A Must-Read For Every Young Person.
Many years ago, still very, very young then, I wanted to register my first company, so I was told you could only do that with Corporate Affairs Commission.
I was so excited, so I got dressed one fateful Wednesday, brushed my teeth, buckled my shoes, and then hit the road.
From my home to the office of CAC took me about an hour or so. The road was very free, no potholes, no holdups, no police checkpoints, no accidents, no nothing.
When I got to their office, immediately I started filling out the paperwork with ease – whistling under my breathe with sheer delight that everything was going, according to the popular Nigerian parlance, seriri werere.
I was about to be crowned a CEO of a registered firm. After that, I would rush down to the printer by the road and roll out my business cards with the title on it.
You know, I was feeling fly.
But then my bubble got bursted!
While I was seated at the lobby still waiting impatiently for the well-signed Approval Letter to stroll out from the Approval Manager’s (or whatever designation he was called) office, I got summoned to his office instead.
Long story short, when I knocked and stepped in, he didn’t even bother to take notice of me. He kept busy reading through a document in a light green jacket, with my application letter tucked to the side table like a lonely child whose troubled mother had abandoned in early winter.
Then I knew something was wrong.
“Good afternoon sir,” I managed to greet.
He didn’t respond.
“Good afternoon sir,” the second time.
From the corner of my left eyes I noticed the LG plasma TV hanging on the toothpaste green wall was tuned to CNN and they may have been running a commentary on the growing tension and hostility in the Gaza Region, because for all I cared, that was exactly how I felt at that moment standing and watching this bonehead of a federal officer ignore me.
“Young man,” he finally called.
“Are you the owner of this application?”, pointing to the application paper on his table.
“Application…?” I repeated, blankly.
“Oh, yes I am.”
Without wasting much words, this tall dark-skinned man, wrapped in a starched blue-coloured shirt with a purple tie that appeared like something the doctor prescribed and with an age housed somewhere in the region of early 50’s, looked at me with his pair of strong brown eyes that could bring down the Berlin Wall and said to me,
“Who are you to want to set up this kind of company?”
I wanted to open my mouth and say to him “Sir, my name is Chinonso Ogbogu, the son of Mr. & Mrs….”
But he interrupted my thought instantly with a wave of his left hand.
“Are you Pat Utomi?”
“No,” I replied.
“Are you Bill Clinton?”
“Are you John Maxwell?”
“Then sorry. What even makes you think you can do this? I won’t approve this company for you. You are too young for this. Now, your better get out my office!”
I almost died – I mean, literally!
And then I noticed that the distance from the man’s officer at CAC to my home that afternoon suddenly and mysteriously became so far and cold that I began to wonder at some point if I had gotten myself lost somewhere in the North Pole or maybe the GPS in my brain had gone faulty.
Then the potholes and holdups on the road surfaced, the checkpoints appeared here and there, and it took me about five or so hours to get home.
That evening I shut my doors and wept.
Remember guys, I was only a kid.
Fast forwarded to this day, I now own and run that same registered company he said I couldn’t, yet I am still not the Pat Utomis, the Clintons, or the Maxwells.
But then that doesn’t mean I didn’t go back home, re-ask myself some real questions, learn and restrategize, and make a few new commitments to tidy the needfuls and finally got my company registered and running.
Okay, I want to dedicate this publication to a young person out there who’s just starting out in life or business.
I don’t know about you, but I started out on this whole journey of entrepreneurship with nothing – I mean, zippo, from ground zero – and most of the things I encountered in my early years sounded Greek to me. I had to stumble and learn my way forward on many occasions.
It was way later that I even found someone to genuinely mentor me.
You may or don’t have to be like me, but here is the thing.
As you start out in life, not everything you seek would make sense or come at the very time you want them to. Some would take time, not necessarily because what you seek is wrong or unavailable, but so that you could grow up and learn a few tricks that are vital to their acquisition and sustainance.
So you must treasure that.
I know right now you are bursting with passion and optimism to hit the ground running and grab the sweet victory. So for example, in areas of your business proposition where your prognosis should read 11 months, you go ahead and make it 2 months because your tank is pumped full with the gas of confidence and enthusiasm.
In your business plan, you say something like, “There are 85 million customers right now in the market that would buy from me. When I capture just 10% of that by so, so, and so date, I will certainly scale and make serious money.”
Oh yea. Cool speech.
That sounds far better than what was delivered by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863, doesn’t it?
Okay, I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, actually.
But as you start out in life, truth is, you must learn to face facts and deal with reality squarely. I must let you know ahead of time that starting comes with its own typical hallucinations and hangovers. You start seeing strange visions, building free express highways, and counting men as trees. But you see, you got to learn to balance that with a good antidote of stark reality and pure facts.
I am not saying you shouldn’t dream big, be ambitious, or ride on your high horse of optimism. Please do. You need it.
I am one of the most ambitious species on planet earth, myself.
But then in all you’re getting, also “remember not to forget” that building a great life comes with its own share of arching rejections, potholes, check points, holdups, and, some times, accidents.
It is called reality.
So scratch that!