Though 2016 started off on a promising note, it turned out to be my YEAR OF THE LOCUST. I didn’t only lose financially and massively for that matter, I also lost people, resources and materials, and hadn’t it been for some crazy investments I’d gotten my hands into, when I could have decided to enjoy excess in the days of boom, maybe I’d have no data to post this after qwertying it today. In all that happened though, I managed to successfully see two contracts to the end of their tenure, activated a new one, and with one of my partners decided to call it quits with another that’s caused us only heartbreaks since we set it up. Also, with another partner, we resuscitated another one that could’ve gone moribund towards the end of last year, and are on the verge of beginning to reap the fruits, YAHWEH-willing.
My love for investing in the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was also resuscitated (having had my fingers burnt while exiting early last year recording losses, after a period of investing that spanned almost a decade), not because the good days are back, but because the bearish wind crisscrossing the length and breadth of the exchange has separated the men from the boys, and the stocks of blue chips that used to be out of reach of common Nigerians have become weather-beaten and affordable, in what may be the lowest they’d ever get in a long while, and it would be financially unwise not to invest now that everything is rock bottom, especially when buying and selling can even be done literally at your fingertips, online using a phone.
Anyone in Nigeria today will agree with me that these aren’t the best of times. The people untouched by this recession are in the minority. I remember reading a joke online of someone who was surprised that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote lost a sizeable portion of his wealth, and could still walk about looking unfazed, yet when he checks his wallet and doesn’t find a five hundred naira note he’d kept there in case of “incasity”, his heart begins to do him “one kind” (Nigerian manner of speaking, for palpitations, trepidation etc). One thing I can tell you from experience is that as a nine-to-fiver with (a) business(es) on the side is, during the toughest of times, you’d never starve, you can take that to the bank. This is because having a business on the side beside your monthly emoluments ensures that certain vagaries don’t have to wait till the end of the month to be sorted out, and little things like the rising cost of tomatoes in the market won’t cause you as much headaches as it would cause a monthly salary earner, with no other source of income.
There’s nothing on the horizon that shows that there’d be an improvement in Nigeria’s economic lot. Definitely not from the government, whose attempts so far only further worsened the situation and outlook. However, this is Nigeria and we are that crazy and hardly going by the rules, something that even the government knows, though they’d definitely rush to take credit for the rebound that will eventually hit Nigeria’s economy, in spite of the government and its economic policies. Our society is built to survive economic hurricanes and tsunamis, just because of our resilience, that’s why you’d see a Nigerian complain about how hard things are but will do everything to hold on to life because our capacity to hope is limitless. We just know how to get by, though how we do it is another matter entirely.
Having this at the back of your mind, I now implore you not to let the economic climate dampen your resolve. This isn’t the time to step back and do nothing. If you still have your job, I congratulate you. If not, the situation isn’t irredeemable. I cannot stress the importance of starting small enough, you just have to find that thing you can start small with, and if it isn’t enough, declare a fundraiser for it, get a few friends to join you in making your dreams possible, viable and financially rewarding. If you already have a business, and have followed my model over the time since I started this series, by now you should know your weaknesses and strengths. The prevailing situation doesn’t give enough room to maneuver into uncharted paths, this is the time to build on those areas you’ve strength and comparative advantage. If a business of yours is still managing to survive then that’s the sort that you shouldn’t deny your attention, financially and otherwise, while those wrecked by the economy should be let go.
Do not be afraid to let go of a business that’s refusing to thrive despite all efforts to rejuvenate it. It’s true that I failed at a business last year, and my partner (for that particular one) and I are going to record a huge loss by the time we eventually dispose of the asset, but I don’t see us as failures. I’ll have to suffer from Alzheimer’s as it is for me to remake the mistake we made that got us to the unfortunate situation we found ourselves today. In essence, even in my losses, and I suppose it’s same for you, there’s the positive of what’s to be learnt, and many times how we react to such losses, ends up shaping how we respond to similar challenges in the future, enough to know how to avoid pitfalls and come out stronger at the other end.
If I’d ever thought that there was a year that I would break the iron ceiling, and reach far beyond the skies, it was 2016. Now I’ve become humbled by all that happened, and can only hope that things can only get better. I decided to personalize this so that anyone out there whose had a rough financial year can know that s/he ain’t alone, and we owe it not just to ourselves, but to those who look up to us (many of whom we may never know), to pick ourselves up and move on, stronger than our challenges would rather we be, and continue to strive till we can touch our aims and objectives at the hem. Carpe Diem.