can depend on for our daily lives? Does it make sense to check up what your friends are up to early in the morning?
Nigeria and Africa needs more Visionaries and Executors…those who can connect the dots, envision a solution to everyday’s nagging problem and inspire team of committed fellows to make it a reality. At the end of the day you can always hire an engineer to build it…from anywhere in the world!
If you have a good follower of me, I guess your first reaction will be, another one? Not again! Yea, I can understand your frustration that I have not lived up fully to the potential of a tech entrepreneur. I have often started companies (website) and fail! Personally, I do not feel proud having started on this journey since 2004, launching my first local directory for Ogba, Ikeja and countless other startups. It’s time for a change! Believe me!
What the heck is showroom.ng?
So, what is showroom.ng about, it’s an online marketplace for furniture and home decor products! Think of it this way, how pleasurable was your last experience when you wanted to buy a sofa, your office chair and table (if you do this personally at your office or you run a company), your bed-frames, your mattress, your pillow…how was it? For me and thousands of other young professionals in Nigeria, it was not pleasurable! We are about to change that! We are creating one stop shop for all your furniture needs. You don’t need to worry about quality; we take care of that from our gate! You don’t need to worry about price; we match your budget if you can’t find one on our site. We have tentacles around the country to help you get what you need at your budget. We deliver to your house at a scheduled time as convenient for you.
This week, working with our vendors, we have made a couple of deliveries and will do more over the weekend. I’m excited to embark on this journey, because this is our time to take away pain from our customers and halter for the better a culture of buying furniture and dealing with artisans.
Becoming better entrepreneur
Yes, it’s tough getting your life through learning entrepreneurship as you age, because you are not reading from a books, you are spending your life learning and building. Also, because the industry you are taking on is a new unexplored market, so no one knew if it’s real or not. No rule book! There was no guarantee of success but a shot at it. I left my role as a CEO of my consulting firm to take up jobs as an IT personnel, financial advisor, a writer (blogger), an industry analyst, community organizer, public speaking, a business analyst and an business operator. I discovered I wasn’t succeeding so I decided to go work for people who are succeeding so as to help them while learning from them. Entrepreneurship is not only about learning, it’s also about doing, so I had to come back to my first love, to put into action what I have learnt.
It’s been a while running a company as CEO. Now, I’m back to my first love, making things happen! E-commerce in Nigeria is revolutionary and every sector of the country will feel the impact.
I’m very passionate about good looking home and office and I think that the sector is also ripe for disruption. Today, I launch showroom.ng Nigeria’s first online furniture showroom.
It’s time to give your home and office a new lift!
Visit now and place or order or at least, give us a feedback, what can we do better?
A friend posted this on Facebook and I have been reading it over and over!
“I realized that being smart didn’t make me special, and didn’t guarantee me success.
Lots of people are smart. Lots of people are smarter than me. But just because I have a natural ability doesn’t mean I’ll automatically absorb information if I don’t seek it out. It doesn’t mean I’m always going to be “the advanced kid.” Natural intelligence doesn’t matter nearly as much as work ethic. I realized that even though I was smart, I could still amount to nothing. I could still fail to become what I wanted to be. I could still end up never doing anything useful, and I thought that was the essence of absolute horror, so I got myself into gear.”
– Culled from Reddit.
I will read this daily now!
Happy new year, forgive me if I never called or texted you happy new year. It was deliberate! It’s my new year resolution to try new things and break from the norm.
2014 seem very swift, it’s gone….for life! I’m planning for a better 2015 and I trust God, it will be the best year I ever lived up until now.
My Key focus for 2015
1. Developing result oriented team; focus on domain expertise, startup-readiness for employees (a good number of people can’t work for startups,only grown ups) and unlearning capability and analytics. I learnt a lot of this the hard way in 2014. I want to improve this. I will strongly consider your startup-readiness-quotient before I recommend or hire you for a startup job.
2. Hand-holding businesses that wants to take a dive into e-commerce; I can help with; technology, people and processes. I understand a lot of offline companies are planning to take a plunge online, more than anything else, there has to be a profound understanding of the 3 key element of online success and they all must be well grasped and executed with laser focus. I have been actively involved in these aspects for the past 2 years. I can help you too!
3. Niche exploration. Do not be surprise to see a start-up launch from a niche in the 1st quarter. There are a lot of on explored territories. I’m passionate about some life things and I do think that I can create business around it, to not only fuel my passion but to help those currently doing the business increase revenue from new market(online).
4. Personal development; I read less in 2014, my lowest in the last 11 years. I read ONLY about 3 books. Below my personal standard. For a start, I have selected 5 books from my library, the ones I have read and made impact on me. This I believe will re-ignite the passion I had while reading them. Top on my to-read list for the year is Zero-to-One by Peter Thiel. Please recommend if you can
5. Community development: I’m very passionate about community, it’s of utmost importance to create avenue for serendipity connection of ideas and people. I have been involved in this since my voyage into online startups, I reduce speed on this for some years now, I want to get back to work!
When I began my entrepreneurial journey, I could remember telling my family I will only help as much as I could that I was on a mission to build something awesome that will make up for anything I should have contributed as a member of the clan. It’s painful and very tough roller coaster. I realized that;”Startup is brutal! It’s a promise but not a guarantee, so don’t attempt to take it to the bank. It may bounce!”. Yet, I never found success!
Hiring and commitment
One of the really painful lesson learnt is the fact that, while as an entrepreneur, you can afford to go hungry, broke and still be driven; when you hire your first employee, the least you must do is to ensure that they do not have to go through the pain. The setting in our culture is such that, once you start working (or not) you automatically have dependent and as such, every person you hire will be looking forward to the month-ed alerts, not only to make up for their financial need but also for their dependents . Failure to meet up with that means that people’s livelihood is threatened and given than the basic attraction to get someone to commit to your dream is the salary you pay them, the other is for them to find fulfillment and growth as they pursue the dream with you. A lot of people stop at the first level.
Try not to get into red
As an entrepreneur, you need to understand that a business is a system and as such each part must be functional and in sync with other units of the system. Operations should function properly, customer service should be in 5th fear, marketing and sale…on point and management should be looking out for how to get the best of these while reducing burn rate as much as possible. The only thing that can put you out of business is if you run out of cash. In my previous startup, I ran of out cash, as in…zero in the bank with a young family and staffs on the payroll, I developed fever! Money was not coming in as planned and expenses were pilling up plus debt. So, I dusted my consulting file, call up some clients I’d built app for and re-started off site deployment and getting new gig to make up for months of payroll and expenses.
When you see red what do you do?
Try as much as possible to ensure you never get to this point. But when you do, do not sympathize with your staff, you have got to empathize, and empathy comes from the relationship built during the glowing period, the trust built when the going was sweet, the vision of the destination and the pains they may be going through in their personal lives. Because at the end of the day, true sympathy comes from genuine empathy which is built on seeing yourself in the person’s shoe and asking yourself objectively; ” If I were this person, what would I do or expect from my employer?”. You got to answer the question genuinely and take action base on the company’s reality and the reality (expectation, pains and options) of the staffs.
You have got to show them the books, if you have not been showing them, you have got to let them know how bad it is and what will happen in few months, if it’s going to get worse before getting better. Importantly, you must show them steps you are taking or will take to solve this problem. They don’t ONLY need to know this, they must feel your genuineness through this. It will become confusing instead of convincing when you have no thought-through solution no matter how little or unrealistic.
Getting back on track
Steps to getting back on track involves tracing your steps backward. How did we get here? What did we do wrongly? Did we hire wrong people? What decision should we not have taken? What are our options? Remember, it’s very important that every member of the team not ONLY know their bit of the business but about other key areas in the business. Startup personnel must be willing or good at putting on more than one hat.
More than anything else, you must know your sh*t! Because when things become really bad, the primary person you need is yourself. what part of the business can you get done, slowly without spending?
Don’t get tire or discourage, but fight on!
I really do not want this post to be long…maybe, I’ll continue some other times!
Connected Home may at the end of make useless the need to buy physical musical or video content. Subscription will be the way provided we are able to solve uncapped data plans. Also, this need to be solve to the level of Smart TV, I have operated a Smart TV that keeps crashing whenever you play youtube Video for too long (That sucks).
Subscribe to IrokoTV/Netflix for all video On-demand. Switching from Home country content to internationals, is swift.
As for premiership… We know sites we watch the matches when we are far away from our DSTV.
If there is anything that start-up companies have in common, they the above three words. Because, for even thinking of starting a company, you are being audacious and for daring to make people join you and work out your dream, it’s usually chaotic and for you to have any form of progress, you must be radical!
I started my first company in 2004 with almost to nothing as startup capital except for the dream of building the next Yahoo out of Africa, years have gone bye and a lot have happened. I’m not setting out to build the next yahoo, I’m working with group of really smart people with willingness and commitment to be a long lasting e-commerce company in Nigeria that value customers! It’s really a great opportunity to learn how this is being built and contributing my own quota to making it happen.
A few things i’m learning day-by-day;
1. You’ve got to get shit done: It’s simple yet difficult to practice. No matter how much you fantasize with an idea and theorize about the market viability, you have go to get it done!
2. Ship it! After you have gotten your shit done, it is very important that you ship it to the market. You might have built the most beautiful stuff in the world, the ultimate thing is to ship so customer and other stakeholders can enjoy the benefits of what shit you have gotten done!
3. Learn fast and adjust; If you don’t get shit done and don’t ship it, how do you get feedback? How do you know the adaptability of your strategies in the market? How will you know what works?
4. Think long term: Sometimes you just want to do things like every other businesses do, but the real thing is to realize that, short-term success is really not the main thing but your ability to continuously deliver value to customers and think years ahead on how you can serve them. With this, you become obsessed with customers’ satisfaction; customers pain becomes yours and you are more motivated to make sure no customer comes your way without a smile!
5. Be audacious: Don’t think small, think bold and take bold steps. If you recognize a potential, attack it with all your might, execute with laser focus and improve at all times!
It’s interesting times ahead and I’m enjoy every steps of the journey!