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: firstname.lastname@example.org | twitter: @ilobaa | IG: obailoba