Money Flow #002: The Solopreneur Securing The Bag At All Cost

Money Flow is a series intended to understand how entrepreneurs within Africa interact with money and how it affects the health of their businesses.  

Can you give me a brief summary of your business?

I run an online natural hair and skincare product manufacturing business based in Lagos. We deliver nationwide and worldwide. Our products are handmade and all natural. We make soaps, body creams, hair creams, body oils, hair oils, facial masks, body scrub and many more from natural derivatives in Nigeria. 

How long have you been in business?

5 years.

What was growing up like financially? 

I grew up in an okay household. We were your average, middle class family. Well, until my mum lost her banking job and we fell into deep penury. I think that’s when I learned how to save money because no one was giving me pocket money anymore. I started depending on myself at 19. I learnt how to hustle and save from very small money. Till today, I don’t know how I did that. 

What did hustle mean for you? 

Hustling meant finding money anywhere where e dey. At a time, I was working ushering jobs. I made hair at some point even though I wasn’t so good at it. I was running a mobile hair service where I would come to your house and treat your natural hair.

I did anything and everything I knew I was good at during that time to get money.

Things were really hard. It was so bad that my dad would have to go to a party to get us lunch or dinner for the day. It is surprising that I didn’t do sex work because I was really desperate. Well, I didn’t because I couldn’t.  


We are still there but things are much better. I still try to save a lot and that helps. I hope to start investing too.  

How much did you have at the start of your business? 

One kobo I did not have. I used to braid people’s hair. It was home service so the price depended on what they wanted to do to their hair and their locations. The highest I ever got was N6000 — transportation included. A customer of mine whose hair I was to braid asked me for coconut oil. So I went to my supplier to get some.  

You had a supplier at that time?

She wasn’t a supplier then. She was just someone I knew sold the things I needed to work but now, she is one of my suppliers. 

Okay. So…

I went to my supplier to get the coconut oil. I bought that bottle on credit. I paid the woman after my customer paid me. There was about N200 gain on the transaction. That was how I started. She kept buying and soon enough other people started asking for coconut oil. And I would collect money, buy, brand and give to them.

What would you say you’ve learned so far?

I am still learning on this entrepreneurial journey. It is still a long, hard, complicated journey for me. I know I am still making mistakes. I just stopped documenting my orders. 

Hmmm. Can you say what your average sales and expenses total is in a month?

Honestly, I can’t say because I stopped taking records. I know it varies with each month. Some months are really high, others low. For my expenses, I don’t restock supplies every month. Just when my products finish. I can’t say how much either but I will put this in mind going forward. I know it’s bad but I hope I am able to get someone to help me manage my finances better, soon. Right now, things are rocky. I know I am supposed to pay myself a certain salary but I am just letting things go with the flow. I don’t mess with my business money though. I always keep a certain amount for whatever I need to restock and new supplies. 

Can you give me a figure? 

I try not to have nothing less than 100k saved in an account strictly for buying supplies. I want to get to a point where everything is documented accurately and I can pay myself a salary. A point where I can separate business from personal efficiently. That’s my goal. I am terrible with numbers. They scare me. Also school and side hustle and every other thing has gotten in the way. 

Tell me about school and side hustle.

My school was in a chill city. By chill, I mean when I was in school, I felt more relaxed. I live in Lagos so whenever I am in Lagos, I would have plenty of ideas on how to move my business forward. But in school, I was less bothered about my business. I would still market my products online but there was no motivation to push harder. The only drive was the fact that not selling products meant starvation. But in Lagos, my hustle spirit returns. I guess the environmental factors affected how I saw my business and how I treated it. 

What environmental factors?

Lagos has this spirit of hustle in it. By 5 in the morning, you can hear the city working but the city my school was in is the complete opposite.

How did you cope?

It was difficult because I could be having a class and a customer would be calling me about their package. Other times, it would be network or light issues so I wouldn’t be able to work for like three days. I would be thinking of alternatives like going to a friend’s house to charge with their generator. It was just very somehow but I pulled through. If I had to pick, I would definitely not manage business and school together. I am not great at multitasking. I know they said women are multitaskers but it’s not for me. But you know how it is in Nigeria, gotta hustle. 

Is there anything different for you about doing business in Nigeria as a woman?

I haven’t noticed any thing per say.

Ever received a loan or grant? 

Nope. A couple of years ago, I spoke to people who wanted to invest in my business. But I wasn’t ready because I was in school. 

What were they offering? 

I did not go far in the conversations because I did not understand it. They wanted to invest their money and then collect a percentage every month. I wasn’t an expert at my work at that time so I didn’t want to take the money. Also, I am quite scared of failing. If it’s my money in it, I can pick up and start over but what happens when it’s someone else’s money? I will now be in debt. No, thank you. I decided to wait till I was more stable and knowledgeable. The right time for investment for me would be when I am done taking formulation classes for my work and I am confident of succeeding at this. 

What does financial success mean to you?

Being able to afford any and everything I want. That’s it.

How do you decide on the Price of your products? 

I decide based on how much I spend on each product. When I need to make a certain product, I calculate everything I need to make that product, including the bottles or containers required. The total helps me decide how much each bottle should cost. Also the proposed profit after deducting the cost price helps me decide. 

What’s the average cost of your product?


What would you say about doing business in Nigeria?

It’s stressful. I hope things can get better. I hope the Government stops putting pressure on entrepreneurs. I don’t know what they want to gain but they need to calm down.

What’s the biggest challenge doing business here? 

Ease of logistics is a major challenge. Also getting loans. I haven’t applied yet but I have seen the process. It’s quite tedious. 

Financial advice you wish you knew before starting your business. 

Pay yourself a salary. I thought salary payment was only for 9 to 5 people. I wish someone told me that. I would have planned better. I wish someone gave me a talk on how to handle money, savings, investment, etc. I still wish someone would though.

What’s your favourite quote about money?

Best revenge is your paper by Beyonce.

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