Chioma Nnani: Business is not a Shakira Song
So, at the end of September 2015, I launched my blogazine. Prior to that I'd made a conscious decision to stop blogging for a while, because the platform I'd been using was a free one – in other words, it wasn't mine. Meaning I had no control over a lot of things. I could wake up one day and a post, or my entire blog, would be gone.
I like being fairly in control of a lot of things – including my career, its direction and its trajectory. Obviously, the only trajectory I've allowed myself is upwards. So I'd made all these strategic-cum-organic decisions that reflected what I actually wanted to do and where I wanted to go.
I like to say I have an excellent spirit. Depending on your perspective, that could mean I like and need things being done well or that I am a picky, annoying person who doesn't understand why things cannot be done in a certain way, and so will appear to derive an inordinate amount of pleasure from making you repeat a task until I am satisfied. I suffer from a pathological fear of being unprepared. When I was about six years old, I had this dream. I dreamt that I had to go to school on Saturday, meaning that my homework from Friday was not done (I usually did my Friday homework on Sunday evening). In the dream, I started trying to do the homework, there in class – before the teacher got to me. This was something I'd seen others do in real life. But doing your homework in class is more difficult than it looks. The teacher got to me (my seat was somewhere close to the front of the class) before I completed three questions; it was really difficult to explain why my homework wasn't done, because apparently, Saturday was a normal school day. It was weird. Things got even weirder when I ran to my school-bag after I woke up – nobody understood what my problem was.
Then I studied Law at the University of Kent. One of the most incredible things about studying this course is you acquire (or hone) a penchant for imagining the worst. Your mind becomes a constant mill of “What ifs?” as you try to envisage problems from scenarios which may never even occur. It's a terrifying skill – almost as alarming as what it would take to write successfully for the horror genre. So you come up with solid contingency plans for all these totally theoretical, hell-will-freeze-over-fifteen-times-before-that-happens situations. Obviously some situations (which would sound incredulous) have already actually occurred, which is why some people need legal advice at all.
Now I have added a dimension of irritation to the initial fear of being unprepared. I am truly bewildered – especially in business – when someone is tardy. I'd heard some pretty scary stories about Nigerian staff/artisans/employees, which turned out not to be mere stories. Then I met my blogazine designer – Ibukun Onitiju. Actually we'd been talking for a while, including about the blogazine, specifications, projections, that kinda thing. We'd been talking for three months; yes, I did talk about how I don't like being unprepared. He took instructions and added some suggestions, while I dealt with the content – all gearing towards the perfect virtual launch.
Then came launch day.
I started having problems uploading the content. Ibukun's own internet connection chose to acquire a rare form of epilepsy. I couldn't locate the right pictures for some of the already published posts, which had been set to be published on all my social media accounts. Emails went out. Then my time allocation ran out at the internet café. With the words of Shakira “Oh baby, this is perfection” ringing in my ears, I tried not to cry. Actually I was too exhausted to cry, what with the build-up of at least three months. I look back now and wonder how I didn't collapse. Ibukun rescued a lot of the situation; dude went above and beyond. Then the posts started to go out. I started freaking out because I could see flaws. A friend told me, “Because it is yours, you are supposed to see flaws. Don't let these things paralyze you.” So far, the feedback has been good.
I learned a valuable business (and life) lesson – no matter how much you prepare, there are certain things that you can never control; and that's OK. Do what you can, but don't beat yourself up about it.
That doesn't mean one should just leave things that one knows should be done.
And that person who said that if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life?We need to have a tête about expectations, interpretations and generally being truthful. Or a sparring session. Whichever you prefer …
Chioma Nnani is the award-winning author of FOREVER THERE FOR YOU. She holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent, Canterbury, was nominated for a BEFFTA in 2014, and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law from the De Montfort University, Leicester. You can connect with her via facebook.com/ChiomaEstherNnani and @ChiomaNnani
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