Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part interview with our featured entrepreneur, Mr Promise Oghor. In this part, he tells us everything it takes to start a catering business right here in Nigeria and some pitfalls to avoid. To catch up on the first part of this fascinating interview, click here
What are the habits you have that propel you to success?
I see myself as someone who does not know anything. I love to learn more. Nobody knows it all. You can only try but someone knows better than you do. I like to learn from people. I’m very teachable when it comes to things like that.
I’m very passionate about cooking. Without passion, you can’t succeed at anything. A lot of eateries have closed down because there was no passion. People think of catering as very lucrative so everyone runs into catering – mechanic, battery charger, everybody. In the end they close down. Catering is very lucrative, but you need passion to sustain your drive. It’s not about the money, it’s about the passion. It’s not that Nigerians don’t start businesses. It’s that most of them have no passion and want to make millions the next day. It doesn’t work like that. There’s a process.
What attitude or mentality should anyone who wishes to start a successful catering business have?
- The person must have a can-do spirit
- The person must have passion. Money will come but passion is first. Food markets itself. The primary, most important thing is passion.
- Fear God. You need to trust God that he can make you succeed. I have the God factor in everything I do.
- Don’t be too proud. Humility is very important
- Always be willing to learn new things. I’m always on the internet looking for new recipes that I can tweak to suit Nigeria taste and style of cooking.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. The beginning might be scary but continue to give it your best shot.
Considering the economic climate of the country, is this a good time to start a business in Nigeria?
There is no better time to start a business in Nigeria than now. Nigeria will be better but everyone has to be at their best. Most countries that are doing well are based on skilled labor and SMEs (small and medium enterprises). White collar jobs alone don’t make a country rich. When majority of the populace is gainfully empowered to do their own business, the country prospers.
Nobody wants to start small and be patient. We all want to ”arrive” at the same time. If you traveled oversea you will see a lot of Nigerians doing menial jobs they would never do back at home even if they are paid more than what they earn overseas, because of pride. Nigerians need to be up and doing. Shun pride and get yourself busy. Lagos is taking shape now because you see new business sprouting up at every nooks and crannies and that is the way for our country to go.
- Related: How I started my catering business (part 1) – Oghor Promise
- Related: Interview with the CEO of Daniesk Project & Services Ltd
There are so many businesses to do. People must feed, people must wear clothes, people must live in houses, people must drink water, people must wash their cars, etc. Learn a particular skill and get yourself engaged. The economic situation right now is favorable for people with skills and not white-collar jobs.
There are opportunities lying everywhere in Nigeria. That is why you see foreigners come and invest here because business opportunities are plenty. When you use the power of numbers, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll make. Instead of owning a place which would need a lot of capital to start and making 2k from one person, own a small restaurant and make 200 from 10 people. Your chances increase geometrically.
Finally, please tell us how to start a lucrative catering business in Nigeria and some tips that increase chances of success
- You must have passion. Don’t go into it because you think it’s the easiest way out.
- Get materials. Get on the internet and read. Some people might not teach you because of the attitude of Nigerians. Some people might come to learn from you and after learning they just zoom off when they are supposed to work with you for a while and offer value. You see the same person replicating your recipe and you can’t sue them.
- Buy cooking utensils you can afford and rent those you cannot. Put back your profit from every job you do into your business till you must have gotten all the equipment you need to execute your jobs. Start small, look for family and friends and start with them. Don’t accept a job for 300 people when you haven’t catered for 20 people unless you want to contract it out to another caterer.
- Always try to create more value. Look for things you can add, extras. It creates value for people and you’ll get more businesses from there.
- There is one thing that works for me. Appreciate people. Pay your workers well. If you want the best out of people, treat them well. In Nigeria we use people and we don’t appreciate them. Learn to appreciate people, both your customers and people who work for you. I pay people based on what they do for me. I look forward to the time I start paying per hour. It would make people work hard and earn their pay. Also, keep a cheerful disposition. Smile. Be cheerful.
- Always keep your word and don’t settle for less. If a customer orders 50 plates of food, I don’t make 49 because only 49 people showed up. I make 50 because that is what the customer paid me for. Don’t cut corners just to make more profits. We do a lot of things here because we think customers don’t have their rights. Customers have rights.
- Accept only what you can handle. If I have a job and another job comes, I tell the second person: I have a job. I don’t accept two jobs at the same time and in the end, disappoint the 2 of them. Let your word be your bond. You’ll go much farther. If you can handle only 5, don’t start with 10. Food business is largely marketed by referrals.
- Always be time conscious.
- Allow yourself to grow. While you bring in workers, don’t relax like a boss. If you are not a part of your business, your business will collapse. Till today, I still cook my foods. Even if I have a large number of workers, I will still get very much involved with the cooking process to make sure things are done the right way.
Editor’s Note: This concludes our interview with Mr Promise. I hope you enjoyed it. Click here if you missed the first part of this interview. You are learning from the master! To contact Promise, visit his Facebook page and leave a message or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever you do, prosper!