THE PATH OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
I first heard the word ENTREPRENEUR during my secondary school days. My Business Studies teacher, Mrs Sola Onibere taught us, the students about the four factors of production, namely, Land, labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship. I committed the words to memory, seeing them as information to help me excel in my examinations.
I did not know I will tread the path of an entrepreneur in the future.
Last week, I listened to a message by a woman I had been longing to meet for some time. She is dark and petite, her frame not betraying the strength that lies within her. I saw this woman; Tara Fela Durotoye at the Excellence in Leadership Conference held earlier this month. She shared several stories about her journey to the glamorous world of entrepreneurship.
Tara traced the journey to creating her award winning brand, HOUSE OF TARA. She told the participants at the conference how she started her business with just fifteen thousand naira. At that time she was the cleaner, book keeper, banker of money, manager and makeup artist. Many times, when she had to go out of the office to makeup someone’s face, she would give her business card to the security guard and ask him to give her number to anyone who comes to her shop. On her return, she would ask the security guard if anyone came. And he would tell her, ‘Madam, when I dey, no body come. But when I nor dey, person tell me say person come and when e nor see anybody, e go.’
Of course the security guard was acting to the best of his ability.
And so, Tara trudged on, working hard to make her business grow. She charged from between one thousand to ten thousand naira for a bridal makeup. Today, she charges from two hundred thousand to as high as half a million naira. An amount that attracted loud screams from some members of the audience.
Well, she has paid her dues you will agree with me. So she can charge premium fees now.
Tara spoke of how insulted she feels when people say they want to quit jobs as employees to become entrepreneurs. They sound as if entrepreneurs do not work. I identified with her reaction. Many times, people ask me what I do, with so much disgust on their faces. As if all I do from morning to night is sit down, gaze into space and probably sleep away my destiny. When most of them are sleeping or probably cuddling their partners, I am busy working. The type of writings I churn out regularly are not put together in a hurry.
The path of the entrepreneur is not an easy one to tread. If you are a lazy employee, don’t ever think you can succeed as an entrepreneur. It takes even more work because most times you have TO TAKE THE LAST LOOK at your products and services. And your brain had better be alert when you are doing that. When I was an employee, I had supervisors checking my work. But in the world of the business owner, that is not often the case.
Today, Tara has over fifty thousand employees, some of whom she has never met and several branches of House of Tara. She advised entrepreneurs not to shum all the advice they get from people.
‘God can speak to anyone to give you ideas for that business,’ she said. She told her listeners that it was a customer who gave her the idea to train people to makeup and that took her business to another dimension.
The path of the entrepreneur is easy to tread for those who are determined to make a success of it. Tara told the people at the conference that she is driven by passion to succeed. She has a philosophy which she captured in Pidgin English, ‘Them never born the person when go frustrate me out of this business.’ Speaking further, she said, ‘I have come in contact with people who despise my business. Who felt insulted that I could suggest that they come and work for me, that small girl, as they see me. But I make bold to say that today, a lady resigned from Shell Nigeria to work in House of Tara. We have been able to match the salary of a lady who resigned from Microsoft to join our team. I remember a time when the auditors of a certain accounting firm felt insulted that they were invited to audit a makeup studio but today, Price WaterHouse audits our accounts.
The present reality mocks the struggles of yesterday. Tara has sometimes felt thorns bruise her legs as she walks the path of an entrepreneur and sometimes got discouraged but she chooses to march on and carve a niche in a business that has brought so much glamour to the world of women.
‘Next to food, what women spend money on is makeup,’ she said emphatically, speaking with the voice of one who has encountered women who are READY TO PAY ANYTHING TO LOOK BEAUTIFUL. Today, she smiles to the bank but she has walked the thorny path.
And because Tara took that step, the makeup business in Nigeria has become a multi million naira industry. In that conference, she showed video clips of ladies whose lives have been transformed because Tara walked the path of an entrepreneur. She charged the people who listened to her, ‘You have a key to unlock a door. May God give you the audacity to unlock it.’
As you tread the path of the entrepreneur, may you have THE AUDACITY TO HOPE for a brighter tomorrow.