Godwin Omene is a former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission and is currently the President, Institute of Business Development. In this interview with Okechukwu Nnodim, he says prospective entrepreneurs should consider inflationary factors before investing in any business
What are your investment principles as an individual?
First of all, you have to decide what you want to invest in and then look for areas of anti-inflationary investment. That is an area that will not let inflation chop off your investment capital. Secondly, it must be a tested area. One anti-inflationary area now is investment in property. We are interested in property management.
Another area, although it has crashed in recent times but it is still there, is stock and shares. The only problem with stock and shares is that people don’t know when to buy. You buy when the prices are low, and you sell when it is very high but don’t wait till when it is at its peak, otherwise it will crash on you again. With those two, one can make good investment. And when I say property, I mean construction and building sales and management. Those are my two major principles.
What are the frequent investment mistakes people make?
The mistake people make is that some of them don’t think the business through first; they just look at the short term value. What about the long term? The business should be such that it can sustain itself after a while, not one that you will keep on investing and re-investing all the time without reward. Any business apart from the drilling business, that you can’t get any reward in the first one or two years, thereby tying your money down, you have to look at it thoroughly. Do market survey first. Is there so much competition in it? If so you have to get an area where the competition is not much.
How can this be addressed?
Market survey is very important in any business venture. Also, avoid places where things have failed before, always catch areas that are popular but with class. You must add a bit of touch to your own investment project. Also look for an area that you will be able to make a difference.
Talking about the challenges to investment opportunities in Nigeria, such as irregular power supply, how do you think an entrepreneur can make his business survive?
When you talk about power. There are people for instance, who use solar for lighting. Even inverter lighting in the long run is cheaper than running generator all the time. It is only when you want to do specific things that you put on the generator as an example. If you were running it every time for seven days a week, you can decide to run it for two or three times a week. Solar is also good if it is tapped into. You can also use a generator to charge your inverter for a while and then you can use it. Water is not a problem; most people have their own boreholes. I agree that power is so important that it eats a lot into profitability, so it must be managed. As power improves, profitability improves.
How do you view multitasking in business?
That depends on the entrepreneur’s power if he can do it. If he is not sacrificing some of his time into other things, let him go ahead because even these days, we are doing multi-skilling even. Multi-skilling has to do with the ability to do many things. For instance, being an administrator, and a lawyer and a company secretary. The flexibility of getting jobs will be there. It is good, it broadens the mind. I have done 16 jobs in 31 years and it has added to my experience. For instance, I can do lecturing, I can do succession planning for people now, administration, so many things I can do, apart from the fact that I am an engineer. So it is good if an entrepreneur can multitask.
What business idea would you like to share?
Entrepreneurs should continue to work hard, read because the more you read the more experience you get and no knowledge is never lost.
In terms of entrepreneurship, what are the objectives of the institute?
We are having a programme in November to bring young entrepreneurs up at an early age in business development. The idea being that Nigeria is a very vast country and so many students are graduating from the university. In fact, we have the largest number in Africa. It is very good but because of that turnover, we must get something to harness these talents for government cannot help everybody. The earlier youths get to know what business development is, the better for them.
Each person can be an entrepreneur, be self employed until any other appointment comes. Business development as a knowledge can keep you going.
The business development week sees the need to bring captains of industry to discuss business development so that we can fuse with the global business development initiatives. Nigeria has enormous resources which we need to bring together through submissions, review and find solutions to them if possible. We need our different talents to overhaul the economy and make business to thrive so we can still maintain our earlier position in Africa.
Can business development thrive in the vacuum created by lack of infrastructure?
At a conference I attended in Chicago, we discussed Nigeria’s energy problem and they told us that energy can be built even from waste and other sources such as solar. It is the essence of the summit and we are looking at how we can tackle some of these problems.