17/06/2018 23:06

Power outage doesn’t make it easy to compose my thoughts online, but well, some parts of the world are still grasping with electrons and what they can do.

There’s an idea on my mind. One I think could fathom out well depending on how I tackle it. It appears as a classical idea, but with its uniqueness in the telling. It’s sci-fi, my kinda thing. The theme is love. And the plan is keep writing about it until the nail’s head is well into the slab.

This great story involves a mad scientist. Or let’s just say a scientist. He’s a bit mad at times though. He’s super smart, gifted. For the most part, I’m still thinking about his characteristics. This is why I decided to pen my thoughts out, so that readers can offer their perspectives and also for the inspiration. I get a lot of positive vibe when I air my thoughts out to potential readers here on WordPress. It’s a feeling akin to that of a footballer in a fully packed stadium — you just want to do your best but at the time be you.

So I decided to name my protagonist Bernard (No, not an idea from Westworld). The name Bernard seems to be balanced in pronunciation. The consonant B (for balance) and the ‘ard’ just give the name that succulence. Well, a name is a name, and truth is I haven’t fully decided on what it is. For all I care, it could be Richard (hell no) or Gabriel (too childish) or Thomas (too complicated). Well, I’m going to go back to researching English names.

Why English, you may ask. For one, my protagonist, Bernard, is a Nigerian. I think he schooled abroad (yes, I’m thinking because I honestly don’t know). Maybe MIT (for the hype) or maybe he schooled in Nigeria (I haven’t decided either). Bottom line is, he’s gifted, he’s a cheeky genius, humorous, and he’s in love (I’d get to that part). But if this story is to get anywhere, I really would want to create a link outside Nigeria. You know, to give it that global vibe.

The truth is, everything is in the air right now where whirlwinds are molding it to something magical. The most important part of my outburst is that YOU get to read me. That is the whole point of I AM A BOOK; that you get to read me as the book.

So, Bernard (for the sake of naming) is getting married. Yea, even mad scientists get married. He’s in love, crazy in love. With… well, in my mind I named her Rachael. I’m just not sure if that’d stick. Rachael loves Bernard for all he is; crazy, socially weird… I think Bernard met Rachael in his time abroad. He loved her from the word go. It was like she lit up his world. What Bernard loved most about her was her high spirits. She had this playful demeanor that made the world look like a kitten’s yarn. And when he yapped about Einstein’s law of relativity and warmholes, she just listened even though he couldn’t tell if she understood or not. She was literally the missing piece to his god formula. Love.

And in a matter of hours, Bernard would be getting married to Rachael. Maybe they’d get married in Nigeria, maybe in the U.S. But I’ve always pictured Nigeria. But it is again Nigerian culture to marry where the girl is from. Well, bottom line is they’re getting married with the full shebang. I thought about giving Bernard a professorship, you know, so that the whole mad scientist chatter would be more than mere hype. So how does Professor Bernard sound? Yea, the surname. About the surname, I decided to give him a name from my tribe, Ebira. The Ebira people are an ethnic group of central Nigeria, Kogi State, aka Confluence State. Yea, that’s where Rivers Niger and Benue meet. As you may or may not know, Nigeria is made up of more than 300 tribes and over 500 languages. What a mix-up, right? A colorful but sometimes calamitous one. It is quite convenient alone that English is the official language. Imagine if everyone went about speaking their different languages. Well, we still know where we’re from. We still remember our history.

How does Bernard Ataba sound? For the record, Ataba in Ebira means mountain in English. Actually the tribal name of my brother (it’s funny how his name got into my story). Initially, I used the name, Adavize, meaning father of wealth. But I just felt Bernard Adavize didn’t sound harmonious. Anyways, Bernard Ataba, sounds just all right with all the b’s. So I can say I have that part cleared.

How Bernard? He’s a Christian, so at baptism he was given Bernard. Of course he has a middle tribal name but that’s not of interest right now. So, yea, Professor Bernard Ataba. I think the name sounds too corporate. Maybe the b’s are too many. But it’s just two b’s. Whatever mehn. I’m actually looking for something that sounds sleazy. I mean, this guy is a crazy dude, a young professor in Physics, the youngest, in fact. He isn’t that bulky. He isn’t rigid in his gesticulations. In fact, he’s a slim dude, like me (but hey, this isn’t about me, not directly). Maybe a bit taller, not too tall to be mistaken for a basketballer, but tall enough.

Rachael could just as easily be Sarah. Hmm… I think Rachael is more of a standalone name than Sarah. Or maybe I just don’t know enough names. I still haven’t figured out a surname for Rachael. Maybe Rachael Smith (sounds too celeb-like) or Rachael Cummins. I know where you minds are darting to at the sound of Cummins, but hey, talk about humor. At least that last name will give many readers a good laugh plus it goes with her personality as a carefree person.

So professor Bernard Ataba from Nigeria is getting married to Rachael Cummins from the United States of A. It should be grandiose or maybe just a humble one. Maybe Rachael isn’t in for all the luxuries that weddings come with. Maybe she doesn’t mind if it’s a big one or a humble one. Or maybe Bernard’s lifestyle as a scientist would just dictate how the wedding would turn out. Scientists tend to move in cliques, so maybe it’d just be his colleagues, classmates, you know, people in his social core. But then again, he’s a Nigerian, and his family might want to blow the trumpet on this one. But then Rachael calls the shots, she’s the one he’s getting married to. It’s just that I have a lot of storylines for a Nigerian wedding. But unfortunately, it’s gonna be an American wedding, in America. Well, we could make that work, I guess.

 

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A Common Mistake

Some months ago, my business partner and I had an appointment with an investor. We were to meet him at his office. When we walked in, he welcomed us and offered us drinks. I was anticipating the outcome of the meeting. I didn’t really believe that people could just dip their hands into their pockets and dole out cash to you because you have a brilliant idea. I was excited because this was a whole new world for me, and maybe such quick transactions actually do happen. As we kept talking about the whole idea, I realized that the investor didn’t talk in the direction of money. He just talked generally about our marketing strategy and gave us some advice pointing out the loopholes in our strategy. His advice was concrete, but I was still very much misplaced. We had talked about everything else, but what about the money, the actual investment? I mean, I watch movies where investors write big cheques for young entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but this meeting didn’t seem any close to the money.

Although I was still surprised that he didn’t talk money, I cherish his advice because there was truly an obvious loophole in our marketing strategy. We had done our research, but we missed something, and this guy pointed out what we missed to us from his archive of experience. We were truly very surprised as to how we could have missed that piece of information, but still, I couldn’t help thinking about the money. The whole point of the meeting was meant to revolve around the money. Well, there was no money, there was just advice.

Young entrepreneurs like me are making the same mistake right now. You have a brilliant idea, and you believe so much in your idea, and you believe the whole world should support your idea, but then you meet an investor and the investor ends up giving you, not money, but advice. Then you’re lost because it is not advice that you need.

A young entrepreneur feeling smart about himself or herself isn’t going to ask for advice, naturally because of pride. He’d be like, ‘I researched my idea, I’ve done everything… these are just elderly guys trying to tell me how I cannot do it and blah blah blah.’ Instead, the young entrepreneur is going to expect money, you know, financial investment, startup capital. But this is the Common Mistake just as the title of this post reads. Young entrepreneurs, instead of seeking advice, they seek money.

I made a post a while back titled Your Guardian Angel. Your guardian angel is in other words your mentor, someone to guide you through the path of business, someone you look up to, someone with some experience. This person will give you advice as you move up in your pursuit. Your mentor will make sure that you commit fewer mistakes. I emphasized in that post the importance of building trust.

You’re meeting an investor for the first time. Hey! Common! You cannot ask him/her for money! Just imagine that a thousand other young entrepreneurs approach the same investor for money. It’s insane, right? Because you just come in with your idea saying, ‘I have a very brilliant idea, I believe 100% in my idea, my idea is the best, I’m going to push competitors off the market. Just give me the cash.” No! A million entrepreneurs can come in that way too, so does the investor keep on doling out cash like that just by word of mouth? Capital NO.

You have to build trust. I know you believe so much in your idea, I know you believe your idea is going to revolutionize the market and whatnot, but you have to build trust. No matter how fantastic your idea is, you have to build trust with a potential investor.

This is a common mistake young entrepreneurs make, we want the money so fast because we want to start. We don’t want somebody telling us what we are missing, we don’t want someone giving us advice. We want the money, you know, just give us the money, believe in my idea right now, believe in it, believe in it, can’t you see it’s so brilliant? Believe in my idea right now, give me your money, give me your money. But it is never going to work that way because money is HARD to come by, money is freaking hard to come by, and no investor in their right senses is going to give you money on the first day.

What you need to do as a budding entrepreneur is to learn. Don’t try to move too fast. What you need to do is learn from these people with more experience, let them feed you with their advice, and as you implement their advice you’re building trust with these investors. Instead of looking for an investor, look first for a mentor.

A mentor is an investor. Yes, because when you’re talking about investment, you’re not just talking about money. Parents ‘invest’ in their children by sending them to school. Investment is such a broad term. A mentor could also invest in you by giving you advice. It’s the same investment. It’s all about understanding the term investment. You have to know what you’re looking for exactly, because an investor could invest in you in so many ways. So don’t get sad and depressed when the money doesn’t come by the way you think it should. Money is hard to make, this is why you should give the investor a valid reason to put his hands in his pocket and dole out that freaking hard-earned cash. Give him the best reason in the world. You have to impress the investor. But I’d advice that you seek mentorship first before cash. Because to tell you the truth, mentorship is cash waiting to happen. If you can build enough trust with your mentor then it’s all a matter of time, because one day that mentor is going to call you and say, ‘Look, I think you’re ready, come take some cash.’ It’s all about trust. In the world of money, trust is everything.

In what way are you trying to build trust with a potential investor? Let us know, comment below.         

The Recession Goldmine

Yesterday, I was browsing through Punch online newspaper, and I read that the Nigerian Naira has fallen even deeper against the dollar and now stands at ₦500 to $1. To say I was saddened is an understatement. I felt helpless, and at the same time, angry. How long will things keep getting worse? This is what every Nigerian is asking right now. No one knows the future of the country if things continue this way.

My country, Nigeria, is in recession. For some months now, up to a year, prices of commodities have been sky-high. People can’t afford the most basic of foodstuffs anymore. Inflation has flooded the Nigerian market. To say conditions within the country are impossible is barely shedding light on the actual crisis. I mean, people are actually dying!

I’m not a politician or an aspiring politician (well, no one knows the future), but I am a budding entrepreneur that’s learning at the speed of light. And one thing I know is that even the darkest cloud has a silver lining. Nigerians can choose to sit and watch as things get worse, or we can choose to make the best out of the current situation. How we go about this? By digging out the root of the problem. And what is the problem? The problem is that Nigerians don’t patronize homemade products. 99% of what we consume are foreign made. Even the oil we are so richly blessed with is shipped abroad for refinement. The problem is a fundamental one.

This is why my partners and I are starting up our business, because we want to redefine the state of the Nigerian market. We are social entrepreneurs who not only want to make profit, but also want to change the consumer behavior of the average Nigerian. Why do Nigerian prefer foreign goods to homemade good? I’d tell you why, Quality. Nigerians don’t trust the quality of what they produce, it sounds crazy but it’s the truth. The problem isn’t that Nigerians are not productive (there are over 1.2 million registered business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), I’ve done my research). Therefore, anyone who’s bringing a solution to the table at these trying times first has to tackle the issue of diversity in productivity, quality, and then awareness, because the reason why Nigerians are overdependent on foreign products is that they have more appeal compared to their local counterparts. These giant global companies know how to brandish their products in people’s faces by force.

I don’t know how many Nigerians are going to read this, but there is a loud wake-up call disturbing Nigerians to unite and solve this pitiful crisis. More entrepreneurs need to spring up. Every Nigerian must ask himself/herself what he/she can produce. In what way can you as a Nigerian add value to the Nigerian economy? In what innovative way can you influence the Nigerian market?

Please comment your ideas below, let’s all be productive together.

 

Victor Enesi is an entrepreneur and a blogger with a belief that anyone with the right push can become a successful entrepreneur. Like and follow the Facebook page ‘Life of a Budding Entrepreneur’ for instant updates. Stay tuned as we learn together. Cheers. 

Dreams and Ideas

Some weeks ago, I had a dream. What happened was, on that day I was thinking heavily about my startup and as I rested I sauntered into a rather deep sleep. In my dream I was making changes to the business idea, and somewhere along the line, I was making up new business ideas, interesting ideas. Even in the middle of the dream, I was telling myself never to forget once I woke up because I knew how dreams are, once you’re up you could just forget everything. When I eventually woke up, I forgot a little about my dream. It was very disturbing that upon all my zeal to remember I still forgot a little. I immediately took a pen and paper and began to rack my head about the facts I saw in my dream. There were two names, I tried remembering one, but it didn’t stick, so I jotted down the other bigger idea.

Most of my ideas come in dreams. Even last night I had a horrible dream that could translate into a very mouthwatering horror story (I don’t know if I’d eventually write it though, I should). Ideas creep in in those moments when our bodies are in complete rest, when the brain is on fire. When we’re at sleep, the brain is on hyperdrive and all our thoughts come into focus.

The series Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was a nightmare James Cameron (filmmaker) had when he was seriously down with fever. It is through the same dream process he came about the movie blockbuster Avatar. Stephenie Meyer’s weird dream about a human girl and a vampire boy later came to be what we know as Twilight. The shape and structure of DNA that eluded scientists until 1953 was dreamt by the scientist Dr. James Watson. Down the ages, so many innovative ideas we know about today were dreamt up.

Have you ever dreamt of any idea you so badly want to bring into reality?

The Capital Frustration

When I started out to execute my business idea, it was with so much zeal and passion. I wanted to cause change in the society, develop the economy and influence the market in an innovative way. I still hold this mission dearly. I and my Co-founder started looking for funds to push the business idea forward. I made calls to family members to tell them of my new focus. They wished me well and promised their support when capable. I was filled with the confidence that telling people about what I was doing brought me.

Time would go on and although the drive was high as ever, the funds were not forthcoming. The economy was bad and is still bad (You can check out the naira-dollar exchange rate to buttress). Responsibilities were piling up and family was straining financially, so support from family was understandably not forthcoming. I contacted more potential investors, at some point I traveled to Abuja (capital city) and met with everyone I could meet there concerning the business. Some gave their advise, but money was still a hard resource to come by.

It’s frustrating when you harbor so much passion and enthusiasm about an idea without the necessary resources to see it through. Capital is every entrepreneur’s challenge. Even after initiation of a business idea, you still need capital to keep it afloat. Sourcing for that much needed capital can be very frustrating. Even passion needs to be continuously fed with something, and lack of capital can stunt the growth of your idea.

Are you facing the challenge of raising capital for your business idea? Comment below your feelings.