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Monday, November 24, 2014

Oba Ilobaa: Remote Management Hack







Sitting idly in a hotel room in Accra, I lazily swiped through my phone scrolling through photos taken at the Cape-Coast castle the previous evening. I pondered on the business angle of slavery and the operational management systems employed to export human beings. The thought of business jarred me back into my own reality, my young Laundromart business is in Lagos, Nigeria. What are they doing right now? Are today’s sales better than yesterday’s? Are they treating customers’ right? Are they pilfering from sales? On and on...

Now let us set something straight right away, if these are among your biggest business worries then your chances at growth from point A to B is still very slim. Your job is to grow the business not sweat operations.

Here are top 9 Reasons I can vacation at Seychelles for a month (if I like) and not worry that my business will crumble in that time.

1. Receipts and invoices for every dime in and out. Keep a record book. Make it electronic this is 2014.

2. Inventory Control. We never store more than a week’s supplies. Saves storage space and avail a more easily monitored inventory

3. iP camera. This is my new favourite pastime. When am stuck at airport lounges, rather than play candycrush I log in and watch live videos of the store. Try it.

4. e-invoicing. We got rid of paper receipts within 6months of opening. Checkout http://www.salesforce.com/ and https://www.salesvu.com/ I can remotely log into daily sales and see who came today. When they came. How much they spent and if they were offered any of our frequent discounts. There are FREE versions too. Ask me*wink*

5. Bank alerts. I can’t get sms’ alerts from everywhere but, I can assess via mails to see if sales matches what went to the bank. Monthly bank statement works too.

6. Culture of accountability. If you demand it, am willing to wager your staffs will follow.

7. Feedback from friends who patronise. My friends wish me well so they usually mail me complaints or thumbs up after patronage.

8. Improve your hiring skills. Don’t leave idiots at your office and wonder why they act that way.

9. Healthy dose of trust. “If you must hire the man, trust him. if you can’t trust him don’t hire him”

OBA C. ILOBAA | Email: obailoba101@gmail.com | twitter: @ilobaa | IG: obailoba

Friday, October 31, 2014

Oba Ilobaa : An Entrepreneur, His idea and MONEY













I met Oba when he contacted me to work on the financial projections for his Laundromart business back in 2012. Trust me when I say it all started with an Idea. In this piece, he shares the insights he has gained in starting and running his business for almost 24 months. - David Apaflo


Neatly stacking the well ironed shirts and ‘Natives’ into my school bag, then crosschecked the old GTB diary to confirm the bill and be certain all items were accounted for, I sent the sms and hopped into a ‘danfo’ heading to Ikota to deliver fresh laundry to a customer. This was how I started a laundry business as an undergraduate in the University of Lagos.

Fast-forward this by four years and we have Snowfresh Laundromarts (UNILAG), a Business School certificate, a winner of Diamond Bank BET3 programme, and an admirable network of seasoned entrepreneurs and consultants. The idea was simple then as it is simple now – “to provide laundry service to a large demographic at the lowest possible price at the quickest possible time”.


Interestingly at this time (and possibly till now) I did not consider myself an entrepreneur because I felt One has to earn the title and not slap it on Oneself simply because you can. I have seen many young starters being more interested in the title of CEO than they can sell their business ideas to investors. Don’t rush to print business cards and distribute them like fliers just to impress yourself that you are finally an entrepreneur. Focus on knowing the business of your idea, learning and reading relevant materials, Google is your friend.

I will now try to condense the key lessons I have learned and applied so far hoping you find them as helpful as I have.

1. Money is not what is stopping you from starting, the quality of your idea and presentation is.

2. Start small and grow organically. It is not a cliché

3. If you expect a savvy investor to invest in your business idea out of sympathy for you. You might as well carry a big bowl and ask for alms. Know your Onion.

4. Do not use your startup resources to make a ‘babaringa’ where a simple ‘shokoto’ would have sufficed. Don’t be wasteful of anything.

5. You should not care about opinion polls, except it’s what brings in the sales revenue

6. If the business model is right, profit will delay, then come in trickles and eventually start pouring in. Be consistent.

7. Don’t allow the ‘washerman syndrome’ hit you. Where service quality plunges exactly as customer base grows. Plan ahead.

8. Staff are a thermometer of any business. They directly affect how customers feel about your business. Treat them well.

9. The best time to start is NOW. Take action.

10. There is no 10 bullet point guide to greatness, just one. Excellence!

OBA C. ILOBAA | Email: obailoba101@gmail.com | twitter: @ilobaa | IG: obailoba

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Lessons from a leisure Trip to Tinapa


Sometime in 2012, I was in the beautiful city of Calabar for a few days and decided to visit the popular Tinapa Business Resort. I had dreamed of coming here and since fate made it possible for me to be in Calabar, there was no way I was going back home without visiting Tinapa.

I assembled a team of friends and we were off to Tinapa to see its very large shopping mall, the beautiful scenery and oh THE WATER PARK!

The water park was a sight to behold with several pools, the lazy river and a 60ft water slide. I was determined to enjoy all the facilities to the max and so I did till I arrived at the 60ft water slide. As much as I wanted to slide down it, it looked so high and so steep, I wondered if I was going to fall off on my way down.


I summoned courage and decided to take the slide. Climbing to the top, I realized that it was even much higher than it seemed from the ground. OMG! I should never have come here. Just as I was about going back, a young boy came by… swoosh! and he was down the slide. He had been up here before and loved it.

I wondered how this young boy could be doing the very thing I thought was so scary. I concluded he had a shorter body so that would help him and bla bla. I was turning back when I heard the chuckle of some ladies who were just beside the entry point of the slide.

The chuckles went down my ears and it seemed they were laughing at me for going back. It wasn’t a good feeling so I decided to brace up and do it any way. Holding on to the bar above the entry point and letting my legs go first, I could feel the pressure from the flowing water – scary!!!! I thought of going back and just stomach the humiliation I thought the ladies were throwing at me – after all, I don’t know them. I had a few problems though:

1. My feet had gone so far down the slide that I could not find support to climb back up;

2. The rushing waters made matters worse;

3. The young boy was back for another turn at the slide and I was the obstruction.

At this point, I had only one option – SLIDE DOWN. Closing my eyes and accepting to take whatever came my way, I slid down stiffening my body until I was at the bottom of the slide.

Oh wow, I had made it! What a relief. At least the girls would not laugh anymore  Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling as fulfilled as I thought I would be. Yes I had conquered the slide but I didn’t have the fun I was to have because I was so scared as a slid downwards.

I considered taking another turn, but decided otherwise. I’d already had enough. I didn’t go back. He who runs away lives to fight another day right??

What lessons did I learn?

1. Life is to be fun: Just like the inventor of the slide created the slide for users to have fun, God made life to be fun. Don’t take it too serious.

2. People less qualified that you are living your dream: The young boy at the slide was having all the fun I was hoping to have simply because he was taking action and with the right attitude.

3. Sometimes it’s good to burn all your bridges: I was too far down the slide to go back and with all the preceding events, I had only one option, nothing else.

4. Fear would deprive you of a lot: Even though I eventually slid down, I didn’t get the experience. I had performed the action quite alright but didn't get the experience which was the ultimate.

5. People only see the action: Anybody watching me would have assumed I had all the fun since I had gone all the way down. Only I could know whether I got the feeling or not. This makes me realize that we should only do things that make me as a person happy and not for the entertainment of others.

My dear readers, these are the few things I learnt from that experience and hope you learnt something too.

I intend to attend the Calabar Carnival this year and I plan to go five times on that slide. Gotta face the demons. lol

Please share this blog post, subscribe and tell your friends and colleagues about www.davidapaflo.com

Thank you for reading 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

David Apaflo graces the Battle Axe Summit 2014




On Thursday 28th August 2014, I was a guest at the Battle Axe Summit of the Youth Minstry, Foursquare Gospel Church, Gbagada.

I spoke on the topic Starting (business) Small.

It was an interesting question and answer session where I shared my practical experience in my short business sojourn.

I would update this post with the audio and pictures when I get them.

Stay winning and never be afraid to start small!

1 year after



So its one year since I have been publishing posts on this blog and I want to say my mind has been blown by the kind of response I got. The over 25,000 views we have grossed in the last one year doesn't even capture the entire story. The job offers, the scholarships, the encouragement, those things cannot even be quantified.

I started this blog not trying to make money. I was just doing it to find my peace of mind.

I am indeed grateful for everyone who has taken out time to visit this blog whether or not you read a piece. For those who are regular readers, those who promote and share these pieces with their friends.

One of the humbling experiences of writing on this blog has been having people that I have never met calling me up to ask for my opinions on certain issues.

Once again, thank you and please ensure you share this blog with your friends,, family and the rest of the world.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

David Apaflo graces COSOMAS 2nd Annual Mentorship Forum @ Caleb University, Imota


Earlier this year, I was a guest speaker at the COSOMAS 2nd Annual Mentorship Forum @ Caleb University, Imota.

I spoke on the topic "The path to the right: Academic Fidelity" It was an exciting time where I got to speak to the students about taking a stand against exam malpractices.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Business Lessons to learn from Nairaland’s recent shut down




Recently, nairaland was down for a few days and the entire Nigerian cyberspace felt the ripple. As is usual for me, the day starts with checking up the latest news on a few websites including nairaland. That day, I was so shocked to find that nairaland wasn’t up. After about three days offline, nairaland came back up and even though about 5months data was lost, people carried on using the service seamlessly (a few complaints here and there though).

How switching costs locked us in

Here is the interesting part – having read about the psychology of internet users and knowing that the average internet user is impatient, one would have though a three day absence was enough to blow nairaland to obscurity but NO. That didn’t happen. In fact, people were thankful for what was retrieved.

Over the years, nairaland has been a vital source of relevant “local” information. There is literally nothing you cannot find on nairaland. It is sort of like a Nigerian encyclopedia.

The massive data nairaland has built over the years ensured that its users were kept loyal. I mean where else could you get information about very important country issues. I know a friend complained about missing “His NLNG thread” so many other people have threads that they are ‘connected’ to in some way.

With all this, you and I need nairaland badly. There is no substitute and if in a fit of anger, you decide never to use nairaland again, it would only take you a few days before you retrace your steps.

What is switching cost?

Investopedia defines switching cost as
“The negative costs that a consumer incurs as a result of changing suppliers, brands or products. Although most prevalent switching costs are monetary in nature, there are also psychological, effort- and time-based switching costs”.

Typically, If a business sells you something you can't get elsewhere-at least not easily--then that business has high customer switching costs.

High switching cost examples

Facebook – Even though for year I have been saying facebook is now dry, I still go there to check up on friends’ activities. Why can’t I ignore facebook? That is the most complete database of my friends. Where else would everyone be?

PHCN – Power supply is erratic but I would never hesitate to turn of my generator and use PHCN power when available. Reason? It is way cheaper compared to the alternatives.

How we can use it to our advantage

Switching costs enable customers stay hooked on to your business whether they like it or not. Most times a monopoly enjoys this advantage but other businesses can carefully weave high switching costs into their product/service offerings. So the task here is for you to think of how you can make your clients/customers addicted to you offering.

Other lessons to learn from the shutdown

Backup your data – After the crash, I decided to comprehensively back up my data on both cloud and removable storage media. In this day and age, data is everything.

Communicate with your customers if you are having a service problem – Nairaland could have handled this better by letting us know exactly what was happening during the crisis.

I hope you have learnt one or two things from this post. Please share this post if you enjoyed it.

Thank you!
DA

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5 steps to succeed in the CFA Exam



By now you must have read my article on how to bag a CFA Scholarship and most likely already have nicked it. Congratulations!!

Wining the scholarship is just the first step down the line. Below, I share 5 key steps which are guaranteed to ensure you make the most of the CFA exam.


1. Have a study plan and strictly follow it.

2. Read and UNDERSTAND the CFA® Curriculum and/or prep provider’s materials.

3. Do all End of Topic (EoT) questions and blue boxes included in the CFA® Curriculum to check if you understand the material and to review it.

4. Do many tests and mock exams to understand how the exam is structured and to grasp what the exam may look like.

5. Participate actively in study groups (both real and virtual ones) to improve and master your knowledge while asking and answering problematic questions.

You will find all these 5 key ingredients at Soleadea - a CFA Study Portal that helps people aiming for the CFA® certificate prepare for the exam. Soleadea gives the access to study materials and creates common workspace that enables communication among CFA® candidates.

Soleadea CFA Prep materials consist of:

Full time mock exam with explanations, peer comparison and time keeping. It is based on CFA Curriculum and LOSes and follows CFA rules for exam questions.

Around 50 hours of high quality videos. While watching a video you can make your study notes using a special designed feature. It helps you easily grasp crucial information and organize your studying.

2,000 exam-type questions with explanations for level I. You may generate a random test choosing topics, number of questions and time per one question.

CFA Formulas App that you can use in either the learning or practice mode. Both modes allow you to filter formulas by level, topic, reading or formula name.

Study Plan App that you can edit any time, set the deadline reminders and assign days to exam topic you want to study. You can also choose one of the ready-made study plans.

All of these will guide you on your journey to the CFA designation.

As my gift to you, you can get your CFA Prep materials at 10% discount using this coupon code BL11S. Click here to purchase.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Understanding Franchising

What defines a business as a franchise?
Business format franchising can be explained as the granting of a license by one person (the franchisor) to another (the franchisee), which entitles the franchisee to trade under the trade mark/trade name of the franchisor and to make use of an entire package, comprising all the elements necessary to establish a previously untrained person in the business and to run it with continual assistance on a predetermined basis.

Legal Implications of a franchise

Under a Franchise, the two parties the Franchisor and Franchisee are two separate legal entities. What passes from the Franchisor to the Franchisee is simply its trademark.

Examples of Franchises operating in Nigeria
• KFC Being operated by Devyani International Limited
• Mr Biggs being operated by several Franchisors across the country
• Oando Filling Stations across the nation
• Nandos, Coldstone Creamery etc

Franchising and Accounting Networks : The Big Four Accounting Firms issue
According to CAMA, a company auditor must be a member of ICAN or ANAN. For this reason, a limited liability company cannot be a company auditor.

When we see PwC auditing a company, it is simply a group of qualified ICAN or ANAN members practicing under the name PwC. However, other services that do not have the restrictions of CAMA like training etc might be carried out by PwC Limited. For this reason, some people are partners while some are Directors.

Hope this clarifies things.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Harvard Business School Admission


A few days ago Harvard Business School (“HBS”) was in Lagos for an information session at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.

So as it seems, these ivy league schools are paying more attention to Africa. I know Wharton and Stanford have similar events coming up in the next couple of days.

I was at the program and even though I was a few minutes late, I don’t think I missed much.

There was a panel of current MBA students (Class of 2015) and some other Harvard Alumni at the program. The students talked about several things – course work, campus life etc.

We were also given a run through of HBS’ evaluation criteria which is as follows:

• Habit of leadership
• Analytical aptitude and appetite
• Engaged community citizenship

For the admission process, you would need the following:

• Written Application
• Transcripts
• GMAT
• Resume
• Recommendations
• Essay

Some points to note however:

• The average GMAT score for the Class of 2015 is 730 out of a possible 800
• Average age 27
• You need at least 2years of work experience to apply else try HBS 2+2
• Recommendations are very important

Other Statistics:



Source: HBS Website

Once you are successful with the above, you would be shortlisted for an interview which can take place over skype of a one on one. After the interview, you have 24 hours to let the school know if there is anything you missed out which would aid your application but forgot to mention.

For those not aware, an MBA at HBS costs a staggering $300,000 (inclusive of tuition, living expenses and lost income). For my undergrad at University of Lagos, I don’t think I spent up to $7,000 so this is well over 40 times what it cost me to acquire a first degree. HBS however assists their students secure financing and fellowships for the program.

The presentations were over and we began networking. I met a couple of people I knew and some new people too. I met a guy who scored 700 in GMAT had worked at a big 4 audit firm in Nigeria but wasn’t even shortlisted for an interview last year. Suddenly the odds of admission began to dawn on us as we listened to his story.

Leaving the venue that day we reached two main conclusions:

• Our chances of getting in would be almost 100% if we find the missing Chibok girls (lol) did I mention a Nobel Peace Prize to go with it;

• If we do not get into the MBA, we would get into the EMBA just like how if you can’t get on through JAMB, you try Direct Entry :) .

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Switch - From 1.51 CGPA to a 5.0CGPA : The Story of a man named Ifeanyi Nwigwe


As earlier promised, I would be posting interviews with some young leaders on the rise with very interesting stories. First to grace this platform is Ifeanyi Nwigwe who is a Chartered Accountant and currently works with one of the Big 4 Accounting Firms in Nigeria.

In this interview, you get to see how he moved from 1.51 CGPA to a 5.0CGPA.


DA: Hi Ifeanyi, Can we get to know you more?
I am from a humble background where I was taught that what mattered the most was preserving a "good name" over material things and to trust in long term reward as opposed to instant gratification. My parents ensured they gave me the best within their means. I grew up amidst so much affection and care where I was brought up on the tenets of Christianity.

DA: Can you tell us a brief about your undergraduate background?

My undergraduate background is one noteworthy of. When I wrote Jamb in 2006, I applied to the University of Lagos to study Pharmacy but didn't meet the cut off mark so I had to settle for Zoology (afterall we all wanted to be in school). I had no focus at that point. At the end of the first semester, I had a GPA of 1.96 with two re-sits.

DA: Wow, you mean you actually had a 1.96 GPA? How did you handle this?

At this point, I realized I was in trouble, so I picked up the Unilag diploma form and applied to study Economics. I didn't meet up with the cut off mark for Economics so I had to settle for Accounting. Meanwhile I was still in Zoology. At the end of my second semester, I had a CGPA of 1.51 with 4 re-sits bringing the total to 6 re-sits for the coming academic year. By then, I had my admission to study Accounting and I was determined not to make the same mistake.

DA: How did you fare switching from a science background to finance?

I made the switch to Accounting and emerged the best student in the Diploma II/Foundation Programme for the year 2007/2008 with a CGPA of 5.00/5.00. This was the turning point in my career

DA: What vital lesson did you learn from switching fields?
I learnt that with hardwork, focus and dedication you can achieve anything you want to achieve just by giving it your best shot and committing your ways to GOD.

DA: Did you get a job immediately after school?
I didn't get a job as soon as I left school. I had to wait about 8months Post-Nysc before landing my first major offer.

DA: 8 Months? How did you handle the waiting period?

The waiting period was not funny at all. That was the point I finally understood the meaning of "Patience is a Virtue". I tried as much as possible not to be dismayed during the period and I just kept faith and continued trying knowing fully that one day something was going to come up till I landed an offer with one of the "Big 4".

DA: What advice do you have for young career starters?

Remain focused and diligent. Try to develop your soft skills and any other skill necessary to your immediate environment. Never believe the myth that what you learnt in school is irrelevant. Trust me you'll get to use a lot of it (I get to see it daily at work). Be patient and above all be prayerful.

Ifeanyi’s story goes to prove Einstein’s comments where he said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

Are you finding difficulty in that field where you are at the moment majorly due to lack of interest? A switch might be the best for you.

Cheers DA!

Monday, April 28, 2014

CV Enhancements


A CV as we know it is supposed to give a representation of your abilities, experience, achievements and associated information. I have come to realize nowadays that a lot of CVs are “over-enhanced” to the point of telling lies.

A situation where someone who cannot type on a computer is proficient in Microsoft word, excel and powerpoint! Where someone who hasn’t even registered for an exam is writing “CCNA (in view)”.

As a general guide, it is good to enhance your CV. However, do not tell lies that would come back to haunt you. If at all you want to lie, make sure if you are tested you can at least drag yourself through the test with the existing skills you have.
Work experience is another area where people tell a lot of lies! I recently saw a CV of someone who had just two months of experience claim he had two years of experience!!! Believe me, I am not exaggerating.

Imagine this kind of lie? If he finally gets the job, how would he cope? This would only lead to future embarrassment and eventually a sack. He was even oblivious of the fact that previous employers are usually written to give a character and work reference. What a trap he is setting up for himself.

The way forward
Some skills are basic skills every worker is expected to have. For example good command of English and use of basic MS office packages. If you notice you are deficient in an area, try to develop yourself before you state it on your CV. These days the internet provides a plethora of useful information which are most times even better than the education received in most universities in Nigeria.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jim Lafferty on Leadership


A few years ago, I attended a seminar where Jim Lafferty then CEO CocaCola West Africa spoke on leadership. Going through my notes, I found some timeless insights I would love to share with you. Items after this paragraph are from Jim.

Characteristics of good leaders
1. People respect them - What you need in the working place is respect not love.
2. People want to work for them.
3. People feel support & protection.
4. People are loyal to great leaders.
5. People admire them & aspire to be like them.

Leadership emotions are built upon actions, behaviours and interactions.
12 leadership’s behaviours

1. Humble & human – not afraid to admit mistakes, great leaders admit their humanity.
2. Live by the principle “in third”
3. Brutal, 100% honesty, in all shapes and forms.
4. Demand truth and honesty in return and reward it.
5. Do what is right no matter the price.
• A principle is not a principle until it costs you something.
• Leaders must be above reproach.
6. Eliminate the following 3 words: Politics, Positioning,Bureaucracy.
7. Great leaders dream BIG.
8. Have the guts to take risks – calculated risks.
9. When you do something, do it with passion, or don’t do it at all.
10. Believe anything is possible – never say “can’t”.
11. Stay calm when the gun is against your head.
12. Seek to be different.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ARM Young Talent Programme 2014


ARM is one of the most respected financial services brands in Nigeria. ARM is a diversified and integrated, non-bank financial services institution with 18 years investment management expertise. ARM pioneered the execution of infrastructure projects in Nigeria, based on the Public Private Partnership framework. ARM manages total assets of over $2 billion.

The ARM Young Talent Programme (AYTP) is designed to provide exemplary university students with the opportunity to develop an early career at ARM through an exposure to meaningful assignments that offer opportunities to gain real-world experience. The programme runs for a minimum of six (6) weeks each year. It is our chosen way to influence the development of talents in our environment.

I was part of the 2012 AYTP programme and I must tell you it was a wonderful experience. We worked on developing a customer acquisition strategy and brand awareness strategy for the ARM Group.

If you are conversant with 3rd Mainland Bridge, you would notice a huge ARM billboard. That was one of the recommendations we made on ARM’s brand awareness strategy. Also, ARM had a career day in UNILAG recently which was also one of our recommendations.

See my comments on the programme which was published in the ARM 2012 Annual Reports & Financial Statements:

“AYTP was fun, innovative and provided me with learning opportunities. It was great to see young professionals and students entrusted with such a huge responsibility of developing strategies for a company like ARM. The work environment was awesome with interns having unhindered access to mentorship from all staff. It also felt good seeing some of our recommendations implemented after the program. I learnt, made friends and generally had a great time”. – David Apaflo on AYTP 2012

Members of the AYTP 2012 Set @ Lakowe Lakes – An ARM Real Estate Project

I was recently contacted by the firm to notify me of the opening of applications for the 2014 programme. Please click here to find out more.

Brush up your resume and polish yourself for the interview because it is going to be very competitive.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 things every new entrant to the Job Market must know about managing a salary




So you fasted and prayed combining the knowledge on online forums like nairaland and Jarushub.com and finally got a job. Hurray!!! I congratulate you.


This news lands in the ears of your friends and the next thing they tell you is “We go wash am oh”. You also tell your pastor and you are aptly informed of a first fruit offering or maybe you have even decided to give your first salary to your parents as a sign of gratitude.

Before the salary is earned, it is already spent.

The following tips should help every new entrant in the job market concerning managing finances. Some regrettably, I wish I knew earlier.

1. You really do not have to “wash” your new job. While it is okay to be grateful and want to celebrate, going over the top is never a wise decision.

2. Look at your offer letter well and find out how much you are actually taking home. Nowadays, Nigerian employees state salaries at “cost to employer” this means that they lump all benefits you are to receive to form your total emolument. So that 3.5m you see on your offer letter might not really amount to 290,000 monthly. This is because of the following reasons:

Taxes: The government gets a share of your earnings through what is known as PAYE (Pay As You Earn). The average tax rate for earnings between 1.5 -4m is about 6-11%
Pension: You are required to contribute 7.5% of your Basic, Housing and Transport allowance as pension. Now your employer is also to contribute 7.5% but as earlier stated, most Nigerian companies have already included this contribution in the total emolument stated on the offer letter.
Health Insurance: If your employer provides health insurance, there is a high probability that that money goes out from your total emolument stated in your offer letter.
NHF: NHF means National Housing Fund even though few companies in Nigeria comply, you are to contribute to this fund.
Training: Some employers also add this to the total emolument stated in your offer letter.
One-off payments: Some items like leave allowance, passage allowance and maybe 13th month are paid at specific times and so take note.

3. The cost of working: In order to earn your pay, you would have to spend on transportation, feeding etc.

4. Overtime allowances are taxable: This one has had a lot of people disappointed. Yes, even if you toil all night working overtime, your allowances are not tax free!

5. Keep your expenses low: you are finally in Victoria Island with that dream job but if your expenses jump with your income, after a while the job would become annoying because its proceeds would just go into bill payments. Avoid taxis as much as possible (usually 4 times more expensive than regular bus rides), regular eating at fast food restaurants like KFC etc, Friday night outs can gulp half of your monthly pay if you are not careful. A bottle of Hennessey anywhere in VI doesn’t go for less than 25k. You also really do not need to buy all the items hawked in traffic. Fund raising in churches and mosques can also leave you broke if you do not apply wisdom.

6. Join a staff cooperative: If your company has a staff cooperative, join it. It will help you become disciplined with savings and you might be able to take loans at considerate interest rates when you need it.

7. Have an emergency fund: Have at least 3 months of your monthly expenses saved in an account just in case you happen to be out of work at any time.

8. Avoid loans early in your career: Try as much as possible to avoid taking loans very early into your career unless it is really really necessary. This can really take out the joy of earning money for the period the loan repayment lasts. Avoid buying things like mobile phones on credit, save money and buy it.

9. Plan your free cash: Free cash is what you have after you have deducted all the taxes, pension, etc. This is what you can use to achieve those great ambitions you have. Money would not fall from the sky for you to have that wedding you dream of neither would your Range Rover Sport fall from the sky. If you do not manage your free cash, you CANNOT have those things! Knowing how sentimental Nigerians can be, this isn’t a curse it is simple reasoning.

10. Track your daily expenses: This may sound absurd but write down every naira you spend. This helps you know where your money is going.

Now that you have a job, the onus is on you to manage your finances in a way that you can achieve your goals.

If you get an offer and would like expert advice on all the aforementioned, feel free to enlist my services at a fee obviously *wink*.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stanford GSB Information Session - Lagos

With the world's focus on Africa, its no surprise that everyone wants a piece in the African pie.

Representatives of Stanford's Graduate School of Business were in Lagos recently for an information session on gaining admission into the prestigious school.

For those that do not know, Stanford GSB is ranked in the top 3 Business Schools in the world alongside Harvard and Wharton.

The venue for the information session was Radisson Blu Hotel and the Admissions officer Sabah Khan (pretty lady I must say) was on hand to handle the session.

The also gathered a team of Stanford Alumni resident in Nigeria to enable prospective applicants get a feel of he school from the perspective of people who have passed through the system.

Sabah took the audience through a short presentation of Stanford GSB and what they look for particularly stating that they help people achieve careers if meaning and impact. She also talked about the Design School also known as the D-School which got me really interested. She also explained the school's global immersion program in which you will be required to live and work in a country you have never lived in before for a period of about 12 weeks.

The alumni present also enlightened the audience on the environment at Stanford GSB and its very close links to Silicon Valley. They also talked about preparation for the admission process and other related matters.

Shortly after, a question and answer session allowed the audience ask pertinent questions and a few of the questions were:

Q: Who do I get a reference letter from if I run my own business?
A: You can ask a member of your Board of Directors or Clients to write your recommendation.

Q: What in your opinion would you say is the major challenge for applicants from Africa based on your experience?
A
: The GMAT, late applications.

My Key takeaways from the event


1. If you want to apply to Stanford, ensure you apply before the third round because you have much better chances and also as a non-resident, the admissions committee would be concerned about whether they can easily make arrangements for accommodation for you within that short time frame.

2. Practice for GMAT like yur life depends on it.

3. Get strong recommendations to support your application.

4. Stanford actually has a full schorlarship program for African Students!!!!

For more information, see here

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 coming to an end


Wow!!! 2013 has come to an end so fast.

In what has been an amazing year for me, I want to specially thank you for taking the time to read my articles. When we reached 1,000 views, I set a target of 10,000 views by December 31, 2013. We aren't there yet. However, we are just a few figures off the 6,000 views mark.

Beyond the views, I hope you have learnt something from me no matter how small.

Shout out to Blast Magazine, EntreQuo Magazine, Jarushub.com, Under35CEO and my Shelze Consulting team. You guys have been fabulous.

For 2014, we would have more guest writers. Watch out for the interview with the Man who moved from a 2.0 CGPA to a 5.00 CGPA simply by changing direction and much more.

Looking forward to a very successful 2014.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Even Beggars think they need improvement, how much more YOU?

Yes!!! davidapaflo.com now has guest writers!!!! Below is a brilliant piece from Tobi Adeseri.Tobi is a Business Strategist and a Brand Consultant.


Recently, on my way to work, I came across 3 beggars plying their trade as is usual with most places in Lagos. As I walked past them, one called out to me saying "Oga Good Morning, where my own". This statement made no sense to me and I just kept on moving. Walking past them I began to wonder what he meant by that statement and then I heard the other two making jest of him asking "wetin be where my own" then it dawned on me the former guy wasn't as skillful as his other colleagues.

This really took me back to life and made me remember the story a friend told me of a popular beggar that had started building and developing his house and this made me realize that even begging is a skill and the best of them (the guys on the road you give money to out of pity) think they have to perfect their skill to invoke your sympathy.

Drawing inspiration and lessons from every little experience, I made up my mind to take that decision of paying for a book that seemed so expensive yet so valuable because the experience made me realize that the more you improve, the more your chances of getting something from life and the closer you are to achieving whichever goal you have set for yourself.

As I type this, I'm still inspired by my experience because now I say to myself " If beggars see the need to grow and learn, there is no excuse for me to remain stagnant". No doubt, with the lessons learnt, I'd grow the amount in my pocket so I can give when I'm begged in a more professional way maybe. :).

Tobi tweets from the twitter handle @adeseri

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Google 2013 Trends - Behind the statistics (Nigeria)

What would you do if you knew tomorrow? A whole lot right? Today’s behavior is one of the very good determinants of how tomorrow would be. Looking at Google’s 2013 trends list, I put together my own thoughts on these trends. What it could mean for business and also in general.

TOP SEARCHED PEOPLE
5 of the top searched people are sportsmen. This shows that Nigerians are sport crazy. You cannot go wrong with a business that leverages on this fanatic love for sports especially football.

MOST SEARCHED MUSICIANS
With Wizkid, Olamide and Davido all in the top 3, we can tell the under 25s are rocking the entertainment scene. This might not be unrelated to the demographic characteristics of the Nigerian population with a very high percentage of the people below the age of 25. Does Nigeria need a “One Direction” kinda boy band? I think so.

MOST SEARCHED NOLLYWOOD ACTORS
Mercy Johnson & Tonto Dikeh controversy seems to increase the popularity of these celebs. With Mercy Johnson’s earlier reported ban and Tonto Dike’s social media induced marijuana trouble these two are at the top of the search lists. I am a bit surprised Yvonne nelson is not on this list. Lol

MOST SEARCHED NIGERIAN SPORTS PERSONALITIES
Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel, Stephen Keshi, Sunday Mba, Kanu Nwankwo, Obafemi Martins, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike etc. Nigerians are really passionate about the National team. And YES, they care about what is happening to Obafemi Martins’ Career. lol

MOST SEARCHED SPORTS TEAM
Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United. All I have to say is finally we are seeing a category in which Arsenal is ahead of Barcelona & real Madrid. Lol. If Arsenal wins the Premier League title come May 2014, we might be in for a national holiday.

TOP TRENDING EVENTS
ASUU Strike, JAMB 2013. Issues relating to education trended!!!! No 1 & 2. We still need to focus a lot more on providing e-learning opportunities. If the lecturers go on strike, videos would not go on strike.

GADGETS AND PHONES
Tecno is here to stay with three of their phone models in the top 10. Persistence pays!

MOST SEARCHED CARS
Toyota Camry is the most searched car. Jeez. I thought I was the only one looking to buy a Camry now I have to change my mind because everybody wants it. hehehe

WHAT IS?
What is Love showed up at number one? Which company will claim this unfilled spot for a dating website in Nigeria? With Computer, Biology, Government, Education, Economics, Chemistry making the top 10, we can tell that a lot of secondary school students are looking to alternative methods of learning online.

HOW TO
How to Kiss , Love. Fill this space with a dating website. How to Sing, how to Rap… recording studios would not be going out of fashion anytime soon. How to Study – any online learning solutions from Nigeria can profit from this. How to Blog – Linda Ikeji’s rise seems to be leading people into blogosphere. Africa’s online content is certainly on the rise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DA Reflections - Episode 4 : Design for extreme affordability




Design! What does it really mean to design and what does it mean to design for extreme affordability?

I came across that phrase at a Stanford GSB event earlier this year where someone was talking about Stanford’s D-school and how they teach their students “Design for Extreme Affordability”.

I left that program fascinated about that and started some research into that area. Surprisingly, this concept had been all around me but I never realized it!

You might be lost and would really want to understand in the first place how design for extreme affordability works. Let me put it like this: it is simply using design thinking methods, to develop products and services that serve the needs of the world's poor.

This is a business strategy which when applied to already existing products result in a surge in revenues and profits. Many times, when we think of innovation we think it means coming up with an entirely new product. Innovation can simply be selling old products in a new way!

What key examples of this strategy can we find around us?

• Sachet powdered milk vs tin powdered milk (Peak, Cowbell);
• Sachet alcoholic drinks vs bottled alcoholic drinks (Alomo, Ogidiga);
• Bobo vs Viju;
• Satchet bleach vs bottled bleach (Hypo, Jik);
• And more recently, the new 25 naira gala and the concept of micro insurance!

How does this strategy really work?

I would explain this with a very basic illustration:

A tin of powdered milk costs N1,000 and lasts for 50 days. Ade is a welder and is into body building so he is required to have some milk in his diet regularly. However, he has one challenge – finance. He is paid a daily wage of N200 and cannot shell out N1,000 immediately to buy a tin of milk even though he really needs it.

With products designed for extreme affordability, companies now package milk in smaller packages – sachets. This way, Ade can buy his milk on a daily basis for N30.

In a fifty day cycle, Ade spends N1,500 on milk and even more expensive than N1,000 for a tin of milk but he doesn’t care. The new products meet him at his level.

At the end of the day, the milk manufacturer makes more money off Ade.

To think that there are billions of people in the world who are poor, this new way of thinking helps both parties – the companies and the people.

The task for you is simple. How can you deliver current services which are needed by the world’s poor but are too expensive for them to afford? How can you use technology, design, creative problem solving to help the world?

Think on these things.

DA.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blog readers bag CFA Scholarship


I am thrilled to announce that two blog readers were recently awarded CFA Scholarships.

If you are a blog reader and were awarded, please let me know by sending me an email david@davidapaflo.com

2014 will definitely be a great year.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rest in Peace Mandela - What do you really know about Mandela?


I woke up this morning to the news of Mandela's death.

With so many glowing tributes about Mandela, I know he was a great man. What he was great for, i probably didn't know. Oh yes i know he fought against apartheid, I know he wrote a lot in the book long walk to freedom but I haven't read that book!

I know I am not alone. A lot of people are just shouting RIP Mandela simply because everybody is doing the same.

If you are like me that doesn't really know much about Mandela, I suggest the following resources to help appreciate what Mandela fought for and represented. This way, his struggle would have not been in vain.

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

I also challenge you to live a life that can be celebrated while alive and when you die and more importantly in heaven.

Cheers,
DA

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Mckinsey Story - Part 3


After 2 weeks, Mckinsey hadn’t contacted me and somewhere in my head I still had hope. After a month, I became apprehensive and sent emails to them and was told if I was successful they would contact me for the next round.

Several months passed and I gave up hope and moved on with my life as I didn’t get any response howbeit of my success or failure.

From that point on, any interview by a Nigerian company was very easy. I was over prepared. I ended up working with Vetiva Capital Management, (another great place to work in Nigeria), joining the 2012 ARM Young talent program (AYTP) and another investment bank shortly afterwards.

So why didn’t I make it – My analysis

1. My responses perhaps weren’t well structured
2. The second interview was responsible
3. Maybe they had already filled the vacancy they had
4. Maybe I just wasn’t up to the Mckinsey standard
5. And of course, maybe it just was never meant to happen

I didn’t make it in, but what I learnt has opened my eyes to a lot! Prior to that time I never knew if a business was failing, you could get specialists to tell you what to do. I started thinking globally. In fact, let’s just say my entire mental processes were overhauled.

I was still determined to join Mckinsey and applied once again but this time I didn’t get past the PST stage. At this point I started giving out all the materials I had so others can do what I couldn’t do.

I still have dreams of following through the process and getting and offer and turn it down just for sport. Just to prove to myself that I could actually do it. Anyway right now I’m too busy chasing money. Maybe immediately after grad school I would seeke vengeance with Mckinsey (lol).

Questions people have asked

Q: Concerning the problem solving questions, how were they? Were u expecting those questions before d interview?
A: Ofcourse, I was expecting those kind of questions. I had researched the company and knew that was their interview style.

Q: Guy, you dey mad gan oh, how you take answer all those questions?
A: Once you know what is required, just practice and practice. I didn’t know anything about interview like this before Mckinsey came recruiting.

Q: How did you prepare for the interview?
A: I had mentors who pointed me in the right direction to good resources. Shout out to Abiodun Sanusi, CFA. He personally handed me a copy of Case in point by Marc Consentino and linked me up with an MBA student at the Wharton Business School to get more information. Victor Cheng was also useful (google him). Mckinsey also had a coaching session for interviewees even though that alone is insufficient. I actually prepared for this interview for about 3 months! Mckinsey also organized a 2 day case coaching session for all shortlisted interviewees.

Q: Where can I find resources for preparation?
A: Vault Case Interview Practice Guide (Paperback)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vault-Guide-Case-Interview/dp/1581313055

The Vault Guide to the Case Interview (Paperback)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vault-Case-Interview-Practice-Guide/dp/1581311680

Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation, Fourth Edition (Paperback)
http://www.amazon.com/Case-Point-Complete-Interview-Preparation/dp/0971015821

Additional resources for further case practice.


www.caseinterview.com
http://blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com/2009/12/160-consulting-case-interview-questions.html
http://www.quintcareers.com/case_interviews.html
http://www.tomspencer.com.au/2010/06/12/online-case-interview-practice-questions/
www.simplythecase.com
http://www.job-interview-site.com/management-consulting-interview-questions-case-consulting-interview-questions.html
http://www.casequestions.com/caseprep.cfm

I hope that one day, someone who has read this thread of articles would actually nick an offer with Mckinsey and more importantly, put information like this to use for SMEs in Africa.

I have enjoyed every moment of writing this article and I hope it was worth your time.

Cheers!
DA

My Mckinsey Story - Part 1
My Mckinsey Story - Part 2

My Mckinsey Story - Part 2


So you must have read the first part of this article where I had to estimate the dimensions of an airplane without any figures given to me. If you missed it, see it here.

This is the sequel to the first part which contains a transcript of my second interview. Sadly, I didn’t make it through to the next round (reason why you are getting all these details – so you can get in) but I would also analyze why I think that didn’t happen in the third part and also answer some questions people have asked about the interview process. Let’s get straight to business.

As part of feedback from my first interview, Fred mentions the following things to me:
1. Let there be a structure to all your responses. This means ensuring that your thought process is sequential, logical and organized.
2. Communicate without pauses. Don’t doubt your statements just go on and speak convincingly.
3. Think outside the box. When I asked you why airlines paint their planes, I expected something out of the box. Almost everyone I have interviewed today said for planes are painted for branding purposes.
4. Automatically discuss the implications of your analysis. I like that you mentioned that the company spends about $1m for every kg of paint. It helps get a better perspective of the situations and not just spilling out figures.

My second interview was shortly after the first with about a fifteen minute interval.

This time I was interviewed by a guy named Nameet who was a project manager in Amsterdam and had been with Mckinsey for six years. This interview was conducted using video conferencing.

Nameet goes on to ask the competency based question as usual and surprisingly, it is the same question Fred asked me in my first interview – Tell me of a time you had to convince a superior and how you went about it.

The Case Interview

Nameet: In 1998, there were two airplane manufacturers – Boeing and Airbus both manufacturing similar products. Boeing and Airbus both produced about seven products of about 100 and 300 seats. Boeing then announced it had started developing a 400 seater Boeing 747 to which Airbus had no response. Airbus the decided to manufacture the Jumbo jet a 500 seater aircraft.

Nameet: So David, tell me. Given that air traffic is constant, what other factors would affect the demand for Boeing and Airbus’ products?

Me: two factors can affect their product sales – Positive factors and negative factors. On the positive side, passengers fear about aircrafts as a result of crashes and the recent volcanic ash…

**Nameet cuts in “Remember traffic is constant”

In my mind I am there wondering what is this guy saying. I start getting nervous because my line of thought has been broken and now I don’t even know where to pick up from again. I begin to wonder what is wrong with these people and airline industry today why didn’t they ask me about an industry that I could easily relate with. At the time of the interview, I hadn’t even been on a plane in my entire life.

My confidence level started dropping and I gathered myself to continue with the interview. Al these thoughts went on in my mind in a split second do there really was no pause.

Me: Ok, reduced prices, introduction of frequent flyer programs

**Nameet cuts in again “Remember traffic is constant”

This time I actually take a pause because I do not even know what to say again.

Nahmeet goes on to narrate the case again from the beginning and suddenly I realize my mistake!!!! I didn’t realize that Boeing and Airbus were not airline operators but airplane manufacturers!!!! OMG. You see what I was thinking? If it was a familiar industry now I would not make this kind of mistake.

Me: Oh, Oh, I’m sorry. Speed of airplanes, comfort of airplanes and the opportunity for airline operators to charge higher fees as a result of the new airplanes.

Nameet: Ok. Airbus has been told it would cost $12bn in research and development expenses to come up with the new Jumbo Jet. It costs $175m to produce one airplane and it can be sold for $200m. Airbus has decided to introduce the new 500 new jumbo jets by the introduction of 250 new jumbo jets and the replacement of 250 existing airplanes. How many years would it take Airbus to recover its investment?

Me: Could you please come again the network seems to be breaking.

At this time, I had already got all the details I needed. I only said that so by the time he repeats the question again, I would have finished my calculations and BAM!! I would slam him with the answer. He went on to repeat the question and truly I had finished my computations.

Me: Selling 500 airplanes at $200m gives us $100bn at a cost of $87.5bn (500*$175m). This gives us net revenues of $12.5bn.
This means Airbus can recover its money in one year!

Nameet: Ok, David, thank you for your time. Do you have any questions for me?

Me: Yes. Tell me how a typical workday at Mckinsey is.

Nameet goes on to talk and talk and honestly I am not interested in his story I just asked as part of standard interview procedure. All I could think about was how much time I spent on the mix-up between airline operators and aircraft manufacturers.

I thank Nameet for his response and the interview is over. I head home and begin thinking about everything. So this thing is real? Companies really do this kind of interview? All through my preparations I somehow thought it could never be as they had mentioned now I was thoroughly convinced.

My Mckinsey Story - Part 1
My Mckinsey Story - Part 3

Friday, November 22, 2013

My article on Nairaland front page

First fruits of the colab with jarushub.com!!!!

My column on jarushub.com is on Nairaland's front page. *yaaay* Didn't see this coming at all.

For those who haven't seen it yet, check it out here or here

Screenshot below


Monday, November 18, 2013

3000 Views + David Apaflo now a columnist in Nigeria's most influential career blog Jarushub.com

Hi guys,

I am thrilled to announce that www.davidapaflo.com has crossed the 3,000 views mark!!!

This has only been possible by your readership and I thank you very much.

In the coming weeks, I would be tweaking the blog layout to give a smoother feel and for easy navigation.

In other news, yours truly would now be featured on jarushub.com nigeria's most influential career blog see the press release here.

And please remember to vote for jarushub.com in the Nigerian Blog Awards 2013 here. Look for the category on Best Career or Job Blog

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My First Business Venture - Part 2

This is the concluding part of my previous article on my first business venture. If you are yet to read it, click here.

Timing could be everything
I now had a product, a price and had gone on to produce an initial 50 copies. And before the semester got into full swing I started marketing. Marketing at the beginning of the semester meant a lot of students were just settling in and hadn’t yet started gathering past questions. This helped a great deal as the product was hugely accepted.

Swallowing my pride to market
Marketing is one word a lot of us despise especially with how we have come to know it especially in Nigeria. It is also not really fancied because of the risk of rejection. Everybody wants to avoid rejection and so we would rather do any other thing than marketing. I was in this category prior to this time. However, I now had a product I had to sell else I would be making a loss. I knew people needed, the product, I knew the pricing was right all I needed to do was SELL. After much contemplation, I began approaching my classmates directly one after the other to tell them about the product and after about an hour I had sold 10 of them!!! WOW!! The absolute sales value was not much but it felt great to see an idea being turned in to cash.

Using customer feedback to improve
I had now sold the entire 50 I produced in the first production run and now some others wanted. Some people who had bought also shared with me a few tips on how I could improve the product. I got the following key feedback:
• Number your pages and have an index
• Add other years you do not have. Here I have them, add it to your compilation

With this feedback, I created a revised edition and produced about 30 copies which sold out. Thanks to my customers.

Overproducing or maybe slack marketing
I had been successful with the earlier product so I decided to create a slightly different product – Past questions with solutions for only one subject ‘Accounting” because I could easily solve all the accounting past questions. I produced 100 copies of this new product and then started becoming laid back about marketing. I was now well known and didn’t want to go round marketing. Asides that, it was almost mid semester, people had already obtained past questions howbeit without answers so were only interested in the answers. I ended up with about 20 copies unsold which I gave out a couple of years after.

Things I learnt
1. You might be thinking what is novel about past questions after all it is normal to find such in other schools in fact even in the same school, other departments had something like that. To think that way is good but nothing like that existed in my department!
It’s just how you see something that is normal in developed countries and you can’t even find a trace in developing countries. Then the person who introduces it becomes a star…think about the entry of GSM to Nigeria, we all knew all around the world people were using phones.

2. If I didn’t take the risk of being rejected, I would never have made one sale. Infact if I had envisioned how much work selling would require of me, I might have botched the idea at the initial phase. In fact I found out many years later that the school frowned at sale of past questions. Sometimes not knowing everything helps.

3. Customers are always willing to give you feedback. Listen to them!

4. The most important thing I learnt however is that the only thing between your ideas and actualization is ACTION!!!

Go and start something.
Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My First Business Venture - Part 1

Business! Business!! Business!!! The one word that makes good friends become sworn enemies. Lol. My fascination with business started way back as a kid when a family friend who worked in CBN gave me some really crisp 10 naira notes. Ever since then I always wanted something that had to do with money and it was no surprise I went on to study accounting in the university and also become an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). I had no plan B that is all I wanted.

Anyway this post is not about how I started creating paper currency notes and making paper wallets to store them or how I lost that monopoly of currency creation when my younger ones realized they could also create their own currency notes and hence did not need to follow my rules to get my notes. (Shout out to my Sis Mzjay!)


I would be discussing how I started my first business venture. I would explain the following:
• How it was unplanned;
• How I took advantage of an opportunity;
• How I created my products;
• How I priced my products;
• How right timing saved me a lot of stress;
• How I swallowed my pride to market my products myself;
• How feedback from my customers helped me refine my product;
• How I overproduced and made a loss after an initial gain; and
• Other things I learnt across the way.

Introduction
Back in my university days, I had so many friends one level ahead of me in my department and one of the many perks that came with it was free past questions and lecture notes! If you went to a Nigerian university, you would understand how valuable those resources especially if the same lecturer that taught your predecessors would teach your set. It would mean you do not need to copy notes and already know where your tests would come from etc.

The opportunity
As was the usual practice my friends had just finished a semester and they were glad to dump all their past questions, textbooks, notes, jottings etc all on me. As a person that knew its value, I was happy. I gathered so many paper documents enough to fill a 100 litre drum (no exaggeration). Over the course of my holidays, I carefully sorted out the documents, selected the clearest ones and put aside the tattered and illegible documents. On resumption, I noticed I had so many past questions that the average student did not have. I had past questions for 10 years of every course we were taking. I even had various types! I realized that putting all this together in one concise pack would save students a lot of stress.

Creation of the product
What I did next was to package them into a past question booklet. I retyped some pages on my computer and then started to think about how I could make it distinct so I came up with a brand name “5 Point Recipe”. The idea was that using the past question booklet would ensure you get a Grade Point Average of 5 which was the highest in my school. I designed a logo using clipart and was good to go.

Pricing
I had created a product now and I knew people would like to buy it but at what price? That I didn’t know. I knew that if it was too expensive, people would just end up photocopying and not buying from me. Neither could I lay claim to the questions as being my Intellectual property. I didn’t even have permission from the school to publish the questions. (I found out later that it was illegal to publish questions without approval). I first calculated how much it would cost me to produce a copy. My calculations were as shown below and I arrived at a selling price of 400 naira. In my school then, the cost of photocopying one page was 2.5 so I found an outside source where I could make copies for 2 naira as a result of the quantity I was making.



Staying competitive
At 400 naira, anyone who wanted to make “pirate” would end up spending more than 400 naira with extra stress. I also knew some people would say all the want are the questions and not interested in the binding and so quickly I calculated and knew that without binding it would be cheaper than 400 but for the extra stress people would not really be interested. The analysis was as show below:





In the next part, I would be continuing with how launching the product in the first few weeks of the semester helped, how I swallowed my pride to start one to one marketing to my classmates and other lessons I learnt along the way.


Please ensure you share this material with your friends and subscribe for updates via email.

Monday, October 21, 2013

DA Reflections - Episode 2 : The Parable of Ewa Agoyin!

Earlier today I went to pay someone a visit. On my way back, I noticed this ewa agoyin seller. The food she was selling had a very inviting aroma and as a matter of fact that is how I noticed her. Walking past her simply because it was a road side food shop and as a fresh guy, I could not be found at such a place (you know na…lol).



I hadn’t gone a few steps farther when I rescinded my decision and went back to have a taste of this meal with such a pleasing aroma. Ewa agoyin asides its taste, brings with it so many nostalgic memories of my childhood growing up in Nigeria and so this to me was more than just a meal.

I finally went and placed my order for ewa agoyin (for those not familiar with the word, its beans and palm oil fried by the angels) and asked if she had bread to go with it. Lo and behold, she didn’t have bread. In a split second I imagined how people would have rushed the bread early in the day and hence as a late comer I had nothing left. However this was not the case! She didn’t sell bread at all!! She however offered to send someone to help buy bread nearby. Next I asked if she sold soft drinks so I could “step down” the meal when I am done. Once again, she didn’t sell soft drinks!! Had it not been for my deep desire for the ewa agoyin, I would have been off to find an alternative.

As I sat to eat my meal “assembled” from different sources, I started to think. I started to think about how unaware this trader was to the fact that she could be losing sales simply because she doesn’t sell products that complement her ewa. I do not know so many people who eat ewa agoyin alone. She didn’t even sell yam!!! Huh??

Key reflections for you:

- What products or services do you currently sell that need other products to function properly?

- Are you currently selling those complementary products?

After going through these two questions, you are on the way to boosting your sales.

One might think this example applies only to products. No!! It also applies to people, employees, and professionals. Recently, I needed someone to help install a washing machine and I came across someone who was a specialist in this area. Speaking to him, he told me in addition to his services, I needed to find a plumber by myself. It sounded absurd to me. Why would the engineer not at least come with a plumber and give me the final bill? Why did he have to put me through the stress of finding a plumber myself? Or why couldn’t he even do the plumbing work?

Clearly from this example you can see that the illustration also holds true for services.

Acquire complementary skills and knowledge.

Which is better:
- To be just a cloth designer only or to be a cloth designer that can also sew?
- To be an accountant alone or to be an accountant and also know about taxation?
- To be a graphics designer that only designs or one that designs and know about printing?

Think on these things.
DA

Please see the previous episode here

Thursday, October 17, 2013

DA Reflections - Episode 1

Over the next couple of weeks, I would be running a five part series on some deep reflections on life.

Some of the things you might have seen before but this time, take time to really think and develop a principle for your life.

Reflection: If you are going to the 20th floor and the lift will only stop on the 21st or 19th floor, where will you drop and why?

It is important to note that as with many of life's questions, this question has no right or wrong answer. The correctness of the answer depends on the WHY.

Happy reflections,
DA

See the link to the second episode here

Saturday, October 5, 2013

2 business ideas that can thrive off the booming e-commerce sector in Nigeria



As a follow up to my post on 7 innovative e-commerce websites in Nigeria, I have carefully thought about two businesses that can spring from this internet vibe we are seeing in Nigeria. You know almost everyone has a web shop or a blog nowadays. Lol

In the course of my daily activities as a business consultant, I am constantly asked for new business ideas and ways in which businesses can improve their profits and grow even bigger. Some people seem to be just waiting with capital to jump on the next big idea to hit the market.

I can however say, that no matter how good a business idea is, if you do not have passion, discipline and good business design, it would fail. Below, I write of two business that you can easily setup with less than N500,000 to support these internet businesses.

1. Customer Call Centre

What it is: Have you ever placed an order online? Did you notice that someone called you to confirm your order? That was a customer care person.

Why it is a good business: There are several online companies with no physical address. A lot of them are also run by people working full time on another job. These people have no time neither do they have the resources to hire a customer care agent or even pay rent, pay for other equipment to have a fully functional customer call service centre. However, they will be willing to pay someone who helps them have access to these facilities without the stress of setting up. You can even add an extra service charge for handling their social media customer service.

What you would need: Phone(s), call Centre software, Laptop, Internet

2. Delivery Business

What it is: As the name implies, you deliver goods ordered online to the customer and sometimes pick up the goods in the first instance based on the operations model of the online store.

Why it is a good business: Once again, owners of stores just want to sell without bothering about the other issues. You can even expand to cater to other offline stores who leverage the internet for sales.

What you would need: Phone(s), Motor Bike, Riders Card (In states where “Okada” has been banned)

For any business, you need to identify your customers, brand your business properly, price rightly and other business enhancing activities.

Should incase you are interested in any of these businesses, please feel free to drop a mail using this email address info@shelze.com.ng we would be happy to help you succeed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

1000 Views!


So i checked my dashboard as has become a daily routine and YES!!! This blog has been viewed over ONE THOUSAND TIMES in just about a month of its launch.

A big thank you to everyone reading.

My new target is 10k by December 25th, 2013. Hopefully that would be surpassed long before then.

DA

7 innovative e-commerce websites in Nigeria

It is 2013 and it is impressive to see how fast online businesses are picking up in Nigeria. Here at davidapaflo.com, we are very much interested in innovation and have selected some of the most innovative websites we have come across offering services to Nigerians. We all know of jumia and konga but let us take a look at some unique e-commerce websites you might never have heard of.

1. www.tolet.com.ng


Here, you can quickly what properties you can rent without the hassle of searching for a housing agent. If you have been through the stress of searching for house before, you would appreciate this.

2. www.drinks.ng


Easily find drinks of all ranges. Whether it's a mixture of great value bottles for your everyday drinking, or a couple of cases of great vintage wine for laying down, theyn provide a good selection and experience.

3. www.mhqstore.com


MHQ Store is an online shopping portal for basic home items like food stuff etc. The unique thing about MHQ is that the sell recipes meaning if you want to make ogbono soup, rather than shopping for all the ingredients individually, you can actually buy all the items in a recipe bundle. I call this the bachelor’s favorite!

4. www.moovelogic.com


Have you ever wanted to switch houses or offices and then were concerned about how to move your valuables? Most people resort to aimlessly hoping to find a random truck for rent. Well in this digital age, look no further! Moovelogic has got you covered. Just go to their website, fill in your details and voila! You are ready to go.

5. www.events-mart.com


Events mart is a one stop online location to find all vendors to make your event a dream come true. From caterers to DJs to comperes, Music Artistes to even Aso-Ebi Planners! Everything you might want for your events can be found here!

6. www.taxipark.com.ng


TaxiPark helps Lagosians book a taxi within Lagos via their PC or via their mobile phones. Sadly, the website is down as at the time of this report.


7. www.sunglasses.com.ng




One stop website to buy sunglasses of all kinds.

Feel free to share links to other innovative websites you have come across in the comments section.

Also, click here to see 2 business ideas that can thrive off the booming e-commerce sector in Nigeria.

**This list is totally based on the opinion of the writer and in no way represents a general consensus.

About David Apaflo

David is the Founder of Shelze Consulting, a firm specializing in accounting, tax and business advisory services tailored towards supporting businesses. David serves as business adviser to several startups and early stage companies in West Africa.

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