I would have let this pass, but I guess it deserved to be said and I’m saying it – it’s brutal world out there in the business world.
15 years ago, yes, 15 years ago, I got my first business (Tembell Business Concepts) registered with the CAC.
By the way, I met my wife Emem Bello few months after conceiving the idea.
I was on an audit exercise of the Senator Ben Bruce’s Silverbird Group (Story is for another day).
After few months of rolling together (with Emem), I changed the name from BABELL BUSINESS CONCEPTS to TEMBELL BUSINESS CONCEPTS.(One man business…..gosh)
No business plans really. I have it sorted in my head
Then, I was working with Umohette James Umohette, Ashimi Akinola at Babatunde Adeyemo & Co, (Chartered Accountants) from 1999 in Ilupeju, Lagos. My salary then was 5,000!!! I just got an increase from N3,900!
My boss was my big brother and role model, Prince (Now a High chief to be in Ile-Ife) Adefolahan Ibiyemi FCA, who I have been working with as an intern from his room. I ran errands, delivered letters and paid bills for him. He will give me works (basically bank statements and records extraction from source documents).
As a result of dedication and passion for excellence, he gave me a job with just a WAEC certificate in a professional firm! I was struggling to gain admission into UNILAG to study accounting! (That is another story because I never did until after 14 years)
The Managing Partner of the firm was (still is) Prince Adeyemo Babatunde FCA and a Director at Amicable Insurance Group. I look back and feel so proud of me!!! It has been in my head for over 2 years!
Yea, I know it is nothing, but it is 15 years since Tembell Business Concepts was legally started.
It was a business I set up with about a few thousand. About N47, 220 in cash. Including an #Intercellular desktop phone (01-4743313), an HP computer (monitor and CPU) lol.
Setup to Help Other Businesses Fast Tract Their Process
It was set up to help other business fast track their processes.
We opened a small shop in Itire, Surulere, and started running a business center. We said it was a “Modern Business Center”.
People came in to make calls (per minute charge of 30 Naira or so), cyber café operation, we help people register their businesses and do accounting and bookkeeping. We incorporated and set up some few companies. We provided advice and follow up.
Wrote business plans, for radio stations, media companies, filling stations, travel, and tours, restaurants, schools and lot more.
Our first major breakthrough then was a business plan developed for the setting up of Filling Station after we had helped Issah Kayode Mustapha-Alhaji set up and register his Aphamok Ltd (Oil marketing and contracts) owners of a chain of businesses including Aphamok Tours & Travels LTD.
Then the business plan was received and presented to Citizens Bank then. Well, the rest they say is history. You can visit them in Egbeda today with branches across the state.
The first cheque we received then was N70,000. I still have the copy of the cheque from UNION BANK Plc. We had cash inflows, and it was like “why did we not start earlier?”
So, Tembell Business Concepts invested in few stocks from profits and savings.
We bought Standard trust bank shares, RT Briscoe, FSB plc, University press PLC, Cornerstone Insurance, etc They were penny stocks.
I was just a young boy with a vision for stability, posterity, and legacy. No plan against competition, no strategy for sustainability and beating the brutal whether of business in the country called Nigeria.
We just loved to do the business in our head! But that is not all. It was never been that rosy.
Now fast forward, we were not able to continue (strongly) and eventually the real test of business came.
Innovation. New business model. Policy. Globalization. And then taste and trend of consumers/public.
Some things happened:
- There came GSM introduction by the Federal government. They were not thinking about us who were providing “calls” to people who want to reach their loved ones. Booooom, We had ECONET, then MTN showed up.
There was a huge importation of laptops, tablets, PCs.
People saved money to buy their phones. People now started attending computer classes, computerization of business processes.
So, sales automatically dropped from all that aspect of the business.
Except for few businesses incorporated and “using excel” to do bookkeeping for clients. But income was shrinking, so we were bruised, battered and beaten.
Then the killer came..
..MULTI LINKS, NITEL all came. NITEL too. They challenged Intercellular.
So Intercellular started grinding down, down the history lane. Call rates issues, network, infrastructure, huge debts, staff turnover etc. We changed to those new service providers, but it was never the same since then on.
We lost customers. We could not pay rent. Salary was a big deal. Eventually, we closed the shop.
We started operating from home. Then afterward started operating from my bag, then the energy fizzled out! I have to go and check again!
We were pushed out. But I never gave up. I love my failures. It propelled me. I wanted to prove a point, Though brutalized and beaten, I can do it all over again. That is how I came about my personal core value “NOT AFRAID TO START ALL OVER”
After studying the environment properly, I did a business plan. Went surveying and researched, so we CHANGED models and concepts. We changed models.
We learned the hard way.
I Studied what could be next to come. And we did…we bounced back. We survived! What did we do? Do you want to know?
Let me tell you folks, not all good business ideas are profitable ideas. No. No.
You need to:
– Look at the sector you want to serve.
– What is the likely change(s) coming ahead?
– Who are the sector leaders?
– What could be the competition that can affect them and eventually put you out of business?
We evolved – we had to start looking at ICT, how we could use ICT to help businesses we serve.
So we looked at software that streamlines business processes and accounting plus record keeping for a fee. Very low fees.
We started providing outsourced Bookkeeping services
We started providing outsourced Bookkeeping services at a very low cost, affording businesses to save costs, avoid keeping spaces and staff that can be done without.
Clients started paying monthly for our services. We brought costs to a half for them and removed inefficiency and non-productive staff.
So we had cash inflows. Small, Slow but Steady. We bounced back. Better and bigger. We are not there yet, but we are better!
Back to the matter, I look back and feel so proud of all I have been through as a business owner.
By the way, those penny stocks we bought then helped us in hard times. We raked in “some few thousands”, small enough to set up what you see us do now.
TEMBELL BUSINESS CONCEPTS has birthed new companies like Alexander Stephen IQ (a management consulting and accounting firm) Priscilla and Aquila (an events management firm) and the Alternative School, (an SME BUSINESS school in Port Harcourt) where you can learn more to earn more. You can book The Alternative School Halls for Corporate or Private Training here.
You should evolve, look ahead, act ahead.
By the way, you should also celebrate your success no matter how small and look forward to the next decades of success. Celebrate with us.
Twitter @Tunde_Bello Facebook BTundeBello