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deere president

A former high school classmate, Ikenna U* with whom I recently got reconnected, informed me of project he is working on – Deere President Magazine, a publication tailored to provide adequate information on academics, entrepreneurship, health, information technology and more to the Nigerian youth. According to his research, approximately ninety percent (90%) of Nigerian youths are not thinking in the direction of job creation, and of the remainder ten percent (10%), about a third of those know what entrepreneurship entails, while the rest (two-thirds) are unwilling to pursue any entrepreneurial activities due to insufficient capital.

He is of the opinion that all that is required to start a small business is an idea and consistency, while money is the motor that keeps it moving. Hence, his plan, among other things, is to use his magazine to battle the unemployment issue in Nigeria by inspiring entrepreneurship through interviews with young, successful Nigerian entrepreneurs as well as educational notes on small & medium enterprise (SME) management; this is where I come in. As a favor, I agreed to do an interview for the maiden edition as a successful, young entrepreneur by God’s grace, and also often provide tips on entrepreneurship and successful small business management as a Small Business Consultant in subsequent editions.

I am humbled I was asked to share my story for the maiden edition. I hope it inspires many. The interview was conducted on Monday, July 16th, 2012.

Deere President Magazine Interview


 1.    Can you please give a brief introduction of yourself?

I am Sylvester II O. Kay-Adade, popularly known as Mr. Buttons, because of my first business venture. I’m the President and Chief Executive of The SKA Group Inc. I’m also a Businessman, Entrepreneur and Small Business Advisor/Consultant. I was born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria and currently reside in Ontario, Canada.

 2.    Can you tell a bit about your enterprise?

The SKA Group Incorporated is a privately-owned conglomerate with interests in advertising, education, finance, publication, real estate and more. Its subsidiaries are Café Euphorie (catering), Herança Financial (financial services and solutions), Pearl Kreations (memorabilia and souvenirs), Prestige Academy (education), RansRive Realtors (real estate), Suave Clothing (clothing and wardrobe consultation), Sylver Productions (document management and media), and Vecasyer Hotels & Towers (leisure and lodging). The SKA Group also has stakes in companies like RCubed-Merit LLC (space optimization) and Spinners Inc (advertising and branding).

 3.    At what point did you realize that entrepreneurship was “your thing” and also “the thing”?

The exact point was probably when I realized I loved providing the services and solutions that various businesses and people needed. It gives me satisfaction. I realized entrepreneurship was the best after I had this epiphany – why use your brain and get paid a fraction of what you’re making for someone else, when you could put it to work and make money for you. As a business owner, I like that I have control over my activities, have options, define my goals, set my limits and have the freedom to do as I please (within reason).

4.    We are certain that making this level of progress would not have come without some “stumbling blocks”. Please let us in on some of the main challenges you encountered in the early stages and what you had on your mind that made you keep at it.

In a nutshell, criticism from friends, masked racism from the public, rejected proposals from companies, even self – made a number of mistakes and bad decisions. I’m passionate about what I do and that keeps me going. I think if success came easy, everyone who would be successful.

 5.    It is evident that you have successfully made some remarkable progress. What would you say are the basic requirements for a successful entrepreneur?

As a Small Business Advisor, I would say it is important to be in love with your venture(s); marry it if possible. I believe if you’re passionate about what you do, people will be drawn to you. You also need to have a business plan. A business plan will help map out the life and viability of your business – mission, vision, values, competition analysis, location analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on the industry, target market analysis, industry trend analysis, sale projections, start-up costs (SUC) and so on. A good business plan may help you secure loans from banks and/or other financial institutions, even the government. One of my companies, Herança Financial helps hopeful entrepreneurs develop excellent business plans. Finally, you need to be determined and persistent; pick yourself up every time you fall.

 6.    Finally, what word do you have for young individuals who happen to fall under the category of “the unemployed”.

I’ll tell you the fact, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Some people cannot take risks and prefer the security of paid employment, some people will partner with an entrepreneur and some people will break new ground. If you decide, you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to know who an entrepreneur is. An entrepreneur isn’t necessarily a businessman. Simply put, an entrepreneur is someone who creates products and services that meet the needs of people for a profit. You need to find a void and figure out a way to close it. In order to find needs, you need to develop the entrepreneurial eyes and open them to the numerous possibilities around you. Another option is to improve upon an existing product or service. The second option is what a lot of people try to do, but most often than not, they just imitate; no originality.

You need to have unwavering faith and trust in God. You can do it on your own, but you won’t go far without God. If you’re a Christian, never forget Matthew 19:26: “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you want to achieve the unfathomable, go with God.

Next, you need to do your homework before starting. Your homework involves taking surveys, studying your competition and researching the industry – take note of trends. All these will help bring your business plan together.

Passion cannot be overemphasized. You need to be passionate about your business; at times, that’s all that keeps you going. Believe in yourself and keep your dream alive through optimism, don’t doubt or second guess yourself; always believe in yourself and ability.

You also need to be creative. As I mentioned earlier, don’t just copy what someone else is doing. The first thing I ask an aspiring business owner for after hearing the idea is the wow factor – the quality that sets you apart. The truth is if you aren’t different, there is no reason people would switch or come to you instead.

When you decide to begin, start small, don’t expand too fast, work hard and be prepared to sacrifice sleep, but pace yourself and move steadily. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Use of every chance and opportunity to showcase yourself – be bold, friendly and network – talk about yourself, give out business cards and collect business cards; you never know who you may meet and there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

Not everyone is going to love your idea(s), so be prepared for criticism and use them as stepping stones and challenges to improve your image and/or business. The world is very competitive so keep coming up with new ideas to stay ahead.

Finally, don’t get so consumed with work that you begin to alienate the most important people in your life – family and friends may be highly instrumental to your success.

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