A public speech delivered by Hassan Rilwan, Publisher, Sardauna Magazine, on the 24th August, 2008 during the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Zaria Branch, Division III’s Annual Anniversary.
All protocols duly observed. May I begin by welcoming you all to this important gathering and also express my profound gratitude to the organizers of this event for thinking me and my childhood friend competent enough to share our opinions and humble advises on some cardinal issues concerning the youth. I have been mandated to talk about ‘BRACING UP FOR SELF SUSTENANCE’ and I start thus:
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from; the ability to triumph begins with you. Always!” These are the words of Oprah Winfrey, the richest black woman on earth with a personal fortune exceeding $2 billion. Since we all know that our destiny is a concluded issue, your success or failure, happiness or sadness depends solely on you through prayers, positive attitude and hard work.
As self employed individuals, we are not here to tell you what business to do or what field to take, Idris and I are here today to share with you our experiences so as to help you develop your mind to discover your talents and possibilities. Once you do that, you will achieve self sustenance. We are here to encourage our fellow youth and friends to embrace the idea of self employment. Being self employed brings its own peculiar challenges; the challenges of an uncomfortable start and an uncertain future with a high risk factor. However, a few of those who are determined end up enjoying great multiplier effect in the long run. Gone are those days when our parents worked hard for an organisation and retire with the challenges of starting all over again. I want you to know that no matter how high you are paid, as long as it is not a profit sharing arrangement, you are still under paid.
The greatest asset to self sustainability is the mind. It is therefore very important to develop your mind. How far you go in life is largely dependant on how far you can conceptualise things in your mind and how long you can hold on to your dreams regardless of the challenges you face. The best ways to develop the mind is through what you read, hear and see. Great men read loads of books in other to buy into the idea of the writers. One of my greatest assets is my books. I count them and treasure them like I treasure my certificates. Biographies and autobiographies of great men, motivational books, and special interest books are large veritable resources for knowledge and self empowerment. It might interest you that I got the idea of Sardauna Magazine from the owner of Virgin Airlines, Sir Richard Branson in his autobiography titled ‘Losing my Virginity’ where he narrated how he started a magazine called student as an undergraduate. Therefore, make it a point of duty to read a book every two or three weeks and you will realize that your attitude to life would have being greatly enhanced. You will appreciate and value quality and innovation. You will be inspired to settle for nothing short of the best.
Watching movies is one great means of getting exposed to your possibilities if only you spend your time watching interesting but educative movies. I run a 19 hours schedule daily and rarely have time to watch movies, however, if I must indulge myself with an hour movie, it must be worth the time. Unfortunately only very few Nigerian movies can give you that added value.
Meeting people of a higher pedigree is important to self sustainability. You cannot afford to be a King amongst your peers. Strive at all times to associate with people that are already where you want to be. Keep quit and listen to them and you will learn the secrets of their successes. However, never meet such people without positioning yourself as their student or better still without being an asset to them in any sane and lawful way possible. That way you will be relevant and sort after. Nobody wants a liability. Meet people of different background from yours and inter-relate regardless of tribe, social class or even religion.
You don’t need a fat bank account to start your own business like most of you might think. Your start up capital is your mind and your ability to package and market your ideas. With a positive mind, you will see no obstacle.
If you want to be a successful tailor, the first innovation you can bring is to make sure that you meet whatever time given to you by your customers. In this environment were most of our tailors’ stock in trade is excuses and disappointments, if you meet your deadlines and you are known for it, you are already on your way to success. Make sure you pay attention to every detail and you consult widely through society magazines, international fashion magazines and fashion books to be the one always introducing new treads into the market so as to satisfy the unending fashion appetite of our beautiful ladies. In as much as it is important to always thank God at every stage of your life, never look at your shop and conclude that ‘yes I have gotten there; I can now relax and enjoy myself’. The day you stop developing your business, it starts depreciating because development in the world is a constant factor. It is either you develop or the world leaves you behind.
You cannot survive starting a computer centre because everybody is doing so. Having just one computer where you have a lazy typist who makes plenty errors and speak unruly to your few customers. The era of typing outside is fast getting over with the way everybody owns a computer set, but you can start a computer centre with one computer set if you are a good graphic designer or you hire one. Everybody might be good in typing but not everybody is a good designer. You are therefore making a difference with your good designer; you are bringing innovation.
When I conceived the idea of Sardauna Magazine, our innovation was pioneering an international standard magazine from the north. We made sure that our quality in print and content makes us the best in the North and one of the best in the country-That is quality service delivery. I also knew that I don’t have the money to embark on such a project. What we did was to design and produce a quality brochure explaining my ideas. We went out to meet people we never knew before and tried selling the idea to them. Some people saw the idea as vague, foolish and impossible; some saw it as a great idea and bought into it. The point here is that the quality of the brochure went a long way in helping those who saw it as a great idea in forming an opinion about our abilities and intentions. I started with a very little amount, an idea, the right packaging and got people to support the idea financially. What I am simply saying is that you can enter any business at any level as long as you bring with it innovation which is the edge and quality service delivery. Never enter any venture without these two things or you will fail sooner than you think.
However, I must inform you that when you get the support of men who are obviously more experienced than you are, you must ensure that you don’t let them down. This is when hard work enters stage two. You must burn the midnight candle to achieve what you told them was possible. Remember, the first support you are getting is for the benefit of doubts, its either you win their trust or lose it. The more you win it, the more you build a rich resume for yourself and your company. You cannot get to Eldorado without paying your dues; any great man who has sustained being at the top has a history, a consistent history. If you hear his story, you will realize that he paid his dues. You must pay yours first and you cannot get a sustained success at once. Any effort to play smart will only expose you as a shallow, unintelligent and short time thinker and you might never have a second chance. Integrity and relationships are keys to self sustenance. Many of us in this hall today have several ideas that can transform us into a Dangote or an Otedola if only we can take a closer look at our ideas and discover our talents.
At this juncture I will like to advise our parents to give more room to accommodate our dreams and mistakes. The general conception of our parents’ generation is that a child should get quality education, after which the child gets a white collar job that pays the fat salary. The jobs are simply not there and the few available ones are not enough for the many that want them. Let us create jobs than look for jobs. Parents should encourage children who dare to be self employed. Let them make mistakes and you the parents should be ready to pay for their mistakes. My father paid a huge indebtedness six years ago when my poultry business went bad based on a bad decision he earlier warned me against. Yes, he lost money, but he succeeded in showing me one more way of not doing things. What ever modest things I do today must be credited to the confidence he built in me. He allowed me dare and I am daring till date. So, if your child dares to do what is uncommon, as far as the child is well intentioned, that child must be supported? It shows bravery and the right mind for success.
It is not easy to drop the security and comfort of a paid job for the insecurity attached to being self employed. A self employed person will most likely not have the immediate social thrust that a paid job will guarantee. I have some of my class mates who already earn as much as N5 million annually while I earn far below a million annually which is even irregular. My only consolation is that while they are building their director’s company, I and my team are building our own company. It is tough in the short run but it will Insha Allah be rewarding in the long run.
The idea of caging your children to a narrow path is dangerous and counter productive. Khadijat! You must be a doctor; you can’t be an accountant will only lead Khadijat to be withdrawn from the Faculty of Medicine. If Khadijat wants to be a tailor, look for ways to improve her talents and she will Insha Allah be a world renowned designer. I studied Engineering because that is what I wanted, but today I am a publisher of a magazine, what is the relationship? Idris graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, but today he is teaching people to be IT gurus. Helping your children discover their dreams and talents helps them to success and self sufficiency.
Finally, kindly note that the ultimate success is accomplished when we get to the end of all the building and struggling in life and find that the house we built looks like the design we had been given. Get on your thinking cap.