What is Business Sense? (1)
Emeka Thompson was getting exasperated with his cell phone and did not know where the problem lay: his phone handset, or the mobile telephone network. He had been trying to put a call to his grandfather in the village, no success.
Suddenly the line clicked and his grandpa's baritone voice bellowed over the line: "Happy New Year son." "Same to you dad," Emeka replied as he chuckled. His grandfather, a successful entrepreneur, though retired; is full of wits and wisdom. He always seized every opportunity to talk business with Emeka in the belief they will make his grandson wiser and a successful businessman just like grandpa.
"And so how you are grandpa," Emeka followed up, not willing to let the old man take the opportunity to pull his legs with investment wisdom. "Plenty of business," grandpa replied. "There is this windfall I raked in from my importation business, and I am trying to find out the best investment outlet to invest the money- whether to buy stocks, bonds or throw in the whole sum into real estate. You know the global financial melting down is still sweeping across the globe. And caution should be the watchword for every investor, not fear. But I am still examining the stakes, and I have a scheduled meeting with my fund managers, tomorrow."
Emeka winced. Grandpa is a shrewd investor and a hard businessman even in retirement. He has a way of steering every conversation, even social matters into business, he thought. Not wanting anymore tutorials on investment, Emeka cut in: "Grandpa you are always talking about business. Do you ever talk about socials? In any case, I am leaving for Kano tomorrow so start my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme."
"Oh, your NYSC begins," the old man recollected. Then his advice: "Go to Kano and serve the nation well. Not only serve, begin to learn the rudiments of business and how to invest. I want you to develop business sense. It is a skill that will make you a successful investor and businessman."
"Grandpa, there you go again about business and investment," Emeka moaned. "I have told you several times that I don't want to become a businessman. I want to work in bank after my NYSC."
"Great, my son. There is nothing wrong with that ambition. All I am saying is that if you cannot become a businessman, you can at least be a wise investor in many investment opportunities that abound in Nigeria's capital and financial markets. You can even begin to invest in properties or in many business opportunities in Kano, from your NYSC allowance. The time to start is now my son."
"But it is too early to start talking investment, grandpa. After all, how much is my NYSC allowance? It can hardly meet my needs."
"That is the problem of many young people today, my son. What they were not taught in the classroom, we learnt by experience in the marketplace."
"What do you mean by that grandpa,' Emeka queried.
"I will explain son. You read the best selling book by Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad."
"I did, dad."
"Great. In that book Kiyosaki observed that the lack of investment knowledge among young graduating students from institutions of higher learning, is that they are hardly thought about money. Their mind set is fixed on getting a job after graduation to earn a salary with which they will pay bills. They may know how to earn money via a paid job. They may also know how to spend it. But many of them hardly how to invest it. That is why many of them are not in the roll call as investors, shareholders and stakeholders of financial institutions and companies quoted on the stock exchange."
"Grandpa, how do you expect me to know these terms since I did not study Business Administration. Remember I studied Microbiology."
"I remember that son. How come you want to want to work in a bank? Why not in a manufacturing company or some sort of laboratory?"
"It is bank or telecommunications company. They pay the highest rates in industry now," Emeka explained. And .....
"I know all that," his grandfather cut in. That is why I want you to develop business sense and begin to learn the rudiments of investments so that wherever you find yourself later in life, whether as a paid worker, businessman or investor, you are living a happier, healthier and fulfilled life because you will be working, and your money is also working for you. Many financial institutions in Nigeria today are offering industrial, business and mouth watering consumer investment products for investors. Only those who are investment conscious can tap the benefits of these schemes. We are operating in the knowledge economy, Emeka. And the skills I am talking about now will give you a competitive edge in the marketplace whether in a paid job or self employment. Irrespective of what you studied in the university, Emeka, the time to start investing is now son, and the place is your NYSC location."
"I will try grandpa, but I am just trying to figure out what I will save from my monthly NYSC allowance that will not even meet my immediate needs." Pa I have to stop for now, the credit on my phone is running out."
"You see, that is why I said you need business sense to change your mindset about work and money early in life. You can my son, if you have the will," grandpa admonished Emeka. "Now take this brief tutorial from me before you switch off your phone. I don't mind buying you credit."
"Go ahead grandpa, I am listening."
"Good. Listen carefully. I will be brief. What I am about to tell will help you in life by turning you into an investor and a businessman even while you work in a 9 am to 5 pm job? They form the foundation of what I learnt the hard way in business because nobody taught me."
"You need a basic understanding of the nature of money and business sense. Money is a defense, a means to an end. It helps you to meet your needs and to enjoy life. But you have to work to earn or raise money, manage it, and spend it well. Business sense on the other hand starts in the mind before physical expression. It is all about applying wisdom and using less painful and happier ways of earning money, making it grow and knowing how to spend it. To develop and use this sense, you have got to change your mind set from working for money, to making money work for you. It is all about changing your mindset about work and money. This is the fundamental."
"What's the difference grandpa; me working for money or money working for me."
"I will explain briefly Emeka, but I am sorry I have to stop now for I have an international call on my other line. Safe journey to Kano. Call me when you arrive Kano. Meanwhile begin to think about money, investments and business sense."
"Thank you grandpa," Emeka replied before he heard the click on the line."
Five minutes after this discussion, Emeka brooded over all the concepts his grandpa mentioned. He had a vague of what money is. Is it not about getting a job, earning money and spending it. Investing it, he also knows but many terms such as business sense, stock exchange and quoted companies were new to him. He read Microbiology, not Business Administration. And if he wants to work in a bank and probably make a career there, he might just to take his grandfather's advise seriously. A friend even advised him to begin nursing the idea of taking professional examinations in banking or accountancy.
But he dreaded the idea of sitting for the examinations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). He has heard ICAN exams are rigorous. What about The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). That one is equally rigorous, colleagues told. So which way should I go, Emeka thought, head bowed. And now grandpa has introduced a new dimension.
"There must be a way out, Emeka muttered to himself as he stepped out of his residence to visit a friend who had a power generating set to watch a football match between Manchester United (Man U) and Barcelona. He is a Man U fan. Man U for Life, Investments for Life, he thought as he chuckled and left his home to watch the match.
Eric Okeke is a consultant storyteller, author, editor, CSR specialist and a leading strategist in brand marketing and mobilising support for corporate/social issues. He has a background and training in Chemistry, Marketing and Financial Journalism.
As a business writer and speaker, Eric has recorded a distinguished career in financial journalism and media consulting. He holds an MBA in Marketing, and the professional qualification and membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.
Eric's communications niche is "storytelling" which he is now using to empower professionals and improve business returns in Nigeria.