A place for help; a place for money By Shadrach Bako

By Shadrach Bako

Nigerians are not very good at giving out their money but they can pay over-the-top for average products and services that are well packaged and well marketed. This is something to think deeply about.

Having said the above, as a business person, you must never open up to anyone about the secrets of your business. The reason for this is that, most Nigerians are more interested in pulling you down, than succeeding themselves. This is not fictitious. It is reality.

Thus, your business secrets are yours to keep. Your interaction with prospects or customers should revolve around the goods and services you offer and why they should invest their money into it - for their own good - not how you make money from a business they have no kobo in.

Most Nigerians won't give you money no matter what you do for them. If they do, it would be 10 times below your level.

You'd be hungry, someone has 10 tubers of yam in their store and will say to you, "the Lord is your strength," when they know, at that moment, that yam, is your strength.

How wicked?

Growing up, I met a lot of people who were like this. I would work my ass off for them and all I got at the end of the day was, "thank you my pikin. May God bless you for me o. God bless you my pikin."

Nothing used to make me happier than when an older person - preferably a woman - prayed for me, until I realised that old age itself could be a manipulative tool.

Older people used their age and the respect I had for them to cheat on me (it is still so to date) until I realized that I was being stupid, working on people's farms for free - sometimes receiving way less than I deserved as compensation for my work, only to return home to my poor mom with loads of complaints that needed money to solve.

It was then that I started charging for services I rendered. The sums were comparatively little but at least, they reflected my reward for service rendered, at the time...and I wasn't begging anyone for money. If I needed money, I looked for a piece of farm that needed to be tilled or weeded, bargained and devoured it based on agreed terms.

I still remember an incident that happened in 2006. I was in secondary school then. There was this man that would always pass us by with his flashy car on our way home from school. He would never give us a lift. Sometimes he would splash water on us and not stop, wind down to say "sorry."

That man is one of the major reasons why I am educated today. I promised myself that because of him, I would become very rich and buy cars, someday. How little things can spur me. I still haven't got a car yet, but it is just a matter of time, I belief.

Back to the story.

On this fateful day, as my friend and I were returning from school. Lo and behold, this man's fine car was stuck in mud. He called out to us for help. My friend said we should ignore the man and go our way. But I told my friend, "don't worry. Let's go there. I will handle it."

When we got there, he said, "my children, please help me let's push my car."

My friend wanted to talk but I shut him with a hand to his lips.

I said, "Sir, your money is N2,000."

He looked at me in shock?

2,000 naira for what? So una no fit help una papa push car?

My friend aptly replied with, "you no bi our papa...our papa no go...." I placed my hand again on his lips to shut him from letting out the words.

When the man said he could not pay, I held my friend's left hand and said, "let's go."

It was still drizzling and it was getting late.

I guess he figured that he couldn't get anyone to help him in the circumstance so he whistled to us.

We turned to his direction.

He said, "I will give you 500 naira."

I said 1,500.

He said, "No."

I held my friend, dragged him a bit. He was hesitant to move, because he felt we were gonna lose an opportunity to be 500 naira richer.

But I said to him, in a hush voice, "make we do like say we wan go."

As we took two steps forward, the man screamed, 1,000.

We kept going, this time, slowly.

He thundered, 1,200, Pleeaassse, my children!

We paused, turned around, got to his car, collected the money and helped push his car off the mud.

He splashed water on us again...never waved to say sorry, but who cares. We were N1,200 richer.

We shared N600 naira each. It was more than enough to transport us to and fro school, for a week, and for kunu aiya - my favorite drink - which was 30 naira, and one fish roll, 20 naira...at the time. We were big boys, mehnnn. *Smiles*

Moral:

Learn to place premium on the services you offer. Don't work for people and have them say, thank you. And don't allow them dictate how much they want to pay you. Thank you will not put food on your table. It won't buy your cream, roll on, body spray, foot your bills and provide you with other basic necessities of life. Thank you can only make you poor in life.

As could be seen from my story, not everybody will help you in life, no matter how close you're to them. But most of them will pay for a service that you offer if they have a need for it, and your service or product proves to be the best of the lot or is a cheaper alternative.

As for dealing with prospects or customers.

Streamline your conversation around benefits of the products and services you offer, nothing else must take center stage.

Your secrets are your secrets.

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