Inspiring Change Through Literature and Media
I had a time of my life as an employee.
As a matter of fact, watching my career grow from when I was a very clumsy entry level staff to when I became a decisive and confident Business Analyst and later Manager is enough inspiration for anyone. Truly, nothing is impossible with God who will also work about anything out for anyone who has the guts to give it all it takes…
Fun as it all was however, nothing compares to the feeling of fulfillment, empowerment and liberty to ‘live out ones dreams’ which comes with self employment.
Especially if beyond survival, one is fortunate enough to be able to operate out of her or his area of passion; or in order words, monetize or find economic value and societal relevance for what causes him to tickle.
I’m speaking from that stance with a grateful heart friends, and even though I can’t say I have ‘arrived’ yet, nothing compares to the joy that wells up from a ‘knowing’ that I’m heading ‘there’… and that I will ‘arrive’ safely some day soon.
So help me God.
And like I always say, many thanks for saying Amen!
I’m sure you will thank me some day for keeping it real and not waiting till I’m fully ‘there’ and it’s all so hard to believe before sharing all these…
Fulfilling and fun as livelihood from ones area of strength can be however, there are those low days when one is tempted to just throw in the towel and return to paid employment.
Talking about those days when the turn out of events forces the realities of having to ‘stand alone’ hit you straight in the face.
For instance, days when you need to multitask and provide services your business can’t afford to pay for as yet…
More specifically, days when, say you are going to defend a business proposal, and being driver, marketer and business development manager all in one, you have to battle your way through the typically terrible Lagos traffic in the hot sun amidst struggles with other road users, sometimes ‘irate’- you know those ‘blessed’ Lagos danfo drivers and okada riders….
… And you are expected to still arrive early, with your composure, decorum and of course make up intact, and to still hit your points with impressive enough vocab to convince your client that your company is capable and worthy of their investment … not minding that you are the clerk, typist, driver, project manager, messenger, auditor, cashier, accountant, solicitor, HR, to mention but a few…
And in my peculiar case, you are also a woman!
Now let me pause briefly to offer a piece of advise to anyone seeking to quit paid employment soon… In fact, to anyone thirty and above still in paid employment anywhere on my side of the globe…
If you are already planning to quit your job for self employment someday, then good for you! Fact is in our economy, you necessarily should, and the earlier you start preparing for that day, the better for you.
I am not a doomsayer, but tell you what- if you are not in civil service, and you do not work for an oil conglomerate or any fully grounded company,(and many people don’t); if you’ve worked for close to ten years or are in middle management, your days are truly numbered on that seat.
Someone must be sweating and puffing in annoyance at my sayings right now… But tell you what, not that it’s totally impossible, but people hardly get to work till retirement age in an average private sector company around here these days…
These are the few available options:
-remain there a few more years,
-get another job and move on, and then another and another…
-company folds up and you are forced to leave,
-company gets acquired or downsizes and you get fired,
-you get tired of the whole setting and quit, or
-you exit to start your own business
I promise to back up my point with some statistics someday.
However for today, the point I’m trying to make is this: please try to acquire as much skills as you possibly can while still on your paid job because when you quit, especially to set up your own business, you are probably going to have to multitask and provide services your company can’t afford to pay for in the early years.
At best, you might need to make as many friends as possible in various fields today whose services you might need to barter for with yours someday. Who knows?
You’ll definitely thank me for this piece of advise sometime soon. Wish someone had told me this while still in paid employment.
Now where was I?
Yes, back to my gist on those blue days when one just feels like quiting and returning to paid employment.
I awoke that Saturday morning a few months ago feeling so excited. Mr Peter (not real name), owner of ‘Peters Chickens’ (also not real name) had finally called me the previous night for an appointment by 12 noon that day.
At long last! Was I elated!
Never mind that I was the only one on the duty roaster at my Retail Outlet that morning. (Get my drift? I also still share the duty roaster with my staff). Mr Peter’s late night call had left me with no chance for any alternative arrangement.
That meant business would suffer all morning, but I wasn’t too bothered, knowing what we stood to gain if we won that contract.
I was a regular customer at ‘Peters Chickens’, and though I had never met Mr Peter prior to that time, I had been able to pick areas where my services would be required as well as put together a winning proposal from some lapses I’d observed in their operations, coupled with the little information I had carefully gathered from the staff. Besides, there was no Retail System in place to manage their transactions.
I had dropped the proposal about two weeks earlier, and finally, here was the dream call I had been waiting for. Expectedly, I slept late that night trying to tidy up my demo as well as brush up my presentation.
I woke up excited, dressed up and went over the demo again to dot my i’s and cross my t’s. I couldn’t wait till 12.
At 12pm prompt , I was ushered in to meet Mr Peter armed with at least three impressive gadgets… to further convince my client that though a lady, I’m a real geek and my company is up to the task.
Mr Peter received me warmly. He was working on his laptop, fumbling and battling with some hand-written invoices with a pen, a notebook and a very big calculator. He looked so stressed and funny I almost laughed. And trust me, that kind of cued me in for one of the most impressive presentations I’ve given in a lifetime.
Mr Peter listened very attentively, and in fact requested to see the demo, which I presented with much excitement. I was too sure we had this business.
But you can never guess Mr Peter’s response after the whole thing…
“A Retail Solution is NOT in my budget for now. I can’t even afford one. All I need is how to improve my operations, which is sell more frozen beef and chicken to my clients faster. And then if I can get an accounting system… My staff are too dumb and wouldn’t be able to operate a Retail System… bla bla…
Having gone through my proposal, why on earth did he ask me to come do a demo when he knew a Retail Solution wasn’t it for his company? Why waste my precious time when he knew he couldn’t afford my services?
I really could have gone on to persuade him, but I could see clearly from the look of things that there was simply no point. The guy was obviously broke: the hand-written receipts, big calculator and notebook now made sense. Besides, he would never understand. Being an ex- banker who knew only about accounting systems, he had chosen to close his mind to every other thing. It had to be something he was familiar with or nothing.
Negotiation wasn’t even an option here: I humbly packed my gadgets and stood up to bid him farewell. But boy, was I livid!
In my few months as a ‘marketer’ never had any client asked me to come do a demo just for the fun of it and knowing he couldn’t afford my services. It had always been proposals, demo, negotiations, and then we sign up.
Please pardon my lack of experience. I’m not a marketer by training- I only became one out of necessity.
I left close to tears and guess what, I deleted Mr Peter’s number almost immediately. Agreeably childish of me, but maybe the fact that my Retail Outlet had been left to suffer all morning made matters worse.
It took my hubby reminding me later that day that marketers often travel across continents only to get ‘bounced’ to cheer me up …
And you guessed right… I haven’t found any need for Mr Peter’s kind of chickens since that very day… *wink naughty me…
And as though my experience with Mr Peter wasn’t enough for a month, about two weeks later, I heard of this old lady who needed an inventory system for her boutique. Let’s call her Madam Ayoka (not real name).
I sprang into action, prepared a winning proposal which I dropped with her staff, and backed it up with a call.
Madam Ayoka was grateful for my call and proposal, and did promise in Queen’s English to call back for an appointment
A few days later, I happened to be passing by the complex where her outlet is located, so I decided to pop in to see if I could by any chance see her… A ‘marketer’ never misses such opportunities you know.
As I entered the parking lot, I called to confirm she was in before putting off my engine; and to my uttermost dismay, this was her response with this heavy Ibadan accent
“Dhid hI hask you to khome? Do we haf han happointment?”
“So sorry for intruding Ma’am”, was all I could say, as I quickly ended the call wondering what had happened to the Queen’s English. She was obviously having a bad day, but I took it so personal.
I was so angry that I ‘bashed’ the car parked behind me when I made a blind reverse to hurry out of the parking lot without checking my rear mirror. That, of course became another issue entirely as the owner of the car didn’t find it funny one bit!
Don’t ask me how I escaped, all I can say is God delivered me!
However, I need to let you know that I never gave up on Madam Ayoka. I am still very much on her case till date considering what we stand to gain if that contract pulls through. I have only just changed my strategy. Na money matter so I have to swallow my pride you know.
Somebody, please wish me luck and God’s favour. Trust me to give you a progress report shortly *winks.
Funmi Adebayo (c) 2013