The Nigerian billionaire Otunba Mike Adenuga is celebration his birthday today. He is one of the enigmas in the Nigerian business world. He has single handled been running a group of companies that occupy the top twenty companies slot in Nigeria.
I have taken some time to study his businesses and these are the lessons I think any business owner can learn from him
1. FOCUS ON WHAT IS WORKING FOR YOU AND NOT WHAT PROFESSIONALS ARE SAYING – Mike Adenuga follows his own rules in business. He has developed business models that others said are not possible and deployed them. He went for per second billing when other telecom companies said it was not possible. He ran a fibre optic cable from Europe to Nigeria when experts said one man can not do it. LESSON – Listen to experts but practice only what has been giving you great results. Let the experts prove their theory before you accept them.
2. BE INVOLVED IN SELECTING YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM – Ask any senior globacom staff or conoil staff and they will all tell you that Otunba must interview you before you get a job. LESSON – place a key role in selecting your key staff. Never delegate key staff recruitment to others.
3. POACHED SO MUCH PHARMACISTS WHEN HE WAS STARTING GLOBACOM – He realised that the most difficult people to market things to were doctors. He knew that pharmacists were specially trained to market to doctors. Since he was coming into the market very later, he needed people training to market in a very challenging environment. He thus poached as many pharmacists as possible to help him break into a very difficult market. At a stage he had more pharmacists working for him than a lot of pharmaceutical companies. LESSON – Employ great people others have trained. Do not start a new business with novice employees. Study other industry to see how they are overcoming great challenges, then borrow their strategies.
4 . MAINTAIN YOUR COOL EVEN UNDER ATTACK – When Sanusi was made the Governor of central bank of Nigeria, he went after Akingbola of Intercontinental bank who had opposed his nomination. Instead of giving intercontinental bank a few months to shore up their capital base, he immediately slammed the bank shut. Unfortunately Adenuga’s equatorial bank was also low on fund at that moment and to look like he was not targeting Akingbola, Equatorial bank and oceanic bank suffered the collateral damage of Sanusi’s actions. In all the cries that followed about double standard because the same sanusi gave UBA time to shore up their asset base, Adenuga never came out to cry that he was suffering for something that if given notice he could take care of. After all, compared to paying for glo1 undersea cable, shoring up the bank’s finances was peanut but the billionaire never fought Sanusi openly. LESSON- There are injustices you must not cryout and shout about. Every business person must learn to accept some damages to their business and reputation in silence.
5. PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN TO TAKE OVER A GREAT BUSINESS FROM YOU – Presently Otunba has two of his children as executive directors. These chaps got the best business management education before joining the organisation. LESSON -If you are building a great organisation, start on time to train your children so that they can move your business to the next level. MKO Abiola’s businesses collapsed because his children were not groomed to handle a multi billion naira business. Never isolate your children from the principles you are using to drive your business success.
6. LET THE GOSSIP SAY WHATEVER THEY LIKE, BUT NEVER JOIN WORDS WITH THEM – You will hear a lot of gossips about Mike Adenuga but you will never hear him joining words with anyone. I don’t know how he does it because it takes a lot of courage to ignore some of the things that have been said about him. LESSON – You must master the art if smiling and walking away when people expect you to strike back.
7. IF NIGERIANS DONT DELIVER RESULTS SWITCH TO FOREIGNERS – When he started he had top Nigerian executives, but when he did not get good results from them he employed an Indian to manage globacom for him. LESSON – if your people do not give you results, fire them and get people that will give you great result irrespective of where they might come from
8. TAKE ON PROJECTS THAT NEED SOME ELEMENT OF FAITH TO ACCOMPLISH – Think of glo when it was launched, think of Glo 1 cable when it was launched. These are projects most people can never get their mind to undertake . LESSON – Stop trying to start small businesses. Go for a business that will require you to have some element of faith to start. Start projects people say you cannot achieve. THINK BIG.
9. UNDERSTAND POLITICS – Like most multimillionaire, he has mastered the art of political economics. You will not see him openly support a party but you will see politicians appreciating him. LESSON- Never detach yourself from the politics of your community or associations. Play a role in any organisation whose decisions can adversely affect your businesses.
10. MAKE YOUR COMPANY MORE VISIBLE THAN YOURSELF- Most people know glo but fewer people know the owner. LESSON – never be more important to your business than your business is to itself