Our Next Nigerian Entrepreneur, Dilim Okeke, made the jump from being a housewife to becoming a big time entrepreneur and business woman. She’s a mother of 4 so don’t think it’s anywhere near easy. Dilim strongly believes anyone can launch out and start any profitable business they want even with limited financial resources, citing herself as a walking example.
Her new book, Business Big Time, is a blueprint for both how she made it in a tough business environment and how anyone can do same. I wanted to find out how she successfully manages her roles as a wife, mother and entrepreneur. I also asked her how she got to where she is today in the business world. I hope this interview inspires you to launch out and prosper. Enjoy it.
Dilim: My name is Dilim Okeke. I am a married mother of four awesome kids. A graduate of Chemistry from The University of Ibadan. I’m a business woman with her own branded products such as Maxgro and Amazing Herbal Remedies among others, an independent consultant for small businesses and recently, an author – I just published my first book, Business Big Time.
From a housewife to a business woman, how did that happen?
I was your typical housewife who did nothing – I had no means of income whatsoever. I had always had issues with being completely dependent on anyone for stuff I needed – my husband wasn’t complaining but I just couldn’t live a life where I had to ask for money for even the most mundane of things.
No, that’s not me.
So, after putting to bed my first 2 kids, I decided to get a job (they both came in such a fast row you’d guess they are twins!). I knew it would be tough for me after 2 kids without any years of working experience – and really it was. There was no job whatsoever in sight for me so I decided to go the familiar business route.
Tell us about your very first business venture
To be frank, I tried my hands out on several – most failed! I almost can’t tell you which I started first! I had next to zero capital but I was also creative with ideas so I decided to work out my ideas. I decided that being a wife and a mother, I wanted a business that would be profitable but would also give me flexible scheduling to run both my family affairs and business without friction. I decided that I would run a typical offline business but built to sell online – that was how I started selling Amazing Herbal Remedies (this product is not manufactured by me but I own the full exclusive rights in Nigeria.)
What was it like, going into business the first time?
Thrilling. Daunting. Totally unsure because I had chosen to walk in unfamiliar terrains (securing exclusivity and selling online were both new terrains) for me but I was determined to give it my best.
It must have been very challenging starting the first time. Tell us some of the challenges you met.
The biggest challenge then I would say was finance and getting my husband to agree to my slightly off idea of seeking exclusivity for an unknown and unproven product brand. Banks and finance bodies weren’t willing to give loans to newbies in business. It took guts to overcome it. I made the manufacturers a gutsy proposal that didn’t require upfront money but more of tactics – and they agreed to my proposal.
How much have you grown from where you started?
Entrepreneurship is actually a journey that never ends. We grow everyday in proportion to what we learn. Presently, I am looking forward to manufacturing locally.
What is the most outstanding moment in your life as an entrepreneur?
Simple; The first day and first time ever that I saw my bank account balance read 1 million Naira!!!
And the most disappointing time?
The second time I brought in my goods, they all came in damaged. Considering my meager start, it was a huge loss.
Tell us about your new book
I thought you’d never ask. My new book is titled Business Big Time: Secret Strategies To Explosively Grow Your Business Even If You Start Small. I like to see it as a roadmap of success for aspiring entrepreneurs and growing businesses. I discovered that too many successful Nigerians will only tell us their success stories but NEVER reveal how they achieved this success. We know their stories but never the strategies they implemented to get them there.
With Business Big Time, I focus on detailed strategies for massive growth in ANY business. I reveal proven strategies that most of the big names you and I know here in Nigeria and beyond used to start and get to where they are now. Truth is, you can choose to grow your business through a lot of avoidable drudgery or you can choose to grow and multiply your profits through techniques that are proven to work in any business and any economy. Using proven techniques is a lot easier and saves you years of trial and error. It’s safe to say that with Business Big Time, I have just handed you a shortcut to business success -GUARANTEED.
Editor’s: Business Big Time is in fact what she says it is – a detailed strategy for massive in any business. I have read the book twice, first as a review copy and now in hard copy. Believe me when I say, you want to read this book. It has powerful ideas that could transform your business life. You can find out more about Business Big Time and how to get yours through this link.
What was going through your mind when you wrote this book? What burning issues did you hope to address?
Who says we cannot compete with the big players in business and still come out as winners – even with our limited capital? Not me! Like I said before, I want to level the playing field for everyone. Unemployment is on the increase and earning power is steadily decreasing. I see too many people with great potentials for business idling away with the excuse of no job and capital. What I really hope to do with this book is to empower today’s youth with a mindset shift and a detailed how-to do it even with resources immediately accessible to you. Brooding a new generation of bold, confident, gutsy and informed entrepreneurs in all over the corners of the country is my aim – it’s about time we gave the top players in business a good run for their money, right?
Right! But our reading culture is not so good. What can you tell young people who do not read much?
One is only as intelligent as what one knows or learnt. Without information, you can only go so far in life. It’s difficult to expand your knowledge without reading. To avoid going into business with the usual “me too” or “sameness” everywhere that leads to mediocrity, you need a copy of Business Big Time – and it should only be the first of the many more books you read. Develop yourself and make a habit of reading. The world’s most successful entrepreneurs are avid readers – and so should you.
Should we expect more brilliant books like this?
There’s so much more out there to learn, practice and perfect in one’s entrepreneurial journey. The more I learn what works, the more I want to roll it out to the willing public. So that’s an emphatic yes!
Do you think our young people have done enough to live up to their full entrepreneurial potentials?
Truthfully, I’d say no. They haven’t. We as a country have perhaps unknowingly contributed to the mental-laziness and lack of entrepreneurial creativity among our youths. The emphasis on obtaining a higher institution degree and then getting employment in an establishment is not helping matters either. Sometimes, looking beyond the paper qualifications to finding what marketable ideas/skills you have is often the key to great breakthroughs.
The kitchen and the ‘other room’ generated a lot of buzz and controversy lately. A woman should take care of her home but she should also be free to pursue her dreams and maximize her full potentials. How do you handle your roles as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur? And how should women all over view their different roles and make things work?
Believe me when I tell you this is not the least bit easy! Being a wife and mother is a full-time job on its own with no breaks whatsoever! Every woman should learn how to maintain the balance between the home front and her entrepreneurial ambitions. Sometimes this balance is forced to tilt in either direction. What works for Mrs. X might not work for Mrs. Y – it’s up to the woman to create and keep up the necessary balance. Again, having a clear vision of who you are and what you want to achieve helps you keep things in the right perspective.
What three books influenced your life and business the most?
Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The Success Journey by John Maxwell and 50 Nigeria’s Corporate Strategists by Dimgba Igwe and Mike Awoyinfa. You asked for 3 but I will give you a fourth and the most important one – The Bible
What advice do you have for young women in Nigeria?
You’ve got a dream? Reach for it! Challenge and break free from the norm. You will have to multi-task almost all the time but never ever allow societal norms and restrictions stop you from attaining your life goals.
To know more about Dilim and about Business Big Time visit her website or follow her on her Facebook page.