We had Abiodun Folawiyo, an entrepreneur and shoemaker for more than 16 years in one of our business episodes. He is the founder of Shoespeed and spoke on how to commercialize your skill.
About Abiodun Folawiyo
I’ve been making shoes for a living for over 16 years now. Aside from that, we have an academy we started 9 years ago; we have trained over 600 people in the art and business of shoemaking. I also train and coach people on their businesses. Being part of other people’s business ideas, considering my experience – I have sold eggs, recharge cards, cars, virtually everything that is legal. I love encouraging them to commercialize their skill.
Shoespeed started as passion, pure passion for quality footwear. It was also because I love expressing my feelings, gifts and ideas. I found shoemaking as a skill to help me do these and be interpreted into products and services rendered to a customer.
My love for shoes was discovered at about age 7, from a punishment meted out to me by my mother. I was a bit restless growing up. On a particular Sunday afternoon, she told me to gather all the footwear in the house (about 20 pairs) and get them cleaned and shined. The worst of the shoes belonged to my elder brother who was basically a ruffian. They were in very bad shape. When I was done with his school shoes, they looked like they had just been purchased. All of sudden, I started loving the smell of shoe polish and to this day, I get excited when I perceive the smell of the materials I use for production, especially the smell of genuine leather.
I also train and speak. Empowering youths make me happy so I am a youth empowerment consultant. I love creating concepts and projects to empower the youth. I’m an award-winning entrepreneur and have got grants from Diamond Bank and the Federal Government. My appearance on CNN is in connection with the Diamond Bank programme.
How one knows one has a skill to commercialize
One of the commonest statements people make when they are angered is that they hate being taken for granted. But unfortunately people don’t know they take themselves for granted more than others do them. If people notice an idea, gift or opportunity around a person which the person is not taking advantage of, they will come and take advantage of the person and the idea.
For instance, as an entrepreneur, if one decides not to commercialize one’s skill, then that’s great for my profit. I would always take the person for granted. You need to understand what you have and be proud of the skills you have and commercialize them.
I’ve met men who are good with female hair, but view that skill as not befitting of his stature and masculine stature and so do not commercialize this talent. They can take care of their wife’s or sister’s hair in hiding and miss out on the potential clients outside. Most of the time, these services one can provide with one’s talent are things that can be done in one’s spare time even with a 9 to 5 job. So,
Discover your skill
The first thing for a person (when you want to commercialize your skill) is to understand what he can do effortlessly. If you’ve been doing it for a long time, the danger is to take it for granted and not pay attention to it. For example, if you help out effortlessly in planning parties, then that is simply event planning.
Create a pledge
Secondly, when you want to commercialize your skill create a pledge for yourself around the identified skill. My pledge is
I am a shoemaker
I’m proud to be one
To daily improve on my skills
To affect the lives of others and mine
So help me God
So consciously and unconsciously, it rings in my head and when the going gets tough, I remind myself of these and the energy flows from inside. Because of this, I effortlessly introduce myself when I meet people. It’s also not advisable to “package” your introductions. Be simple and communicate what your skill or business is all about. A good tailor friend of mine lost out on free fabrics for his business because he told the uncle when asked what he does, that he was a wardrobe consultant. The uncle mistook those words to mean that his nephew constructed actual wardrobes. I have people who tell me to say I’m a cobbler, not a shoemaker. Well, the word “cobbler” neither applies to what I do nor conveys to people the extent of what I do.
Be deliberate with your activities
Third thing is about activities – where do we find you, where do you spend time, what are the things you do daily, etc. Your daily routine should reflect the skill you have. What I started doing years ago is to ensure that I assess and comment on what the people I meet are wearing and appearing as. And from my assessment, I can advise on polish types for the person’s shoes, for example.
The projects you are involved with should reflect what you do. Instead of spending time on the phone chatting away, invest it on being on websites of successful global shoe brands and the trends in the industry. I am either checking sites, talking to vendors in Italy or chatting with clients when I am on my phone. In fact, when I attend parties or a social event, it would be tied to my business. All your activities should be targeted at moving your skills deliberately from mere skill toward what people would want to pay for.
Question from a viewer
I have a flair for fashion but not the capital. I am currently tied up in an office.
Answer by Abiodun Folawiyo
Capital is never the problem. Understanding how to make money from an idea is the most important. There are a lot of people out there with loose cash. They are careful about whom to give money to. If an investor knows that you will make a lot of money from your idea or business or skill, they will run after you. Knowing how to make money from that idea, therefore, is the most important.
Think about your assets
The fourth thing is assets. This is about what assets one possesses. I have seen people complain about capital but use high end expensive phones. Understand your priorities. If you are going into business that needs distribution, plan properly for the type of vehicle to maximise sales.
If as a shoemaker I have to travel to one of many places, I’ll definitely choose Italy because of the learning opportunities available there, on shoemaking. What you spend money on will determine if people will pay you for your business.
Choose the people around you
The fifth is people. Who is your mentor? If you want to get into food processing, for example, commercializing it calls for getting a mentor that makes money from the business already. Be careful this mentor will not be the envious type, who cannot stand competition.
Choosing your friends is also important. Family cannot be chosen but you can limit their influence. Meeting other entrepreneurs lightens one’s spirits when the going gets hard. Meeting certain other people helps you determine your actual target market. It is possible to not make sales just because you are meeting and talking to the wrong audience.
Put a price to your service
Once the target market has been identified and the mentor has made inputs, next thing is to make out an invoice each time you render a service. A technique is to quote the price of the service but include that it has a 100% discount. This will give the client an idea of the price of the service and will be the value he quotes to someone else that asks about the service.
This would require market surveys to determine the right value of the service. Place this value on the service or product and stand by it. Be assertive about what the service costs. This, in fact, determines who the real customers are. Those who walk away will come back when they figure out the price is fair.
It is important to consider profit margins in the price of services or products. Consider the activities of production and delivery and factor the cost of these into the price.
After putting prices to my products, I decided to do what it takes to properly commercialize my skill.
What I did to commercialize my skill
Register the business
ReDahlia can easily do this for N20,000. This is important because there are some business opportunities you will miss because of a lack of business registration. Some organizations will never make out payments in the name of the business owner. They prefer business names.
Learn to put structure into the business
Read about Business Model Canvas. This is also an aspect that ReDahlia helps businesses with. Do not assume you can do things on your own. Always involve the experts.
Market your product
This is different from selling. Marketing is about creating awareness – this Facebook Live has done that for me personally and my business, (Shoespeed. Shoespeed has discounts this easter, so long as you mention being part of ReDahlia.)
Let money exchange hands
Try to seal deals and get commitments. Let money exchange hands.
Learn to save
Learning to save is key. Don’t change cars, for example, just because some amount of money is now in your bank account. Check the consequences of any improvement in your standard of living.
Learn to project
Finally, when the ovation is loudest, go and think about something else to achieve. Always look ahead. Make the best of opportunities that arise. Give the best of customer service and get feedback. Don’t argue when receiving feedback.
This text is derived from the live video of 12-03-2018 broadcast from Tango at ReDahlia Workspaces, 43B Emina Crescent, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja. We are happy to give you a FREE tour of the facility anytime. Please call or walk in.
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