[INTERVIEW] MY ENTREPRENEURSHIP SECRETS; HOW I STARTED AND RUN PROFITABLE BUSINESS ~DR ABC EZEIBE

Reading Time: 10 minutes

As a newly married, her husband’s salary could not take care of them especially with their plans for expansion of their family in the way of child-bearing. In response to their need, Dr ABC Ezeibe’s entrepreneurial antenna went up in the air and picked a business idea that raked in more money than what her husband’s salary that her husband even requested to partner with her.

In this interview with Brojid.com Editor, Joseph Dinwoke, this entrepreneurship educator gives insight on how she raised her startup capital, expanded their business. She also shared copious secrets on business partnership, and customer satisfaction and running a successful business.

Here is our conversation:


 

Thanks for joining us today on Brojid.com, BizPeople. Let’s get to know you.

My name is Dr Adaku Bridget Chidi Ezeibe. I am a lecturer and research fellow at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Development Research, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

It is widely believed that many people who teach in schools and theorist who don’t practice. Have you ever been involved in business?

Yes. In fact, I was a business woman before joining the academics. Business is any activity where you satisfy human needs as a way of getting profit. I have been involved in business!

What motivated you into entrepreneurship before you joined the academics?

There are many reasons why people go into business but my reason for going into business is not having enough money in the family as a married woman.  From my background too, my mother was a very good business woman too. When I got married instead of depending on my husband’s salary, I felt that the best thing was to go into business and start getting money while waiting for white-collar job.

I have agricultural economics background but my first degree was in animal health and husbandry; I was taught in school how to raise animals. So, an idea from that my course came into me, instead of going to work for somebody or looking for any far to work in, I decided to start a farm of my own.

Like I said earlier, any activity you are involved in that satisfies human needs and now gives you profit is a business. So that poultry was a business to me. When I started, I began to satisfy human needs by selling eggs and was making profit and it went a long way to augment my husband’s meager salary.

That was how I started business from 1996 till 2007, before taking up white collar job. Even after that I didn’t depend on my salary. Because even in civil service, we are asked to be creating jobs so am still into business creating jobs for people.

At what phase in your life, did you start business?

I started business when I got married. Then I had graduated. I got married before going for service.  So, I was already in my husband’s house when I was serving and he was a newly employed lecturer with a salary of about N7,000. That was in 1994. So, the money wasn’t enough to take care of ourselves and you know when you get married, you have the intention of expanding your family. And expansion of your family means expansion of your pocket and bag. So, I found out that his salary cannot lead us anywhere. So, I started doing business.

There is no way a paid employment will give you what you want. I attended a seminar and one of the resource persons told us that he has never seen a billionaire through paid employment.  With my entire certificate, if I tell you my salary, you will be surprised. How much do you think these professors are collecting? About N350, 000.

You just graduated from school and your husband’s salary was too small to for two of you.  So, how did you raise your startup capital?

The main thing about starting a business is having a good idea. So, there was an idea in my mind which was poultry business but because I don’t have the money, I now kept it.

Money can come from different ways. In my case, mine came from Ego Omugwo. In my first year of marriage, I give birth and by God’s grace, they where twins. So, people were coming to give me money. Instead of using the money to eat Okporoko and dry fish, I was saving part of that money because I have a plan of starting my business.

After four months, I checked my savings and it was up to N50,000 and you can buy a plot of land for fifty thousand naira then. So, when I showed my husband the money, he was like, ‘Let’s use it and invest for the children so that when they grow…” I said no. You don’t invest when you have not started a business. He agreed with me and we went ahead and started backyard poultry with just 50 bullets.

At that time, it wasn’t even something that disturbs my daily activities – taking care of the two children. After four months, they started laying and I started selling. After four months, they couldn’t serve my customers. So, I started expanding, and then left the backyard and I couldn’t do it alone. I had to bring people to assist. Before you know it, our income started increasing and we started talking about buying a car, wearing good dress and eating good food.

My husband is a vet and when he saw that the business was progressing, he now decided to come in by asking me to do a combine in business with him.

(General laughter)

He has expertise in animal health and there was money that came in at that time.  So we now got our own poultry farm.  We decided not to do the business on small-scale again and so got 2000 laying birds and 100s broilers and we employed about seven people – manager, farm attendant etc and even bought pick up bus and bus for the farm. So, it was a big farm. I wasn’t worried about employment again because the money we were making from there was even bigger than what my husband was receiving.

After my first degree, I switched to Agric Economics. So when I felt that I want a formal employment, I wanted a place where I will teach people either business or doing agric business. As God would have it, I got employment to teach business.

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How did you get people to know you and patronize you?

There is something we call integrity capital. That is people trusting you. I Attended a well-known church and you know when you are in church people know your character. So, the whole of Nsukka Dioceses knows Mrs Ezeibe, because I was an official in the women ministry. So when you say that you are doing such a thing, they will be like for this woman to be doing this, then it must be a good one. People already believe in me.

At times, people need to build integrity capital before starting a business. Once you do your business the right way, the first few customers will advertise for you and recruit new people to come and business with you. They will even tell you what is happening in the market.

When you treat your customer well, you will retain them; they will advertise for you and update you on what is happening in the market. But when they are not satisfied, they are going to tell even more people than when they are satisfied.

BROJID.COM. DR ABC EZEIBE CAP

Between integrity capital and financial capital, which one is more…

(Cut in) You need two of them!

If I ask you to choose one, which one will you choose?

You can’t do without any of them!

(General Laughter)

In practical terms, how do I acquire integrity capital?

When you start your business, and deal honestly with people, they will help you advertise your business and get customers to you. They will go around saying, though he is a new person, he is honest. Once you don’t say the truth or use good measure, people will start doubting you and conclude that you are a liar.

When you start your business, and deal honestly with people, they will help you advertise your business and get customers to you. They will go around saying, though he is a new person, he is honest. Once you don’t say the truth or use good measure, people will start doubting you and conclude that you are a liar.

Many people have started their business in small way just like you but they didn’t grow and big as you did. What could be the reason?

I normally advocate: start small and grow big because the majority of our people want to start big. But there are people who will start small but will never grow because they may be incompetent in that business.

Let me give you an instance. Once I went to a hospital and a doctor gave me prescription and said I should go to the market to buy the drug. I went round in the market and nobody agreed that they have it. As I was going out, I saw a nurse and asked her why the drug was so scarce and she said it’s everywhere. She told me to tell them that I am looking for so so drug (maybe the trade name). When I went back to those shops I found out that they have it but didn’t know the technical name or active ingredient the doctor wrote.

I then came to realize that many people go into business without knowing that stuff.  Assuming am the one that will buy a very big quantity that can even change their lives; they will say they don’t have it. So, why people fail is that they are incompetent.

We always emphasize that you should develop yourself; acquire a skill. If you acquire a skill, and get money, you can start something.

Another cause of failure is poor managerial skill. When I was running my poultry farm, at some point I got a job to teach in a secondary school and employed a manager. Immediately I left my farm it started going down because the management is not as strong as it used to be. My presence there made people do what they should do. The manager doesn’t have my amount of experience in management.

Some people are also fraudulent. Like I said, a customer that is not satisfied will go and tell 100 people but when they are satisfied they tell only four people. So when you are fraudulent in your dealings, they start spreading the news and your business will start going down.

Another point is that people sometimes lack capital to run their business.

Another factor is improper accounting. Record keeping will help you know whether your business is growing or not.

Assume that a post NYSC graduate is before you now without a job, what do you think, he should do?

As a corper, if you can save N200 every day, at the end of the month, you get about 6,000. I know you can do it because what you use to buy card everyday is more than. After one year, you have N72,000. There are many businesses you can start with it. I went for a programme somewhere and someone shared how he started with five cups of beans and 5,000 and he is now an employer of over 3000 people.

But the problem is not money. It’s about ideas. Many of them don’t know what they want. That is why we always emphasize that you should develop yourself; acquire a skill. If you acquire a skill, and get money, you can start something.

You are part of a system designed to train graduates to be self-employed but we still see many of them go through your class with yet roam the street unemployed. Who is to blame? Is it that you are not doing you job well or that they are not receiving what you are giving them.

Eeem…We are doing our job. At times people like to say that Government didn’t do this or that. But I know that if left for the government alone, we cannot go far. So, the lecturer teaching you is doing their job. It’s left for the student to grab the lesson and implement it.

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In fact, I am not exonerating the teacher, government or the student. Everybody has a role to play. The government has to provide a good environment for the teaching and provide skill acquisition centres in the school.

Then the student being taught should also make sure that he learns.  I am a lecture of entrepreneurship at Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Research, UNN. At times, students don’t take our course seriously. They say, “It’s not my main course. I am a physicist. What do I have to do with business? They fail to understand that entrepreneurship is across board. For instance a pharmacy student don’t know that entrepreneurship will help her ensure that her client comes back to do business with her.

Tell me you costliness mistake as an entrepreneur.

Costliest mistake!

(silence)

My costliest mistake is investing in business that I didn’t check whether it’s genuine or not. I normally invest in any business I see prospect in but this one came and I didn’t check well and invested. I thank God it wasn’t very big money. I was about N150, 000.

Is partnership important in business?

Yes. Why you need partnership is that if you don’t have enough resources, you people can team up. I know of two people who started business and their business requires meeting with people. One of them stammers and you know when you stammer before you finish talking with a customer, the person will get impatient.

He brought the money and did the administrative work while the other person did the talking and meeting with people. They have grown their businesses, married and bought cars.

I have seen crisis result from partnership.  After saving my N72,000 alawi, how do I ensure that I don’t get cheated?

The thing is that before you partner with someone, you have to know the person. There is something we call partnership deed. It’s a kind of agreement and rule that will guide your partnership. Also remember that you may have conflicts in your relationship with your partner. Don’t allow it to escalate. Resolve it and go on with your business.

Let there be an agreement that is covering you. You know what you are contributing and how to share the profit. Until you find out that you can’t continue and you separate. If possible, consult a lawyer.

If I get employed in a multinational now, get fat salary and with time, start getting loads of allowances. Is there any reason on earth why I should consider entrepreneurship?

Yes. As they are paying you, make sure you have part of your money invested somewhere. Even if you are in that job, you will retire one day. You cannot retire and be a problem to your children. Even if you are getting fat salary, save and start something and nothing stops you from starting a business where other people will be employed and you will even be generating more money. If not for any other reason, you need something to fall back on when you retire tomorrow. These jobs are not permanent.

No matter how fat your salary is, still do business!

There is a Nigerian youth reading this who is hell-bent of getting paid employment. For him, it’s either he gets a job or nothing else. Please talk to him directly.

You will be poor! There is no way a paid employment will give you what you want. I attended a seminar and one of the resource persons told us that he has never seen a billionaire through paid employment.  With my entire certificate, if I tell you my salary, you will be surprised. How much do you think these professors are collecting? About N350, 000.

There is one thing you should know in life. The more you grow, the more responsibility you have. The professor goes for events and church and he is expected to give a lot of money.

In fact, maybe you don’t want to have a good house, car or travel abroad for holiday. With this salary, you can’t even think of going to Lagos for holiday.

(General Laughter)

Please your last word on entrepreneurship.

I advise especially the youths to be entrepreneurial. Think of what you can do. The difference between Nigeria and China is that China became entrepreneurial.

 


 

Editor’s Note: For more entrepreneurship insight and notification of trainings in your area, keep in touch with Dr Ezeibe on Facebook: Adaaku George Ezeibe Phone: 08067321127 Email:adakuezeibe@gmail.com. Your comments on this interview are welcome on the comment box below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joseph Dinwoke

Chief Content Officer at Brojid World
Joseph 'Brojid' Dinwoke, Radio producer/OAP at Radio Nigeria Voice96.7FM, and publicist, is the curator of Brojid.com. At Brojid World, he creates contents and provides training, mentoring, coaching and inspiration for peak performance in your life and work through blog posts, podcasts, books and training. You can follow him on social media by clicking on any of these social media icons. To get his daily inspirational and insightful broadcast on WhatsApp, connect with him with: 0810 550 4664

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