A few years ago I read that one of the quickest ways to build a successful business is to take a product that has been successful in a country to another country that either doesn’t have that product or isn’t saturated with it.
This made (and still makes) perfect sense to me. So with this in my mind I decided to take my business services to Nigeria. This process was a long time in the making mainly because I left Nigeria as a child in 1993 and only started visiting in 2012 after I set up my business in UK.
When I started my business in London I was working as a contractor and on my business; I was doing 16-hour days at a minimum, which was tough.
Frankly, I had to make it work because I was using my contract job to self-finance my business and my life. Once I decided to take my business to Nigeria (and the rest of Africa), I knew that I would have to leave the contract job to focus on my business.
The period between deciding to take my business to Nigeria, have an office in Nigeria and physically having an office took about 4 years. 4 YEARS!! 4 freaking years! People have been married, had children and gotten divorced in less time! Do you know why it took so long? A combination of fear of the unknown and luxuriating in my comfort zone.
The thing is my comfort zone wasn’t a ride in the park. I was bored to tears in my ‘very well paid’ contract job, yes, I needed it to self-finance but the only things that kept me going were working on my business and travelling to Nigeria twice a year to get the lay of the land, network and build contacts.
I could have done all of that in half the time if I had sat down, put a proper workable plan in place and stuck to it. Hindsight is a superpower, I wish I had!!! It would have been very useful! Especially in avoiding con artists clothed in respectability.
I digress, once I decided I had a service that would work in Nigeria, and after painful lessons, I realised that to build a successful business in Nigeria I needed to stay in Nigeria for a lot longer than a few weeks. So with my mind made up and a plan in place (lessons learned), I chose a date and bought my ticket to Abuja.
There’s nothing that motivates me more than lack of change. To not have made any progress in a year? That was enough to get my ass moving pdq!!
My family were surprised by my decision when I told them I was staying for 3 weeks on my first visit; most of them didn’t think I would last that long. They said I’m ‘too English’ (whatever that means), I’ve lived in London for too long, I’m an ajebutter (damn spellcheck), NEPA (power cut) would drive me crazy, it would be too rough for me, Nigerians are too blunt, too impatient, the airport is a nightmare. There’s some truth to that. However, my desire to succeed trumps (damn the man!) every negative.
‘Too English’/Ajebutter – yes but when it comes to my business or what I want I’m a rottweiler; definitely an ajegpaki.
NEPA – I’m used to it; I’m more bothered by the afternoon sun.
Bluntness – I’m now an expert in counting from 1 to 1000 under my breath whilst giving a very sweet smile.
Airport – I’ve never had any problems in Abuja airport; infact a customs officer once gave me some money to hire a luggage trolley to use when he saw me struggling with 3 big cases. Yep, a customs officer 🙂
So summer of 2016 with the blueprint of my Plan A in my hand and the burnt bridges of Plans C to Z behind me, I hopped on a British Airways flight to Abuja for three months.
……..The Adventure Begins