I started doing business in 2008, after an old friend who has grown to become one of my mentors visited my office and gave me a stern talk about the dangers of relying on my salary as my only source of income. He reminded me rather harshly that I wouldn’t always be an employee, and the sooner I cultivated the habit of multiple streams of income, the better for me. I went home that day feeling very charged, and by the next day, I started taking steps in that direction. At the time, I worked as a Business Development Executive with a photography outfit in Lagos.
My responsibilities at work, and even at my previous place of employment afforded me the opportunity of meeting people on a daily basis, and I began to reach out to my widening contact base. Many of them have become clients today. I must mention that I didn’t have a registered business at this time. I did almost everything by the book, but my business wasn’t registered, and I was making money, not because I was thinking about adding value, but because I’d bought into the concept of multiple streams of income.
The result of course, was a number of challenges that ensured that I remained a slave to paid employment for longer than I had planned. Most of them were my inexperience at work, I’ll admit. Even though I had delays in production of branded apparel, and ultimately delivery, because of erratic power.Sometimes clients would reject the job because we missed the delivery date, and I would have to refund their money. With branded apparel, sometimes the client’s preferred fabric is not available in the market, due to importation issues, and any attempt to improvise sometimes results in a complete loss.
I’ll also never forget the few times that I would be given a job to do, and someone within the organization would demand a bribe from my pitiful profit, and if I refused the job would be given to someone more willing. If I played ball however, I would make little or nothing, which was the case several times. I think the biggest challenge was that I was my own marketer, accountant, delivery man, and project supervisor. And I think it is an unavoidable situation, because nobody understands this new chick that is your business more than you, the mother hen. It was all the harder because I was still an employee, and I had to juggle business and paid employment. I remember having to entrust emergency responsibility on two occasions and I paid dearly for it. This one time, I had to attend a workshop in Ibadan, and I needed to pick up two dozen branded shirts from the monogramming factory in Tejuosho, and deliver to the client in GRA Ikeji. I delegated responsibility to my friend, who forgot to collect my balance. I didn’t get the money until months later, and in bits.
In 2013, I won the Youwin grant, in a partnership with an associate. All I was to do was be the brain of the business, because it wasn’t an idea I was passionate about, and I was still working at what I refer to as my dream job. But it afforded me the opportunity to attend some invaluable trainings and seminars, which smoothened my rough edges as an entrepreneur, and opened my eyes to productive ways to run a business, and the importance of an unshakeable foundation. I saw my business for the first time, as a new born child which must be nourished if it must grow. I learned that business must add value, if it must make profit, and that the statement, “the customer is king” is not a myth, but a cardinal law.
In all this time, as a person I was undergoing my own personal transition, metamorphosis if you will, and I was discovering my person, becoming aware of my strengths and weaknesses and how to fine-tune them in order to keep me in equilibrium. I began blogging about these experiences in 2014, in the hope that it would help the next person. I consider this the most important aspect of my life, because I know from experience that all the money in the world doesn’t compare with the satisfaction you get when you find that someone’s life is somewhat easier, because of something you did or said. I have had to compare the smile on my face when I get a credit alert from the bank, with the swelling in my heart when someone sends me a message about something they read on my blog. And I can tell you, the credit alert doesn’t even come close.
Today, the Purple Aquarium Company is a duly registered, tax paying,fast-growing brand which seeks to add value as much as it seeks to make profit. We’re on a mission and we’re getting there fast.
“At Purple Aquarium Company, we specialize in keeping dates of your special events and dreaming up creative concept to make them unforgettable”