Our topic of discussion today is going to be simple, short and hopefully useful to every single one of us. So while in traffic yesterday, I was listening to the radio when an OAPs asked a seemingly simple question:
If you are given 5 million Naira today and asked to invest it in a legitimate business to try as much as you can to break even by the end of 2015, what would you do?
Well, I did say seemingly simple right? Before we get to the discussion, allow me to give you some background and the thoughts that ran through my mind when I first heard the question.
For starters, I was a little disappointed with myself – why? Because I didn’t immediately have an answer. It took me almost 10 minutes to remember something I had thought about in the past and eventually come up with a befitting response. You’re probably thinking, well, most young Nigerians probably wouldn’t have an answer immediately too so what’s my problem? Well, you see, the thing is, that’s not an excuse. At my age, you have a lot of dreams and projects you’re probably chasing – things like marriage, starting a family, building a good career or developing your business, acquiring property etc will probably constantly be on your mind. So if that question was if you are given 5 million as a gift without the clause of having to invest it and break even, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to think about an answer. Sure, some of you would still have had to deliberate on whether to buy an Hyundai Elantra on a Kia Optima and end up taking just as much time as you would have to figure out an answer to the first question.
The OAP opened the phone lines and the calls started coming in. It started with the pessimists or rather, the so-called experts – bankers, economic analysts etc who were quick to conclude it isn’t possible legitimately taking the current Nigerian business climate into consideration. Figures and terminologies – inflation rate, lending rate and interest rate blah blah blah were thrown around and for a second, they almost won listeners over. But the OAP was persistent, she insisted that she felt, someway, somehow it was possible even though she didn’t know how. She then went on to encourage more people to call in and not to be worried about giving away their business ideas, rather they should look at it as sharing knowledge and educating others.
This encouraged more people to call in and I was surprised to see the next set of callers were traders or those one could easily put down as members of the lower class just from listening to how they spoke. One of them was a trader specializing in tyres and car batteries at a popular market in Lagos. He had a thick igbo accent but he was able to express himself well enough to share his idea. He spoke about travelling to China to import tyres and batteries because they are non-perishable goods. Also, with that amount of money, he could negotiate major discounts which would improve his profit margin.
Without going too much into details, even though his business idea would not end up breaking even after just one year, I found it interesting how he was able to communicate his ideas – almost as if he had already thought it up and was only waiting for someone somewhere someday to finance his dreams.
There were several other callers on the show and a lot of them had really interesting ideas which had never ever crossed my mind – apparently, running a building block making plant is a goldmine in Lagos. Same goes for inter-state transportation and exporting items like cassava flakes and charcoal.
Of course all businesses have their challenges and following proper analysis, I’m sure one will find more than enough reasons to discourage you from venturing into any of these businesses but that is not why we are here.
Sometime late last year, I remember asking a question on Twitter. I asked how many people have had N1 million spend 24 hours in their bank account and even though I wasn’t surprised with the low response, many were. This was part of another conversation where I was trying to convince people that the level of poverty in this country is underestimated. I made reference to that today because perhaps one of the reasons for this is because most of the so-called members of the middle class are mentally lazy.
I sure as hell haven’t received 5 million from an investor but this shouldn’t stop me from exercising my mind regularly by making enquiries, reading books etc to prepare myself for such opportunities. I have quite a few bank accounts and my friends tease me because I know all the account numbers by heart – my excuse for memorizing them has always been the same. What if you bump into a billionaire who decides to gift you a million dollars only on the condition that you had to provide your account details in a few seconds?
Ok, maybe I watch too many movies but you get my point. It’s a new year and I’m sure most of us have made resolutions and what not but what’s the point of doing this if you don’t prepare yourself for that quantum leap?
Our discussion today is more like a challenge. Yes I’m going to ask a modified version of the question that OAP asked yesterday:
If you are given 1 million Naira today and asked to invest it in a legitimate business to try as much as you can to break even by the end of 2015, what would you do?
I reduced the figure to 1 million because I know some people get intimidated when they see large amounts of money. But here’s the second part. I want you to tell us if you already had that idea or you had to spend some time to think it up – if so, tell us how long and then why? Is it because you are a little too comfortable or you just don’t believe in fairytales. Use the comment box to express you.