Home

I’ve being thinking about what my first blog post should be, I’ve started writing and then I stop because I just wasn’t feeling it. Then I come across the caption below on twitter and then I get inspired…I hope you enjoy reading it because I gave it a lot of thought 🙂

IMG_5203

It is true that there is no formula to be an entrepreneur, I’ve met all kinds of entrepreneurs who have achieved different levels of success in different ways, some have inspired me and some have well…God bless our hustle sha….

Grit: Defined as courage and resolve; strength of character. Listen if you are an entrepreneur in this my great country Nigeria you need a triple dose of grit and even more if you are in the Agric sector. The margins are low and the work is ‘high’ aka A LOT. 99.9% of my plan did not go according to plan and there were days I won’t want to get out of bed. There were a lot of tears, a lot of worry and a lot of anxiety but in the end I just had to pick myself up and move on. As the months rolled by, the worry and the tears reduced because somehow things worked out, not perfectly but it was good enough to keep me hopeful. Also I think I just got over the whole thing and moved on. Even when something horrible goes wrong it doesn’t throw me off-balance as much as it used to because of my past experiences, the tough times made me stronger and I’ve exercised my faith muscle long enough. You really have to believe in your idea and have the audacity to follow through regardless of the storm. Through grit and perseverance we expanded out product range from just tomatoes.

IMG_5183

IMG_5020

IMG_4222

Humility: Defined as the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance. When you start out, you have this quiet or loud confidence about what you are going to achieve, you have a plan and a good idea of how you are going to execute. Then you start and you are like oh ‘SHITTT’ this wasn’t the plan. Then you begin to realise that there are a lot of moving variables you assumed you could control only to realise that you can’t. Then after a while you abandon your plan and go into survival mode. Your environment forces you to change your priorities and quite frankly some of your original goal. Your goal goes from generating 500,000 naira to covering operating expenses. It’s kinda funny now but then it wasn’t a joke o. I began to realise that I needed to focus on the tiny bit I could control and try to find the most efficient way to work successfully with factors outside of my control. Everything is truly by the grace of God. I’m a very humble somebody now o, I’ve learnt to listen more and speak less. I don’t have a point to prove. You must treat everybody with respect, they might be potential customers or business partner or source of valuable information. Just as important I learnt that I must treat every challenge and failure and a great teacher. I can’t waste my mistakes, I have to get someone out of it. This is not about false humility, it’s genuine. I humbly state that we grew from 2 green houses to 7 green houses this year!

IMG_2630 In Feb we had only 2 green houses

IMG_3858 By November we had the equivalent of 5 and by December we had 7 (2 are missing from the pic).

IMG_3687A locally fabricated green house, which presented a number of challenges. Work in Progress….

Empathy: Defined as the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. I’m not really sure about this one. I was very empathetic to my staff till they started messing up, will expand on this later. However one way I have tried to show empathy is to my fellow farmers like sharing information willingly and connecting them to the market whenever I can. But during financial negotiation I show empathy for only me and NextGen o! Please the hustle is real!!!

Fan the flames of luck: To truth is, in spite of everything that has gone wrong a lot of things have gone right. I’ve been incredibly lucky. Please bear in mind that luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. We started out with 2 green houses in February and we closed the year with 7 green house. 2 of which were gifted to me. Chai…God is Good. Then I got the opportunity to meet the President and tell him about what we were doing at NextGen. Then on top of that I was in The Guardian and The Nation online with President Buhari and other high level civil servant officials. Then next thing I’m talking to the first lady of Lagos state Mrs Ambode about NextGen and then Dizengoff decides that it’s in their best interest to include me in their documentary (I remain humble 🙂 ) Is it beans…abeg jo…helep me and thank the Lord.

IMG_2725

Photo: International youth day celebration

IMG_2738With HE President Buhari

IMG_3104With HE Mrs Ambode

IMG_3745 With the Dizengoff crew!

Friends and Partners: For most entrepreneurs our friends and families are our first clients. But my people they cannot make you rich o but they can help you keep the lights on. I’m super grateful for them because I’m very certain that I won’t have made it this far without their support.

You have to be very careful about bringing partners on board. I’ve had a few failed attempts and for that reason I’m not bringing in any partners till we are fully stabilized. Working with people presents a lot of opportunities with a sprinkle of challenges. I’ve come to realize that it’s much easier to work with people who have similar core values, who are aligned with your vision and have similar work ethics. I’ve found that people talk a good game but when it comes to execution it’s a totally different story. Quite frankly I’m weary of people who talk too much and over promise. I find it quite distracting actually.

IMG_4993 My team working with one of our partners to set up their green houses. We are now in the business of training and consulting, unofficially

IMG_4988

I totally agree with the 3 main management challenges in a start up

Time: When you are heading a start-up you wear many hats. I’m CEO, CFO, Head of Strategy, Agronomist, Delivery woman and I’m actively involved in all farm activities from sterilizing the soil to harvesting the tomatoes. I’ve tried to delegate but I’ve achieved only a limited amount of success. But I can never ever delegate CFO duties…counting my money gives me great pleasure :-). I’m actively trying to rebuild my team, it’s apparently an ongoing process. I’m spent most of my time in 2015 getting a thorough understanding of the business. 2016 I’m going to spend it building structures, processes and a strong team.

People: How you hire, manage and fire. I’ve had a 100% turnover and that’s terrible. I’ve unfortunately had to fire most of them and 1 left on his own free will. To be honest I hold myself responsible, I was new in the game and didn’t know who was going to be a right fit or not. I’ve had to let them go for several reasons from lying to stealing to consistently turning up for work late to laziness. The thing is that when you are dealing with people on that level you can’t really blow grammar, bottom line is that can they work hard or not, lying sucks but as long as you are not stealing that’s ok. This experience has helped me structure my business and processes more efficiently

Money: The business is self-financed from savings and United Bank of Dad, Mum and Family. All grants and funding applications I have made has been unsuccessful but we thank God. The good thing is that when you know you have to manage the small money you have, you become more diligent.

The journey to this point has had a lot of challenges but it has definitely been worth it. Knowing what I know now would I have done things differently? HECK YEAH!!!!!

IMG_3397Reaching for the highest point I can ever reach

IMG_3761Guess I’ll see you at the top

Happy New Year guys!!!! Thank you for taking time out to read this. Hope this year is better than last year! Have a good one!

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “What I learnt in 2015

  1. Hey Kofo. Just woke up to your article. What an inspiring way of starting a new day. This write up deserves a Pulitzer. Great! Honest! Thorough! And straight to the point!

    I wish you a lot of 2016 goodies and success.

    PS: try and write more!

  2. Truly inspiring article as always! Love your hustle & honesty …2016 will be an amazing year don’t worry😉

    All the best & never ever give up, you’ve come this far…keep going.

  3. No frills description of an impressive journey. I am paying attention.

    Please, share your experience on the DIY tunnel.I would love to build one- I have pored through books and i have access to :
    Uv stab. polythene (150,180,200 micron)
    Insects netting
    Windbreak net- makes sense for wooden structure like you have in the picture.
    Grow bags.
    Soil innoculants
    Woven groundcover,e.t.c

    • Many thanks! You seem to have better materials than I used to build your tunnel. I used nets but the local ones and not entirely sure what you mean by wind break net. I built mine like a regular structure using local material but the roof is uv treated, I think mine 150 as well. I originally used the normal one but it didn’t last more than 3 months. I used local nets and wire mesh with tiny holes for the sides. So far so good, it’s what I use to raise my nursery but will try and grow some crops in there in a month. Let me know if you have any specific questions and how yours turns out. All the best.

  4. I am highly inspired and challenged by your dexterity, honesty & brilliance. waoh! If only we had more women like u.
    Do u grow organic? If yes, do u offer trainings?
    I am an aspiring organic farmer.
    Pls I’ll like to ask where u sourced the film for the roof of your locally fabricated greenhouse.
    Also relating to your Tomato nursery chronicles, where else can one lay hands on the seed starting mix (Jardin) or the cocopeat, perlite etc, if not resident in lagos. Do u know if dizengoff sell their products to farmers who dont own their kits? I cant seem to find any information on thier products and sales on the net.
    Thanks for sharing, God bless your fields!

    • Thanks for your kind words. Yes dizengoff sells to people that don’t own a kit. I’m a conventional farmer. If you are on Instagram do a search for Ope farms, they own an organic farm. Unfortunately Jardin/Takiforce is from Jubaili and they are based in Ibadan. There might be other retailers here in Lagos but I don’t have a contact. I got my UV film from Pam – 09056915696 08069775913

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s