Today i bring to you another interesting interview with the super smart and awesome entrepreneur, Clarkson Ikwunze. I was priviledged to meet him on Facebook some times ago and since then I’ve never regretted knowing him. I look up to his Facebook post everyday.
Ok I’m not going to talk too much because Clarkson has a lot to say to all the amazing entrepreneurs out there who are making a difference in their own small way.
You can read the previous interviews below:
I have created an Ebook from this interview. If you’re in a haste to read it you can download the Ebook in pdf format and read it later.Download your Ebook
“Well, I think that is so because the human mind always has a way of tricking man into wanting to play safe, so many folks just want JOB SECURITY not realizing it doesn’t really exist. The only job with a security is the one you create. That doesn’t necessarily mean starting a new business, but rather making yourself indispensible wherever you work.”
Good day sir. Please introduce yourself to our community. (Education, state of origin, family background, business, project or whatever you would like us to know about you)
Thank you very much, my name is Clarkson Ikwunze, Founder/CRP of Uplada Resource an organization mostly concerned with the delivery of information materials and products that make for organizational reforms, peak performance and productivity , individual empowerment and societal transformation.
I am also the Director of the Talented But Broke Initiative (TBBI) a platform already helping many young minds rediscover their passions, talents, gifting and deploying all of those to blessing their world whilst earning a living in the process. I am from Abia State and currently based in Enugu.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Well, in my opinion I think entrepreneurship is all about solving problems and not necessarily starting up new businesses and I like to put it this way, every problem we ignored were business opportunities we took for granted.
What three pieces of advice would you give to university graduates/undergraduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
Very simple, for start-up entrepreneurs I think there is really a whole lot but then this three (3) are key; Firstly, you must decide and define what problem(s) you are out to solve. If you are not solving problems then you are adding to already existing ones, don’t just jump out to start something because you read RICH DAD, POOR DAD, no! Define the problem, and be definite about the solution you have to offer.
Secondly, when you have defined the problems, and carefully worked out a solution with proven strategies then the next thing to do is EXECUTE. You must be willing to step out and act on the plan, a whole lot of people have ideas, plans and strategies but they never step out, and that marks the funeral of such innovation. You must realize that no matter how amazing your idea is it will never see the light of day until you are willing to leave your comfort zone and take the risk, besides you must bear in mind that you will find everything you are looking for in life somewhere outside your comfort zone so go for it.
Lastly, you must be willing to start small, start with what you have. Many folks are experts at complaining about what they do not have and all their inadequacies, that they unconsciously lose sight of the seemingly small provisions that could set the ball on course. I like to always think that Moses was thinking of the necessary ways to get Julius Berger around to do an over head bridge over the red sea, when he could have simply stretched out a rod and got the magic done…you really do not know the capacity of what you hold in your hands until you use it and in the words of one of my respected mentors, Steve Harris I like to say, “It is not what you don’t have that limits you, it is what you have but don’t know how to use”
What are the challenges you face as an entrepreneur in Nigeria?
I really like the fact that you used the word ‘challenges’ because the very moment we start to see the problems we face in that light the sooner we start thinking of ways to surmount them. On the other hand challenges are peculiar with respect to ones area of work. At the moment I do some small scale importation business and I also offer trainings for such, but then the recent down turn and loss of value with regards to Naira has really made things pretty difficult but like I said earlier, we are already navigating through it.
Then of course the inconsistency of power in the nation is really a great course for alarm seeing that it has greatly crippled production rates and eventually tripled the price of things as you would often now have to rely on alternative means of power supply which isn’t really funny at the end of the day.
All these and more notwithstanding, I believe that in the spirit of entrepreneurship if we set our goals clear we will break the records and set the pace against all odds. Like I already said, every problem or challenge we face is an opportunity for national advancement.
How does one stand out from the sea of mediocrity and become a great and respected leader that in the society?
Alright, I think it is quite unfortunate that we live in a country that celebrates mediocrity and embraces stupidity. We live in a country where accolades and awards are given to a mediocre; the country where people with no singular value and respect for human lives and young minds are made brand ambassadors and then we all cheer when we have unconsciously come to that point where we have painted the sorry picture that mediocrity now equals celebrity. Now everyone is exhibiting one form of stupidity or mediocrity at its peak.
The truth is that no matter how much we celebrate this vices, excellence and service to humanity remains virtues that everyone who wants to be reorganized as a great leader on a global stand must possess. Yes, we must be driven with passion for humanity that we lose sight of ourselves for the advancements of the generations coming after us.
We must become peoples and persons driven by a common goal not for personal enrichments but co-operate achievements realizing that we are not here to win medals but to leave a mark and outlive our generation by the legacies we leave behind. In the end great leaders are not known for the trophies they have won but for the things they gave up to see others live and I think when we begin to first of all make this transitions in our minds then we are on our way somewhere.
How have you managed to establish a strong and engaged online presence?
Well, that really hasn’t been easy coupled with the many things that I do but then I think consistency is the rule of the game. No matter how much tight my schedule might be I always try to squeeze some time out to say something to my audience online even if it is one of my numerous quotes and I believe that has gone a long way to help, on the other hand I think folks who do stuff online should realize they ought to treat their audience online as real persons and not just as likes and comment.
There has to be an interaction and that makes for the engagement. However, when it comes to building an engaged online presence one thing doesn’t really do the magic it is always a function of many principles but then I believe the few things I already mentioned can get anyone who is serious started out.
Seeing the potential in entrepreneurship and what it can do to a country’s economic development, why do many young Nigerians still run after jobs?
Well, I think that is so because the human mind always has a way of tricking man into wanting to play safe, so many folks just want JOB SECURITY not realizing it doesn’t really exist. The only job with a security is the one you create. That doesn’t necessarily mean starting a new business, but rather making yourself indispensible wherever you work.
Despite the rate of lay-offs going on in many organizations at all levels, there are still some people who some firms can’t let go, why? These guys are what I call Employed Entrepreneurs. They have through their ingenuity and innovation carved out a niche for themselves and have become indispensible.
There is really nothing wrong with working a Job, but then you must be ready to offer more than a certificate, organizations now hire PROBLEM SOLVERS not degree holders.
On the other hand, most folks are not getting into entrepreneurship because they have never had the time to bring themselves together to think and brainstorm. Nigerian youths on the average do not think.
We love luxury and funfair when all they have are empty pockets to go ahead and form alliance with empty heads. My friends, innovation and creativity are not spontaneous reactions they are intentional mind engagements that puts pressure on the brain cells until productivity is pushed out of it, and I think a vast majority of the Nigerian youths are not ready for that.
Read also: How to Change the Mindset that There is a Job Waiting for you after University
Is it a wise decision to depend on university degree in this digital age?
It is not, and considering the times where in we now live, to depend on a university degree could be likened to taking a tour on one foot without crutches. This is not to say that university degrees are useless, as this has become a major mantra for some drop out motivational speakers who have so to speak made it I their carrier, they tell you “You will never use your degree, in all of my life I have had no need of one” well that’s fine, but then we must learn to draw the lines, let’s not dissuade people from achieving academic success based on our personal experiences.
No matter how irrelevant degrees might be I’d never take treatments from a doctor who has got no certificates talk more a license. On the other hand I believe that the safe place to stand here is this; whilst you accumulate credentials, please also take time to build potentials. The former comes from without, the later is from within and I think that a powerful combination of both will make a thorough mind.
Should youths in Nigeria actively participate in politics or not? Why?
Yes they should, I strongly advocate as I believe that the exposure of the young minds and their passion has a whole lot to play on leadership fronts, but then not just any youth. Those youths who think or claim they have a vision for a better Nigeria should be screened, I say this because if the same youths trying to get active in the political sectors are the same ones I have witnessed at university departmental levels and at Student Union Government (SUG) levels are the same guys, then we would only be replacing Lucifer with his grandson.
Some of these guys I know back then would lock up their follow students just to win a mere departmental election, some would even go as far as framing up themselves just to win the sub official position in the SUG. I say they all must be screened, and of cause they must be serving or willing to serve a true leader or an elder’s statesman without questionable character, having true qualities of selfness.
Should the government be totally blamed for the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria?
Well, I really do not think apportioning blames would help anyone as we have been through that countless number of times and it has helped no one. I think the Nigerian youths should start thinking of a way out with or without the aid of the government.
Currently as we speak, many innovations, programs and projects are been launched by some active youths who have risen to not just question the status quo, but to shift it and I think other Nigerian youths who are still sleeping in their fathers houses and eating their mothers food waiting for the government should divorce laziness, dust their brains and get their thinking hats on, it is no longer about what your country can do for you, now it is about what you can do for yourself and for your country.
How is good reputation important in becoming a successful entrepreneur and leading a successful business?
Good reputation is not just important in becoming a successful person in business; it is itself the life blood of any venture that has plans of making any lasting impact on anyone be it customers or clients. If you have no integrity then you are out of business.
There are three (3) factors that we consider key in sales psychology, they are known as the KLT factor where K stands for KNOW, L stands for LOVE and T stands for TRUST, the psychology here simply states that people will buy from or do business with you for one of, or all of these factors, i.e Its either they know you, they like you or they trust you and it has been proven that the quickest way to score a hundred percent in all of these factors is to make integrity your Unique Selling Point. Integrity is capital.
What does success mean to you?
I think success is simply finding your Niche and making the most of it for personal fulfillment and the betterment of everyone around you who you can possibly reach out to as it is true that you can’t really help everyone.
Read also: What is why? How Badly do you want Success?
What book has inspired you the most? Your favorite author (if any)
The Bible, now I know that sounds quite spiritual, but then it’s the truth. The bible really does have so much to say about every area and facet of human walk and existence, even though it is not an encyclopedia of all knowledge.
Take for instance if you go reading the bible in place of your anatomy text in preparation for an anatomy exam, you will fail in flying colours and the bible would still remain the best book in any shelf or library, it is so much so that the legislations and constitutions binding most co-operations and institutions spanning over a hundred years now and still standing had their rooting in biblical truths and principles, but then to bring it down, “HOW TO BECOME A PERSON OF INFLUENCE” by John C. Maxwell happens to be that one book that set me on course to pursing selfless service for people and being all about people, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that Maxwell had taken all he wrote from the principles found in the bible.
How is reading important to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Reading is so important; as a matter of fact I like to say that to have ignorance as your capital in the pursuit of a business venture is the greatest foolishness of all time. Even bible rightly warns in the book of proverbs 24:3-4 (TLB) saying,
“Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts”
Now, you see why I love the bible, it says to keep abreast of the facts, and how are you going to do that? Simple, buy books, materials of all sorts that have the facts for whatever enterprise you would want to float and by keeping abreast of the facts, planning along side, with some common sense you would have succeeded in building an enterprise that is strong and profits wonderfully and I find this so thrilling.
Read also: 30 Exceptional Books Every Young Entrepreneur Must Read Before 30
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and what lessons have you learned from them?
As one given to much study, research and lots of enquiries I have learnt exactly how to minimize my mistake levels, but then I can say that one of the mistakes I made was trying not to make any mistakes. I wanted to have things well planned out, all prim and proper, all ‘Ts’ crossed and all ‘Is’ dotted before I stepped out and that hindered me from achieving a whole lot. Over time I have learnt and I am still learning to start out just when I possibly can and other things will take care of themselves but then I must say this is not and never would or should be an excuse for mediocrity.
Is having a mentor necessary to becoming successful in life or business? Who is/are your mentor(s)?
Mentorship really does play a vital role in ones pursuit of success in any field, it helps you leverage on the experiences of those who have gone ahead to create a better and less stressful life, if one therefore decides to do away with the privileges that mentorship provides, he would probably die running experiments with his own life.
That being said, I believe one must be careful as to who one decides to have as a mentor. I have found many mentors in the books I have read, Dr. Myles Munroe of blessed memory, Robert Kiyosaki, Michael Le’beouf, Brian Tracy and of course John C. Maxwell, Some others like Fela Durotoye, Steve Harris and Les Brown have been amazing.
If you were offered an option to choose between a job that pays #100,000 monthly and a business that gives you #10,000 monthly income, which would you go for? Why?
At first one would want to jump on the NGN100,000 monthly pay but then with a good understanding of business to some degree I have since come to realize that with necessary things being put in place you can raise a NGN10,000 monthly business into a business worth millions in a couple of months or years depending on the nature of the business and your understanding of it and how to close a deal. All that is required is patience, a plot, strategy and hard work and that’s what it takes. That being said, I would choose the latter over the former.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be where you are right now?
If there be any sacrifices it is me pushing myself hard enough against all forms and varieties of laziness to achieving set Goals, it is spending on resource materials even if it means I starve to stay informed, these things and more have brought me thus far, but I am where I am by the Grace of God.
As a Christian, how do you balance between religion and business? Can you compromise one for the other?
Christianity isn’t a religion, so there really isn’t anything to balance. I am a Christian who does business, not a business man who is trying to be a Christian, therefore my Christian values, codes and conducts influence my business practice and hence that gives no room for compromise. I have got one life not two.
They say that the most religious countries in the world struggle the most in terms of social, political and economic development. How true is that?
Well, there could be a shade of truth in that, but then it has to be analyzed on what they mean by ‘religious’ because believe it or leave it every country of the world is religious. China is but you can see the amazing things happening there, Nigeria is but look where we are, Dubai is but yet that place has suddenly become the 8th wonder of the world, with amazing monumental pieces of architectural excellence being fit into the system.
They didn’t get to such transformational height because they bowed to the moon or did not, no! The prince of Dubai, simply had a vision, sold the vision to men who bought it and then they brought in guys who could put those visions in blue prints and went on to execute them.
Religion or no religion if folks get off their roller coasters, begin to think and initiate a move then there is bound to be transformation. It wasn’t Christians that built the tower of Babel, it was some guys whose minds were made up and focused on one course so much so, that it took only God to stop them. Had God ignored them they probably would have walked into heaven on sky scrapers.
Is religion enough to bring economic development to a country?
Like I said, it all borders on what we mean by religion, besides that’s a broad concept which I wouldn’t want to start digging into but then, we have proven facts that what a nation believes in or does not believe in does not really affect it economic status or developmental status.
If all Nigerians became Christians and true worshippers of the living God, the country will still be in a state of mess that prayers ALONE will appear to be of no use. On the other hand if all of Nigerians become islamist, worshiping whatever Nigeria will never look like anything close to Dubai until we begin to repair broken structures centering on the lines of leadership.
Our greatest challenge is not really what we believe in; it is the absence of visionary leaders who have a vision with the people and societal advancement at its apex. Until then we may never experience the slightest change or advancements.
You’re such a captivating writer. Is this something you learnt in school or just a talent?
Thank you very much, well I would say writing happens to be one of my inert gifting that sprang out one day. I still do not consider myself a very good writer; I would say I am just that person with a thought and a pen to put those thoughts into writing with very few words that I can possibly find. I never learnt writing, even though I had gleaned through some pieces on writing as time went by but then writing became a serious affair the day I stumbled on a statement by Martin Luther where he said;
“If you want to change the world pick up your pen and write”
Those words struck me hard and have since stuck with me, I became intentional with my writings and I have since seen it change and affect the lives of many even people I have never met and most likely may never meet and I am grateful to God how far he’s brought me.
And yet again, you’re a great singer, what’s your plan for music?
Thank you again, music has been a very huge part of me, as I got into singing since the age of 7 it’s been fun, and as regards my plan for music just be on the lookout, #smiles
Tell us about the just concluded seminar, “TALENTED BUT BROKE SUMMIT 2016”. What’s it all about?
Oh that, the seminar was an awesome one. We had quite a number of persons come around to learn how to monetize their passions, gifts and talents and make that transition from being gifted but stuck to gifted and blessed. The whole concept is particularly focused on helping young minds particularly begin to rediscover themselves, develop and ultimately deploy their gifting to be a blessing to themselves and to the world around them.
Whilst the conventional educational system is focused on grooming one to achieve success through information acquired from without, the TBB Initiative hopes to take it a little further in helping them develop the hidden treasures within. With TBB Initiative we see the emergence of a complete youth who is not just dependent on his certifications but also has got something from within with which to offer lasting solutions to the ravaging predicaments of an ailing world.
Can all passion or hobbies be monetized?
Not exactly, but then with great thought channeled in the direction of whatever hobby it is you never can tell.
Inspire a young entrepreneur out there.
I believe there are basically two groups of young entrepreneurs out there, those who have stepped out and are already recording some level of success, to them I say, every achievement ends the very moment you rejoiced over it, look away from your achievements and plunge deep for greater work lies ahead, keep looking for problems and keep solving problems and by every means possible re-invent yourself and break your own records.
To the other group of young entrepreneurs, those still brainstorming, those still wondering how to begin, my friends, take the risk and step out, if you never try you already failed so step out and be willing to start at your level, and grow at a reasonable pace not necessarily fast. Read, read and read again spend money on resource materials and seminars and you will discover every other thing when you do so.
Lest I forget, you may never make your first million in your first two (2) years of stepping out, that was what nobody told us, we figured that out ourselves so I urge you be patient until you break even.
Haven done all, heed the Wisdom of the wisest man who ever lived before Jesus Christ, proverbs 16:3(MSG)
“Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place”
Thanks for your time
You’re welcome , thanks for having me here.
You can reach out to Clarkson Ikwunze through this medium:
- Facebook username: https://facebook.com/clarkson.ikwunze2
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Clarkson_tweets
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Blog/website: http://clarksonikwunze.com
Do you have any question to ask Clarkson or jst want to say hi. You can drop your thought in the comment box below.
I have created an Ebook from this interview. If you’re in a haste to read it you can download the Ebook in pdf format and read it later.Download your Ebook