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Once upon a time, there was a young man who in search of a profitable business to do, decided to venture into exporting. This man was not so buoyant, so rather than wait for perfect conditions he decided to venture anyway in a small scale.
Every day, this young man physically packed a bag full of sand and rode with his bicycle across the border to Benin republic. Everyday that this young man meticulously rode past, the customs men would fulfill their normal protocol of searching his bag throughly, wondering when sand became so expensive across the border. After the man crossed over, the custom men will dedicate some time arguing for against his insanity. “How can a man, carry a bag of sand across the boarder everyday, is sand running out of circulation? After weeks of joking about this case, the curiosity of the customs men began to grow. “Could it be that there is something that he knows, that is unknowns to us?” Could it be that sand is gold in Benin? Or is there a new business we ought to educate ourselves about?
After many months, they gained the boldness to ask the young man what was really on their mind. They confronted him on this particular day, as he was riding past. “Hello young man”, they said, “we’ve been watching you with a mixture of bewilderment, wonder and amusement, please tell us, what exactly are you smuggling across the border, we promise not to punish you or go against you, as we have been unable to see it for so long!”
The young man smiled and responded in a gleeful voice, “Bicycles!, yes bicycles, I have been smuggling bicycles!”
Very funny right? The guy had been carrying sand across the boarder so he could keep their eyes off the bicycles. Everyday he moves it down with the bicycles and takes a bus back. He was able to see that an opportunity for moving bicycles existed. Very interesting story, but don’t laugh alone, there are morals to learn from that little story. The entrepreneurial journey starts from the ability to see? Are you looking, or are you seeing?
1. Opportunities exist all around us to add value and be rewarded for the value we add, but more often than not we refuse to see them. Microsoft is making a fortune on windows, because he saw ahead the possibility of computers becoming available in every home. When you look, do you think possibilities? Do you see what doesn’t currently exist or do you see only what exists? Do you have an inner eye? Is it developed?
2. Things are not always as they seem, the second biggest real estate company in the world is reputed to be McDonald’s, this is second to no other than the Catholic Church. McDonald’s on the surface is into fast food, that’s the sand, but underneath is what is really adding value to their balance sheet, real estate. McDonald’s conventionally gets into an area, goes for the best and choice locations and buys large. In Russia alone, their real estate is valued at over $100million. This they lease back to the restaurants and offer lease or sale around or on top. This was not their plan at the start, but sometime around 1990, they saw it!
3. The future belongs to those who can see it. Not too many years ago, Lagos was budding, and Ikeja was not a happening area. When you mentioned 20yrs ago that you wanted to buy land in Ikeja, let alone Alausa, talkless of Ojodu, you were considered as dumb. I had the privilege of having a chat with my first landlord in Lagos 4yrs ago, he told me that the entire estate in which I live is just 1 Acre. This estate is a small estate that accommodates 34 flats. He told me that when he bought back then, it cost him N50,000. One plot in this area cost for about 5Million Naira when I moved in. He wasn’t a genius, neither did he possess skills that were beyond the ordinary. He just saw, that was all! It’s the same reason why some people own almost half of Ofada today.
4. Entrepreneurship is seeing. It starts by seeing an opportunity, then you connect the unlaminated resources together to make it happen. The current world is a creation of the entrepreneur, be it for the social courses, the business course or whatever course. The first step in every creation is Seeing… even the almighty began with “Let there be light”. If you are praying for a breakthrough or for success in any endeavor, your first request ought to be for enlightenment, for the ability to see. When you see, you can make things happen.
So what I ask in the beginning, I ask again, did you see it? Have you seen it? Are you looking for it? Are you on the look out? It’s around you, it’s a challenge your neighbors and brothers are facing, it’s a course you can lend a helping hand to, it’s important, it involves sacrifice, it involves value, it involves taking responsibility, but the first place to start, is to see it? Did you see it?