Hello Everyone!!!  Hope you had a great start to the week.  Apologies for the staggered posts.  I am still having major internet issues and still on the hunt for the perfect ISP.  As soon as I am sorted, I’ll be back with my regular posts!  I have lots of them lined up! 😀
Okay great!  This was my Sunday post and I’ll make it really brief as I absolutely must give you the new information on FEC 4!!!  I am mighty excited!  BUT before then, let me share with you some vital lessons I learnt from one of the most humble people I have ever had the privilege of listening to and more importantly, learning about business from using biblical principles.  I’m sure this will help our fashion businesses no matter how small or big our businesses are.
So I was invited by my absolutely fabulous mentor to the Business Academy which holds at his church, TREM VI, Lekki Phase 1, once a quarter.  At the Academy, many businessowners and successful entrepreneurs are invited to share their experiences with the congregation in order to motivate us into thinking big.  
So anyway, despite the rain, I headed out thinking I’d spend only an hour thereabouts but ended up staying till 1pm.  I am SO GLAD I did and I just had to share this with you!

Image from http://www.cp-africa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Cosmos-Maduka.jpg
Meet Dr Cosmas Maduka, Chairman & CEO of the Coscharis Group, an uneducated man who pulled himself out of poverty and became a billionaire simply by working hard, believing in himself and “confessing” himself to riches.  For those who haven’t heard of him, you may read some of his stories here:
– http://nationalmirroronline.net/business-courage/26792.html
– http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/odimegwu-onwumere/see-cosmos-maduka-a-be-inspired.html
– http://naijaenterprise.com/NE/cosmas-maduka-founder-of-coscharis-group
– http://www.planetafricagroup.com/Awards%20Recipients.htm
– http://www.secnig.com/?topic=8200.0%3Bwap2
– http://ynaija.com/2011/12/16/inspiring-stories-of-business-success-photos-report-from-the-2011-fate-foundation-awards/
Forget the fact that his story was touching, what struck me was his emphasis on the power of words.  He kept hammering on the power of words.  To him, “a word is a thought expressed”!  And THAT is exactly what our theme of the year is at my church.  Words and positive confessions.  And you know what?!  It works!  I have first hand experience.  Tried, tested and trusted!  
So what advice did Dr Maduka have to give us young entrepreneurs?!  His “10 Commandments of Small Business Enterprise”.  And here they are [with of course my comments underneath 😉 ]:
1.  Pick & remain focused on a business you understand well.   
For me, it’s about spending more time learning the business than rushing into the business.  Dr Maduka spent a long time as an apprentice learning the intricacies of the business before rushing into it and was, therefore, able to use the knowledge gained as a competitive edge over others and he gave practical examples of how he did it. 
2.  Thoroughly understand your market.  (Need I say more?!)
3.  Look for and hire professional managers 
Obviously when you can afford to do so.  You need to hire people with the relevant work experience, particularly with start up companies and not just those with the certificates.  This I learnt from a sermon at church “The 7 Principles Jews Teach Their Children”.
4.  Put in place a strong financial and administrative control.  
Very important but very difficult for young business owners.  Many people think we small business owners steal from our businesses and dip our hands into the business coffers to sustain ourselves.  Well in my case, my business steals from me if you ask me.  Every dime I make goes into the business… including other monies I make from, e.g. dividend payments.  It is ridiculous and I battled with this for ages.  After all, I have paid my dues and deserve to go out for drink with my friends once in a while or watch a movie to relax.  UNTIL my accountant friend told me what to do about it and when I first paid myself a salary, I was ecstatic!  And now I don’t feel so guilty anymore when I use company funds for personal runs because I just net it off my cash take home every month!  And that is a tip for you! You can thank me later! 😀
5. Constantly research the market to confirm the continued relevancy of your pricing and your product to prevent your business from being obsolete.  
Need I say more.  Most of us rush into business without understanding the industry, who the players are and what everyone else is doing.  I was also guilty of this but I learnt early enough that I could not bypass the research process.
6.  Do not spend too much money on office space and self-serving activities.  You need liquid cash to run the business!  
Spot on!  My take on this is many of us are too concerned about branding ourselves when we have no product to brand.  We focus on PR, fashion shows or getting office spaces on the Island when there are cheaper alternatives so the cost savings could be diverted to further developing our product.  My ready question for designers are… ok so you now have the orders from your fashion shows.  Do you have the capacity or the resources to deliver on those orders?!  Exactly!  If you must spend on “tooshing” up your office, know that it must have the capacity to directly influence sales.
7.  Have a business strategic plan and constantly review it.  
My take on this is, many of us are concerned about writing business plans and I can tell you for free that I really do not have the time to sit and write one or the funds to employ someone to write it for me.  But what I do have is a life plan for my business to guide me and not for investment purposes.  My road map and it reinforced my decision to leave the bespoke route when I realized how far I had deviated from my original plan.
8.  Keep proper & complete records of all transactions!  
HA!  I cannot overemphasize this enough!  Even I have to discipline myself despite my accounting background and I go about with a small book and record even the N20s I spend.  And if you are too busy to record these expenses on the computer, get an accounting student or even a young school leaver who can assist you in the early days.  I know most students are looking for extra cash.)
9.  Make sure there is a job description for every position and find people to fill them.  
Very important though I have been writing one for my assistant for the past 6 months.  I kind of stopped when I got to like page 25 or something but it is still work in progress and I still discussed it with him last week.  So we are both clear on issues!
10.  Set performance standards for yourself and constantly measure yourself against them.
Here again is where my life plan comes into place and the targets I set for myself.  Not sure I have done badly this year but I know I can do better!
SO!  There you have it!  Phew!  I didn’t expect this post to be this long but well it’s done now!  Here are some pictures I took of him.  If you want to know more about his success story, you can buy his book “From Trials to Triumphs – The Coscharis Story”.


I think the cds of his lecture are also available for sale at TREM VI.  I’ll find out how you can get them if you  are interested.
And I also think you should get this cd as well.  It was the first TREM VI Business Academy cd I ever listened to.  The story of Mrs Ayo Megbope, the owner of No Left Overs, a lady who started a successful business from selling moin moin.  Another inspiring story which left me wowed when I met with her.  You can read up on it here.
– http://nigeria.smetoolkit.org/nigeria/en/content/en/6107/No-Left-Overs-Limited
– http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/10000women/article.cfm?articleid=6136
Great!  My deed is done!  
Have a great day all!
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