I decided to tell my own story hoping it will inspire someone out there to start something great. During recession period in Nigeria, I know many lost their jobs, and millions of adults can't even find a job, with all their degrees and certificates. It got to a point people started to commit sucide out of frustration and depression.
I have said it in different fora, unemployment is not a bondage or a time of redundancy. In fact, it can be a blessing in disguise.
Unemployment is an opportunity to look inward, to follow and to work on your dreams. When you are under employment you are working and slaving away your life in another man's dream. And you can spend most of your time living in frustration and pains that stem from lack of Job satisfaction and unfulfilling life.
There are different ways to take advantage of the period of unemployment:
- - Look for a need you have the skills to fill, then go ahead and fill it...soon you will no longer look for a job.
- - Take up a voluntary job without pay in a business or industry you love to work in and build your career...soon you will develop subtle skills and connections that employers will not be able to resist.
- - Take the period to write a book, take up an apprenticeship scheme, go for specialized trainings to learn new relevant skills and improve your worth.
I learn this from my mentor Pastor Chris Oyakhlome... He said, "If you can't find a job, create one."
I'm discussing the process I went through in creating my own business once I decided I wasn't searching for job anymore, I'm going to start one.
Of course, before I made that decision, I have searched for job for over ten years. I felt I broke the record of submitting applications and attending interviews... I was submitting an average of twenty Job Applications per week...So I decided to stop!
It was a very daunting time trying to figure out what my next step was going to be, what kind of business I should start, and how I would figure out where to begin. I had my eyes wide open and anything that I did — whether it was going into a store or read a book or magazine — was all about creative thinking.
Meanwhile, my wife was fending for the family, paying bills and rent with her meagre income... She had to lay complaint to our Pastor...and my inlaws incessantly threatened to take her away from me... Divorce! I lost my personality and anything you might call reputation. It was really a trying period for me.
A lot of business ideas went through my head. I came up with dozens of different businesses I thought would work but ultimately I couldn't raise capital. One thing I think readers of this article would benefit from is the process I put in place that help me figure out what business I would be able to launch all by myself.
I found it very instrumental, and it’s ultimately how I ended up launching my own business, a world-class Sport Marketing company. In a nutshell, I put together a framework outlining what I know and what I'm going to value and be passionate about, as I analyze different business opportunities.
I created this framework through which I weighed every idea. Here were the rules I came up with:
Rule 1: Be an expert in the field and have some sort of competitive edge. I needed to know more about this idea / concept / industry than anybody else, and something about me — my network, my experience, my skill set — should add more value to this business than anybody else.
I eventually started to gain a little bit of traction when I realized that I follow football business more than anything else I knew. I played up to professional level; I once own and funded an Amateur club, while still playing. I follow all transfer market deals, Sponsorship and endorsement deals of my favorite clubs and players. I was collecting and keeping these records as a hobby (for fun).
I started to think about all these as a unique experience, or perhaps as something I knew more about and passionate to do.
Football was like a family line of business. It was like a destiny we all must follow. My father played for the Nigerian national team in the 50s. He played for Marine FC, got employed by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) , owners of the team.
My elder brother followed the same steps and got employed by NITEL. My younger brother played for Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles as well as some professional clubs in Europe. So football is our thing!
I thought over it, I studied marketing at the polytechnic and even did a final year project on the challenges of marketing football clubs in Nigeria. I also have this vision I carried for a longtime...to help talented footballers in the hitherland to come out to limelight. Having meditated and reviewed all these unique experiences, I decided to take online course in Sport Marketing to improve my expertize in this line of business.
Rule 2: Know relatively quick whether this concept was going to work or not. I did not want to take my family on a twenty year journey only to find out in year nineteen that there was no demand for this product/service or that some competitor had already beaten me to it.
Football is number one sport in Nigeria. The people (over 80 million) active consumers of the sport. They play, watch and passionately patronize football related products/ services. There are many statistics backing all that:
- - Nigeria has the largest football players export market in Africa worth over $2 billion USD per year.
- - DStv make revenue worth over $2.5 billion USD providing majorly football live broadcast on its Satellite and terrestal pay tv.
- - Nigerians spend N1.4 billion NGN in Sport betting daily.
- - Nigeria import football merchandises worth over $2.3 billion yearly.
So the size of the football market in Nigeria and it's potentials can profitably sustain my business plan and growth for over a100 years life cycle.
3. Be able to self-fund it. In 2009, there was zero financing. Banks were not lending money to start ups; All venture capital funding I contacted were unwilling since most investors don't even understand my business plan and model. One thing I quickly realized was that whatever my business is, I need to be able to self-fund it. If the idea's too grand and/or it requires external funding, I can't pull it off at this time.
I start off with Football blog. Thank God for the internet and platforms like Google blogger for
free registration and designing my first blog. Blogging afford me the opportunity to share my vision and knowledge about Sport marketing to the whole world .
After some teething challenges, the blog started pulling traffic... I made money through Affiliate marketing and advertisement on the blog, which enable me to register the company GreenHunters Sports International - a sport marketing and management company in Nigeria.
After some strategic participation on the social media platforms like Facebook page and Twitter.
I got a lot of endorsements through my publications on LinkedIn and that helped me connect to several willing partners abroad and the brand influence of my company went worldwide. I started attending several football conferences and mingling with top leaders as well as influencers in my industry, that just exploded everything.
These three rules were the lens through which I put all of the different investment decisions and concepts together. The truth is you can start something great even as an unemployed seeker with no money. Just apply these three rules and see what you can come up with.