Transitioning from employee to business

The Wednesday Series is committed to sharing knowledge and experience and continued last night with Ernest Umeike sharing how having been an employee for over 12 years, a downsizing in his organisation led him to following his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. With a few failures, many successes and lessons, he discusses what he wished he knew.


He talked about the lure and trap of the glamour of entrepreneurship versus the real work and how with hindsight, he knows he would have moved at a better and faster pace if he had been mentored.


This conversation is an expression of what he wishes new business owners know so that they improve their chances of survival and success.


Catch up with the conversation here:


UnocasaHR:   @nestor1804 Thank you for joining us on the Wednesday series. #UnocasaWednesday


UnocasaHR:  What do you do and what problem does your business solve? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday I own a logistics business which caters to online and brick and mortar stores. We help ensure orders are fulfilled by delivering the purchased items to the end user.


UnocasaHR: What motivated your transition to business? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday My parents were my motivation and when I was sacked by my employer I knew it was time to take a dive in the deep end. Access Bank was downsizing after the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank and I was one of the unlucky ones.


UnocasaHR: Entrepreneurship is acquiring glamour but the rate of success for startups is about 25%, only 10% pass the 10-15 year mark, what should potential entrepreneurs know? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday Glamour is the appropriate term as many do not realise behind it lies tales of blood, toil and sweat. Having been involved in some failed ventures in the past I know how hard it can be to build a business let alone a successful one. Education is key when starting a business. The entrepreneur must understand the business he wants to go into, understand how to go about initiating the venture as well as prepare the necessary habits that will be built on to make it a success.  Finance is key but education is of paramount importance. Enlightenment and a keen sense of analysis are very important for an entrepreneur


UnocasaHR: What plans did you put in place before starting your business and how long did it take you to put them in place? Business plan, Brand Plan, Finance etc. #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday In setting about the logistics business, I used the business model canvass. It helps the entrepreneur have an honest albeit concise look at a venture. The focus is on the value proposition of the business. It also like looks at potential customers, finances and supporting infrastructure. This gave an abstract view but I must admit that having run an online supermarket, I saw the practical operations of logistics and how important it has become in present day Nigeria. With all the problems around social and physical infrastructure, logistics is the bane of businesses. Considering that the whole point of a business is satisfying the customer, it is important for a seller to get goods to the buyer and whoever makes this happen, may make a living by being the conduit pipe.


UnocasaHR: What challenges do you deal with daily in your business? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday Business in Nigeria throws up all kinds of challenges. For me, it could be issues with vehicles to traffic and the poor state of the roads. The others are necessary evils as far as I am concerned. Paying levies to the Local Council, ensuring documentation is up to date etc. My ultimate challenge is retaining customers. Our business segment is quite competitive and customers are spoilt for choice. The customer is all I think about and satisfying my customer is my focus.


UnocasaHR: What is the most difficult thing you have encountered as a business owner? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday Finance. It is the blood that keeps a business ticking. We are able to stay afloat but going to the next level is key if we want to build a strong business. This is the story of many businesses in Nigeria.


UnocasaHR: There have been cases of people going back to paid employment after owning businesses, why do you think that happens? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday Finances are a major reason. A business has to grow and sometimes the entrepreneur may need to go back to paid employment in a bit to take a load off the business and also raise some capital. This is not a bad way to go if you ask me. Sometimes we have a clearer vision when we have plunged in and stepped out. Also it may be because it did not turn out as planned. This in itself is not a negative thing as no experience, negative or positive is wasted. Whatever reason it may be, I believe that one should be brave enough to take decisions that are beneficial at any point in time no matter how difficult they may be.


UnocasaHR: Having been in business for years, what kind of support do you wish you had from the onset? Money, mentoring, favourable policies? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday As much as I would like to choose finances, I honestly cannot. It has to be mentoring. While growing we had our parents, relations, teachers, seniors and peers. They all helped mould our character. The same kind of community life is important in business. A sounding board is so beneficial it is indescribable. With better advise and assistance with the rudiments, an entrepreneur has a greater advantage in taking on the challenges of starting and building a business. Money is also very important as it helps sustain the business and more importantly, helps it grow. Across the world,innovation is always ahead of regulation or policy. In the more developed  markets, regulation and policy, while playing catch, tries to engender innovation by encouraging it and helping to sustain it. Sadly, in Nigeria, it is not the case. A lot of our policies are draconian and really serve to derail innovation. The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council is a step in the right direction but it must be matched with both political and executive will to make any meaningful impact.


UnocasaHR: What must anyone planning to go into business know and prepare for? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday Make this simple, that way it may be easy to replicate or duplicate. Meaning, I it fails but the fundamental principle is sustainable it could be the platform for a new business or if it is successful you can build it up in another form as it is cumbersome.


UnocasaHR: What advise will you give to someone who wants to transition from paid employment to business? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday First and foremost, your business must solve a problem. This is important. Every problem has a solution but not every solution has a problem. The entrepreneur must be very clear about this. Be brave! Be ready to be broke! You must not lose all your friends and alienate your family. They all matter if you wish to succeed. Understand accounting or get an accountant. Pay your taxes and try to educate yourself ceaselessly. Find a mentor and be ready for adventure!


UnocasaHR: What are your thoughts about UnoCasa’s Enterprise Mentorship Programme? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday I cannot say enough about mentoring. If I had focused on the importance of a mentor when I started this journey, I would probably be moving at a better pace or at least less terrified of the challenges and issues I have had to face. That is why Identify with and recommend UnoCasa’s Enterprise Mentorship Programme. The possibilities are immense and the benefits innumerable. Education, enlightenment and an analytical mind help an entrepreneur. The last one he will build himself albeit with some direction but the first two, he can get a mentor. Also, it is imperative that mentors who did not have mentors get an understanding of what their responsibilities are. For each role we play, we must appreciate it or it becomes meaningless. I know how focused the team at UnoCasa is and have no doubt that the Enterprise Mentorship Programme will produce entrepreneur in business, entrepreneurial workers in organization otherwise known as intrapreneurs. The snowball effect will be immensely beneficial nonetheless.


UnocasaHR: Final thoughts? #UnocasaWednesday

Ernest Umeike: #UnocasaWednesday I am grateful for being afforded the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences. I hope they are beneficial to someone but more importantly I wish to stress that this is still part of my learning. Thank you Unocasa.


UnocasaHR: Thank you for sharing with us tonight. #UnocasaWednesday


The Side Hustle: How to find your hustle

On Wednesday 12th September, 2018, we premiered ‘’The Wednesday Series’’  and last night, Sola Solarin, author of the Startup Entrepreneur discussed the ‘’Side Hustle’’. The side hustle is typically a harbinger of confusion because the employer expects every team member put in 100% and not be distracted by personal business. On the other hand, even Warren Buffet advocates multiple income streams and employees want to self-actualise necessitating a side hustle.


Sola discussed how becoming an entrepreneur differed from what he had learnt in the classroom, experiences that led to writing his book. He talked about the ethical way to side-hustle.


Enjoy the conversation here:


UnocasaHR: Good evening @sola_solarin Thank you for joining us on the Wednesday series #UnocasaWednesday


UnocasaHR: @sola_solarin, can you please give us a brief history into your professional experience. #UnocasaWednesday

Sola Solarin: A pharmacist with a career that started in marketing in a multinational pharma company. Has bought and founded about 5 companies in the last 20 years in pharma, financial services and consulting. I have an MBA from the LBS.


UnocasaHR: @sola_solarin , How relevant is today’s topic, considering the current situation of the day to day work-life in Nigeria. #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday it is very relevant. Competition is stiff, a lot more uncertainties in the economy. Jobs are not stable and and everyone can do with a little extra money.


UnocasaHR: Tell us about your book ‘’The Startup Entrepreneur’’#UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday The book is about my experience setting up and running small businesses in Nigeria. It highlights the differences and alignments between precepts and reality. The challenges that are peculiar to emerging markets and real life examples of how to cope with them. A handbook for all startup entrepreneurs.


UnocasaHR: Why did you choose to write the book? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday After my MBA at the LBS and attempting to apply textbook precepts, I noticed there are huge gaps when confronted with reality of starting and running a small business in Nigeria. I felt a compulsion to document my experience.


UnocasaHR: We encourage multiple streams of income often necessitating a side hustle. What are your thoughts? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday Multiple streams of income is a necessity for survival and success. It is true for businesses and individuals and countries. The greatest investor in the world Warren Buffet also recommends it. The world and life itself is full of shocks. Moreso in an emerging market that is beset with so many uncertainties. No job or business offer guarantees. Risks are always lurking at every corner. Another stream of income can help mitigate those risks.

UnocasaHR: What are the most important considerations for starting a side hustle? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday The opportunities in the market, Your skill set, your passion and the resources at your disposal. All these can come together to provide you a profitable niche that you can exploit for a profitable income stream.


UnocasaHR: How does one find work-life balance with a full time job and a side-hustle? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday It is easier these days, information technology has lowered barriers to reaching customers, suppliers and transfering money. A side hustle delivered from the comfort of your bed or your garage or kitchen or study will reduce time spent away from home and family. It could also be delivered in the course of work, but it is important it doesn’t conflict with your employer’s interest.


UnocasaHR: At what point should you consider moving your side hustle to a full hustle? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday When you have done your projections and you are convinced it will deliver enough to cover your financial needs. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need the buy in of your closest family members and confidantes. They may need to suffer with you if the project doesn’t pan out.


UnocasaHR: Your book offers advice on how one can identify investment opportunities even in a distressed economy, what should we look at in Nigeria today? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday The front pages of newspapers and your immediate environment. The long line of trucks on the roads to apapa shows we need urgent logistics solutions. We are still discussing power, housing and access to finance. Mountain of refuse is opportunity for recycling and refuse processing services. Carry a notebook and jot down every service failures you experience in the course of your day. They are pointers to opportunities and unmet needs.


UnocasaHR: What strategic decision has been most impactful to your business? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday Turning a department in the company to a full fledged business. It created a new income stream and proved very profitable. Much more now than the main business.


UnocasaHR: Top 3 advice for intending entrepreneurs? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday

  1. Look for a niche that is severely under-served
  2. Better if you can be first mover
  3. Just do it once you have the conviction it will work.


UnocasaHR:   Where can we find your book to buy? #UnocasaWednesday


Sola Solarin: #UnocasaWednesday Okada books, Amazon and an email to


UnoCasaHR: @sola_solarin Thank you for sharing with us tonight.

Talent, Talent, Talent: The unending question of where talent is


The talent question seems to be an unending one; business is changing, customers are changing, the workforce’s needs are changing, congestion in major cities is forcing us to change how and where we work and technology has forever changed what we know work to be.


So how do we handle the dearth of skilled talent to deliver what we want in our businesses?


Re-consider what talent means to you: In August, we woke up to the news that Google, IBM, Apple and some other large organisations no longer require college degrees. What is the place of that college degree in the scope of work of your potential talent?

We have never really looked at CVs in our organisation. We have a series of tests and questions, and because we custom build people, we just look for the raw material and start to build.

We are not in any way knocking degrees but imagine a world without mass produced cars, without airplanes, without the light bulb, without the art of Vincent Van Gogh, without Microsoft or Apple, and you will find a college degree a lot less important than an inquisitive, hardworking and proactive learner on your team.


 Are you sure you are not being ageist?: In Nigeria, the economic crisis and changing business landscape has led to massive job loss in the telecommunications, banking, manufacturing and oil & Gas sectors amongst others, thereby dumping a lot of older people back into the job market.

Most employers now put an age cap for various positions, however this pool of workers is a great source of talent if you overlook ‘’age’’. The benefits include their experience and exposure and you may just be surprised that you can actually afford to pay them (that is a discussion for another day).

Like searching for any other team member, you should first look out for their attitude, competence and willingness to learn.

We also know people deteriorate when they are idle, so a la The Intern, you may just be saving a life.


Re-train your team: My friend told me a story that tickled me no end, a driver in her office is taking courses to transition to skilled work within the same organisation.

This example may be the odd one but there are people within your organisation that can learn the skills you require. Again, a willingness to learn is really all you need. Have an open and innovation encouraging environment and look at the people in your team with new spectacles, what you have been seeking may have just been within your reach all along.


Be open to work from remote locations: I cannot talk about this enough. As long as the team are disciplined, you have a system that ensures discipline and you have the support infrastructure in place, your team members can be almost anywhere. The most reliable graphics person we have found is in a different city and no one on the team has physically met her. She makes us happy and we hope we make her happy too.


Custom make them: Yes, this is my absolute favourite. I think people are a lot more expansive than we give them credit for and if we are honest, there is little reference for some of the things we may require in the workplace. Go to the drawing board and figure out the best way to custom make your talent. For some, it may be as undergraduates, for others, it may be post graduate; whichever works for the kind of talent you need, talk to us at Future Business Leaders Programme (FBLP) to co-develop and build your talent.

Global Trends That Affect Us – New Challenges & roles of the surviving Manager

global trends that affect us
“Global trends that affect us”, Ndiana Mattew

Global Trends That Affect Us – The state of affairs of sundry African nations sometimes belie the reality that we are continually being shaped and affected by global trends that affect us, positively & negatively. Africa’s economies are no longer immune to the digital disruptions and trends that hit us faster than we can blink – at the speed of the internet, or maybe, a thought. It is imperative for organisational preservation to review, adapt and modify our cultures & management systems, as truly , the only constant thing in organisational development is Change.

We premiered our vintage digital knowledge and value dissemination platform ”The Wednesday Series” on Twitter at 20:00 GMT on Wednesday 12 September, 2018 . Young Pan African strategist extraordinaire, Ndiana Matthew discussed how digital disruptions are redefining new norms, values, management systems, bottomlines and even consumer behavior and engagement. Leaving only one imperative for business : Adapt or die.

Follow us @unocasaHR on twitter to glean the valuable insights shared by @ndiana with transcript below:


UnocasaHR: @ndiana Thank you for sharing with us tonight. #UnocasaWednesday

Ndiana Matthew: Good evening @UnocasaHR Pleased to share thoughts with you and twitterverse’ on #UnocasaWednesday

UnocasaHR: @ndiana, can you please give us a brief introduction into your professional experience. #UnocasaWednesday

Ndiana Matthew: I have 16yrs + multi-disciplinary experiences in E&P, Retail, Telecomms, E-commerce, Media, Marketing/Corporate Communications and Strategy fields with multinational to Startup organizations in Africa and Europe #UnocasaWednesday

I’ve shared the thrill of logging/analyzing well cores from Nigeria’s biggest deep sea oilfield as a management intern to producing apparel in Africa worn by @Beyonce and @Lupita_Nyongo at my time at @KISUAonline #unocasawednesday

UnocasaHR: @Ndiana how important is today’s topic to you?

Ndiana Matthew: I’m passionate about visionary leadership and management systems and people

UnocasaHR: What is the changing of reality of organization life?

Ndiana Matthew: We live in a world of VUCA: Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, & Ambiguity. This has caused so much disruption in the way organizations do business, and blurred the lines between traditionally large companies and startups in terms of strategy, and management. Hierarchical management/leadership systems have given way to flatter, hybrid structures and in some cases no structure at all, just culture. Company culture, a hitherto intangible value, is beginning to weigh more in delivering bottom-lines. We’ve seen success stories from  Zappos who underpin their service philosophy on 10 values, which enable it to scale at the rate it has. Size has been kept to a minimum, with the company know to offer new hires $4000 (upped from $2000) to quit at the end of a 5wk training program. Their values empower their employees to make decisions on their own based on a shared set of values.


UnocasaHR: What are the effects of digitization?

Ndiana Matthew: Unthinkable disruptions have taken place around our world. Global giants have made way for viral startups. Technology companies have displaced commodity companies at the top of the most valuable companies index. This year we saw the most valuable company on the NYSE hit trillion dollar mark. The world’s largest Taxi company owns no vehicles (UBER). Accommodation provider, owns no property (Airbnb). Telco owns no infrastructure (SKYPE). Retailer owns no inventory (Amazon) Media company owns no content (Google/Facebook).Movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix)

And the fastest growing banks thriving on the convenience of mobile technology. The rules of the game have changed and both clients and employees expect more. These are all global trends that affect us.


UnocasaHR: Due to the changing reality of organization life and digitization what are the organizations under transition? What kinds of jobs are being threatened by the global trends that affect us?


Ndiana Matthew: The following organizations are under transition: Postal service, Cinema, Printers, Banks, Telephone companies, Shopping centres, Newspapers/magazines ,Taxis, Drilling companies.

The following jobs are under threat in the United States:

Taxi drivers (180,000 plus 600,000 with Uber); Truck drivers (3,500); Store workers (5,000,000 to be replaced by sensors on all products); Investment advisors (Blackrock is replacing stock pickers with robots); Journalists (Being replaced with algorithms that create articles every 30 seconds); Lawyers (Being replaced by algorithms that research and file more accurately than humans)


UnocasaHR: what are the challenges and trends impacting the role of a manager?

Ndiana Matthew: Just to list a couple of these global trends that affect us;

  • Technology has evolved beyond our wildest imagination
  • Jobs are being created and lost quickly
  • New industries are springing up and others are disappearing.
  • Printing, publishing, travel agencies, newspapers, taxi services, shopping malls, hotels are some of a growing list of casualties already or soon to be!
  • New industries are springing up, mostly requiring knowledge workers
  • Economic and political policies are being influenced by circumstances outside of their country.
  • Competitive forces have changed. Outsourcing is now global.
  • Stakeholders needs have changed. Expectations are increasing all the time.
  • Transparency has become increasingly important
  • New technologies businesses are springing up that are providing us with services that we could never imagine only a couple of years ago
  • Old forms of organization design are becoming obsolete
  • People are connecting internationally and with high frequency
  • Social media is fast becoming the dominant method of marketing
  • Meeting the needs and expectations of each new generation of employees and a multi-cultural workforce are posing real challenges for organizations
  • Baby boomers will be retiring in large numbers over the next 10 years
  • The need to create a bigger pool of future leaders has become urgent
  • Internationally savvy leaders are in high demand
  • Education methodologies and opportunities are changing quickly
  • Intimacy of communications is disappearing and reverting to electronic communications
  • Cyber-crime has become a BIG business
  • Crime syndicates are working internationally
  • Benchmarking needs to be global to be effective.
  • Speed continues to be a strategic competitive weapon.
  • Meeting the needs of clients will give way to the need to exceed their expectations.

Climate change and environmental issues have become more important than ever for individuals, organizations and the public sector.

Millennial employees, now numbering about 25% of the workforce will become the majority of workers by 2025. They will bring different needs and expectations to organizations that will require significant managerial change and challenges.


UnocasaHR: What do employees want and how do we engage their expectations?


Ndiana Matthew: Managers would need to adapt to the following compulsory needs of team members: To be Listened to and participate in the management process, the right to know and be informed about company policies & decisions made above their head, and finally, to get feedback from their line manager, ”how are we doing?”. How these 3 components are managed by any organization’s leadership, will determine the happiness and motivation of any organization’s teams and impinge directly on productivity.


UnocasaHR: What is the growing percentage of millennials in the labour market, how do we measure their expectations?


Ndiana Matthew: Talking about the global trends that affect us, Millennial employees, now numbering about 25% of the workforce will become the majority of workers by 2025. They will bring different needs and expectations to organizations that will require significant managerial change and challenges.  Organizations will need to cater to the following needs of millennials or risk talent flight; Meaning/Purpose , Flexibility , Continuous learning , Career roadmap , Variety, Appreciation , Autonomy .


UnocasaHR: Keeping your employees Happy all the way can be difficult. What are the challenges of motivating your employees?


Ndiana Matthew: The challenge of moving employees from primal physiological and security needs to experiencing purpose, meaning and realizing all inner potentials to the need for self -actualization as postulated by Maslow will take organisational leadership translating its corporate vision and mission into a believable culture / cause which explains its “WHY?” Not just “WHAT?” The great ask is, “what  initiative would it take to get our teams to the  next level and thereby improve their motivation and performance?”


UnocasaHR: What do clients seek from their companies?


Ndiana Matthew: The summation of all clients’ needs are; 1. Reliability 2. Responsiveness 3. Empathy 4. Knowledgeable People 5. Tangibility


UnocasaHR:  What are the strategic performance drivers of an effective organization?


Ndiana Matthew: These include but aren’t limited to:

  1. Visionary/Vulnerable Leadership
  2. Evaluation, Planning & Goal Setting
  3. Performance Management
  4. Measurement
  5. Streamlined Systems
  6. Values Based Communications
  7. Talent management
  8. Teamwork
  9. Innovation
  10. Engagement

We can talk about their strategic applications at a subsequent forum.


UnocasaHR: There is an emerging difference between the role of a leader and that of a manager, can please enlighten us on the difference?


Ndiana Matthew: There are leaders, and those who lead. A manager maintains status quo and pushes policy to the detriment of innovation and creativity. A leader, engages his team. influence and feedback are his winning tools. A manager focuses on processes and outcomes, a leader facilitates change and strategically influences his team to exceed targets. A manager is an “expert”, a leader is a lifelong learner, flexible in strategy and open to challenges, mistakes and celebrating innovation in others.


UnocasaHR: @ndiana Thank you for sharing with us tonight. #UnocasaWednesday

Global trends that affect us