Sat. May 18th, 2024

Cacheblog proposes that you need to realise early enough that you can start a business without money. Reach down within you, discover your abilities and use them to create enterprise.

TV coverage of arrested robbers often show them confessing that they were forced into crime because of hardship. I always find this quite disheartening. Some of my readers have also written me to express interest in some areas of foray that I have introduced on this forum; their only impediment they say, is startup money.

Let me start from the very outset to encourage youngsters to do away with that line of reasoning. It is important to realise early enough that you are the most important resource you will ever need to start an enterprise.

The problem is that many people do not value themselves enough. About 25years ago, I met a fellow young lady in a church I attended. She had lived a rough life but wanted to do better after giving birth to a delightful baby she was determined to build a stable life for her as a single mother.

She discussed it  with me, but it was actually a monologue: She asked, “What can I do? I can sing, I used to perform in nightclubs; I can sew, but I don’t have a sewing machine? What can I do with these skills, how do I start?

I was also anxious to start something concrete at the time aside from the ad-hoc advertisement canvassing and media freelancing jobs I did. So, as she questioned herself, I listened.

Then I chipped in, “Why don’t you start singing in church then?” She didn’t immediately buy the idea because even members of the choir were not being paid for their contributions. It was still a small congregation and most services were rendered by volunteers.

Eventually, we both agreed that singing ‘for free’ was better than staying idle while receiving charity from the church and giving nothing in return. So, she volunteered to sing special numbers in the church since she had a little training in singing.

That ‘free’ singing exercise gave her visibility and made her popular in the church and, although the church could not pay her, some members began to invite her to sing at their weddings, naming ceremonies and other activities for a token.

Eventually, she performed for a member who had a sewing machine she was not using and who eventually gave it to her as payment; for performing at her birthday thanksgiving. And so, her sewing business started!

She started by buying a few yards of fabric to make very simple dresses for babies. Parents readily bought them because they were nice and affordable. So, a single yard could make a few items of clothing which some people also bought off her to be given as presents when visiting new parents. It was a veritable ‘start small’ model.

Within six months of concerted work, she no longer needed charity from the church and she was able to move into a small apartment from where she could finally enjoy some dignity and put her baby in a creche; to give her more time for her business.

The simple lesson is, first get crime and short cuts off your head, then start using your innate abilities to do something and let that effort open up doors of endeavour that can lead to an income.

Afterwards, my husband and I were to relocate to another city and I needed to start a business for myself. Just like many other unemployed persons today, I had no capital; only my experience in writing supplements for magazines and canvassing for adverts.

During my days as a canvasser, I once walked into a conversation between an Advertisement Manager and a member of staff as they discussed the saturated market in Lagos. The manager noted that the advert placements he made in the North were making more waves than the ones placed in Lagos.

He said it was because there were hardly adverts on the station in that city and costs were markedly lower. So, sales were upping satisfactorily. He was talking about the city we were about to move into.

I thereafter became an avid watcher of TV prorammes. I planned to start a TV show in that Northern city and come back to Lagos to source adverts.

When we got there, I almost chickened out but, the opportunity was compelling and eventually, my need to earn an income propelled me to do the needful.

In the new city, there were no print media businesses but, they had a television station. So, in the same way that I got myself attached to print media houses fora commission in Lagos to eke a living, I had to give TV a try.

I wrote the Station Manager and asked for a sponsorship slot on their station. They had not received such attention before so, they excitedly allotted me a time, with the cost details.

With the written response given me, I began to canvass for sponsorship; splitting the time into segments so the rate could be affordable and appealing.

Since organisations were starving for some form of media presence in that city, I soon got some sponsors, although it was painstaking work. My husband who knew the city better supported me with marketing and within a year, we had a thriving business.

Over the years, I have also started other businesses ‘with nothing’ and so can you. To be continued.

By Jennifer Ihuoma Abraham

Jennifer Abraham holds a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. She has practiced journalism since after her national youth service assignment in 1989 as an independent TV producer/presenter and magazine editor; focusing on entrepreneurship, personal and community/natural resources development. She has attended broadcasting courses sponsored by the United States Information Service and Science Reporting Workshops with the African Technology and Policy Studies Network. She is also a teacher, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ and has partnered with NGOs, Government Agencies and individuals to promote philanthropic causes.

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