In defining the elements of entrepreneurship, Ezeigbo goes on tell his entrepreneurial odyssey: How he transformed from a business owner to an entrepreneur.
Let me start by saying how honoured I am to be asked to review this inspirational book which I prophesy will become the bible of entrepreneurship to be studied by potential entrepreneurs and students of business administration — if properly promoted.
For those who don’t know Nnamdi Ezeigbo, the author of Entrepreneurship the SLOT Way, he is the founder and CEO of SLOT, Nigeria’s leading mobile phones and electronic retail chain, a trusted brand with over 60 outlets across the nation and aiming to extend its frontiers outside Nigeria.
His is a classic, grass-to-grace story: that of a jobless master’s degree holder who, looking for a job and not finding one, humbled himself to become a computer repairer. After his apprenticeship, he shared a shop with a bookseller at Computer Village, Ikeja, where he started SLOT which today is a Nigerian big brand trusted for selling phones of original quality competitively priced.
The telecoms revolution in Nigeria was the turning point in Ezeigbo’s business life. He was forced to re-strategize and switch from computer sales into mobile phones, the new technology that was catching on like wildfire. A trip to South Africa opened his eyes to how big the GSM business is and the potentials for more growth in Africa’s most populous country. He came back fully prepared to dominate the retail sales of mobile phones and before you knew it, SLOT had become the dominant player and a household name in Nigeria.
Twenty years after, the SLOT founder has put his thoughts, business ideas and philosophy in a book, joining the ranks of global CEOs and business icons like Jack Wells, Warren Buffet, Lee Iacocca and recently Jim Ovia of Nigeria documenting their experiences so that anyone seeking business wisdom can read and learn from.
I must say Ezeigbo surprised me with his simple, fluid, gripping narrative borne out of his over 20 years’ experience as an entrepreneur who had to overcome all odds to succeed in the challenging Nigerian environment. His SLOT story is so readable and unputdownable. Once you start reading it, it grabs you all the way with its anecdotes and lucid, tutorial style that make Ezeigbo a good teacher and a good storyteller with the strong intellectual base of a man passionate about his chosen subject. Reading the book, you can picture him like a CEO standing in front of an MBA class telling his story about how he managed to build SLOT into a big brand in a country with everything it takes for business to fail.
So, who is an entrepreneur and what does it take to be one? This is the theme of this book and the question the author tries to answer all through the exactly 200-page book, using his own experience, knowledge and wisdom gathered in the 20 years of building the SLOT brand. A brand that is totally Nigerian. A brand that represents quality, reliability, competitive pricing, innovation, giving value for money and being a dependable solution provider.
I used to take it for granted that an entrepreneur is someone doing his or her own business, even if that includes buying and selling. I used to think the mallam on my street, selling all kinds of things is an entrepreneur. I am not alone in that thinking but Ezeigbo punctures it all in his book: “The problem is that some people who operate businesses in Nigeria do not understand what entrepreneurship is all about, therefore, part of my objectives in this book is to clarify who an entrepreneur is, show how he or she is different from someone who merely runs a business to make money and perhaps establish the fact that Nigeria needs more entrepreneurs rather than money-chasing businessmen and women.”
The core of his message and the reason for writing this book, he explains, is the conviction that “entrepreneurship holds the key to creating value, wealth and jobs at levels that can completely change any society. If we choose to unleash Nigeria’s entrepreneurial potential, not only will the country be transformed, the entire African continent will feel the positive impact of that change.”
To Ezeigbo, “entrepreneurship is about the creation of value, jobs and wealth. A business entrepreneur is a business owner while not all business owners are entrepreneurs.” According to him, a business man is after money, but for an entrepreneur, money is not what he thinks of primarily. He is just out to create value, to create wealth, to create jobs, to give society what it needs and at the end of it all, money rolls in for him or for her.
In defining the elements of entrepreneurship, Ezeigbo goes on tell his entrepreneurial odyssey: How he transformed from a business owner to an entrepreneur. How he retrained himself and changed his mindset. How he acquired managerial and organizational skills. How he re-engineered his business in the light of the changing times. How he built a system and a culture. How he acquired leadership training and got a clearer vision of where he was taking his business. How he acquired Executive MBA degrees from institutions like Lagos Business School, Harvard, plus short courses at the University of Navarra, Spain and how all these learning impacted on him and his business.
It is often said that leaders are readers. Going through the book, there is ample evidence to show that Ezeigbo is well-read. He quotes from books, respectable business magazines and journals—including those online. He talks about books that have influenced him: The Bus Analogy, Blue Ocean Strategy, Good To Great, Science of Retailing, The IQ of Strategy. These books, Ezeigbo says, “have had tremendous impact on me as an entrepreneur…Through their stories I learnt how they were able to succeed and the mistakes they made. Such lessons served as leverages for me in growing as a business leader and entrepreneur.”
My favourite story is the Tecno story, a story of foresight and opportunism. Most Nigerians carried two or more phones about due to unreliable networks. Ezeigbo saw a gap and conceptualized an original product whereby one mobile phone carried two SIM cards. It became a game-changer and a money-spinner!
I will be making an unpardonable omission if I do not acknowledge the role of Mrs. Nkechi Ezeigbo in the success of SLOT. It is said that behind every successful man is a woman. Ezeigbo writes: “I could never have built SLOT without my wife’s unwavering support, contributions, encouragement and partnership. Interestingly, Nkechi and I got married in 1998, the same year we registered SLOT together. While partnering with a spouse to run a business has its own risks and is not always recommended, my personal example teaches me that if you have the right spouse and you complement each other well, such partnerships can actually become unstoppable. Nkechi’s involvement and partnership has provided me with tremendous help in building the SLOT brand.”
Overall, this is a classic book that will go far with its easy-to-read graphic designs and memorable quotes highlighted. For me, this is a hands-on toolkit on entrepreneurship written straight from the heart of a man who has lived a successful entrepreneurial life. In every page you will find golden nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom to equip and motivate potential entrepreneurs into believing that entrepreneurship is the key to the Nigeria of the 21st century.
In this season of Christmas, Ezeigbo’s masterpiece is a good Christmas gift to anyone dreaming to succeed as an entrepreneur. Enquiries: 07005000050, 08137444400 and any SLOT store.