Today was all shades of awesome. We wrapped up the tour with a full house of experts and we had a swell time catching up and talking about different business challenges women face, based on the entries for the tour. Let me introduce the panelists that joined me today. We had Dr. Seun Akinbohun, who runs an Afrocentric inspired clothing and interior design line and is also a certified coach with a focus on SMEs. We also had Dr. (in view) Olanrewaju Oniyitan, an entrepreneurship guru, literally. I often like to say, think entrepreneurship, think Lanre. She was one of the YOUWIN(Federal government funding scheme for entrepreneurs) monitors during the past administration. Her company Wholistic business solutions is a business development support partner to the LSETF (Lagos state employment trust fund). Lanre recently launched a book on entrepreneurship for kids, I am currently reviewing mine; expect a report soon.
Okay, enough of my boasting about today’s panel. I am still reeling from the experience. To cap it all, you haven’t experienced the Wellnesspatron kitchen studio without some healthy food, so we were treated to some moi-moi (beans pudding) by our host and founder of the Wellnesspatron, Daniella Akpakwu. Ogaga Umukoro, paid me a surprise visit to give me a copy of her Sudoku game book. I couldn’t ask for a better way to wrap up this tour. Of course, I will share all the key points from today’s sessions before I pop some champagne! We wrapped up today’s sessions nicely with Dr. Seun Akinbohun, Olanrewaju Oniyitan, Rahmat Lasisi and Ogaga Umukoro
Don’t fall for this myth – It is a trap! Lol. I just felt the need to be dramatic here. As Dr. Seun put it in our preliminary chats earlier today, a startup owner needs to free up time in order to be able to focus on strategic planning and growth of the business. Hire and fire fast till you get the right attitude and skills you need. I put attitude first before skills because you can train for skills, but a wrong attitude can hardly be fixed – we are not miracle workers!
One more tip I got from the panelists was to take the time to step aside and let the staff run the business. Most times, we are so hands on that we do not give room for the people we hire to even do the work. If they never get the opportunity to prove themselves, how do you confirm whether they can deliver or not?
Olanrewaju took a vacation (first in her many years of running the business) and only had Skype meetings once a week with her staff to have review sessions with them, outside of which they were not permitted to contact her. At first, she said, she had her doubts and was afraid, but she said to them before she left; “If you don’t generate income while I am away this month, there will be no pay” LOL! That was enough motivation and guess what? The business did not fall apart while she was away. She even discovered some of them had more capabilities than she knew about before. Cheers to many more vacations in the future.
This came up while we were reviewing the challenge with mumpreneurs getting paid for their services. We observed that this is a prominent challenge in the service-based industries especially. We had a web developer narrate her ordeal with getting her payments in full for projects delivered. A crèche owner also mentioned that parents fail to pay as at when due and expect services to continue – because really, how do you throw a child out! That would be inhumane.
I totally get this challenge and when we discussed the way to handle it, my guru panelists linked it back to process and legal agreements. It’s all about the process from defining your target customer (a customer who needs your solution and is able to pay for it), attracting that target, engaging them and taking them through your process through to delivery. With the web designer, they had outlined three phases for website design for which the client pays in installments as each phase is complete. This is great but only when the process is enforced. You don’t proceed to the next phase until payment for the last phase is complete, period! As harsh as this sounds, if you are offering value and attracting the right customers who really need your service, they will comply. When you have to litigate, don’t leave it to God, engage your lawyer; that’s what they are there for.
In the case of the school owner, on the other hand, we traced it back to defining her ideal customer i.e willingness backed with the ability to pay for the service. We were mindful of the fact that the current economy has changed the tides of a lot of families and as such many schools now offer flexible payment solutions to parents. The key is to be clear on your process and communicate it clearly to your internal and external customers so that everybody is in the know.
Seven days, seven locations and twenty mumpreneurs later, the mumpreneur tour comes to an end. You can browse the mumpreneur.ng website to get a scoop of what happened at the different locations, share your thoughts too. It would be great to read from you! Thank you Lagos!