Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Life is A Journey


Some time ago I read an article written by some guy ( I can't remember his name). He was driving around New York and they say NY has very bad traffic.

He put on the radio and heard an announcement about road repairs and that drivers should take alternative routes to avoid the resultant traffic jams if possible.

But he was going in that particular direction and there was no way he could avoid the delays.

He noticed that because big city like NY had many roads, there was always some part of the city's roads undergoing renovation everyday. You might be able to avoid it sometimes but at other times it might be your lot to sit through it.

The lesson he learnt from it resonated with me. After all I live in Lagos which has notorious bad traffic. 

His lesson: At any point in time there will be roads in your life that needs fixing no matter how thorough you are. Fixing your problems is a continuous investment in your future's infrastructure.

Some times you might be able to fix your problems without others noticing; you do the needful, take another route and still arrive timely.

Sometimes you'll have no option but to sit it out. That is when you get to work late and have to tell them about the traffic at 3MB.

We don't all reside in the same location so the repairs that affect you may not affect me. Some may not be sensitive to your " excuses". It is what it is, such is life.

Once the day is over, you put that aside no matter how it went and ask your self, " What roads will I need to repair next and which route must I take to avoid delays? ". For as long as you are alive, like New York, there will never be a time when all your roads would be tarred.

Bootstrapping Your Online Business

Image credit : Myriam Jessier

When starting a new business venture, having too much money is usually worse than having too little. Excess capital always finds expenses to incur; it makes you spend money like the Nigerian government. For instance, when the government decides to promote agriculture, the first item on the agenda is to get a public relations firm to develop a policy paper on how to publicize that intention; little wonder there may be nothing left to guarantee credit for struggling farmers’ cooperatives to acquire tractors or to fund modern farming advisory practices. Similarly, being flush with cash tends to make one focus on image rather than substance.

It is therefore important right from the onset to plan your priorities and to discern what matters and what does not. For instance, one could easily spend too much adding bells and whistles to the design of your web address when all you really need is a simple to use, easy to navigate online store that will not discourage customers from place orders. You will need to have a budget for online advertising but keep in mind that a low cost campaign over an extended period, allowing your potential customers to see your adverts several times in other to make your message sink may be better than full page print and huge online banner adverts that hit your bottom line with a thud and then, are gone with the wind. 

I will dwell more on promoting your website. Because your business is online does not mean that the marketing campaign will always be online too. And rather than focus only on advertising, it is import ant that a start-up make full use of other marketing approaches especially public relations, participation in trade fairs, giving out branded promotional items like tee shirts as free gifts and finding ways to get your online venture mentioned in the regular press. The latter will involve developing newsworthy activities for your business. There is no one size fits all strategy; the channels to be used to publicize your website will depend on the personal characteristics of your targeted customers. You must seek them out and only spend on activities that should get their attention.

Finally, beware of losing focus. Have you visited a well located boutique with nicely designed interior layout and smartly dressed sales assistants only to be disappointed to discover that they scarcely stock up to fifty items? The layout of an online store is often designed to facilitate the display of large quantities of items at a glance. If you want to excite your customers to keep coming back, you need to stock up with variety so they always have a choice. Spend only on what really matters.

What It Really Takes To Run an Ecommerce Store


Street trader by  Bhaumik Kaji

In 1994, legend has it, a young man wrote the business plan for an online book store while his wife drove on a journey from New York to Seattle, USA. Today, that man is worth billion of dollars and the company he founded is called Amazon. I am not about to promise you that starting an online store will make you a zillionaire. But if you have the entrepreneurial itch and the determination to succeed, you too can start an institution that will endure. Especially in Nigeria where we have the buying population and ecommerce is still at its infancy, there is a world of opportunity waiting to be tapped.

Starting an ecommerce store requires having an online presence with a website that has a product catalogue, a shopping cart facility, a database for collecting and maintaining customer information as well as access to payment gateways. A typical ecommerce application is made up of millions of lines of programming code. Luckily for us now (unlike in 1994 when Steve Jobs started), there are applications that can be customised to meet the specific needs of your store. There are also multiple options of payment gateways to choose from in Nigeria, from the expensive (Interswitch, MasterCard or Visa) to the affordable (Virtual Terminal Network). With regards to the technical skills required to manage a ecommerce website, I assure that if you can surf the web and navigate to this blog with a mouse, that will do. Most modern ecommerce setups are user friendly, made for the business man that is not necessarily a geek.

The key success factor however is what you do before and after you get you ecommerce website. One word captures that activity: marketing. It will help a lot if the product or service you are offering online is targeted at a customer focused need, that adds convenience to your value proposition and still maintain a cost advantage. In simple English, you must sell better products at a cheaper price because there is no option for bargaining online, unlike what you would have in the local market. And you should also target a niche that has less competition to have the first mover advantage.

After you website is on and running, you need a low cost effective strategy that will enable you grow your clientele while operating within the rules of online marketing. Selling online gives thinking outside the box a whole new meaning. If you don’t have a bottomless war chest of cash to throw at the wind, you need to have the knowhow to   develop strategies that will win customers one person at a time. Some of you were born with it; the rest of us have to learn.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Improving The Odds.

 The odds is a function of probability of failure over attempts. Failure is defined as losing your stake, your money, your pot. If you are losing money, don't believe however it is being spun. Progress is binary; either you are having it or not. The key thing however is to play in a winnable game and then to win.  

While every game has a potential for a victory or a loss, tables are not born equal. Some games of chance are more profitable , less risky or more fair than others. Some competitors cheat less. Some games can't be won so they give you consolation prizes. When you play stupid games , you win silly prizes like Participation Certificates. 

A common problem is when you think you are playing with friends but they were all along scheming against you.  Iceberg Slim talked about this scam in his book, Pimp: The Story of My Life. David Chappelle talked about it on why he left the Chappelle Show. Make sure your friends are on your side or you are better off playing without them. Leave the losing crap table.

The Gabler

Also, don't bet the house or bet against the house.  Never play the Last Game. In the movies, it looks dramatic to push all chips on the table and bet it all. In real life, it is stupidity bordering on insanity. Enough said.

When you are having a streak of loses, there is a secret trick to stop the poor deal flow; get up. Leave. Take a walk to clear your head. Leaving the table gives you the right perspective to evaluate whether you are dealing with fair odds.

If this is the case, that you are in fact dealing with unfair odds, there is a strong temptation to rage against the system. Don't yield to that temptation; utilise your anger in more constructive ways. 

There is a proven system of improving your odds every time. It is called, changing the game. There are more games you have not played than that you will ever. This fact gives you infinite opportunities to up your odds. There are more tables and people and places you have not played on and against , giving you infinite opportunities to up your odds by changing your location. Don't let lethargy or inertia keep you on a losing crap table. Take a walk, you can do better.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Happy Is A Verb



One of the greatest discoveries by psychologists in the last century is that we humans are able to affect how we feel about anything, independent of our circumstances. To cite an extreme example, someone sick and dying can find reasons for joy in diminished circumstances while another, a wealthy and favoured person could live out their days in despondency.

Without trying to undercut the seriousness of the medically diagnosed illness called depression, their is a lot each of us is able to do about feeling happy in our minds, being happy with ourselves . I admit it is usually easier to be happy with a chunk of juicy BBQ in my mouth. Your preference might be a glass of wine. A lot of elderly women like to fuss around with their grandchildren, it gives them a reason for living. We all have things we associate with wellness and just having those symbols around would make us feel better.

Many of us were lucky as children to have parents who did things to make us happy. Sometimes they sang songs to us just to entertain us. They told us stories and mimed for us. They bought gifts and toys and wrapped them in packaging and stories because unwrapping the gifts and celebrating the seasons ( birthday, Christmas, New Year) are things that bring joy. They tended to our healthcare and made us feel safe and secure. And by doing all these things, they taught the happiness that comes from doing things because making us happy made them happy.

As adults, you become responsible for your happiness. Your great super power is that ability to mix what is available to get something better. Sometimes life serves us lemons, sometimes it is honey. It is entirely up to you to make lemonade or do something else. Space and time can not permit me to list all the uses of lemon , starting from the peel to the juice to the fibre.

Another super power we have is the ability to change your location either temporarily or permanently. All situations have their merits and demerits and all are not equally favourable to your circumstances. Some are a lot more suitable to your preferences than others. The beach is a more bearable place to be on a sunny day. Living closer to work and escaping long commutes might be what will give you a better quality of life. Your job or individual orientation might be better appreciated elsewhere than where you are now. Do the hard work of changing your situation and moving to where the odds favour you to instantly start enjoying a better life. Sometimes the key to your happiness is just three words; relocate, relocate and relocate .

An active body also engenders a happy mind. Don't stay sedentary and alone, go out and do things. Dance. Sing. Go to places of worship , attend social gatherings. Entertain and be entertained. A little exercise can go a long way. Form the habit and it will not only do good for your health but it will make you happy about yourself .

Cheering yourself up is among the things that you have to learn how to do for yourself as you grow up. Helping others, changing your environment and staying active are all actions that are proven to make you feel better about what you do affects what you feel. Your happiness is what you do. In some cases however, what you need to do is seek medical help. When the doctor asks, "How do you feel?", don't just say you are fine. Help her to do her job of helping you by telling exactly where it hurts.

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Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Happy Independence Day

 Reading the news today, you’d think Nigeria is what statisticians call “doing okay” . Half of the news analysis say the government of Nigeria is okay, the other half think the country is in a mess. So on average, that is okay, abi? They make everything about government as if government is equal to Nigeria.

Government is not Nigeria and Nigeria is not government..

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Build A Bigger Sphere


 It just so happens that the earth is shaped like a sphere, roundish but with depth. It is a wonderful form, filled with metaphorical meanings. You read about the seven spheres of life, the nine spheres of heaven (planets), four spheres of well being, i.e. Emotional, Physical, Social, and Financial. The cynic in me makes me wonder if the numbers are arbitrary. 

Life is A Journey

  Some time ago I read an article written by some guy ( I can't remember his name). He was driving around New York and they say NY has v...