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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 ba...

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.

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.

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.

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