In February 2017, Connect Nigeria held a business fair for business owners, where they were opportune to learn how successful entrepreneurs were able to build successful business empires. Among the panelists was Simeon Ononobi, founder of SimplePay, a payment solution platform.
A graduate of Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Simeon Ononobi became a tech entrepreneur at the tender age of 16, when he started a programme in school – Compuversity, to teach his colleagues how to use a computer. During his session Connect Nigeria E-Business Fair, he shared a number of lessons he learnt while building his business.
Here are a few things that helped him build a successful business:
You have to be very focused at what you do. It is a difficult terrain to have a business in Nigeria. If you’re not focused, if you start your business now, I tell you in 6 months you’re done. You won’t be able to run it again. I need you to know that you need to be very focused to be able to run a business. Zuckerberg did it in America, it’s not easy.
2. Challenges are constant
You need to forget the fact that there aren’t going to be challenges. Till today, I’m still facing challenges. I just got a call that our server fees have jumped. It used to be 200/$ but now it is 500/$. And I have to find dollars to keep our server space. I have been talking to local providers to make sure we can get that done.
So one just have to keep trying. Forget the fact there is a problem, just find a solution for it. Because there must be problems. I don’t care what business it is, I just know there must be problems you have to find solutions to.
3. Learning is key
A lot of people just want to go into things that they don’t understand. A friend once tweeted about soup delivery business one time like that. I could’ve gone into the business because it sounded good. The truth of the matter is I don’t know the first thing about how my kitchen pot looks, for me food is whatever enters my tummy to fill it up. I don’t have any education about what food is about. But you see many people just jump into the bandwagon without understanding the basics.
From my experience, when I started business, I crashed and I had to go back to look for a job and I worked for one year and what I was trying to understand is how do people really do it. How do you sit in a business and understand that there is payment to push. How do you account for every single thing. You need to learn a lot of things. You don’t just say I want to go into business. Get an education, learn what people are doing!
4. Stay as Local as possible
Don’t try to copy what others are doing to make it. What works in America will not work in Nigeria. From my experience running an Ad global company I co-founded with partners, what we are doing in Dubai is not what we are doing India, it is not even what we are doing in Nigeria.
You have to change based on the environment you find yourself. You don’t have to be stuck on how, or stick to ‘this is how the business was. You need to keep trying to change. Change with what is happening in your environment.
5. Leverage Partnership
As a business try to make sure you leverage partnership. You cannot stand without partnership, it doesn’t make sense. Stop seeing every platform as competitors that will steal your ideas all the time. Yes they’ll steal, but still you need them to be able to grow. If a small platform doesn’t trust you, look to a bigger platform to ride on. Once you start giving value to that bigger platform, they will continue to push you.
6. Investors do not Determine Success
I try to use every opportunity I have to tell people that you don’t need a platform and you don’t need someone to sit somewhere and decide how you grow or what you become. But for you to succeed, you must ask yourself this, what exactly do you want to achieve, why are you doing it?