For many people, there’s always a point of conscious effort to invest in or start a business. While for others, there wasn’t exactly an option; you just find yourself in it. For me, it’s a mix of both. I grew up with my father having a great corporate work career while simultaneously running a business, and mom has always been in business. The family, as a whole, has always encouraged investing or running a business. So everyone was directly involved in the family business activities at a young age.
For me, age 11. On one side, I assisted sales in stores that needed an extra hand during holidays or weekends. The stores warehoused goods that were carted out at intervals and some had walk-in sections where customers could come in and buy. On the other, I was on a rubber plantation field with rubber tapers, learning pruning, seeding or taping. Both experiences were far off what an 11 years old should be in, but they set a course that will largely influence future decisions. Assisting with sales involved attending to customers and understanding stock and other documentations. While on the plantation, it’s more of practical skills that’s sharpened over years of experience. I got to experience life from different perspectives, meet new people and social lifestyles while learning to share business space with them. Sharing ideas with people that were way older was an experience on its own.
Before leaving for the university at 16, I was already an active part of family run businesses with assigned responsibilities and tasks. From stocktaking and stock management to book keeping to quality assurance, I have tried different aspects of the business to understand the daily running and see where I can be more productive. Notably, by 15, I already learnt how to drive a pickup truck to assist running menial errands. Though reduced responsibilities, while in university, I still had involvements and joined quarterly meetings to discuss the state of the business.
On completing my years in the university, I decided to get more experience before returning to be an active member again. I got a job in Lagos and handled operations from reconciliation to driver operations management to ‘daily business’ management and data analysis. The motive was to understand how corporate organizations are run and see tips I could learn and implement in the family business. My two years on the job in Lagos was successful before I rejoined the business actively.
Since rejoining, I’ve taken up responsibilities and expanded the business scope while managing the difficulties that come with business and family. It’s rather interesting having to make business decisions with not just your colleagues but my immediate family members. For me, someone who grew up in business, the decision to join the business was not much of a choice; it had already become a lifestyle that I learnt and imbibed many years ago. So, even when I decide not to be an active part, certain responsibilities keep coming back that require your input or attention.