In respect to the invitation on net to participate in the 2015 Young Business Icons summit and Award, a novel initiative of CrossRiverWatch Resources in partnership with Nigerian Youth Chambers of Commerce (NYCC), Cross River state. The theme “Youth Employment – the panacea for underdevelopment” draws so much attention especially when it comes to the standard of living of unemployed youths.
My name is Henry Njar Nsan, a native of Akparabong in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State. A graduate of Applied Geophysics, University of Calabar. The CEO of the now TOPGLASS WARDROBE BUSINESS OUTFIT with the main shop at 8/9 Akim Road and extension shop at 55 palm street, Calabar.
HOW MY BUSINESS JOURNEY BEGAN
Shortly after my final year exams in the university, I began to think towards starting a business while waiting for a job. But I had passion for looking good in my outfit, infact, it was like a hobby.
So, I started looking towards clothes-selling business that will eventually become a world class boutique. It took me some months to brainstorm in order to get a clearer picture. Then, I discovered that anything one is really passionate about, there’s always an inward drive. I began to draw a business plan which led me to seeking mentorship at Watt Market under a boutique owner (Mr. Onyeka Aku). After my months of mentorship, I was set for the business, information-wise but financially hindered.
The opportunities surrounding the kick off of my business were wrapped up in four elements:
(i) A need
(ii) The means to fulfill the need
(iii) A method to apply the means to fulfill the need and
(iv) A strategy to make profit.
With one of the elements missing, a business opportunity may be developed by finding the missing element. But with the combination of the elements, the more unique the business opportunity will be, and the more control an individual has over the elements, the better he/she is positioned to exploit the opportunity and become a niche market leader.
So, I saw a need in my locality, that the same way people admire me when am in my best outfit going to school or church, I could also make people to be admired through supplying them quality clothing materials and ready-made dresses. Then, I began to consider ways I could fulfill this need and I found one, which was mobile sales in homes and offices.
Another way I thought of applying to fulfill the means was to go for more attractive and eye-catching wears that could hardly be resisted and with targeted customers in mind, I also considered that this means of executing a business could be seriously debts-oriented. Hence, I developed a strategy in mind to demand for at least 80% of the cost of every dress I must give out which already must have given me the capital and a little profit on top.
THE CHALLENGES FACED
My mentor told me that when starting a business, entrepreneurs usually faced several challenges, such as lack of funds, experience, large networks and time management. But I learnt earlier from my pastor, Rev. Tony Amba of Mega Faith Christian Assembly, Calabar during our business service that one does not need much money to begin a new business so that when it fails, he/she may not have lost so much.
For me, the major challenges I faced was lack of funds. It was already very difficult for my widow mother to see me through school and take care of my other four siblings after we lost our daddy. After I graduated, I tried to live an independent life, and was engaged in all kinds of menial jobs so I could also support her in raising the children.
When the business ideas were conceived, I had just five thousand naira in my account so I approached my pastor, Rev. Tony Amba, who asked me to locate five persons who can lend me ten thousand naira each so I could gather fifty thousand to start the business.
I started going around asking for that amount from both brethren in the church and my friend outside the church. Everyone I approached always promise to give me the money but it took three months again to gather forty thousand.
Twenty thousand from Mrs. Enewan a tailor friend, ten thousand from Rev. Tony Amba, my senior pastor and ten thousand from Evang. Gladness, my family pastor. After this money was gathered, I was to get someone who could go with me to Onitsha in order to buy the goods because that was the place I choose to start my business purchase. The man who promised to go with me kept posting me for another three weeks.
I started feeding from the forty-five thousand I have gathered. But as God may have it, Bro. Sylvester Ogoke from my church added eight thousand naira to me. And rather than wait to be further posted by the man, I decided to pray for God’s direction and with the information I have gathered on how to go to Onitsha and return, I decided to go all alone using TRACAS transport service with a total sum of Forty-five thousand in my hands.
God indeed saw me through in the journey to and from Onitsha main market where I bought packet shirts, pairs of trousers, T-shirts and a few pairs of shoes according to my money.
When I arrived Calabar, I channeled my sales around my environment, my family members, friends and neighbours. And with the 80% part-payment strategy, I recovered the capital and a little profit which I used to embark on another business journey and continued that way, while increasing my profits and advancing in quality and quantity of purchase. With time, I started adding up suits and the business kept on growing.
LESSONS WORTH LEANING
Life is tough, but life as an entrepreneur is tougher. Your safety net is you. No paid vacation, No sabbatical leave. No giving up:
(1) To find opportunities for success, you must first be looking for them.
(2) You need to give a lot to get a lot
(3) Being “professional” is key to getting prospects to want to do business with you.
(4) Just because it hasn’t worked out already doesn’t mean that it won’t ever.
(5) If you haven’t failed a lot, you probably aren’t going to win a lot.
(6) Again, Proverbs 22:29 taught me that any man who is diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
(7) Life is about the choices you make. There’s no such thing as “getting lucky” hard work, tenacity and learning from failure is what ultimately determines how successful you become. Great people learn hard lessons.
KEY TO MY SUCCESS SO FAR
As an entrepreneur, the ability to think, analyze and decide is the key determining factor of profitability. For good sharpening of this ability I considered the following key principles that have made me not just successful but an employer of labour.
(1) I ensured that, my product satisfy immediate need, you become more successful if your product solve some kind of your customers problems in a cost-effective way.
(2) I offer good quality at a fair price. The quality of a product at a fair price gives it a unique selling position in the midst of competitive products.
(3) Being careful with the money already made. There has to be tight financial control and good budgeting. Expenditures must have to be done with great carefulness. There have to be constant ways to cutting costs while maintaining the same level of quality.
(4) I maximize my marketing, my thoughts all day is to sell and satisfy my customers.
MY VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Business transformation is destined to fail without a powerful vision of the future. I may be bold to say that where I am today is certainly not where I started.
From a mobile shop to a proud owner of two unique boutique shops. I understand that a well-crafted vision is central to aligning the workforce to a company’s strategic program and motivating people to make change happen.
My vision for the future is to establish a central world class boutique and lay standard boutiques in each state of our great nation Nigeria.
I also understand that when a vision is under-girded with a strong, credible strategy, it becomes evident to stakeholders that the vision is not just a pipe dream.
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