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The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Being the Full Text of my Speech to Elyon College and Leadership Academy Conference Participants.

Good afternoon everyone,
Permit me to share a short story.

You see, I was born into a somewhat poor family and as a family, we struggled to eat, to drink and to make ends meet.

Undoubtedly, people who knew us called us poor because we didn’t even live below a dollar a day, we lived without a dollar.

We lived in an uncompleted building for 10 years in a bush at Ota and we basically practiced primitive or what you call subsistence farming, which was what we lived on.

So, I learnt to set traps, to capture bush meats, we sourced snails as meat and when we couldn’t get, we looked out for mushrooms, they do well as meats too.

We enjoyed our lives in this rickety condition till my mother went to be with the Lord in 2009, I was about 16 years old around that time, a sad occurrence for the family however, life continues.

This story is a sad one that I cannot tell in full. The story of lack and poverty is never a good story for anyone who has been hungry like me and fed on “kok-garri”, the waste from garri processing, you know those hard materials that wouldn’t pass through the sieve in the final processing of making Garri.
“But for how long will this continue?”, I asked myself and this was the beginning of economic emancipation, having being encumbered with the harsh realities of life, my brain had to work, I needed to think of a way out cos I didn’t want to steal to create wealth, I wanted enough money to get the good things of life, at least, the ones money could buy.

So, progressively, I started selling chinchin and puffpuff to my classmates in high school. I made some cool money and when I gained admission into the University, I wasted no time. I had good writing skills, wrote about 4 books yet to be published before being in the University, so I diverted the skill to report writing and other technical form of writing and I charged people to help them write, earning so much as 150,000 naira as a student on a monthly basis.

By the time I went for the NYSC program, I became a State Executive with Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF), we lived in an apartment that housed over 100 people, that was a big market to me, and I made efforts to leverage the opportunities it offered. One key challenge we had was, the water was not drinkable and people had to go out to buy water, I started delivering bags of water to the house and made so much from it, I went further to draft business plans for people and charge them as much as 50, 000 naira for each.

My friends and people that knew me just gave me the entrepreneur tag but for me, it has always been a thing of the mind. This mindset is not one needing of me to go to a business school although I have been trained on entrepreneurship by reputable organizations including Bank of Industry, FATE Foundation, where I now mentor Entrepreneurs, Lagos Business School, Strathmore business School, Gordon School of business Science etc.

My overarching objective has always been to identify a problem in my environment, create a valuable solution and get cash or other forms of rewards and so.

Without doubt, I can tell that the mind of an entrepreneur pays attention to the problems around him/her, he is enthusiastic about creating value and when value is created, rewards comes in handy.

Like me, I have some copies of my book here for sale, I wrote this book in 2013 in response to the challenges of mediocre leaders operating in my school’s many different organization and that was during my University days, It fetched me a lot of money in sales, leaders read it across the board, I had many features on the dailies to this end and I was fulfilled in myself, that’s what entrepreneurship can most of the time be like.

So, going forward, you need to understand that to have the mind of an entrepreneur, you must pay attention to the need of the people around you. “Mr. Needs” and “Mr. Wants” are insatiable and that is an economic principle which you are all aware of, and I want to believe I am right.

In 2016, Corp members in Oyo State lacked accommodation especially those of whom travelled to the west from the North, they congested the NCCF Family house. The leadership of the fellowship identified that as a problem and sought a solution. The solution we recommended was to build a duplex that can accommodate the extra 80 people that are congesting the existing structure and I got the mandate to work on it. As the Steering committee chairman, I had a mandate of raising 10 million and completing the structure in 100 days and with a team of over 100 people, we achieve this feat, in a sense, that might negate the cash reward, a peck of being an entrepreneur but people and organization who do such are regarded as Social Entrepreneurs, they identify a social need, create a sustainable solution and get cash and other forms of rewards as well but usually cash is not always much.

So, whether you have an existing business or you are set to launch an enterprise after this session,
You must seek
To be different: Avoid the temptation of copying others, find your identity and be original

Keep learning and broadening your mindset: There is no end to learning, by all means, open up yourself to learn every day.

Finish whatever you start (be result-oriented): Do not leave tasks undone, whatever you start, finish it.

Be a peopleholic: Value people, network with people as they are the center of any business enterprise.

Take risks: No risk, no reward. Try out new things, you never can tell where your breakthrough will come from.

I remain honored and delighted to be given this singular opportunity by my mentor, Eng. Fijabi to grace this august occasion and to impact you guys with my story.

Thank you and God bless.
Femi Royal

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