My Experience After Working For About Five Years

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Greetings to you all. I hope that the message I am about to pass meets you well.

What am about to explain is based on my own personal experience and that of those around me. What worked or didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it is applicable to others. You might try and succeed. But am only here to give my own experience. Sorry, this post is gonna be long, but I hope you read it to the end.

The lesson I want us to learn here is for us to know that working in a firm (especially in banks or offices where you stay indoor from 8am to 5pm) that pays you less than N120,000 to N150,000 per month with little or no assurance that after 2 to 3 years, you will be promoted or get your salary increased is a waste of your youthful age, better you start nurturing any form of legal business that you can start and manage.

In view of this, I will be making some detailed Analysis and CALCULATION as I put down my experience. The analysis and calculation is to show you how “small small” business that we neglect and take not to be profitable is actually better than having a monthly paid job.
I started working in the bank around first quarter of 2016. I was excited that I got a job, hoping to start contributing financially to my family. But before I proceed, let me take us back a little for a better understanding.

I finished serving in the year 2013, job hunted for a while but no success. I always sleep on job site looking for new job advert, I walked the street of different cities going from company to company and dropping CVs. I attended lots of interviews and tests, all to no avail.

The closest I got was during the 2014/2015 recruitment exercise for PTI Warri which was done in Abuja. I spent lots of money shuttling from my state of residence to Abuja for about three times. Computer based test was taken twice, then a final interview. In the position I applied for, I was among the 5 people that made it to the final interview stage, but I waited for call up/appointment letter but I didn’t get any. (time, energy and resource that I could have channeled in starting a business, wasted)

After all these, I gave up on job hunting for a while. I stayed back with my parent, helping them out in the little business they do, their business isn’t all that rosy, but it helps in the daily expense of the house. Thank God for my elder brothers who took care of the major expense as they are working.

However, while going for interview in Abuja, there was a biscuit I ate there which was very nice. One day I set out to look for the biscuit in my area but couldn’t find it. So it occurred to me that since the city where I reside is a university town, maybe such biscuit could move market. I was able to ask my brother for a loan of N120,000 which he gave me… and through the help of a nairalander, I got the biscuit from Lagos to my state (God bless the lady).

As at the time she helped me procure the biscuits, I haven’t set my eyes on her, we just spoke on phone. I sent her the money, she took her time, used her husband’s car, went to the company’s warehouse in Lagos, bought the biscuit and way-billed it to me). Later on, I made a friend with one of the bus drivers of PMT who was now helping me to pick them up and deliver them to me while coming back from Lagos.

I bought about 24 cartons at a cost of N4,500/carton and way-billing it from Lagos cost me about N12,000. I exhausted the N120,000 on purchase and carriage inwards (it could have been more if not for the lady that helped me purchase it). Therefore, the cost price of the biscuit/carton was N5,000.

I was able to use the small space left in my parent shop as my own shop, then I use my Mum’s bike to send adverts and also go out for supplies.
I hit the market immediately and started advertising the biscuit. In a carton, there are 12 packs which contain 12 biscuits. Now, my selling price was N5,500/carton and N500/pack. So the retail end of one biscuit was N50. I sell as both wholesale and retail, so if I sell a carton, I have a profit of N500. If I sell 12 packs at N500 each, I have a profit of N1000. Then if at my shop, I was able to sell the biscuits in pieces, I will make a profit of about N1700 after exhausting a carton.

The first week I started, things didn’t go so well, but as time goes on, business was picking up. Though there was a catch to it. The “end-eaters” are mostly university students and most shops don’t buy in carton, they buy in packs. So when the school is on break, sales slows down but picks up when they resume.

Later on, I added some little local biscuits and products so that I can be turning over my capital pending when my stock gets low before I can buy from Lagos. Profit from those local products are negligible. At the peak of my business, that’s towards the end of 2015, I know I was making an average profit of about N700 to N1500 per day, which is roughly N30,000 to N40,000 per month.

Things were going smoothly and I was happy, but then everything went south. By the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the value of naira depreciated and since the biscuit was a foreign product, the carton price gradually went up from N4500 to N8000. The single biscuit which was sold at N50 also rose to N70. People no longer buy it, business came to a halt and I had stocks which I literally sold at almost the cost price some even less. The little money I had, I tried to diversify into a new product, but wasn’t successful. The product that looks promising requires capital of N1M upwards which I can’t access as at then I have about N250,000 with me.

Luckily for me, as the business flopped, around march of 2016 I got an offer for a bank job which I gladly accepted. Salary was N75,000/month. Not much, but for me back then it was much.

I went for training and was posted to one of the states in North west region of Nigeria. I have worked for about 5 years now, but I only got a promotion January this year, taking my salary to N115,000/month.
Now the question to ask is, if I was into business for this period of 5 years, putting in the type of dedication that I did where I work, as at now, will my net revenue per month not be more than N115,000.

Over the years, I have got to understand that business grows every single day. It might not reflect in your net income, but each day that a customer walk up to you to buy your product or pay for your services, your reputation and good will grows. This will amount in more revenue/income later on.

Secondly, we all know that salary remain stagnant while inflation grows. No organization will increase your salary due to inflation, but unlike business, business grows with inflation. For example, if a product is been sold for N8 as cost price while retailers sell at N10. If there is inflation and cost price rises to N11, most retailers will end up selling at N15, thereby increasing their income relative to inflation.

I am in the banking sector, and it seems to me that am trapped in there even though I work tooth and nail to resign as soon as possible, but a lot of things that I have invested into, didn’t turn out as I hope. Not giving up yet, as I look out for other opportunity. To grow a business, the owner need to be on ground to nurture it, but that time is what you don’t have when you are working for someone especially as a banker. It’s not all that easy leaving your job entirely to go and grow/nurture your business, at a time when you already have responsibility and expenses to carry out, you might end up running down your capital. That’s why I want to reiterate that the best time to start a business is when you are still in school or under your parent roof, that way you can do all the trial and error you needed to do without getting burnt. If the business fail, you still have roof over your head with your feeding and other basic necessities covered, all you need is time to regain more capital and start afresh.

Take for example those young lads who go to serve their boss as early as 12-15years of age. They learn the art of business right from teenage, they get to know customers and how the market fluctuate. Then after been settled 6-7 years later, finding their feet wont be difficult as they already have what is needed to succeed. They have the experience, the capital from settlement and the customer base (that’s friends they made while serving)… then when the business is booming, their peers back home will think that they did blood money, but its just simple economics.

I have a friend that sale cloths in bales. From my findings, each bale cost N10,000 and he sells it between N11,000 to N13,000 depending on the quantity that you are buying. On the average he sells about 10 to 15 bales per day. Then during weekends, that’s Friday and Saturday, he sells almost 20-25 bales. He has customers coming from Niger Republic, Chad and neighboring countries coming to buy in bulk. You can now estimate his monthly income. I can bet you that only a few multinationals in Nigeria will pay such amount for fresh graduates. And the funny thing is, when you enter this guy’s shop, you wont even know that such income can come from that shop.

Take a time out and try to look out for wealthy business men around your area. Try to investigate how they all started, most of their business started very small and when they where young. Time is all its takes to grow a business beyond recognition. Believe me, if you can manage and maintain your business for 3 years plus, then you have crossed the red zone. All factors been favorable, the experience you have gained over the years will see you through to greater heights.

There is a man I know that own a big pharmaceutical company in Lagos, the last time the man came to our branch, he just started gisting me stories of how he started. He started with a small chemist shop before he married his wife who read pharmacy in school, through the help of his wife and her license, they started expanding. More than 20 years down the line, he is among the top pharmacy company in Lagos.

If you hear the story of how A. A. Rano started, you will be shocked. But now look at where he is now. This man isn’t a graduate, but bank officials are always after him. And there are lots of rich men like him who are not really educated, but their net worth now is mind blowing.

My branch manager usually make reference to two of our biggest customers who use to come to the bank to make transaction of N300,000 to N500,000 back then when he was a junior staff, but now those guys deal in billions of naira. If the bank is sending delegation to see these customers, it’s the senior officials that goes. This is to show you how big these guys have grown. That’s the power of business. There are lots of people I would have used as examples to show how business grows over time, but that will mean divulging privileged information so I will have to keep that aside.

Look at this scenario, 3 days after I resumed at my branch, there was this sales rep. of an FMCG that approached me and was pleading with me to help him count his cash as he was running out of time. That day, there was lots of cue in the banking hall. So I took him to our bulk counting room and connected him to someone who helped him to count the cash. Since that day, we became friends and started communicating. At about 3 months later, he told me that one of the major distributors of his company folded and so he is trying to take the distributors right and make purchases in the distributors name without the main company knowing because he is still under the company’s payroll.

He succeeded in becoming a distributor, supplying to some of the super stores in the state. During the lock-down, he told me that what he does mostly now is to order for a container of good from the company, costing around N20M. That after he finish selling it within 5-6weeks, he makes a net profit of about N1.2M. Which firm will pay its staff such amount within 2 months. Right now, he has about 5 big shops around town and two warehouses. He is married, has two cars, a house in the north and in the east and from the little interaction I have had with him, his biz is worth about N45M. This is within the space of 4 years of becoming a distributor. You can imagine what his net worth will be after like 10-15 years of being in the business.

Their was this corper lady that sells roasted cat fish around my area. She choose a good spot, right in front of a bear parlor. Her fish ranges from N1200to N1500 per one. This lady sells roughly 15 fishes per day with an average profit of N200/fish, some even N300. That’s roughly N60,000 a month. This is a biz she does between 4pm to 10pm. Compare that to some bank contract staffs that earn between N40,000 to N70,000 a month while working 8am-5pm.

If you own a keke marwa and ply a very busy route with good road, you can be sure of making N5,000 in revenue per day, that like N100,000 a month. Or if you feel you want to give it out, the return is usually around N2,000 per day. I know that some people will be shy cos how can a graduate be driving keke. But in this our country, anything that will put money in your pocket should be tried as long as it’s legal. Now, if the keke is yours and you are driving it your self. Each day am sure your net income will be around 3k. That’s an average of 80k per month, much more than what 60% of companies in Nigeria will pay fresh graduates.

Another scenario, during the interview stage for this job that I got, I became a friend with a fellow candidate. Turns out that the guy didn’t make it as he wasn’t called to resume when they called us. Three months later when I called him, he told me that he’s learning a trade from his uncle in Lagos. Around middle of 2017, he called me, telling me that he is now on his own and asked for my prayers so he would prosper well. As at Oct. this year, he bought a land in his home state and already building on it.

99% of wealthy people are business men, you won’t get to a greater height in wealth if you dedicate your entire life on a paid job. The average worker who is upright and doesn’t involve in shady dealings ends up not being too wealthy or achieving much in life. Aside from multinational company’s, most firms in Nigeria pay below N100,000 and when you factor in cost of leaving and daily expenses, how much can one save out of the salary in a month. That’s why I noted in the beginning of this write up that except you are working in a firm where your salary is above N100,000 and promotion/upward review of salary is certain within 3 years, then you are just wasting your youthful age when you work in such a place for long. If at the end of a year, you can’t be able to save up to N1M, just try as much as you can to quit the job. Though its not easy, but its better you bear the heat and get out when you are strong and agile than wait when you get old.

My advice is that as early as possible, one should start looking for a business to start, irrespective of the nature of the business, as long as its legal and pays your bill just dedicate yourself to it and nurture it to growth/maturity. Business is easier to manage and nurture when your personal expense and responsibility is still very low, thats why its good to start when you are still under your parent, as a student or during NYSC. That way, even when the business fail, you have your family to fall back on until you gather the necessary resource to start again.

On a last note, when you have a striving business, by the time your kids grow up, one or two of them can you in the business and probably be on their own by having an offshoot of your business. That way they wont have to be looking for a job after school especially in this period of unavailability of jobs. But if you retire as a worker, you have nothing to pass to your kids to help them kick start their life. They will have to search for job or establish their own business.

I will also advice that if you have the opportunity of picking up a job as a sales rep. of a company, please do not hesitate to accept it as this type of job gives you first hand experience of how businesses of buying and selling works. You will get to know how the market moves, the season when some certain goods are in high demand and with this experience, starting your own business in same line wont be difficult for you as you can even get some capital and purchase goods in the name of your customer and if you have a good relationship with him or with those around, selling the goods wont be much difficult through their help pending when you get your own shop/warehouse.

My own rule of thumb is;

IF YOUR JOB IS YOUR ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME, DONT QUIT YOUR JOB FOR A SIDE BIZ UNTIL THE BIZ IS A “GOING CONCERN” AND IS GIVING YOU MORE THAN HALF OF YOUR MONTHLY SALARY.

Thanks for reading, please don’t forget to share

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