Engineer Wole Agbaje is the man God put behind the idea of Idea Konsult Limited, Adamasingba in Ibadan, Oyo State of Nigeria, a computer engineering outfit which has over the years been regarded as the number one in the business in the South West of Nigeria. This hard working Nigerian was at the University of Lagos where he studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering between 1983 and 1988. His business now has over six outlets from where customers can enjoy the best when it comes to computers, their accessories, hard wares, software, training and others related to Information Technology (IT). In fact, the outfit just celebrated its 25th Anniversary. In this chat with OLAYINKA AGBOOLA, the prominent ‘Old Boy’ of Government College Ibadan revealed the secrets behind his success. Enjoy:
When you started, what was the vision you had for Idea Konsult? Did you think it would be this big?
I didn’t set any major target but I knew that if I do the right things, it would grow. And I tried and I am still trying as much as possible to keep to the values that I hold and those are the things I told my staff to hold on to very strictly. I told them they should be hard working and focused. We try to even enforce these values on people that come to the company with different belief system to key into the company values. In fact the values are written at the entry point in all our branches so that the staff will know what is expected of them. So it doesn’t appear as if I am the one that is telling them every minute and God has been so faithful and good so anyone that comes in into this place will think it is magic.
I’m sure you had some challenges when you started?
There were many challenges. But the number one problem we have was the country itself!
Let talk about the challenges…
The challenges we had as at that time we began were few as compared to what we have today. As you continue to grow in life, your challenges as well grow. At the beginning, the challenges where not much, but we had challenges day in day out. Funding was the problem at the beginning but now we have overcome that. When we were small, we needed little money to run the business but we couldn’t even get the money to start the way an organization should start. We started from a room in a boys’ quarters as office in Bodija and because of the belief, the values and the hope we had then, God has helped us to meet people who believed in us and has kept faith in us up till today. Now, we have our corporate headquarters here in Modupe House, Adamasingba.
Some younger folks are out there watching you, they want to know the secret behind your success…
Firstly, focus is very important. Most of the younger folks today are not really focused, they are not patient, and they are trying to do different things at the same time. They don’t want to pay their dues. They just want to get everything overnight and because of that, they engage in ‘rat race’ sometimes and they change their focus along the line. They want to travel out of the country, they don’t believe that consistently and a little patience go a long way to help one to achieve success. All what I have been doing since 1993 when we started is what I am still doing till today with some little additions, but I did not diversify by trying other industries. Not that we don’t have proposals of what we can do beyond our present business but I feel this is what I want to do till I pass out. So I believe in consistency.
You have about seven outlets, how do you cope with the challenges of theft and other malicious behaviors?
The issue of theft is always there and we experience it from time to time but sometimes we try to put something in place like using insurance, technology – that is installing security device in some strategic places and so on to reduce the impact. All of us in retailing business today have these challenges. I just pray that we should not have people who will actually come and run us down.
You just with live with it?
Yes, we have to live with it, because the economy is getting worse and we don’t know the kind of people we employ. Now, we just have to stay with it and have assume all is well so that one can have rest of mind because you can’t be everywhere at the same time.
What do you think the government can do to ensure that businesses like yours survive?
I think government needs to intervene in the area of employment for a lot of youths because it is said that an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Naturally, people don’t want to steal but when they are pressed, they are forced to misbehave. Moreover, every employer you have has his or her own aspirations as well but the governments are not there to support them. They cannot even get loans to do whatever they have in mind. In this country, you have to do everything by yourself before you can make it and it is difficult for people to achieve their dreams.
Additionally, the government has to find a way to reduce some of the taxes that people pay because there are too many taxes. Some will come and say they are from federal revenue and want to collect property tax, another set will come from State for the same taxes and even another set from the local government will come. The taxes are too much for any business to move forward.
They should allow us to have something to take home. They do audit every time and they even waste your time when you are trying to attend to them.
Do you have any message for our younger ones that are thinking of going into your line of business?
The younger people should find a way to acquire skills before they start anything they want to do. But you discover a lot of time today people come to you, they feel after one, two years they have acquired a lot of knowledge to go and start their own business. They don’t want to pay their dues, so they just go and discover that what they see is not what it is.
They need to be patient to acquire skills and experience so that they will not get burnt when they get into what they want to do. Before I established my own business, it took me five years of learning. I had to learn administration, I had to learn how to get more skillful and get more experience. So there is no shorter way to it. But here in Nigeria, you find people who have just worked with you for two or three months and they believe they already know how to make money. They just run away with little knowledge believing they know it all. When they get there they, discover that what they saw before is not what they are getting.