Welcome to another edition of the Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews and today I am very honoured to have gotten this Unusual Entrepreneur in question. He recently became one of my friends online and I dare say meeting him has been very worthwhile.
Besides the obvious fact [as you will soon see] that we both share the same passion for the entrepreneurial development in Nigeria, he’s someone who puts in the work required for what he desires. He’s just been chosen to be a part of 500 Lagos start-up entrepreneurs in the Lagos State Ignite Enterprise and Employability project. As my newly discovered unusual entrepreneur, Bernadette Jiwa of thestoryoftelling.com would say; he’s a dreamer that ‘do’!
If you are just joining us for the first time, this is the unusual entrepreneur interview series. It is a parade of unusual entrepreneurs who are changing the world and profiting from purpose. Profiting from purpose by changing the world isn’t an impossible dream as many tend to think of it, but a realistic one as many unusual entrepreneurs have extraordinarily proven. Click here to read more unusual entrepreneur interviews.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it and who do you do it for?
My name is Olufemi Omotayo, a communicator and the publisher of EntrepreNEWS, a unique medium poised to be the reference point for all entrepreneurs in Nigeria. I am a seasoned writer and researcher with initial and advanced degrees in mass communication. I have an extensive experience as a media practitioner, especially in advert copywriting, reportorial and editorial capacities. My skills cover different genres of writing, especially in poetry and prose narratives. I have authored a few books and won recognition for my writing.
I founded EntrepreNEWS, which is a blend of ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘news’ due to my perceived gaping need for it in Nigeria. As a journalist with about a decade of experience (many of those in the print media), I had seen enough to want to contribute to building the capacity of Nigerians. Starting as a reporter, I have worked in various capacities culminating as an editor of special publications in a foremost West African pharmaceutical journal. But I see many things in the industry that I think could be improved upon. I feel the media do not have many developmental contents.
So, essentially, EntrepreNEWS hopes to make positive impact, especially for the enterprise-minded Nigerians. The initial focus is on start-ups. The idea is to make more Nigerians embrace entrepreneurship and get resources to enable them operate profitably. That explains why our tagline is: information for empowerment.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs have few common traits which include:
- Identification of a need,
- Dissatisfaction of the status quo, and
- A burning desire to make a difference.
For a long time I did not consider myself as an entrepreneur. Although I aspired for lucrative jobs in the bank and oil and gas industries, I always ended up with media-related jobs. Indeed, I often got them quite easily. But a time comes when a man either considers his happiness or the desire to make an impact.
That moment came for me when out of curiosity I attended a job fair for the second time in 2011. Frankly, I was I was sickened by the sight of the mammoth crowd. I wondered why people continued to pursue the non-available jobs when they could create jobs for others. It became obvious to me that there is little entrepreneurial interest among Nigerian graduates. I wanted to fill that need immediately. I wanted to generate enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among Nigerians. That vision could neither allow me to rest nor concentrate on my job! Eventually I had to resign my employment to face the risk of being an entrepreneur myself. I wanted to be the voice for every start-up.
3. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
Our key vision is captured in both our name and appendage. We want to be the number one platform where entrepreneurs get news, tips, information, resources; share opinions and network with fellow entrepreneurs. We will be the guide for the start-up owner trying to negotiate through the maze of building profitable businesses in Nigeria.
4. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
Life is already complicated; we should not make it more difficult. I like Albert Einstein’s quote that “everyone is a genius; but if you judged a fish by its inability to fly you make it believe it is stupid.” You have to operate in an area of your strength. It could either be that you have natural flair for the business idea, or you have undergone necessary training. You cannot just jump into an area totally unknown, except you have divine direction.
5. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
I will be fulfilled if I have been able to help many people realise and pursue their entrepreneurial goals in life. I want to help my country create more jobs by informing and educating the people. I want to be the link between the greenhorn entrepreneur and the myriads of available opportunities he/she may be unaware of.
6. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. The world is full of problems, but identifying problems is the lowest level of intelligence. You should be able to go beyond that to actually proffering solution. Entrepreneurs see needs around them and meet those needs profitably. In the end, everybody benefits.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY – The unusual execution of business best practices
7. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
I am not a serial entrepreneur even though I have tried my hands on a few ideas. However, to talk about EntrepreNEWS: it is an idea born out of the challenge of lack of entrepreneurship drive and the problem of starting a business in Nigeria. The population of our focus is large but reachable.
8. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
Absolutely every business owner should have a mentor. It is very important. I have three top publishers – Pharm Ifeanyi Atueyi, Dr Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase and Mr Dipo Davies – as mentors and they have been very helpful with their free suggestions and advice. I have spiritual mentors, with the Bible as ultimate. I also believe in personal development and have many guides many of whom are non-Nigerians. I owe my current life situation to their influence. Really, if I have any failure or frustration it is my fault. I either do not obey instruction or I am plain lazy.
9. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
It’s an oft-repeated fact that TIME is the most important resource in the world. I have run afoul of this several times before and have paid the price. Now, however, I understand the real meaning of that expression. And even though my time usage is still not perfect, I have learnt to prioritise my activities. I know how to get the most important things done first before other less important ones. Everyone should have a sense of responsibility to how they utilise their time. Life is short: do what you have to do quick.
10. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
EntrepreNEWS is unique in what it does. It meets the needs of budding and established entrepreneurs. That way, it attracts readers among start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurial institutions. As expected of a print medium, advertisements are our mainstay. Our advertisers cut across the different spectrum of the business world. You can do business with us so far you have a product that entrepreneurs use. Most of our advertisers contacted us after getting copies of the paper from newsstands, events or through subscription.
11. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
Finance is crucial to the life of any business. As much as possible, every businessperson should get adequate funding. However, tenacity will push a business idea far even when there is money challenge. You just have to keep marketing yourself in the most cost-effective way possible. Frugality is key. And you have to work hard, hope and pray for lucky breaks too.
12. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
Almost every new entrepreneur thinks money is their major challenge. This mindset is wrong. There are several things that could be achieved without necessarily having or using money. Many times, connections are all that is necessary. Depending on the type of business you do, find people who have been successful in it and make them your mentors. Attend events and trainings for the purpose of networking. Use the social media effectively. Explore all options.
13. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
Pricing is a tricky issue in business. Many businesses use this as an avenue to gain market share. They reduce the price of their commodity but may find it difficult to maintain eventually. So, the best thing to do is to make sure the price sufficiently covers the cost of production and makes provision for profit, even if small. You may either serve the upper or lower segment of society and this affect the pricing. The former has fewer consumers with high purchasing power while the latter has a large base although with lower capacity to buy. It is therefore essential for the business owner to do lots of research to determine which method suits the business.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS – Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for unusual entrepreneurs
14. Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
EntrepreNEWS is still in its fledgling stage. Nevertheless, it is making a big impact already. We have commendations and recommendations from members of the entrepreneurial community. Many individuals and institutions have shown strong support for what we do. It is very heart-warming to note the rapid spread of EntrepreNEWS to seven (7) Nigerian states within 5 months. It is beyond our expectation.
15. What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
EntrepreNEWS has endured several challenges since its inception. Many of these have been highlighted earlier. However, distribution is noteworthy. Although we registered with the Newspaper Distribution Association of Nigeria (NDAN), many unsold copies of few early editions were returned under the guise that people are not aware of the paper’s existence. The sight of the pile of unsold EntrepreNEWS was a torture. But this was overcome by aligning with Mr Dipo Davies’ story of Castles Magazine. Like the famed publisher, we have devised other means of distributing our publication which has proven to be more beneficial.
16. Where there any particular questions you expected me to ask that is beneficial to entrepreneurs and I didn’t? Kindly share with us such questions and their relevant answers here.
Not really. This interview is long enough! I just want to commend you for what you are doing and looking forward to featuring you in EntrepreNEWS soonest. You seem to be someone that will add value to our esteemed audience. We have to collaborate. I thank you for this opportunity.
What more would you like to know about the Unusual Olufemi Omotayo? You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur? What lessons, what philosophy of his strike you the most?
Olufemi has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!