MOFOLUSADE SONAIKE : MUMPRENEUR TOUR DIARY
Mumpreneur Tour Diary
Day 1: The Jobmag Center, Yaba
The panel for the Kick off session had Mr. Femi Onakanren, a serial entrepreneur, Mrs Maureen Iyasele, Sme coach and Founder The jobmag Center, our hosts of the day and of course your mumpreneur, Mofolusade Sonaike. It turned out to be a great mix of the passionate cheerleaders and the cynic who kept us grounded. Guess who our cynic was? I am not telling. Lol
We kicked off at a few minutes past 10, I was challenged to meet the first mumpreneur already waiting at the Center. The women we met today mainly had challenges with figuring out how to kickstart their new ideas and transition from full time employment to entrepreneurship. As is the case with many of us, our heads run amock with ideas that are all over the place and we often cannot move forward unless we streamline. Here are a few highlights from today’s sessions.
1. Defining exactly what it is you want to do is critical
As basic as this might sound, it can get complicated and more often than not it does. It requires some brain storming and analysis to be able to drill down to your specific business offering. What is it you are offering to the market? Is it a product or a service? What is this product or service? You also need to keep it as simple and make it as clear as possible.
2. Build expertise
Before you jump into any business, you need to be informed about what the business entails and get knowledge on the subject matter. How? Get training for instance, get a mentor or volunteer/intern with someone who is already doing what you want to do. Nothing beats experience.
3. Avoid the trap of over analyzing, get out there and do
By the end of the sessions today, we had named Maureen the “Do-er”, lol! But hey like she kept saying, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. You can build financial models, draw up business plans and put down the best strategy on paper, until you actually get out there and do something, you will never know anything. Running a pilot of your business helps you get clarity.
Mumpreneur Tour Diary
Day 2: Gmoty Fashion Hub, Amuwo Odofin, Mile 2
Today was different, Mr. Kehinde Olagbenjo made a guest appearance for one of the sessions, so mumpreneur was a “lonely Londoner” for the most part of today’s sessions.
Omotola Omesebi, our host and founder of the hub, did a great job of spreading the word in her community, she had seven women waiting back to back to go through the sessions, most of which were either her current students at the fashion training school or past students running their own outfits already. So we has a some women who just didn’t know exactly where or how to start and some others who were looking to expand their market reach or reposition.
Here’s a summary of the top take aways from today;
1. Be specific and detailed about your target audience
Many times when you ask people who their target audience is, they generalize and say things like – Women, Children, low to medium income earners (whatever this means, lol) etc. I got a lot of that today and helped these mumpreneurs realize the need to drill further to a more specific audience. When I think about it, it’s a bit of wishful thinking to want to target all the women in Nigeria for instance with limited resources as a startup in the fashion industry. Serving your immediate community is hard enough, and if you can do that and do it well, you are more likely to have a business as opposed to trying to reach a market, you do not have the resources to cater to.
One quote that I saw recently put it this way, when you try to talk to everybody, you end up talking to nobody. When your message is clearly targeted at a specific audience, your marketing efforts will almost always hit the target. For instance, a fashion designer who targets strictly plus sized women, is more likely to stand out and attract her target audience than a fashion designer who does every and anybody. Point is, to drill down to specifics, so much so that your ideal customer or target is a person you can visualize.
2. A strong online presence is important
One of the participants lamented that she has had challenges attracting premium customers that can pay for the quality she offers. To her mind, she had identified her location as the reason for this and was considering relocating her store front to the island. While location can influence the cadre of clients you attract, social media and online mareting have removed such limitations and given businesses access to new markets without breaking the bank.
To buttress this, I gave her examples of businesses doing very well operating strictly online. Your positioning online is important and can send a message of either a premium or an inexpensive brand. There has to be a deliberate and consistent effort which is evident in your visual elements, the type of pictures you post (pictures are everything! I tell you), the way you communicate, your affiliations and mentions amongst other things. There’s a lot more to this, but this is just a summary and I am keeping it simple.
3. Get a handle of your finances
Many of the women I spoke to today listed finance as one of their top challenges. I asked them to assume I was an investor looking to invest in them and then asked them to tell me precisely how much they needed and what they needed this amount for, I spared them the complexity of telling me what that investment would yield if they got it (not that, it isn’t important).
Let’s just say, all of them left convinced that finance was the least of their problems, Lol! I will be getting a lot of assignments turned in next week and we will take it from there.
If you have a business idea, don’t be scared to put pen on paper or hands on keyboard as the case may be to create your road map, set targets and timelines. A business model canvas is a great tool to get you started.
I must sleep now, we have Gbagada to tackle tomorrow. Let’s see what that locations holds.
Mumpreneur Tour Diary
Day 3: Jenniez School Of African Interior Design, Gbagada
When I was setting dates for the tour, I totally forgot today would be good Friday, a holiday. It’s funny because when in my banking days, I knew every single holiday on the calendar through the year, because I always just couldn’t wait. Lol. Anyways, I was a bit apprehensive today, wondering if the women who signed up for this location would show. If there’s anyting I have learnt in my entrepreneurship journey however, it is the determination to get up, dress up and show up, consistently even when I don’t feel like it. That’s what I did and yaaay, they showed.
I must appreciate my Brand Manager and Camera crew, they have been even more committed to this than I have been. Always ready to go. You guys rock!
My first participant was someone who only heard about the tour in passing a few days ago. She did mention that she was going to come, but I wasn’t sure she would, afterall it was a holiday. Alas, just as I got to the location and we started setting up, she walked in. Talk about someone who really wants to change her game! Go mama!.
Here’s a summary of the top take aways from today;
1. Yes you are multi talented, but it’s more effective to Streamline
I don’t know if this is just my observation, but when you ask a Nigerian woman what she does, they always start with a sigh… like hmm, where do I start? Lol. This is because most times, they do myriads of different things, sometimes even totally unrelated. One of the women I met with, has a catering side hustle and runs a fashion outfit.
While it is good that we are oh so gifted and can multitask, streamlining and focusing on doing one thing and perfecting it is a key to success. Running a business that is properly structured requires a lot of work, work that is attractive and a lot that is un-attractive. To get the best results, I always suggest building and setting up one business at a time.
2. Be clear on your business offering and communicate this clearly
Don’t confuse your potential clients. If you can’t communicate what your business offering in a simple sentence, it’s probably too complicated and needs to be simplified. Your business must have a core purpose i.e. the problem it was set up to solve. You can then define the services that business will offer in a clear and concise way.
What problem are you set up to solve? Henry Ford wanted to democratize the automobile – make it available to everyone. Bill Gates wanted to put the PC inside every home in America. Steve jobs wanted to put the powerful computer inside a phone – make it very easy to use.
3. Don’t Operate Blind – Document your plan
I am sure you might be looking at this and wondering, this goes without saying, but hey from what I have seen, a good number of us have that phobia for sitting down and documenting our plans before we launch. I have also observed that this is so because we have this grandiose ideas about what a business plan should look like. Maybe some high level 50 page document with financial projections and models. Lol!
A business plan simply put is just your road map, unless you are applying for a grant or a bank loan, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. It is meant to make you think about how you want to get from point A to point B. How much do you want to make this year? How many clients do you need to get you to that target sum? What are the things you need to put in place to serve that number of clients effectively? How much will it cost you to acquire and serve those clients. It can be that simple. You can break this down into monthly goals and objectives or even weekly, whatever works for you.
I enjoyed chatting with all these different women this week. Special thanks to Maureen Iyasele of the Jobmag center, yaba, Omotola Omosebi of Gmoty Fashion hub, Amuwo Odofin and Jennifer Chukwujekwe of Jenniez School Of African Interior Design, Gbagada. Next week we tour Ikeja, Ikoyi and Lekki. You can still register if you haven’t .
Mumpreneur Tour Diary
Day 4: The Plectrum Hub, Ikeja
We took Monday off to join Bellafricana in celebrating African creatives. It was a successful event that pulled together veterans in the Nigerian entrepreneurship space as well as the new much younger businesses all doing innovative things.
The tour kicked off anniversary activities at the Plectrum Hub. The Hub was launched fully in April last year and is celebrating the one-year mark with different activities all week long. The sessions held in Ikeja were quite interesting and as usual I will share the highlights here.
1. Don’t get fixated on a particular element of your plan, be flexible in your approach
I have been down this road before. When I started my first business, I had this big picture of a super ecommerce website that would do all sorts of things. I wasn’t ready to move on till I had it exactly the way I wanted it. Even the designer I engaged advised me to start off with Facebook pages first but I wasn’t having it. So there I was not moving forward because I felt stuck. We went from design to design. I kept putting everything off till after the website.
When my first participant started to mention a particular concept she had hinged on getting a shop in a particular location, I immediately remembered that. She kept saying I have this plan once I get the space, I will do that once I get the space. Now it is good to know what you want and go for it, by all means. It becomes a problem however when it holds you hostage and you put everything else on hold because of it.
Guess what, I got my website eventually, but I never sold one single thing through that website because while I was so fixated on the website and it’s look and feel, I totally left out the important part, selling! It was beautiful, just as I pictured, but it didn’t convert.
Have a plan by all means, but don’t be fixated on one particular path. There are many ways to kill a cat. Keep your mind open.
2. Life is in stages, Understand your reality and work around it
This is specifically for mumpreneurs. Most of the women I have spoken to during the course of this tour struggle with juggling raising toddlers (especially between the ages of 1 and 6) and running their business. One of them who bakes cakes, said she has to ensure all cakes for the day are out of the oven by 3p.m at the latest so she can do school run. Of course once the children are back with her, all major work comes to a halt pretty much.
I know many other mumpreneurs can relate to this. My boys are a bit older now and so it is less crazy for me, but I passed through this phase when I felt my productivity was at its lowest because I had toddlers to nurture. My advise to most of them is summarized below.
This is your reality; accept it. Put yourself on a routine, planning around the children. If you are in business for the long haul, know that the business is not going anywhere, especially if you take the needed time to set up a structure and document your systems and processes, such that any other person can execute.
Your Children on the other hand will grow up and move on some day, so enjoy this period with them, and do your part to instill the right values in them. Secondly, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The second mumprener I spoke to said she gets help from her Mum and her sisters when she is overwhelmed. They mind the children temporarily when she needs to attend to other things.
All in all, it’s a phase that will pass. Plan and take one day at a time.
I realize that each time I speak to these mumpreneurs, the learning is both ways. I always come away with something myself. Tomorrow we go to Ikoyi.
April 26, 2017