Tell us a bit about your business/brand.
I am the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Spear; a group with diverse business interests that started as a Print consultancy firm and then morphed into book publishing as well. It then added Travels and Management Consulting into the fray in 2014. Today, Spear does everything in the media industry - including Digital Media, Printing, Publishing as well as Travels and Business consulting.
Is Spear full-time job or is it a side-gig?
Spear is my full-time business. As an individual, I have other business interests and sit on the board of a few of them, including Prestige Microfinance Bank, The Luxe Nude, LionHeart Consulting to name a few.
We would like to hear about your entrepreneurial journey, the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned.
My journey as an entrepreneur started in 1998, after trying unsuccessfully to write books for sale (Don’t ask me why it failed). I was very young and didn’t have any subject matter expertise.
Following that, in 2001, along with two others, we set-up a company called Coolnet Inc. We started consulting for people who wanted to study abroad.
At this point, we hadn’t studied abroad. In fact, we were just about to turn 20 when the enterprise started.
We had access to the internet, had uncles abroad with Credit Cards who assisted us in paying for admission application fees, helped people to register for SAT and TOEFL. This started growing and we expanded to coaching people for these exams. It was a movement.
Our office was on Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. We thought we had arrived.
At this time, I was a student at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
Truth is, nothing prepared us for success. It got into our heads, we spent money, then two of us moved abroad to study. My friend tried to carry on but he just couldn’t manage on his own because we had no proper Business Continuity Plan in place and that was how the business folded. Spear started as a family business and so this has perhaps stabilised us a bit.
The biggest lesson in Business? You have to persevere. No one ever promised it will be smooth sailing all the time.
Also, you have to be creative, innovative, and make sure you are solving a problem or meeting a need.
What’s your take on doing business in Nigeria?
Doing business in Nigeria is a challenge! The ease of doing business only started getting attention in the last year or so. From power challenges to bad roads to taxes.
However, despite these challenges, it’s virgin ground. If you keep tilling the ground, it will yield harvests.
How has being a father impacted on you as a brand owner?
Being a father is one of those things in life that is gratifying as my kids are my greatest assets. Whenever I look at them, all I think about is how they propel me to work even harder. And when I consider that I had a relatively decent background, I’m constantly striving to surpass what my parents did for me.
What is your favourite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur means that I can control my time - not exactly! When clients want something, they "own" your time. Making a customer happy is fulfilling, making my colleagues happy is equally very fulfilling.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an entrepreneur?
The responsibility of a leader/entrepreneur isn’t an easy one at all. Sometimes when the pressure hits the boiling point, I wonder how easy just being someone else’s responsibility is.
Would you encourage your children to take up entrepreneurship in the near future?
Absolutely, I wish for them to be entrepreneurs. I wish for them to be solution providers. I want my children to make a difference in their generation. I hope that I can leave them a lasting legacy that they can build on and expand based on their own destiny!