by Ayodotun Osunkojo
“Hustling” is not a game for the faint hearted. Anyone who indulges in it anytime, anywhere, knows that.
The reason is simple. Have you ever heard the expression ‘holding down a job’? It simply means you need to make an effort to keep your job and ensure it’s not taken over by another, especially in this day and age where there are a few dozen people who are waiting to take your over job. But I digress. What I mean is, if you are hustling, you are likely to be maintaining two or more means of income.
There’s no way better to make my point than by tell a story; mine. In time, I would be glad to tell yours. It all began with the painstaking and emphatic speeches of motivational speakers and teachers – even my pastor. I’m the type who attends conferences/seminars and listens to CDs on prosperity and success. It’s almost a religion for some of us, especially in a society where the definition of success is material wealth.
The one message I hear the most from these speakers is this: ‘You cannot become rich by working for a company/an employer. You need to start your own business. You need multiple streams of income, you need to start from where you are. You need to follow your passion, because that is where your prosperity lies’.
I took their advice. I love clothes and accessories so I decided to sell them – first to my colleagues and then to friends, in addition to holding down my ‘real’ job. My quest started accidentally, when a member of my family traveled abroad and had some change to spare. Before I knew it, I was ordering belts, caps, earrings, bangles, shoes, etc.
Soon enough my home became a warehouse, and my weekends, a marathon of taking orders, infusing structure into payment schedules, driving to friends’ to show them new stock, and my least favourite part – chasing people for down money. Without dwelling too much on this aspect of the business, I must say, people will owe you for years! But then again, isn’t that ‘how business is’? I have cases of people who owed me for years without bothering to call or text. ‘That’s business for you’, some would say.
I would juggle writing reports with going through my inventory and the computation of a reasonable asking price for an item, factoring in exclusivity of said item, travel expenses and profit margin. I would juggle attending meetings with texts or instant messages/ enquiries on when I would have new stock. In a year, I had grown quite a reputation. I wish my profits grew at the same rate!
Two years later, I do not necessarily have a fatter pocket (some people are still owing me), but I have been able to build a reputation and some equity/trust(which is social capital) in the business of selling clothes. When I leave paid employment, there is a dynasty awaiting me.
This is my submission: Everyone of us has a dream we want to see come alive. Truth be told, we will never find fulfillment outside our dream. Every one of us was created to be a star in his own right. Start small, take the ‘baby steps’ with your regular job on the side, treating your employer with integrity. Bring lessons from thejob to the business, build a repertoire of clients, save some capital, put structure in place, fine-tune your business plan. Finally, when you are ready to cross to the league of entrepreneurs, look left, look right and take the leap!