At 3 pm, on the 24th of August 2016, I took to Facebook live and asked my friends to give me tips on how to make K20, 000 in 30 days. This is a brief account of what transpired.
With the live platform having recently been introduced to ordinary Facebook accounts, I was contemplating the best way to use it when this particular idea came to mind. As regards the amount, I conjured the target based on my assumption that the figure- though realistic, was subconsciously a farfetched idea, to both me and most of my peers. Also, it was a nice round figure that rolled off the tongue.
Considering that I was theoretically starting from nothing, the only thing driving this ‘ambitious’ plan was the knowledge that it had been done before. My second assumption was that; I would garner a lot of insights as well as engagement from asking this question as it had a lot to do with livelihood. As expected, the people who responded to this query were generous with their information, and they opened my mind to the opportunities that Lusaka and indeed Zambia had to offer. I was excited, the conversation was meaningful, people were so helpful and I actually foresaw this mission coming to fruition. Further, if I made my target, I would sort out a number of pertinent issues such as paying for my accommodation and food, basic stuff. Notably, having left formal employment more than a year ago, I was in need of extra income, and so, attending to Maslow’s foundation needs was a priority. Besides, a man can have hope, right?
On the other hand, facing this challenge would also rest the general unease I usually experience when I contemplate new ideas but do not attend to them. This experiment was more than servitude toward warmth, as Henry David Thoreau puts it. I was looking to soothe my mental health by shocking the conventions of my existence. I was going to attempt to overcome my ego in order to feed the body that houses it, as well as massage the mind responsible for it. Also, I thought it would be exciting for the Zambian blogosphere, as I intend to carry out more social experiments.
Additionally, another hypothesis I was testing was as regards the effectiveness of social media interaction in Zambia. Asking people how to fish when thought of in a negative sense seemed like a ridiculous feat. Why should someone tell me how to make money considering how difficult times are already? We are capitalists, right? Seemingly, this request served my interests only. However, many people that did not contribute anything to the discussion at the time would later state how they were secretly following my conversation so that they could also learn ways of doing the same. Therefore, this interaction was definitely a win-win situation for both me and everyone who participated.
Markedly, this period has taught me invaluable lessons on entrepreneurship, as well as the human condition. As a result of this talk, ideas that were floating around in my head have materialised, and though mostly at the infant stages, I keep developing them further in addition to generating more projects. Although I have not explored the full extent of my capabilities; I have gained meaningful insights about the Zambian business terrain.
From thinking outside the box to deflecting pleas to be ashamed, many lessons were laden in these projects initiated both solely and with the help of friends;
My partner- Bornwell Siakanomba and I resuscitated this project after a five year long hiatus. Due to numerous developments in our lives, we stepped back from the business for a bit. Having often discussed revamping this idea that holds a special place within both our hearts, the timing was right for us to relaunch.
Genesis; during a rare power blackout whilst still at Unza, we pondered on how best to represent the idea of being proud alumnus of the University of Zambia. We decided, serendipitously, that our mission was best represented by a barcode. We believe this art work represents the overall experience of being a student at the institution as well as the meaningful values one learns from the place. The first product we started with was a T-shirt.
What we did different this time around;
- We designed a package we believed would be a worthy container for this product.
- Instead of surprising people with a re-launch, we asked our network whether they were interested in seeing this product back on the market, they were.
- We communicate the mission of the product through the overall experience of the client, that is; the product itself, the customer service, the packaging, the after sale services and more. We have found that treating one client well leads to an average of at least two referrals, which when you multiply by ten clients gives you a sizeable number, and so on and so forth. We are not trying to impress everyone. Additionally, this reduces the marketing budget significantly. This direction has been adapted from innovative luminaries such as Elon Musk whose organisations designate the marketing budget toward product development instead.
- We have reduced the sales funnel to a clear cut system that serves the client as well as ourselves. Additionally, we have created systems around production, service delivery and such.
- Delivery to certain countries abroad has proven to be expensive.
- There are few suppliers of high quality T shirts in the country.
- We have received unsolicited praise from our clients. They are happy with their product and overall experience. Resultantly, they have shared their joy with their networks an act which has garnered more orders for our product. There is no substitute for the experience of seeing a happy client.
- For our first month back in business, we have done really well. People are still making orders daily and we are constantly improving the overall experience. We believe that what we make is more than merchandise; it is a badge of honour.
Side note: With the unexpected development of the merchandise venture, we have recapitalised every earning and intend to do so until such a time that the business matures enough. Therefore, despite earning something, we have looked to develop the brand instead: Piggybank=0, Made in Unza Merchandise=1.
As I write this, I own a car. His name is Allexander, and I have been with him for three years. The first thing I thought of when I saw my finances dwindle was to find him a new owner. Gas is a pain, and there are issues of service, and I wouldn’t want to see my ol’ boy end up at the pound. However, I thought of an alternative; what if I turned him into a cab, of sorts? Immediately, I started toying with the idea of finding someone to work for me and I would pocket the weekly earnings like a boss. However, I was warned about such arrangements, as good help it is said, is hard to find in Zambia. Without using that as the basis for my next decision, I thought, what about me? Why don’t I do it? After running Made in Unza errands, I could take to the streets and make this happen. So I did.
What I do differently
- I only work on Fridays and Saturdays, between 7 pm and 5 am.
- I have a Facebook page where you can see my reviews and testimonials. That shows you that my service is safe, reliable and fun.
- I only attend to people who call me and those that I can verify. I have very few random experiences. This ensures my safety.
- My rides have refreshments, a Vodafone MIFI device, and I wear a suit when I drive you. It’s not an ordinary ride.
- You get AUX cable privileges.
- My rates are right on the page and so negotiations are not hazardous. Additionally, you can pay me through e-wallet, MTN money and other electronic means.
- Nil, as at now.
- Many satisfied clients. It is clear that people want to feel safe when they travel in the night. Additionally, they would like consistency in the person that transports them. This is primal in that, familiarity reassures us.
- I have worked consistently since I began this project. This has been characterised by me transporting people from their homes to the club, between clubs and back home again, safely.
- With word of this service I offer still being spread, I have earned enough to refuel Allexander, take him for a wash and restock my snacks. Piggy bank=1, Allexander=1.
Side note: The Zambian Night Rider has a lot of exciting projects set for the next quarter. More than anything, I have learnt that what matters most is being myself as I drive people around, human beings appreciate individuality.
After 3 weeks of running the above exciting projects, I realised that I was making money but not reaching my target as fast as I believed I would. However, without time to waste, I started thinking of additional ways to see to it that my target is reached. I was really bent on making K20, 000. I really wanted to show people the possibilities that lay before the audacious person. I wanted to show people that dreams with effort do come true, somehow.
Some of the projects discussed in the live conversation involved the sale of food. Unfortunately, I did not find the time to implement this. Clearly, one month is not enough to implement more than three projects, for me. So, realizing I couldn’t make my target- I started considering crowd funding. I set up an account immediately. This was my first time trying it out and the initial setup is so easy, I understood why there were so many projects requesting sponsorship. I did not expect anyone to respond to this request as these were the last kicks of a dying horse; however, I believed trying wouldn’t hurt. After all, people have crowd funded birthday parties before. In addition, because the platform I used could only be accessed by people in the Western world, I thought I shielded myself from any chatter by my countrymen.
What I did differently
- I directly asked people to pay for my rent and other expenses. I initially asked for 2600 pounds, and then I reduced it to 2000 pounds. Notably, most successful crowd funding ventures have a noble cause attached to the request despite their true motives.
- I do not know many people who live in the Western world. My only donor it turns out is my closest relative; I came to discover after shock that people would actually help me.
- I received a donation of 30 pounds.
- I was attacked The absurd nature of my request saw some people break into diatribes about my mettle, my entrepreneurial experience, my life choices, and my romantic relationship. As this transpired, I was sure to avoid the chaff and get the grains of wisdom laden within this. What had begun as a final act to this challenge, proved to have the necessary dramatic flair needed for the ending of any movie.
What I learnt from my attackers;
- Crowd fund for a good cause and offer enough detail. Asking for rent goes against the basic nature of man, we are built to work and earn from hard work and not charity, unless extremely necessary. The act of doing this was too cavalier and reckless on my part.
- Consult business professionals with vast experience in such ventures. One such person I would recommend is Jay Chikobe. I interviewed him on my Podcast sometime last year. He is a fantastic business mind you can get hold of here.
- Rather aggressively, one of my attackers advised me to read relevant data on crowd funding. He suggested a particular article from Manic Zambia– a business website that focuses on Zambian business. In addition to this suggestion, I would advise that anyone interested in other practical sources visit the bongohive offices right here in Lusaka, as I intend to do soon.
- I learnt that one must not respond to every comment online. The experience is optimized to offend. With issues of reputation and ego on the line, it is very easy to forget the real mission, which is making dope things for the culture.
- I learnt that compassion was more important than protecting my identity. Even as I write this, I am aware that this can be perceived as a Machiavellian tactic; placing myself in the reasonable man’s chair and making my attackers seem unreasonable. If we want to help each other, we must find ways to do it in other ways than disparage others. We must remember that we are all one in the end.
- I learnt that it’s important to recognize that certain situations are irredeemable, and that we must always move forward.
- I took down the request for the funds.
- Piggy bank=0
Piggy bank=0, Lessons= Many.
It seems that all I got from my efforts were two people who really dislike me. However, that would be a lie. I have become part of potentially great projects that will change the Zambian entrepreneurial Zeitgeist. Partly because of these audacious efforts, I am currently in talks with some fantastic people about doing something fantastic. They noticed the type of person I am and saw that I had something meaningful to offer, so let’s hold on to that. I have developed stronger relationships with people and realised the importance of opposition. I have impetus to earn more through more learning, practice and of course more failure. Does this make me a loser? I don’t know. But I am happy this way. I am overjoyed when I can do whatever comes to mind, when my spirit retains its childlike nature- I feel closer to God. I may have not made K20, 000 this month, but I will someday. It might be this October, next year or whenever, but I will. In fact I will earn more, because I learn more. But most importantly, I will keep making things, I will keep being myself and I will not stop. Creativity is after all, the highest manifestation of compassion, love.
Do you have any tips on how I can make K20, 000 in 30 days?
Please share this post with as many people as possible, hopefully we can interact further and share constructive ideas.
Want to work with me? This is my number 097-9417-116, Let’s talk.