My parents, seven children, four others lived in a room –Coach Nnadi

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Founder of JobconnectNG Consulting Limited, Nancy Nnadi, tells Mobola Sadiq about how her poor background spurred her to resolve to succeed, advantages of having a coach and other issues

Can you tell us about your childhood and education?

I grew up in a very poor home. In fact, we were 13 (my dad, mum, seven children and other relatives) living in a single room. Things were so hard for us that sometimes we could only afford a bowl of garri (cassava flakes) that we soaked in water and allowed to rise. In many cases, even the soaked garri was given to us by a friend. My mum ventured into petty trading of all manner of things. She sold bread, garri, oil, yam, popcorn, biscuits, etc. I also had to help her with hawking some of these items from one street to another. However, the business never grew since we had to feast on its proceeds to survive.

While I was in secondary school, I also sold chinchin during break period, and with some of the profit, I would buy some of the things needed for school like books, pens, etc. Sadly, I lost my dad before I finished secondary school. One fateful day, my mum knowing she couldn’t afford to see us through school called me and my siblings and verbally expressed the obvious to us. But added that she would do her best to ensure we finished secondary school. The news didn’t come as a surprise to us, seeing that she had to sell some of her clothes to pay for my ordinary level exams.  After I finished secondary school, I had to search for of a job. I eventually found one where my employer agreed to pay me N3000 monthly. It was my first job and the beginning of a new chapter for me.

You’re the founder of JobconnectNG Consulting Limited, Agunancy Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited, and The Nancy Nnadi Company, what stirred the need to establish these companies?

I would attribute that to my desire to make a difference and to contribute my quota to humanity. Also, I wanted to help business owners with common business challenges garnered from my experience as a business owner. Issues stemming from funding, getting the right people to work for you, and having the right knowledge to thrive were also part of what stirred me. I also saw how solving these problems will lead to the creation of more jobs for people.

Has the journey been rewarding?

It’s been so rewarding. Now, when I look back to where I was coming from, I smile knowing that it would be difficult to have achieved the kind of success that I was able to achieve if I didn’t take a leap of faith.

How did you survive sponsoring your university education as a young lady?

While I was working and earning N3000 monthly, I made sure I was putting my best into the work. I noticed my boss complaining about not making enough money from the section that managed the call centre, so I asked that he allowed me to manage it. He gave his consent. On the first day of managing the call centre, I made so much money that he decided to be giving me N500 daily. So, each time I got home, I would take the N500 and give it to my younger sister to go deposit it in the bank. I continued this for about six to seven months, and by the time I went to the bank, I was told that I had saved the sum of N101,000:00. It was my first huge savings. With that, I started the journey of sponsoring myself to the university. And I never stopped working as well.  And with the money I was earning, I was able to see myself through university education. I had to go to work daily from 8am to 6pm and after work. From office and after closing, I would head straight to school and won’t get home till around 10pm. I thank God for the outcome of the struggles because it wasn’t easy as the needs of my mum and siblings alone were enough to make me broke on the same day I collected salary. My own needs were there as well.

How effective is a coach to an intending entrepreneur or existing entrepreneur?

Coaching helps put some clarity to what you intend to do. You get to stand on the shoulders of experts thereby helping you achieve more in a shorter period than it would have taken you should you do it without the help of a coach. This is because coaches help you with perspectives that you may not get on your own. Existing entrepreneurs need to understand that in any area that they are struggling or not achieving what they desire, they need to seek the right help through coaching.

Your biography says you help entrepreneurs go from scarcity to abundance, using your signature “5Wallets System.” Can you tell us what this is about?

It’s simply about a revolutionary approach that I stumbled upon that has helped me to effectively manage my personal finance as a business owner and ensure I never go broke again. It helped me kiss being broke goodbye and more importantly, it aided me in building the rich life that I have always wanted.  The 5 Wallets System shows you what millionaires know about spending, saving, and freedom that 99% of people don’t. It helps the ordinary man with the simple system of how to protect himself from poverty, ensuring he never goes broke again so he can start building a rich life. The concept behind The 5 Wallets System has now been packaged into an affordable book. Naturally, I began to share the concept of the 5-Wallets System with others – both entrepreneurs and career professionals – and it also worked like some sort of magic for them.

What are some of the mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they start a business venture?

I think most entrepreneurs start their business without any clear vision. I also started that way. I wasn’t looking to build a big business. I just wanted to be able to spend more time with my daughter and husband. People start businesses for different reasons and most times these businesses are started just to help the owners and their loved ones. Only a select few start businesses with a clear vision of the need they want to meet or the solution they intend to provide.

Other mistakes include starting a business that there’s zero or very low demand for its product and service, running the business with a model that isn’t proven, wrong or poor type of marketing, starting a business with little or no focus, not being able to delay gratification, poor or no cash flow, not re-investing into the business and not involving God in their business affairs and so on.

Some people have said it is wrong to borrow to start a business and that prospective business owners should use their own money for it. Is this a myth or what’s your thought on this?

Well, borrowing which could be from your family and friends, or receiving a loan from the bank is not bad in itself. We’ve had situations where people who borrow money do well in their business. At the same time, we have seen people who started a business with their personal money but didn’t do well. So, it depends on the person involved. In my opinion, I will say, this saying is just a myth. It all depends on how you manage the funds and how you’re able to pay your lender from the profit made in your business. Personally, I don’t even recommend borrowing except you have fully understood the concept of your business and know how to separate yourself from your business especially with regards to its finances.  I have realized that one of the major causes of loans going bad is that many business owners don’t separate their personal finance from business finance. If many banks or even government can invest in equipping many businesses to learn how to separate themselves from their businesses, we will produce more successful and wealthy entrepreneurs.

How easy has it been as a female entrepreneur?

What I can say is that it’s been very challenging, especially since I’m in a male-dominated industry. I’m talking about my telecoms business. On several occasions, I wanted to pack up shop and retire to become a wife and mother due to the various challenges that I faced, thank God I did not. As time went by, I made up my mind that I was going to be successful, so I made sure I was giving my best.

There are a lot of job seekers in the country but few positions are available. What do you think is the solution?

This is one situation that needs to be tackled. The reason we have few positions is that we don’t have enough people creating more jobs. This is because the educational system is designed in such a way that it ends up producing more adults that are seeking jobs rather than creating jobs for themselves and others. To fix this, we need to get to the root of the problem. We need to visit our educational system and begin to seriously inculcate entrepreneurial spirits in our students. Even though entrepreneurship education is already gaining ground in some schools, a lot still needs to be done. Also, every young adult should be encouraged to build skills based on what is needed in our world today. For example digital skill is in high demand.

Do you think that we have a favourable business environment for entrepreneurs in Nigeria?

If I say no, it means that we do not have a favourable business environment in Nigeria, and I will most likely be speaking the mind of majority of the people. However, it may interest you to know that even with a favourable business environment, entrepreneurs still have a lot of work to do in starting and growing their businesses.  Having said that, the truth remains that there is a limit to what any business owner can do in an unfavourable business environment. A lot of Nigerian entrepreneurs are dynamic, that’s why they go on to succeed in business right here in Nigeria despite the odds. However, one thing is also sure, many Nigerian entrepreneurs will also do better if we had more regulatory policies that are business-friendly, good infrastructure, stress-free procedures for getting necessary approvals and licenses and access to.

People often say that nobody exposes the secret of their thriving business. Do you agree with this assertion?

I know loads of business owners who let others know the secret of their thriving business. I am one of such people. I believe that business owners who do not share the secrets of their thriving business do so because of the fear of theft. This kind of theft is often known as trade secret theft. Trade secret is the method or technique used to obtain an economic advantage over the competition who do not know or use it.  And as a business owner, protecting your trade secret is a smart thing to do because they could easily steal your customers and business and before you know it a thriving business begins to struggle for survival. Many years ago, I lost some customers to the competition who was once my employee.

How did that happen?

Before he (my employee) resigned to start the same business, he knew and understood my business secret and that was because I didn’t understand business as much as I do now. Today, I’m quick to tell business owners who care to listen not to let out their trade secrets to anyone; not even their workers, because like me, their employees would end up being their next and strongest competitor. However, you could share other things that helped you achieve success in your business.

Can you tell us some hard lessons you have learned in your years of experience as an entrepreneur and employer?

One hard lesson was when my shop was burgled and everything there was carted away. This made me cry for many days. On the seventh day, an idea came into my mind. The idea was that I should enter my store. Though I had no goods, I went to my store and when I got there, another idea dropped that I should ask my old customers to place orders. I also did. And that was how I used other peoples’ money to successfully trade for two years and in the process grew my capital to an amount I never imagined. Another hard lesson was when one of my employees stole goods worth millions of naira from my office some years ago. Because I had a good understanding of my business, I was able to know when it occurred, what was stolen, and eventually who was responsible. And because I acted fast I was able to recover the stolen goods.

One salient lesson from what I experienced is that, businessmen and women should never wait till the end of the year or even month before carrying out an audit. Auditing an account annually only after money might have been stolen is medicine after death. If the person has spent the money, it will be difficult to recover it. However, when your financial system is such that audit is carried out regularly, you would be able to discover and recover stolen cash and good.

What’s your advice to people who prefer white collar jobs to establishing their own business?

The good thing about being an employee is the stability that comes with it like earning a regular income, the familiarity of the work, and the possibility of being able to move up the career ladder. Also as an employee, you will be learning and gathering practical experience that will most likely be useful when you become an entrepreneur. Though most employees don’t see this as an advantage, it’s one I recommend they begin to be intentional about. Making the transition from being an employee to entrepreneur can be very exciting and also tough. That is why I recommend that the employee who seeks to forgo paid employment should not do so in a hurry and without a plan. The employee first needs to be honest with himself or herself, and consider saving up enough funds. Other things to consider include but are not limited to: starting the business as a side hustle and growing it to a level before quitting their jobs, growing their network with valuable people and so many others.

How do you unwind?

It is either by sleeping, hanging out with family and friends or worshipping my God.

Would you call yourself a fashionista?

I won’t call myself a fashionista. In fact, my dressing sense just improved. I don’t buy or read fashion magazines neither do I concern myself with what other people wear. My goal is to ensure that I feel comfortable in whatever I wear.

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