Chioma Nnani: There are no business curses, only business mistakes
There's this song by former UK Xfactor finalist, Sam Smith, who's now a Grammy winner, whose lyrics I swear I can hear in my head, whenever certain situations crop up.
Why won't you stay with me
Cos you're all I need?
In order to sustain and stay in business, money is a great part of what you need. That's why it confuses me when the typical businessperson in Nigeria operates with a certain mindset – the one that tells them it's OK to dip their hands into their business funds.
A lot of businesspeople don't understand the need to plug profits back into an existing business; that is the only way it'll continue to exist, and possibly expand. Every business has times when patronage could be better, but I really don't understand why folk think it's OK to be all like, “When business is good, you'll know, because that's when I have money to spend.”
Then, in two years or less, the business goes under – and nonexistent demons and ancestral spirits are blamed.
You start hearing weird comments like, “Money doesn't stay in my hand; it's always up, down, up, down. It must be a spiritual problem. Demons are after me. This is how they wrecked my father's business. And my uncle who used to be a 'big boy', he started building a house as soon as he started making money in business; today, the business is down and his house is the only uncompleted house in our village. That has made our family to become the laughingstock of our entire town. It must be a generational curse.”
I find it disconcerting that people think it's OK to evade personal responsibility by making even business issues, a pseudo-religious thing. Regardless of how much you tithe, if you're not plugging at least some of your profits back into your business, you will go broke. If you spend more than you earn, no prophecy will deliver you from poverty. And maybe your uncle couldn't complete his house because he put all of his profits into building a house, meaning that there was nothing to sustain the business from which he started obtaining money to build the house in the first place. Maybe your father's business failed because he wasn't a great manager of financial resources, and his salespeople were thieves.
Some of the things that Nigerians in business call 'ancestral curses' are just consequences of learned misbehaviour.
You saw your uncle begin to build a house as soon as he turned over a small profit. Now you think it's OK to do the same – so when someone tells you to put some money back into your business, pay yourself a salary and stop thinking of your business account as your personal piggy-bank, you call them a 'hater' who doesn't want you to enjoy the fruit of your labour. Then, when you can no longer pay your staff, you claim that the witches in your village are after your business.
The fact that people who are supposedly university graduates take certain ridiculous mindsets into business is a cause for serious worry. Because the only demon causing stuff not to stay with you, is the demon you created.
Chioma Nnani is an award-winning author, who also contributes to business, lifestyle and literary publications. One of Africa's most fearless storytellers, she is a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, who consults for businesses, shuttles between Lagos and Abuja, can be reached at @ChiomaNnani and blogs at www.fearlessstoryteller.com