Having a laptop was a great leverage for me as a person and it sure is for all other people who mean business in the twenty first century but at the time it became so obvious that I needed one I could not, physically, afford it. In my mind I had come to a conclusion that there is nothing I cannot afford even if my bank statement does not confirm what I said. It is not the statement from the bank that says how much I am worth. It only reflects how much I have helped the bank in paying their staff salaries! That’s the way I think so I don’t let anyone box me into a corner by what the bank statement says.
I sat down to think and while I was with a few of the guys who were on my team in producing my first book, we thought about discussing the issue with the vice-chancellor of the university because we were students at that time. Sometimes I wonder what gave me the guts to walk up to some of the people I have walked up to. I may come back to ask after doing something, “How did I do that?” Well it has always been God and that is why my guts don’t fail and there is always a vital lesson to learn when they do not yield what I was really looking forward to.
We called the vice-chancellor and fixed a meeting. Every other thing one the agenda that night were not real issues. We only brought them up to take some time. The main agenda was the laptop. When the time finally came to talk about it I leaned forward on the leather seat in the inner sitting room of the vice-chancellor’s lodge. I did not waste too much time talking about it. I told him we needed a laptop. I told him why we needed it and said that we would be glad if the university would help.
Amazingly he simply told us to put it into writing and that work would commence on it. You can’t imagine, neither can I describe, how happy I was that night. The following morning the letter was ready and was sent to the vice-chancellor’s office immediately. The promise had been made, the letter had been written but we had come to a waiting period. I am not sure you know about bureaucracies and how frustrating they can be but if you do then you can imagine that we almost gave up. We waited several hours in the reception to know how far our letter had gone. When the letter got to the bursar we also had to wait for weeks to get approval. In all of those times we were confident that we were going to get the laptop because we had the promise and we got the promise not just from the vice-chancellor but from a man who is careful with words and conscious of integrity – Professor Afolabi Soyode, VC, Olabisi Onabanjo University, 2001-2006). I will continually be indebted to this great man for believing in a group of young people whose future were not glaring when they started out.
What’s the lesson here? Some entrepreneurs can’t ask for help even when it will help them to move to the next face of their businesses or projects. I have also been there and there were times I felt that I could have asked for more (in terms of my consulting bills) but I did not because I was afraid people would think my mouth is too big. I am not saying you should not be realistic when you need to ask for something and I am not saying you should go all out begging without differentiating between business leverage and begging to always eat. Always have it in mind that when nothing is ventured then nothing will be gained.
Learn to open your mouth because ability to open your mouth is a business capital on its own. When you open your mouth, don’t forget to say it right!