Ebuka Anichebe is my Client turned personal Coach, from whom I have learnt a lot. My company handled his first published book "Make Your Life A Block Buster", which by the way is a Must-Read. He spearheaded an Ad campaign in 2011 or so that says "Why Go to Work Naked", which was a big deal and he has evolved to a most sought after coach in every sense. I can go on and on but will allow you to find out why I celebrate him.
Enjoy our chat:
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I am an entrepreneur at heart and from an early age I've always been interested in the world of business since both my parents were successful entrepreneurs and I watched my dad start several businesses.
However knowing my unique personality, I understand that by nature, I get easily bored with routine, which by the way I've discovered is common with most Geminis, so I decided to start a business consultancy firm. This allows me to be able to explore several interests, bring transferable skills to a new project and meet new people and try out new ideas in new emerging markets all at once.
My first business: Jean-Paul & Associates Consultancy is an evolving type. At first we started off with branding and marketing services. But as we grew our skill-set and mental aptitude, we took up new challenges and unique projects, ranging from T.V shows, talent competitions, mystery shopping assignments, publishing a magazine, starting a radio program, real estate development and sales, etcetera. Today we're well known for our human resource development and training programs in government agencies and parastatals. But that too is evolving.
(laughs) aside from all that I just said? Well presently what is front-burner now is that I'm working on transforming our magazine: Abuja Shelter into a more compact property investment guide. The major difference would be we would no longer be reliant on real estate developers advertising their projects on our platform to publish the magazine; but instead we would be more involved in the marketing and sales of real estate in Abuja. Our vision is to ensure that we capture a larger market base of individuals within and outside of Abuja and show them how they can benefit from Africa's 2nd largest real estate market without breaking the bank.
How can you describe your organizational culture/style of business?
We're creative. Our mantra is: We sell ideas. And our organization doesn't have some form of fanciful hierarchy. Don't get me wrong Jenny, a hierarchy with a large organisational chart could be good for a big national bank with multiple Executive Directors or even for a chocolate cake with multiple layers. But we rather work as a flat organization with loose partnerships with professionals. That way we're able to provide exceptional value for our clients without being overburdened by the high overhead cost of salaries of highly paid experts.
What have been your biggest achievement as a business brand since inception?
We've hit many highs this year alone, it's hard to choose any one singular achievement as being the biggest. We've been able to put together several real estate deals running into hundreds of millions of naira. We've been training top-level executives from Nigeria's biggest business conglomerates like the NNPC in their managerial promotional exams and interviews and achieved a 95% success rate for the past 5 years. Basically, we try to be bigger, better and a bit bolder with each new set target after achieving the previous goal.
What have been the recurrent challenges?
The recurrent challenge has been having too many opportunities but not enough capable hands to embrace all the projects available at a go.
How do you deal with times of low patronage or uncertainty?
Every business has a cycle, and sometimes things don't go according to plan. And sometimes you don't get to issue a receipt in an entire month! Understanding this, we plan ahead and try as much as possible to make savings as well as diversify our portfolio. That way when one arm of the business is going through a slump, the other part of the business can support it.
What are your other interests apart from this business?
I am a serial entrepreneur at heart. That means I am interested in a whole lot of things, from the hospitality business to software development. But I think for my next business, I would like to own a large garden space in the city centre where couples can come relax and unwind while listening to live music and eat great food at good prices.
I love socialising and networking with people. So I would like to create my own space where people can come together and have fun while discussing business.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I would like to see our brand(s) becoming market leaders and household names. I envisage Abuja Shelter becoming a premier real estate sales company for individuals looking to own/buy/mortgage a home. For the training arm of Jean-Paul & Associates Consultancy, we are working on a television program that would enlighten and teach people on entrepreneurship and marketing skills to enable them become even better and take their business x100.
What do you love about doing business in Nigeria?
Doing business in Nigeria is always interesting. The characters you meet and their unique perspectives and experiences, always leaves me in awe. You never know what you'll learn from the next person whose hands you shake.
What don't you like about it?
As always, I don't like the high cost of doing business in Nigeria due to lack of electricity. I also don't get why our government doesn't embrace ICT in bidding for contracts and filing system. It's counter-productive.
What's your advice for budding CEOs?
I believe every CEO should have a vision for their organisation and do their best to communicate that vision to their employees, partners and customers. Then do their best to stay true to it by ensuring that their day-to-day actions and decisions reflect their utmost belief in the beauty of their vision.
Any other thing we need to know?
In my next life, if there is any reincarnation, I would like to be a Hollywood actor or a novelist. But since there's no chance of that, I substitute by being an engaging public speaker and author of self-help books and my blog: www.askebuka.com. So please do subscribe to get informed on the latest cutting edge life hacks or even ancient philosophy that is still relevant in your world today.