Friday, 31 October 2008

He thinks I'm a mugu - Part 2

Ok, so after my anti-mugu message, I decided that you know what, these guys must be getting lots of these everyday... What is that going to change? At the end of the day, I believe that I'm not in the position to "discard" any human being for their actions. I don't know what put this person in the position he is today, I didn't grow up with him, I don't know anything about him - Why then am I so quick to condemn him as a person? The action (419) should no doubt, be condemned. I am strictly against taking advantage of people regardless of the situation, and I will not condon it at ALL. However, I say that I want to change things, I want to make a difference, especially with the situation surrounding 419. Is this the most effective way of going about it? After some prolonged reflection, I "repented" over my first e-mail and sent this one :

Hello Sir,

You sent me an enquiry the other day, asking about a Black Sony Ericsson
K550i phone. We both know that you are not really buying that phone for
your son, as you claim and that you are trying to swindle me. I do not
know what drove you to start doing this - whether it is hardship or greed
- and I do not know how profitable it is for you either. I can guess that
you probably don't have a job, and are looking for a way to survive -
Well, you don't have to give up and start doing this because if you are
caught and thrown into jail, will it be worth it? You do have good
qualities which I believe would help you in job-seeking - and if you can't
find a job for yourself, then why don't you create one for yourself? You
seem quite intelligent, and you write very well, therefore you must be
educated to some level.

I can give you a second chance and suggest this to you -
Look around our website and look for something that you would be able to
sell quickly. We currently have cheap USB drives which do very well, or
Mens office shirts. Invest a small amount and buy a small number of items
and re-sell to the people around you - your friends or family. These are
quality stuff from the UK, not mass products from China: You can easily
make 100% gain on top of what you have bought. Not only will you create a
decent source of income for yourself, but you will also gain the respect
of people in the general public. You will know that your hands are clean,
and any money you make is decent, and you have not defrauded anyone to
earn it. And when God sees this, even he will bless you, and your

Think about this e-mail.

Sounds like a cheap marketing shot, I know but I really really wanted to help. However, One month later and still no reply

Sunday, 28 September 2008

He thinks I'm a mugu !!

I've not gone awol o! Just trying to sort out plenty of stuff!! Anyways, here is another one of my encounters with these 419 boys. Don't they rest - even after seeing "Nigeria" all over my website? Can't they guess that at least I know something - if not much about Naija? Na wa o!

Enquiry I received from a "customer" today:

I like the item you placed on the site and i want to buy it for my son in Nigeria as a birthday gift if you can send it to him in Nigeria then send me your payment info like payment mode,Name,address,cost,plus shipment cost, so that i can make the payment tomorrow and u too can send the posting receipt after sending the item so that u can receive your money.

James Jull (What kind of name is James Jull?)
07024015257 /

My response:
Hello James,

I appreciate your interest in the above item. My guy, our account details
are in Naija so we will only accept bank payments into our account with
ETB. We will ONLY send the phone after we have CONFIRMED from our partners
that the money has been paid in.

If you are worried that we want to do you 419, the same way you want to do
us 419, then we can come up with another arrangement. Pay 30% of the the
total cost of the phone plus shipping and we can send the phone to our
agent in Lagos. You can pay the remaining 70% when you go to pick it up
from them - They are located in Ajah, Iddo and Ikoyi. However, this is
subject to a N1500 administration fee.

Let me know which option suits you best, and I will send you an invoice
right away. I know the phone is not for your son anything - you hve to PAY
for it if you want it. No Paypal nonsense.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

So it's another month gone - Just like that. Time travels so fast, I have realised that if I don't do whatever-it-is-i-need-to-do NOW, then that's it. I'm not going to do it! Oh dear...

Well, I put out another advert for my website in the newspaper - from which I got about 30 leads same day. About 4 of those 30 were valid, and wanted to order straight away. I now realised that for a business which is based inside the computer (One of the biggest toold used in 419 scams), one has to invest a considerable amount into proving that one is genuine. This is because 9 times out of 10, customers are very doubtful about what they see on the internet.

I do not blame them - I would be cautious myself, as you are more likely to hear negative stull to do with computers + money in Nigeria, than positive stuff. Anyways, that's the situation we have put ourselves in. Online purchasing has been crippled even before it can walk, and it will take a lot to fix the damage that has been caused.... Now, I have to spend my precious time devising a way to prove that what I advertise is "real".

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Lessons from my television

I've been spending some time lately watching the last series of The BBC show - The Apprentice. Where "16 business tycoons of tomorrow" so to speak, compete against each other in a series of delegated business tasks to be Sir Alan Sugars next apprentice. It's one of the only things I watch on tv, as it makes me feel like I've snuck into a board meeting of some top company and I'm following the executives as they go about their business.. Not only this but I get to see whether they have made the right decisions or not...Sweet!

One thing I've noticed in this episode so far is that the ones who are the first to be booted out are the ones who 1."Have never failed at anything before", 2. "Never use the L(Losing) word" 3."Have extremely high IQ - and are therefore more intelligent than everyone else". The last one sounds to me like conceit. There is a difference between self-confidence and conceit and in my opinion, self-confidence ends when others are being brought into the picture and comparisons are being made. That's where conceit, if not arrogance begins.

The task in hand was that all the "tycoons" were asked to go to a popular shopping centre, take peoples photographs and sell these photos back to the people. Both teams were run differently, but the results were slightly similar. Team A's strategy was to bring a David Beckham lookalike and offer photos with him for about £25.00. I'm not sure hot they came to choose this approach, but I'd expect that that it was probably a suggestion from one of the team members. Helene, the project manager was very authoritative - in the sense that she delegated tasks to various people, with a "make sure you do it" kind of attitude. This shows assertiveness, and may be necessary sometimes. However, I do feel that a good leader should try to "take care of the goose that lays the golden eggs" sometimes as well. The team member who was asked to process the photos on the computer put her hands up immediately they delegated the role to her. She confessed that she wasn't very good with technology. The team leader basically replied that she "shut up and get on with it", forgetting that if someone is challenged, they are challenged - besides technology is not something you can learn in one hour. In my opinion, the team leader was running away from the job - because she knew she wasn't too computer-friendly. Why then did she not "do unto others as you would like them to do to you", and acknowledge that Lucinda was also computer-shy? At the end of the day, they won the task, but inmy opionion, it was the David Beckham guy that made it possible. His appeal to the customers was probably greater than the damage done by Lucindas tecnophobia. Verdict: Helene - Authoritarian, not considerate of team members strenghts and weaknessess.

The other team lost. In my humble opinion, I guess their idea was a little harder to sell than the David Beckham face. Why? Because the idea came out of 1 head when there were about 6 heads present that could have provided a better alternative. 2 heads are better than 1, and 6 heads are better than 2 but Simon wanted to do it all by himself because in his words "if given a chance, he would turn this round on its head and should what a great business person he was". Hmm. No wonder he didn't listen to others very much - Because he wanted to show how good he was. He was extremely passionate about the task though, I must say, but his way of managing that passion wasn't the best. He wanted to do it all himself, and didn't want to delegate anytjing at all. I'm sure if you left him, he would sit by himself and set up the whole thing, take all the pictures himself and sell everything himself. I did feel sorry for him towards the end though. He looked like he was going to cry , and that shows how much passion he had for the project.
Verdict : Simon - Very passionate, authoritarian. Not considerate of his own weaknesses.

Here is a link to the episode in question :
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
I guess that's it for the post. Wow - I got lost in it and it's not 3:31am. Must go to bed now!

Friday, 18 July 2008

The plunge (2)

Ok, it's been a couple of weeks since I beat my chest (ouch!) and howled out my motivational piece. I did try to fire up everyone/thing in the pipeline but unfortunately I guess it was just me who was interested... Take for example - I decided to change my web domain name as "Awoof" (like I've been told before) in the eyes of the average Nigeria sounds like a huge con. ("Awoof" = FREE). Bad taste eh? Well what can I say? I'm older and wiser... The domain name change took 2 weeks - simply because my Web guy / Programmer guy was had family over from his country and had to take them to Hydes Park Corner on Day 1, Alton Towers on Day 2, To see the London Eye on Day 3 and so forth...

Finally my brethren, the work has been done, and I'm ready to advertise!!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The plunge

I can't believe how much time has passed since I started my business venture... What is it - 2 years? since I started small, thinking of ways in which I could improve, without actually improving. Even though I did take the plunge, I've always been very careful so as not to bite off more than I can chew, seeing that I am (now WAS!) studying for a degree full-time. I have to go into this full-time (especially as exams are over, and I haven't got an excuse anymore). I guess it has come to the point where it's now or never. I have to advertise. I have to tidy up my website and put it out there, let's test for the first time whether it works or not. In the past, I have relied on Facebook advertising and referrals for business, as I didn't want to oversell myself. But I guess it's time for the little steps to be taken.

To anyone out there who also has a big ocean in front of them which they are contemplating crossing - My only advice is that it's better to take the plunge sooner than later. Even though it doesn't work out the first time, it will go down in history that you tried.

Today, I take the plunge.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

If you remember, a few posts ago, I was griping about some supplies I was expecting from China which ended up in Lagos under the wrong name. Well guess what, after 6 months of phonecalls, MSN chats, more phonecalls I was finally able to get the goods sent back to China and re-sent back to me in England. After all said and done, Mr. Supplier had the "effontry" to ask me to "contribute" towards the carriage costs AGAIN to UK. The joker.... I just told him that if he wanted us to continue doing business, he should just fulfill the order I placed with him. Simple. What a joker!

So now, the goods are here, I strongly doubt that I'll be ordering anything from China again for this venture. Don't get me wrong, the goods are ok - But I cannot hand over all my hard work to someone whose business standards are questionable. With my friends, family, strangers etc I can tolerate many things but when it comes to business, No. Simply because in business, many are dependent on me and I wouldn't want to let them down - Now even when it's someone else's fault...

Yeah yeah, lest I forget .. Guess who now moderate the "Starting a Business" section of Nairaland.. Hehe, no guess again...

Friday, 30 May 2008

What next?

Guess who is potentially now a graduate? Well, yours truly...! Exams are over and I have my life now - Hurry! I've fulfilled my promise to party for one full week non-stop and actually, partying isn't all that. I think business is sweeter ;-) And to make up for all that time I've wasted, here I am!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

It's about time..

To prove that I'm still breathing. I guess I do have a time management issue afterall. Please bear with me while I try to sort it out :-)

So what's been happening in businessville? I guess not too much as it's all about Univille these days. I graduate in a few months and my final exams are looming... Business has been pushed to a corner..

Anyway, the business front hasn't totally being quiet... You know it never is.. I've been thinking lot about the recent turn in the global economy, and I have concluded that the way forward is... No, you guessed wrong - It's FARMING. Yes, farming. Not fish/grasscutter/poutry farming but crop farming . Corn, Sugarcane, Rice, Yam, Fruits. Because come to think of it, people will always eat. People MUST always eat. Must other businesses have a specific target market which require the products/services. In griculture, every human requires food... Now the problem is that these days, everyone wants a white collar job and no one really wants to till the ground. Those who are tilling the ground broad are thnking God that they put seeds in the ground and money comes out...

And the questions of the moment...How does one encourage young people to go into agriculture? How can women be useful on the agricultural front? How does one manage farm?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Awoof - Live on Punch!

Yes, your dear old Awoof made it live to the Punch Nigeria newspaper - Wednesday edition, page 29. :-)

Ok, it was only a tiny classifieds ad but yeah, this lady was still in the newspaper! Ok, I have stock to clear before Valentines Day, which I've been pushing on Facebook... I did get quite a few good leads on Facebook though, to be honest. I made one confirmed sale, but I had to readvertise like every 3 days. I then decided to just buy a place in The Punch, especially as I'd been talking to the editor for quite a few months now about advertising..

I wasn't too sure what I'd write to draw people's attention, so I picked my Valentines item and the astonishing price plus "from the UK", (for the benefit of Chinaphobes) and then in the body of the ad, listed other things, my contact details and that I'm willing to call back. Well, my sisters and brother - I got no less than 40 calls requesting information.

Among these were 2 confirmed sales for as early as tomorrow... Therefore, I've officially sold ALL my stock and am currently ordering more... hehe. Reflecting on my day, I think I've made one mistake though - I've priced my stock too low, as I pu tprice before everything else. I forgot that quality also matters and my products are great great quality.. I'm sure that even my customers would marvel at the sort of quality they are getting for so little..

My mistake. I guess I can fix that by telling future callers that this is an introductory price and isn't guaranteed to be stay the same forever... I wonder how I can do this? Any tips on "changing mouth" efficiently?