Thursday, July 14, 2016

Business Lessons from Lagos Traffic

So I struggled with sleep so much that I slept in my sleep. Haha. More like 'Inception' happened. It was my body who had the upper hand this time. Greatness one day at a time is anchored on the foundation of consistency. It's how habits are formed. Taking that shot once a day which turns to twice a day, every hour and you're hooked.

Today was spent at a video shoot with a client amidst responding to tons of emails, putting out fires and trying to balance an already tipping social life. So I have resolved to strike that balance because it is what puts spice in everything.

So today on my way home, I was thinking about how much we have to learn from our environment. Let's not even get started with nature on it's own which is not my focus. I mean everyday life. The moments spent in Lagos traffic commuting home are usually one of my most reflective moments. Before it used to be doing laundry at late hours which has not happened in a long while.

I personally feel there's a lot we can learn on corporate business from the so-called informal economy in Nigeria. In it's crudest form of application, I feel hawkers in Lagos traffic can teach one a lot on business. I'll take a few of the things we can learn from them:

Lagos Traffic [Image Credit]

Product Availability: There is virtually nothing you cannot buy in Lagos traffic. Trust me I mean literally nothing, from live chickens to landed properties to food items to...anything. Now one mistake you can make as well is to make eye contact with a typical Lagos traffic hawker sales personnel. Asides having a huge range of offerings, you always find them when you need them, traffic spots. Hardly will you see traffic without a hawker sales personnel. There's hardly shortage except you see the KAI officials [responsible for regulating such activities] on their trail.

Sales and Marketing: The client prospecting to sales closure game is strong as anything. All you need is make eye contact and they are kind enough to shove that fresh Gala sausage roll in your face and advertise all the wares on display just in case you may change your mind [which you most likely will]. They make you hungry even when you never planned to be. Another key skill is cross-selling and key partnerships. Once you buy that gala, the same Gala guy may ask you to try to take another brand of sausage roll in case your plan was to grow sausage rolls on your head while the Lacasera soda drink seller is right on queue with a chilled drink to 'wash down' the snacks. Epic Closure game. Did I mention that they sell in motion and run after your vehicle while calculating your balance and packaging your purchased items. No downtime man. Hardcore sales.

Tenacity: I am tempted to believe Usain Chukwuemeka Bolt was once a hawker in Lagos traffic. Now let me give you a typical scenario. You are in a fast moving traffic and out of your wickedness sudden realization, you remember you have to purchase some snacks and your flick your hair to the side and you whisper a melodious "Psst...Gimme one Gala". Now hold on for a second, you only made an open call for RFPs, in this case Gala. No one needs to tell you the 100m senior boys race just started as you will see about 5 grown men chasing after your moving vehicle with boxes of sausage roll on their hands, money on the other, slippers flipping into the air as they race to be the first to reach you. Now once the lucky one reaches you, the follow through game is strong. They are always smart to leave their wares on your fast moving vehicle while they count your balance and hand you your goods. All this while, the only thing they are focused oon is closing that sale.
Street Hawkers Peddling their goods [Image Credit]
Only after that sale is closed do they remember their rubber slippers as they now make their way back to locate the poor footwear. Sometimes, we neglect the core of our business [whatever that is] to focus on mundane things while forgetting that at the end of the day, not selling = no business.

There's surely a whole lot more to learn and this list is not exhaustive at all. I must rest now as tomorrow is another day. Media interview at noon and of course focusing on the core for the rest of the day.

Wow...time's far spent.

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