Simeon Ononobi shares five business mentality that has helped him build a successful business

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Sometimes this year, there was a hall packed full of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship enthusiasts hoping to glean off insights from industry leaders who, as they say ‘ have walked the talk.’ Simeon Ononobi, founder of SimplePay, a payment solution platform, was one of the panelists that held the stage before business owners at the Eko Hotels and Suite, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event organized by Connect Nigeria, examined ways entrepreneurs could leverage technology to grow their businesses. Simeon in one of the sessions shared experiential lessons he garnered while building his business.

A graduate of Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Simeon Ononobi has been an active tech entrepreneur since the tender age of 16. His first business was a programme he started in school to teach his colleagues how to use a computer. He called it Compuversity. In 2013, Simeon’s SimplePay won the Seedstars World Lagos award for the Best Nigerian startup and went to represent Nigeria at the global stage where it finished as the 1st runner-up, winning $330,000 in funding.

simeone

Speaking during the session, he debunked the belief held by some entrepreneurs that a major determinant of success is riding on an investor’s platform.

“I try to use every opportunity I have to tell people that you don’t need a platform and you don’t need someone to sit somewhere and decide how you grow or what you become. But  for you to succeed, you must ask  yourself this, what exactly do you want to achieve, why are you doing it?

According to him, the following are some of the things that helped him build a successful business. Below is a slightly modified version( to ensure flow of thought) of his address at the event:

Focus:

If you’re not focused, if you start your business now, I tell you in 6 months you’re done. You won’t be able to run it again.

You have to be very focused at what you do. It is a difficult terrain to have a business in Nigeria. If you’re not focused, if you start your business now, I tell you in 6 months you’re done. You won’t be able to run it again. I need you to know that you need to be very focused to be able to run a business. Zuckerberg did it in America, it’s not easy.

Challenges are constant:

Forget the fact there is a problem, just find a solution for it.

You need to forget the fact that there aren’t going to be challenges. Till today, I’m still facing challenges. I just got a call that our server fees have jumped. It used to be 200/$ but now it is 500/$. And I have to find dollars to keep our server space. I have been talking to local providers to make sure we can get that done. So one just have to keep trying. Forget the fact there is a problem, just find a solution for it. Because there must be problems. I don’t care what business it is, I just know there must be problems you have to find solutions to.

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Learning is key:  

when I started business, I crashed and I had to go back to look for a job and I worked for one year and what I was trying to understand is how do people really do it… You need to learn a lot of things. You don’t just say I want to go into business. Get an education, learn what people are doing!

A lot of people just want to go into things that they don’t understand. A friend once tweeted about soup delivery business one time like that. I could’ve gone into the business because it sounded good. The truth of the matter is I don’t know the first thing about how my kitchen pot looks, for me food is whatever enters my tummy to fill it up. I don’t have any education about what food is about. But you see many people just jump into the bandwagon without understanding the basics. From my experience, when I started business, I crashed and I had to go back to look for a job and I worked for one year and what I was trying to understand is how do people really do it. How do you sit in a business and understand that there is payment to push. How do you account for every single thing. You need to learn a lot of things. You don’t just say I want to go into business. Get an education, learn what people are doing!

Read Also: Your Craft alone does not guarantee success – Mai Atafo speaks on being a fashion entrepreneur

Simmm

Stay as Local as possible:

What works in America will not work in Nigeria. From my experience running MyAd global, a company I co-founded with partners, what we are doing in Dubai is not what we are doing India…

Don’t try to copy what others are doing to make it. What works in America will not work in Nigeria. From my experience running an Ad global company I co-founded with partners, what we are doing in Dubai is not what we are doing India, it is not even what we are doing in Nigeria. Here is an example, when we launched MyAds Global, it was like something miraculous. How can u have place an advert on an incoming call and pay the person for the advert? But overtime we realized that it wasn’t making sense because then we had to pay like 2 Naira/3 Naira for every ad on a call, which nobody actually cared about. We realized this model wasn’t working.

My co-founder sat down and said, you know what, what do people really want? We need to go to the market and understand what people want. Today we’re doing deals with company that allows them subsidize their products considerably and we make this offer available for MyAds users. Now the issue is people don’t see it as an ad anymore. They see it as opportunity to get their favorite brands at reduced prices. It’s recession period, people want things at cheaper rate. Now it’s business for the company and value for the buyers. And that’s how the whole business model changed.

You have to change based on the environment you find yourself. You don’t have to be stuck on how ‘this is how the business was… So you need to keep trying to change. Change with what is happening in your environment.

Leverage Partnership:

Stop seeing every platform as competitors that will steal your ideas all the time. Yes they’ll steal, but still you need them to be able to grow.

As a business try to make sure you leverage partnership. You cannot stand without partnership, it doesn’t make sense. Stop seeing every platform as competitors that will steal your ideas all the time. Yes they’ll steal, but still you need them to be able to grow. If a small platform doesn’t trust you, look to a bigger platform to ride on. Once you start giving value to that bigger platform, they will continue to push you.

 

Do you agree with these insights from SimplePay founder? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section

happywheels

I'm interested in stories, news and opportunities for African entrepreneurs. Be it tech, fashion, SMEs; breaking entrepreneurship stories is the next best thing that can happen to me, after Jollof

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