Hi! Welcome to BeInspired Show with Mercy Omoregie. Today on the Show, Tony Omachonu; A Business Analyst shares some insight on today's business terrain and future expectations. See exclusive interview....
*Let’s know more about you and what you do?
My name is Tony Omachonu, I’m a graduate of business administration. A Business Analyst by profession, started practicing in 2005. So far I’ve worked with two companies, Covenant Enterprises Solutions Ltd, the other is ValuePlus Global Solutions which fortunately I also co-own. We founded that company since 2006, and I have been part of the management team. But now I try to keep that aspect of my responsibility low key and focus more on my every day task which is to make sure businesses have solutions that meet their everyday process needs. So you can say I’m a Business Process Engineer.
*Did your studying Business Administration inspired your venture into entrepreneurship?
I was a science student in secondary school. I really wanted to be a science student. I had issues with my WAEC. And because I was from a very poor background, I couldn’t afford to write WAEC twice. I failed my physics, chemistry and English, every other subject was an A, annoyingly. **laughs. I really don’t know what happened in that exam, but that was the defining moment of my life. I had to pick up the pieces of what I had, I couldn’t go back to school again, my parents couldn’t afford that. It was either I pick up the pieces or I learn a trade. So, I decided to try my hands out with A levels, I did A-levels at Osara, Kogi state polytechnics, affiliated with Amadu Bello University. I had my O-levels English there. After my A-levels, that was when Kogi state university was established, in 1999. It was as if the school was established for me, so I quickly get the form, a direct entry form and I was admitted to study Business Administration. Of course, it was welcoming for me at that time, and I embraced it.
The defining moment for my career came when I was researching for my project. I had a thick time looking at people that were doing well in their businesses, I took time to study what Dangote was doing, took time to study what Otedola was doing, what Mike Adenuga and the rest were doing. That threw in a bit of light for me and I told myself at that time, I was not going to work for anyone. I was going to start building from the scratch, no matter how long it will take me to achieve my dreams, I won’t quit! I will wait.
After service, NYSC, I didn’t have what it takes to start a company of my own, I had to start with the first company I worked for, for a year and six months. Being the kind of person I am, I quickly grew in ranks. I was very diligent and committed to my works. There is that spark of creativity in everything I do, when people stop at one, I go to five. That made me a team leader. We were analysing accounting processes and I was leading a team made up of financial accountant that were chartered. I was just a fresh graduate. Certainly not because I had the educational background, but because I’m very fast at learning. Today I sit with companies like PWC to analyze financial report. No one knew I’m not a financial accountant. But today everything is easy, the internet is your friend. I tried a certificate even earlier this week. And I didn’t have to border myself. You can get a Ph.D. off Google.
*Following your story, coming from a lowly backgrounds, what made you choose schooling, because learning a trade could have been much easier, perhaps?
In my entire family, extended, if there was any graduate before me it wouldn’t be more than one or two. But I told myself; because I saw poverty, and I told myself, I won’t extend this to my children. I had to make sure I make that decision early. In my place, there is this truism, “if a journey is far, you start early.” I knew that I may not use what I learn from school, which of course I’m not currently using. But if you are going to knock on a door, your degree has a way of helping you get a listening ear. It could help you get a door opened, but what help you stay, is the value you bring to the table. I had to learn value. In as much as I didn’t go for trade, most of the things I do today, I had to learn them myself.
For instance, growing up, in my entire community, there was no computer. But I knew I needed a computer skill. So this is what I did, when I was graduating from University, there was a deacon in my church who works in federal polytechnic in my village, at Idah, he had a PC, window’s 98 desktop. Then light was a bit stable. I had to meet him and told him about my project, that it was an opportunity for me to learn the computer skills, I told myself, if it’s just three sentences I can type in a day, which is what I actually started with, I was going to learn how to type. I did all my typing myself, afterwards, the computer skills stuck, so I could relate with computers whenever I saw one. Also during my NYSC, I mixed up with rich children, I was privileged to be in the Exco, there was computer in the family house, so I kept improving.
*So far, how has the journey in business been with you?
Running a business on your own during our time, without a strong backing was not easy. But now, it’s way easier… We have angel investors everywhere, we have venture capitalists, grants are everywhere now. Even at that, I still had someone who invested in my business back then, which was one of my first failures. In business, I have failed several times. We invested four million at that time and in two years, we were already a failure. In business, I have failed six times in the past twelve years. Anytime I fail, I document why I failed. But then, I keep hitting the rock from different angles. Today, some of my failures are the things I hold dear to my heart. So many times, when I sit down to teach people, I teach them not from my successes, but from my failures. I tell people that are very close to me, “you must not fail in the same place where I failed.” I have my fair share of success, I’m currently consulting for big companies, and bigger ones are joining the queue.
*How would you define entrepreneurship especially as it relates to Nigeria?
For me, entrepreneurship will be finding everyday problems and creating a value system to solve those problems. And then, while you are solving these problems, you find a way to commercialize your solutions. And, right now in Nigeria, I have been shouting to everyone that wants to listen, there is a revival. And this revival, we are not going to experience the result now. During the times of Bill Gates, IBM and the rest of them, It was a movement! A wave came on them, and everyone at that time that went into business, today a hand full succeeded. Of course, a remnant will always control the majority. The wave of the Otedolas, Dangote, the Adenugas‘… Right now we are having a wave and there are opportunities everywhere. It will not be like this forever. It’s just a revival that in the next ten years, we now have persons that will be made out of this revival and stand out. Anyone you are seeing is standing out right now, is not really standing out. There is more to come in the coming years.
*That is revealing!
Yes! I am creating a lot of freebies right now, one of the solutions I’m trying to build right now is to help small businesses to survive. Because I know I want to be a part of why people are surviving in ten years time. I want to be a part of their story, and in creating their story, I can have my own story. I see this revival also as a business. My core business is businesses. As a business analyst, my business is businesses. So the more businesses I have under my wing, the more money for me.
*Having worked with lots of startups and businesses, what are some of the challenges you have seen in the entrepreneurship space and what possible solutions would you profile?
First, the English man will say “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. Now, the major problems of entrepreneurs today is focus, the opportunities are vast! Everywhere. Pitch events are everywhere. Grants everywhere. Most of them are confused. So instead of them to settle down and build their businesses, they are busy pursuing the grants, those venture capitalists, pursuing knowledge, yes, getting knowledge is great! But, you need to ask yourself, “why do I need this knowledge? The ones I’ve gathered so far, what have I done with it?” People need to begin to create a system of value for the things they receive not just constantly receiving without giving anything out. We are naturally givers. We are not just receivers. You don’t apply for a Tech grant today and tomorrow you are on another one on Agriculture.
I’m working on a Startup right now, everyone I’ve shared the idea with are wowed at what I’m trying to do. And they keep asking me, “why haven’t you asked for a grant?” And I say “because I’m not ready”. My idea is novel. I don’t even need grants because I’m not going to be the one to manage it. I want venture capitalists to invest. And not just invest, but bring in management. One of the things I would want is management because the idea is not just to try the market, the idea is to succeed. And not only succeed but create a system that will outlive whatever we are doing now. Even if I will try my hands on grants, it will be grants that apply to my idea, not everything. So a major problem I see is distraction and the solution is staying focused.
*Where do you see yourself and business five years from now?
I wouldn’t say I have an exact idea of where I will be, but I think I want to create a solution where a thousand startups can pay me one thousand naira every month. I know I can get a thirty or fifty million contract. But if I can get a thousand startups that pay me one thousand naira every month, that becomes recurring. My dream is actually to create a stream of revenue that is recurrent. And not just recurrent because I need the money, but recurrent because the problem is a recurrent problem, that keeps a solution going for a very long time. That’s my dream.
*Awesome! Tell us about your mentors, who are your top three mentors in business?
Top is my spiritual father, Benson Akhigbe. I attend Firm Foundation. In terms of business, I can’t really pin myself to one person, there are a lot of people I listen to and subject myself to what they say and try to learn from them consistently. One of them is John Maxwell. In the Nigeria workspace, I admire Dangote. The guy is dogged! Not because he is making money, the money is coming to him because he is carrying something. Money naturally flows in the direction of value. Then, of course, I love Bill Gates, I love what he’s done, I love his disposition to life and simplicity.
*What are your top three rules for success?
One, be yourself. Enough of being influenced here and there. If anyone is mentoring me and doesn’t allow me to express myself, that person is just trying to control me. That’s not mentorship. Two, focus! If you can keep your mind on it, you can achieve it. Nature has a way of attracting to us what we constantly think about. The Bible says: “God is able to do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine.” There are two opportunities the Bible gives us there, one is asking which is prayer, the other is imagining. God answers imagination. So sometimes, when I don’t want to pray, I imagine. I just stay all night and create metal pictures because I know my imagination is as powerful as my prayer. And the last is benevolence. For me, life is not just physical, life is spiritual. And by this I’m not talking about the bible, there is something behind the scene that most times controls what we see. There is nothing like having people say a blessing over you, your parents especially and then people around you where you have to give. The bible says “He that steals, should steal no more, but get something to do so that they can have to give.” The reason why I’m looking for money is not primarily because of me, but so I can be a blessing to others. Money is looking for channels, not containers. If you want to succeed, you need to begin to think of being a blessing, a channel.
*Lastly, how would you advice young startups and aspiring entrepreneurs?
There is nothing impossible. There is no impossibility anywhere. Everything is possible. I will advise entrepreneurs not to be a limitation to themselves. Stop limiting the world to what you can see. Entrepreneurs make that mistake a lot of time. “There is nothing new under the sun”, that’s what people say, that’s under their own sun. Create your own sun! Change the playfield. Also if they are saying “what eyes can see” they never talk about how many eyes, so, get more eyes. You can have forty eyes. Networking. Network with more people, leverage on what they know. You will go far.
Woow, what an inspiring session with Mr Tony Omachonu, A Business Analyst and Process Engineer. So much to learn and take away… Thanks so much for staying with us on the Show. You certainly have something to tell us, we love to hear you. Kindly let us know below at the comment session. It’s Mercy Omoregie on BeInspired Show, see you on Monday!
Writer, Content Creator and Developer