Welcome to Life, Me & Finding the Balance Blog.
I have decided to share some parts of my life, business and professional stories once a month on my personal site. So huge welcome. You’re in for a jolly ride.
The stories are meant to give you a sneek peak into my life. I also hope that people pick some lessons and ideas as they read, and that it inspires someone.
I am starting with a look at 2018 – sharing basicly about my business and how I decided nothing was more important than me, me and me.
Starting 2018 uncertain
I started 2018, basically starting life all over – not knowing what life had waiting for me. They say Life takes you to unexpected places… in my case, that’s very true. Lots of stories for another day.
I had just moved back to London/UK in December 2017 to live with my husband – I call him Husband man (story for another day). I left behind Safe Schools & HSEWise. I left behind, Mary & Uju to continue to manage the small business. I was back to London to start life again.
From past experience, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I didn’t want to be self employed knowing fully well that I couldn’t handle that and handle the businesses in Nigeria. I didn’t want that stress so I went job searching.
Guess what, God made it super easy. I got a fantastic well paying job in a top company – my first interview. I had applied for possibly 100 jobs and was sure I wasn’t getting called once employers saw my last 4 years were spent in Nigeria (forgive my analysis but I was advised to start all over). Hell no! I said. I know my worth so I kept applying for what I wanted. That same Nigerian experience is what my current employer wanted to know more about at my interview. They were thrilled at my achievements. I was a perfect fit for them.
I knew never to give up, so applications went out everyday. It certainly wasn’t easy but one thing I know for sure, is if you keep at it, you will reap the rewards.
Perks & Perils of being a Business Owner
Back to Safe Schools, we started in May 2016. In June 2017, I recruited my first safety workers – Mary and Uju. Yemi joined in April 2018. Uju left just as Yemi joined. Prior to Uju leaving, she and Mary had “forced” us to register with Lagos State Safety Commission to carry out Safety Audits in schools.
Anything government, I love to run the other direction because I know story go enter. I rejected their proposal but after much insistence from them, I decided we could join them. I was right to worry. Joining them was money down the drain. Money, time and energy down the drain. Lots of it.
Buchi joined in July to help bring order to the office, manage time and resources and try to grow the business.
Yemi left shortly after blaming the travel distance – Alagbado to Yaba. I didn’t believe her but her choice.
We recruited and Favour joined us. Favour is skilled at delivering First Aid especially to children so we were pleased to have her since we were trying to set up safety clubs for kids.
Shortly after Favour joined, Lagos State Safety Commission decided to stop audits just like that. Joining took over N120,000 from us. We had also done so much and had hundreds of thousands of naira we needed to be paid for audits done for a period of about 2 months but we got nothing yet I had staff to pay . Other auditors got nothing. No compensation. Nothing. There was this pointless back and forth between the administrator and the commission. It was pointless. I reminded my staff why I kept insisting we shouldn’t join them. They saw reason but it was too late.
After months away from Nigeria, I realised my team were not as effective as I had hoped they would be – they did fine but I wasn’t satisfied despite good feedback from our customers. I got a HR Consultant (I call her Mrs Seth) while Buchi was still with us. She was working with my team regularly and helping them grow and work better. One day, we decided Buchi had to go. I will keep the reasons to myself but we decided to keep her on as a freelance marketer if she chose to.
Shortly after, I went away one weekend. While in my hotel room, I realised I was unncessarily stressed with the business in Nigeria. Working full time and running Safe Schools from the abroad, and trying to keep my blog HSEWise alive, proved too much. Truth is Nigeria is not ideal for honest businesses. A few break through. I say honest businesses because we don’t take or give bribes or tips – whatever you choose to call it. We don’t make promises or search for weird connections. We aim to merit whatever we get. That is no way to do business in Nigeria. Sad but my truth.
Last blog post on HSEWise was in August 2018. I just stopped writing or accepting guest posts. I needed space and time to think, evaluate what I was doing and change focus. I knew I needed to change the focus of the blog.
Social media for Safe Schools and HSEWise suffered too in the last quarter of the year. I decided not to give it much time. I am hard to please – the few people I had contracted to manage social media did a less than satisfactory job so most times I ended up with the task. I needed to rest. I was constantly tired and feeling ill, so I decided my life and health mattered more. Me First.
An easy decision
November 17th, 2018, I woke up and told the HR Consultant that I was closing Safe Schools office and taking it fully online, as it was giving me more stress than I needed and costing me hugely. I was going to just focus on the online Safety Portal so I could still help schools, but in a different way and limited naija factor. To be honest, running a business in Nigeria is too challenging.
There is never light (power) so you have to rely on diesel/generator or wait patiently for NEPA to be kind once the small budget for diesel suns out. Data connection is always bad – it was practically impossible to have a productive virtual meeting with my staff, so we often went months without discussing or strategising. This meant I was clueless as to what was going on half the time and they were free to run the business as they saw fit. Mbah! Not good. Not good. I had a system and structure in place but even the best systems need a monitoring eye from time to time. These issues made it easy to decide it wasn’t worth keeping the office open.
HR refused. She had only just started consulting for us. She knew there was potential in my team and company, plus we could find a way to work smarter and save our resources. After much back and forth, I agreed to keep the office open. As long as I could get an effective person to manage the office to offset the collaboration challenges we were facing. So we recruited an Operations Coordinator, Ojoma, to take over Buchi’s role in addition to coordinating trainings and our events, and take care of existing customers and leads. So 3 jobs in 1. Doable as we are a small but growing company. So let’s see how she performs.
We are revising Mary and Favour’s job description to enable them work better and ensure Safe Schools, our customers and our employees gets more value and grow together. I honestly need my team to grow. Why work for me and remain at same level?
Mary is my longest serving staff – 18 months and counting. I’m not easy to work with but if you know me, work will be sweet for both of us. When I sit back and remember all the people who have worked with me, I smile and remember Bolaji who used to be our driver. Bolaji knew me very well. He knew how to put a smile on my hard face even when I’m at my angriest. He will boast “I know my boss.” 😅😅 He is a crazy dude.
Despite all, I’m grateful. Check out my top 3 achievements
The 2nd edition of SAFEtagious my baby took place in June. SAFEtagious is an event I host yearly to bring families and schools together to learn about, bond and discuss all things child safety.
It was a great success with over 250 people in attendance. My family, Mary, Yemi and Buchi were a huge part of the success story. I was thousands of miles away so they made things happen. Buchi was a volunteer for the event. I Ioved her and saw the hustler in her, and asked her to join Safe Schools.
2. The Making of a Total School
The book I call the only book on school Safety you will ever need. I call it so because it is what Nigerian schools needs now. It is what developing countries need. They don’t need jargon or pointless processes not designed for our kind of “country”. It doesn’t go into technicalities or go over the top as some Safety things can be. It is easy to read and helps implementation.
It is suitable for any school or business just starting out. It is a good reminder for those with a good safety system. Either way, you gain something.
Sales started off well but delivery has been an issue. I now offer free delivery in Nigeria only, ever since NIPOST came back to life and seems reasonably priced and effective. We tested them and we were wowed!
You can get the book here
3. SAFEtober – International School Safety Month
For over a year, I played with the idea of having a global campaign on school safety. I did my research, nobody else was doing it. How come? With all the disasters schools face, no one thought to start this? I planned and executed. We highlighted 10 ways schools could get involved. Many tapped into it and planned activities around it! It was an awesome months! It was my first attempt so I kept it small. It took place mostly in Nigeria, and a couple of schools in Kenya and Sri Lanka. Next year, we hope to have it bigger and in more countries.
Yet, all is Vanity
So now I look at my life. I look at life. All is vanity.
I have spent millions (Naira of course). I have lost millions. I haven’t made millions.
I have paid heavily for crappy services. I have paid heavily and lightly for outstanding service and products.
I have been scammed; even by oyinbo. Scam is not unique to any race or gender.
I have made a few good friends and a few enemies along the way. Once you do not fit into their ideology or ways, you are in the wrong.
I have helped and supported people more than I myself have been supported. That’s life. I know what it means to need support and get none.
I have had an educator (Tricia Lucky Brotugbare) hold onto money realized from my book sales, N40,000 to be precise by the time you deduct her commission. I have decided to mention her name because of the way she has been avoiding my staff. She either has the money or my books which she refused to return. A few payments were made directly to me and the rest possibly to her. She has avoided my staff. This is amount I can part with, without thinking about it (not being boastful but what can N40,000 buy these days?). It is my gift to her. Enjoy.
So what motivates & excites me?
In all, I am still standing nicely tall. The things that I once thought mattered alot, are nothing – they no longer matter. Awards, recognition and having too much money no longer matter. Having enough to live life to the fullest is what I need and strive for. Having my families alive and well to enjoy life with, is my greatest desire.
Making impact in the wider community is what excites me.
Leaving a legacy for my unborns is what motivates me.
Material things of this world are really not that important. Hard as I try, I get cheated, less than satisfactory service or short lived excitement. Yes even when you get what you want, you’re like “okay, I’ve got you but where is the excitement or I need something else 😂? It’s back to square one.
I don’t want to die empty like most people declare. Let people wonder if they got all of me. Let them cry at not draining me. Let them wonder what the world is missing with not having me around. Let them miss me so bad. What’s with dying empty?🙄
A Fresh Start
So here I am. 31st December, 2018.
I have evaluated my life and business. A lot didn’t work and a lot did work. Not a big deal. I have decided to focus on what works and tweak what didn’t one more time. Is that wise? Time will tell.
I have a new goal. A new plan for my life and business.
I have the revamped my school safety portal so that I can work with schools anywhere in the world – I will share the revamp tale soon. The School Safety Portal is the one-stop online resource centre for all things school safety. You pay for what you want or pay for all access pass to everything and more.
I have Safe Schools Nigeria with the team ready for the next challenge and a better year.
Safe Schools Global is next in line. I will share more in the near future. For now, it’s under wraps.
On top all of these, I desire a break from paid employment in the UK and “hustle” as a freelance Safety Consultant so that I can have the freedom to focus on Safe Schools Global and my vision for it. Working full time in another company limits my efforts to make Safe Schools great. So wish me well people. The journey of a million miles starts with a step.
HSEWise? All blog posts have been archived for now. They are still available if you visit the site. Many have testified to it helping their careers and stuff so I know it means a lot to some. When I go freelance, I won’t work with just Schools and I sure won’t register another business name when HSEWise is a million dollar spectacular name. You get the gist?
Best part is, I now have a system to help me stress less and be more productive. I can’t wait to share it all in my “Life, Me & Finding the Balance” productivity blog posts. Finding and using those tools helped me achieve that I had been trying to achieve for over a year in just a matter of days!
Let me leave you with this.
Your thoughts, opinions and attitudes are valid. They are influenced by our background and experiences. They are your truths. No one truth is correct or wrong. What really is right? What is wrong? I’m learning to respect people’s opinions and understand their attitudes. To each his own; as long as it doesn’t bring harm or disrepute, I’m learning to be good with it.
This post is my truth. Whether you agree with my thought process or not, is really not a big deal.
Love my website? Get one just as pretty.
Peace out & much love,