BUSINESS NUGGETS WITH IBUKUN AWOSIKA
I attended the passion for business segment organised by my church (TPH) on Wednesday, where Mrs Ibukun Awosika was the guest speaker. She is one of my mentors and I have written about her HERE in the past. She an ordained pastor, the chairman of First bank Nigeria, the CEO of the chair centre and a member of many corporate boards. Her bio alone is absolutely inspiring, Read HERE.
The program lasted for about 3 hours and it was absolutely edifying. I had a good front row seat as I purposely went an hour before the program started. I learnt so much and I’m glad I took notes. Below are some wisdom nuggets she shared. Some are written in my own words but all based on the points she shared……
Mrs Ibukun spent a lot of time discussing on Faith, business practices and integrity. I’d be sharing the lessons in numbered points but in no particular order…
1. When it comes to business, you must first understand why you’re in business. This is a determining factor of the quality of your decisions. If you make decisions based on just profit, money or solely financial rewards your output will be faulty. For a business to succeed greatly it’s beyond sales, there is innovation, value systems and a truck load of integrity. The totality of your life is the result of the decisions you make daily.
2. Every child of God has been given a divine mandate and assignment, but it’s also of great gain to know you can serve God with all dedication and still hold the highest position in the land.
3. To have ‘good success’ there is the principle of integrity, which should be the bedrock of everyone in business. The truth is your business is only a by-product of who you really are. Your personal value system would certainly reflect in your business. If you’re a punctual person it would show in your operations, if you’re a cunning person it would show in your books. Your staff cannot treat your business more than how you place it with them.
4. Dear youngsters, the time to set your core values is now. Don’t get to the cross-road before you decide where you stand. Life will test you and the unprepared will stumble and fall. Living out these values before hand would prepare you for those trials.
5. Beyond business-school skills of negotiation and eloquence, one must greatly pray for discernment and courage. e.g. Courage to step away from a sinking ship, courage to re-allocate resources, courage to fire unproductive staff, courage to make investments that seem absurd. Also Discernment to see through sugar-coated ventures, discernment to know the hearts of men regardless of what they present. These divine skills are a by-product of the holy spirit in you. Exercise his gift.
6. A Godly business owner doesn’t just overcome by instincts/thoughts/knowledge, you win by righteousness and diligence. Diligence in being the best in your field and diligent in the house of the lord. A business owner must have a genuine desire to be a risk taker and be excellent in his area of expertise. A mediocre approach to anything only places you beneath.
7. There would be times where you would be faced with daunting decisions, but you must get to the point where you would not betray God for bread. When things are going well it’s easy to obey God, but people forget who they are when there’s pressure. Don’t be that person. If God doesn’t show up for you in such situations then that’s one more venture you don’t need. Learn to walk away from circumstances that defile God’s precepts. You have grace, build discipline.
8. The eyes of God doesn’t see evil Habakkuk 1:13, hence going into dirty deals no matter how minor they may seem is like telling God to step aside. You are breaking the hedge placed around you.
9. As attractive as ‘fitting into the world’ may seem, never succumb. The price for greatness is never the easy route, let righteousness be your breast-plate Ephesians 6:14.
10. Knowing God can only come by spending time with him, then you grow to love and trust him completely. You cannot claim to Love God and live in sin. Let your love and trust equate to Full obedience even when against popular belief. i.e. Even in the wilderness you must trust his ways and rest in him.
11. It costs God nothing to bless the works of your hand, But first you must prove your heart. God wants those who want to be blessed in order to be a blessing. He is not a wasteful God, hence him blessing you must take all glory back to him. Check your heart, why do you want to be great?
12. Don’t go to all the business schools in the world for accreditation and forget the real book (his word). Earn it all in his name.
At the end of the events she was asked questions and these two stood out to me.
- Question 1: With being so busy how do you daily balance your work and life within 24 hours:
Her answer: Anything I can get someone else to do I instantly delegate it. I’m not fussy with responsibilities, If I find someone who can do it better than I can, why not. I play my strengths to the maximum and utilise the strengths of others.I have priorities set out, which are
- My relationship with God
- My family
- My business.
I hardly attend social functions, and when I do I spend a little time and disappear. I make time for my Husband and children so I can gain their trust and equity.
She then cited examples of how she gains ‘equity’ from her family.
(a). There was a time she had an important board meeting one morning when her son doing his masters programme abroad called her up in a panic mode saying his thesis was due that day and he didn’t think he could finish. She called up the meeting and told them she had a family situation she needed to attend to and would call-in much later. She then went ahead to counsel her son and they both set up a plan on how he’d finish up the thesis on the dead line. With that, she was able to prove to her son she would always be there for him at important times, so that when she needs to be away for other important dealings he would not feel any less important.
(b). Every year her and her husband take two important trips. The first at the beginning of the year where she chooses a destination of her choice, buys all the tickets and hotel reservations without her husbands intervention, she simply tells him a month before, ‘Dear we are going to this island for 10-14 days alone, please clear your calendar”. They both go, spend quality time and plan out their year. The other holiday is with two other couples where they all visit a country they haven’t visited before and spend ‘friend time’. With that she can run off to all her board meetings and no one would feel undermined.
- Question 2: Give an example of when you were faced with a difficult business situation.
Her answer: Having a furniture business- the chair centre, there was a time where the government implemented a ban on the importation of all furniture into Nigeria. We basically imported most of our stock, and it seemed the only way out was for me to smuggle them in as my competitors were doing. So for me this meant the ‘shut-down’ of my business because I promised never to give a bribe or engage in dirty dealings.
When I heard about this ban from my husband, I went to a corner and just spoke to God. I told him he has never been known to forsake his own and through this trial I must overcome. After then I went to see my suppliers in France(SOKOA) and told them of the new development. I suggested they come into Nigeria and start producing from here. I would be an investor as well but instead they laughed and said they had no plans on coming into Africa.
I knew office chair furniture had a lot of intricate engineering work and it would be difficult starting a factory in Nigeria without their expertise, But instead I left there with confidence telling them my company would produce in Nigeria, with or without their help. So it’s better they come on board with me for first movers advantage.
Two weeks after they called me up saying they had agreed amongst their board to come in Africa through my company, however with just 20% capital investment, though they would provide all the man power and expertise needed. I was elated but I knew I needed money to float this. In this period I even sold some lands to raise funds. Just when I was gathering my resources and trusting God for provision, Guaranty trust bank came up to my company saying through their business entrepreneurial scheme they heard SOKOA was coming into Nigeria and they would like to invest.
This was how I was able to overcome the importation ban that threatened to close my business. Through this trial a bigger outcome yielded, because I refused to give in and acknowledged God in all my ways. Today I hold the largest share in the SOKOA chair centre Nigeria, to God be the glory.
The program was so enlightening and I wish I could share all the things I learnt but it would be too long. People like this are visionaries and ought to be celebrated in today’s world, especially where people are eager for microwave success without paying the price for preparation.
Here are a few facts about Mrs Ibukun Awosika. I found out about this at the event.
- She was born into a muslim family, and was a muslim up until four months to her wedding.
- She started her business 3 and half months after her first job, She was 26.
- She built the chair centre when she was 38.
- Her parents sponsored her up to tertiary level. She holds a Bsc. from University of Ile-Ife in Chemistry. She paid for all her MBA courses herself, after she was married.
- She is the c0-founder of Women in Business, Management, and Public Service (WIMBIZ).
- She has three sons.
- She pastors under the The Fountain of Life Church, senior pastor Taiwo Odukoya.
- She is the founder of the Christian Missionary Fund; a faith-based organization works with hundreds of missionaries spread across Nigeria to change lives through provision of medical, educational, and other supplies.
I hope you enjoyed reading, Do drop a comment on your thoughts. Also Let me know what points stood out to you.
Do enjoy the rest of your weekend.