Goals…Who Needs Them?

 

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Goals…

‘So, I’ve written down my goals, now what?’’  This is one of the first questions my clients ask me after their initial consultation.

They normally vocalise their goals in the first consultation, and then I tell them to go back home, in a chilled and relaxed environment, no TV, no distractions; maybe after the first sip of wine, take a paper, a pen and dare to dream.  I ask them to think about what their business and life goals would be, if money was no object.

I find that asking this question and getting clients to write their true ‘dream’ goals in a relaxed, non-judgemental environment, releases them from an invisible chain or mindset that seems to hold people back.

When doing this exercise, I remind clients to, for the moment, not think about how they can achieve their goals.  The aim of the exercise is to make them bring out the dreams they hide from others, or even themselves.

There’s a lot of talk about doing what you love, following your passion or purpose; whether it’s starting your own business, changing careers, or even taking your business to the next ’scarier’ level.

Some people might roll their eyes and years ago I was one of them, but I’ve come to realise that it’s a valid statement.  As humans are living longer, we’re working longer and these longer years should be spent doing something you love.   Doing something you don’t love makes for a shitty life, I should know, I use to hate my well-paid corporate job.

Life, as they say, isn’t a dress rehearsal, you can’t afford to not do something you love with it!

So, avoid a life full of only daydreams and wishes, give yourself permission to have goals and achieve them.

Your Why

Now, write down your goals.

Have you done it?  Good.

Why?  Yep, I asked the question.  Why do you want to achieve those goals?

Writing your goal is great, but you must have a ‘WHY’; a reason.

A reason which becomes the propeller that makes you find a way no matter what; come rain or shine, to achieve your goal.  A reason that keeps you going when you’re knackered and feel like throwing in the towel; when the long hours and challenges seem to overshadow the joy of working towards that goal.

No matter what your goal is – starting a small business, leaving your job for your side-hustle, or even taking your small business to the next level; your ‘WHY’ must be BIG enough to cross the Wilderness of Challenges to get to the Promise Land of your Goal(s).

Because once you can do that, then the fun begins…😊

So…whats-your-why

Are there any business goals you want to achieve but don’t know where to start?

Do you want to start a business but you’re unsure how to begin?

Or, if you need help with your goals, finding your ‘Why?’, make sure you drop me a line and I’ll tell you WHY. 😉

 

Back in London, But Catch Me Worldwide

No Excuses

I apologise to my readers for taking this long to update my blog.  I constantly tell my clients that their blogs and other social media must be active and updated, so my blog shouldn’t be months old!   I don’t accept excuses from my clients for not updating their blog (I may allow personal or family health-related issues); so I won’t give one. 😊

A very short back-story for new readers, I decided to go on a business adventure to Nigeria to set up a new business and an office base – previous posts will update you on my experiences, such fun!!

Nigeria – Only the Brave

The past few months have been quite intense.  Setting up business in Nigeria is only for the brave, especially if you’re self-financing like I am.  Remaining sane while putting deals together is a real testament to the human spirit, hats off to all of us who do it!

That said, although the country is tough, the rewards can be HUGE, more so than most countries in the West.  Well, that’s one of the reasons I’m doing it – I’m not completely crazy.😊

Doing business in Nigeria has taught me a lot, namely, patience, perseverance and focus.  It’s so easy to be distracted by the ‘next best thing’ when the results you’ve been working towards seem to be taking too darn long; but I can attest that if you keep your eyes on the price you will achieve your goal(s).

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Same Services More Global

Since I started my business I’ve been fanatical about providing a more personal and tailored service to my clients, which has included a lot of face to face meetings.  Unfortunately this has meant that my clients in other parts of the world may not have received the same level of service when I wasn’t physically available; not something I would ever want for them.

My time around different parts of Africa while dealing with my African-based clients has taught me to think bigger and more global, ensuring I find ways to provide the same level of service to ALL my clients around the world.

Too Close To See

As a business coach and consultant, I pride myself on knowing how to help my clients navigate the labyrinth path to success in their businesses and somehow it’s taken me a bit longer to find a platform where I can provide value to all my clients at the same time!

Working closely with my clients has shown me that irrespective of where you are in the world, as long as you’re in business – whether you’re an entrepreneur or career professional – you’ll have similar challenges in the areas of marketing, business growth, increasing customer base, etc.

So, to put what I’ve learnt into practice and cater to you, my wonderful clients, even better; I’ll be offering bespoke courses, videos and webinars to address the challenges that you all face in your respective businesses.

You’ll find the videos and other information I’ll be uploading on my site to be useful for your business and of course, fun.  While we all know that business isn’t easy, there should be some fun added to the mix…otherwise, what’s the point, right? 😊

So how about you?  What experiences have you had in your business, where you had to change strategies?

How long did it take you to change strategies?

Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on this new avenue I’m using to reach you.

You can send an email to me on aydaonthego@gmail.com

Remember to subscribe to my blog!

Failure is Your Friend

You must fail.

It’s very important for you, for me, for everyone, to fail at something.  Whether it’s at school, at work, in business.

This is because you learn more in failure than you do in success.

Failure separates the weak from the strong; the ones who give up easily from the ones who are determined, who dig deep and keep at it.

Failure builds character.  You learn incredibly important survival traits in failure, like commitment, perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and many more.

I’ve known this for a while; however, it’s one thing to know it on an intellectual level and quite another to experience it.  I can definitely say that I’ve experienced it a lot lately; several times😊.

Failure gives you the opportunity to take a step back and do an autopsy on your idea, your business, your project; to go over and understand the what, where and why of the failure.

To ask yourself what went wrong, how (if) you could have done things differently and what you can do to make things better – because the only person you have control over, is you.

I’ve had to do autopsies on a few projects I put together.  Although they haven’t failed, they’ve been quite (very) slow in coming to fruition; which to some (and my previous self) may feel like failure.

I would never have anticipated that it would have taken this long; however, the delay has given me time to take a step back and see where I could have done things differently to avoid being affected by the inactivity of key players.

Now I know there’s a quicker way and I know where the less lucrative ‘low hanging fruits’ are that can be worked on whilst waiting for the ‘bigger’ projects to be processed.

My everything has been and is being tested.  I’m currently having to dig deep on my reservoirs of commitment, perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and many more; and you know what?  It’s not that bad, not a piece of cake but it’s not impossible and I’m still here – fabulous as ever 😉.

Now if only I felt the same way about the power cuts……

 

 

The Octopus

 

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As any entrepreneur or career climber knows, networking plays a large part in building a business or career; even more so when you’re new to a place.  Networking plays a huge part of my life here, not only because of business and to build my contact list, but also because I love meeting people and you never know when you’ll be invited to a snazzy social event…a girl has got to have a banging social life  :-).

I was invited to an event and introduced to an alleged leader in the training business, while rubbing shoulders with the leaders of various industries.  We got on quite well and discussed a possible collaboration.

Months later we met again at a Tech event in Lagos, caught up on our respective businesses and arranged to meet in Abuja.

Weeks later, I had a meeting with the leadership entrepreneur.  First of all, I was impressed by his office, which was a substantial building in the heart of Abuja – where property prices are ridiculous – a female employee greeted me and showed me into his office.

When I got to his office, he was very welcoming and quite affectionate.  I thought ‘okay, you weren’t like this before, maybe you’re just pleased to see me’.  I asked after his business, he showed around the building and introduced me to his staff – turns out, the female employee is his wife and business partner whose office is next to his.

Anyway, we got back to his office to start the meeting and he became touchy, feely…way too touchy, feely.  Now, I value my personal space so anything more than a superficial air kiss tests my boundaries and level of diplomacy (which in this country is being tested daily).  So, my first thought is ‘a swift uppercut to his jaw will keep him in line’, but of course that’ll be very unprofessional, so I just smile and take a few steps back.  Have I mentioned the man had a severe case of halitosis?  Seriously, if you’re going to try to seduce someone, abeg try throwing some mint in your filthy mouth hole.

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My exact sentiment

Every time I took steps back to widen my personal space, he took steps forward into my personal space, touching my shoulders, wanting to hold my hands and saying how smart, intelligent and beautiful I am; like a surreal version of the ‘Carry On’ TV show.  Have you seen those old-school Benny Hill sketches where he is running around a table or a tree chasing a woman…this was exactly like that.  Yes dude, I know my shit doesn’t smell but get out of my personal space, your wife is next door and your breath can wake up the dead.  Do you really think I have any interest?

Needless to say, I made a hasty exit.

One has to have a thick skin to do business, you can’t take things too personally.  In Nigeria and as a woman, this is even more so; where it doesn’t seem surprising to be propositioned in other to get the business – as if it’s a fair exchange.

The sad thing is, it’s not even seen as sexual harassment and an abuse of power.  To them you are woman, made to be desired by man, how dare you think otherwise.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard stories of women who have fallen prey and succumbed to such abuses; most of whom have had their reputations tarnished, because these men talk, and are no longer taken seriously.

A male friend of mine once told me that as a woman I should see doing business in Nigeria like a game of boxing; pacing round a ring throwing punches (my deals, business proposals) to my opponent whilst dodging his punches (sexual advances).  I initially scoffed at him as I found it distasteful, now I understand.

I’m no longer ‘outwardly’ outrage, I’ve become an expert in the business ‘boxing’.  I’ve learnt how to ‘duck’, ‘dive’ and walk away if needed…believe me I throw a mean punch if I need to.  I have focus, I want a seat at the table, and when I get there all bets are off…watch me go full Laila Ali on their asses.

Please Get Me Out of Here!!

I booked a DANA Air flight to Lagos for the next day as I had a meeting with the P.A. of the CEO of an organisation.

Someone I had just met introduced me to the P.A. via phone, so the P.A. and I arranged to meet in two days’ time; and hours later I booked a ticket to Lagos.

This is one of the reasons I love doing business in Nigeria – as long as you get out there and network, you’re always couple of contacts away from a business deal you want!

Next day on my way to the airport I was a bit apprehensive about flying with DANA Air as a friend of mine commented (after I bought my ticket) that she hasn’t used the airline since one of their planes crashed a few years ago.  I replied ‘surely they’ve sorted out the problems that caused the crash?’, but inner me is thinking, “oh crap, this is all I need!  My flight is in a few hours’ time and the ticket is non-refundable!”  You can tell the inner me is an optimist, can’t you?

I know my life is irreplaceable, so I’ll just have to do some serious prayers before the plane takes off; like the passengers did in Kevin J’s flight…

Got on the plane, the pilot’s announcement was in Queen’s English and then pidgin English.  That was unexpected.  I’ve used other domestic airlines for travel between Abuja and Lagos, and I have never heard the flight announcement being made in pidgin English, so I’m already wondering what the deal is with DANA Air.  I don’t mind pidgin at all, but this is not what I need when I’m hoping for a serious person who wouldn’t crash the plane!

Then he starts singing.  The pilot is singing.  No really, this is happening right now.  The pilot of the plane I’m on to Lagos for a business meeting is singing.  Can I get off?  No, I can’t. The plane is already moving.  I suppose attempting to jump out of a moving plane may be regarded as a tad…panicky, or even crazy.

Now see, I don’t care too much that the plane has crashed before, I know it’s nowhere near my time so I’m safe; but this ‘nails-on-a-blackboard’ noise disguised as singing, makes me want to jump off the plane!!  Why, dear God???  Why is this happening to me!?!

The pilot is singing about the airline, thanking us for using it, that we’re the best customers ever and that they’re grateful we’re using DANA Air.  I’m wondering why he couldn’t just say that, I’d even happily hear it in pidgin but I guess it wouldn’t be an experience if he did.  But why did he have to go on for so long??

I look around me in disbelief as other passengers are laughing, laughing very hard; some are saying it’s so nice that an airline is expressing their gratitude this way.  Others, like me, aren’t so amused.  I keep telling myself ‘in 50 minutes you’ll be out of here’; then I realise something…I’m no longer thinking about their safety record!

Score for DANA Air!!

You’re Not In London Anymore

Finally in Abuja, had to hit the ground running as there’s lots to do.  I made a list of all the organisations I wanted to work with, submitted the proposals and 2 weeks later I was ready to follow up all of them.

The Submission Stage:

This stage is straightforward – go to the organisation, explain why you’re there, they direct you to the registry office, your letter is recorded and stamped, your copy letter is also stamped and you go on your way.

Side note for the unfamiliar:  If you want to do business with any organisation in Nigeria it’s always best to go with the original proposal or introductory letter and a copy of the proposal/introductory letter.

This is because the registry office will record your letter in a book ledger, stamp both letters and return your stamped copy letter to you.  Why a book ledger, you ask? Well, how else will they be able drive you mad unless by using an ancient system that makes no sense.  As ridiculous as it may seem, do not under any circumstances lose your stamped copy.  Don’t do it, unless you’re no longer interested in working with the organisation.  If you do lose the letter, you’ll have to start all over again.  The never ending loop that will have you pulling your hair out like a crazy person (you see that picture below?  Yes that!).  Abeg, don’t say I didn’t warn you o!

The Proposal chasing Stage aka the FFS Stage:

There are lots of public organisations here in high-rise buildings and only a few of them have lifts; this means that there’s lots of walking because the offices of decision makers are never on the first 3 floors.

I had an experience where I went to the registry office to follow up my proposal and I was advised it had been passed to another registry office (yes, there’s more than one).  I got there and no one was around so I had to wait and wait, and wait.

One of the security guards had to help locate the person in charge of that office but I ended up waiting for 2 hours to then be told that my letter was passed to another office, got to the 3rd office, waited for another 30 minutes and was directed to yet another office – you’re thinking why did I wait, right?  I wanted it to be over and done with, didn’t fancy doing that again!!

Anyway, I then got to 4th office (you read right, 4th), and the staff there were very busy making jewellery and chatting to their friends.  I patiently explained to them what I wanted and I was looked on like an inconvenience.  The lady actually gave me the ‘how dare you interrupt me with your nonsense and expect me to do my job’ look.  I longed to strangle her with her badly made necklace…ok, maybe the necklace wasn’t bad but how could I appreciate beauty when I was trying to suppress murderous thoughts whilst giving a sweet smile on the outside.

 

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I spent about 6 hours in heels, walking round a building with no power and sweat dripping down my back and my face…with one nagging question – seriously though, why the f*** do they record letters in book ledgers when they have computers on their desk???

 

 

The Decision

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