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On your marks… Edokpolo’s startup handbook in print


On Your Marks (Ben Oketola Publications, Lagos; 2018) by Noruwa Edokpolo is a business start-up handbook, although not exclusively for people seeking self-employment. But it is for entrepreneurs, who take business either as a way of life or as a stop for being unemployed.

It is also for the general reader, for lifelong learning as a prescription for success.

Its author is an International Labour Organization (ILO) master trainer, facilitator and entrepreneurship consultant. In 124 pages, Edokpolo crafts a practical and compelling book that is captivating in its content from cover to cover.

On Your Marks has 10 chapters and a foreword by the Director-General, Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Segun Oshinowo. He said for the Nigerian economy that isn’t rich in employment growth, with an unemployment rate of about 40 percent, the book is a boon.

With large-scale youth unemployment, Nigeria is in dilemma and a tinderbox and time-bomb requiring multi-prong approaches if national security was to be maintained. Therefore, On Your Marks is an excellent narrative to help solve the looming crisis of mass unemployment in Nigeria.

Unlike other books on the subject, Edokpolo shows in depth research, which is reflective of his multi-faceted personality as a mentor, pastor and entrepreneurship coach.
On Your Marks is particularly fascinating because of its recognition of the various segments of youth unemployment and unemployment of the elderly alike. The author’s use of normative logic as a new epistemological system of analytical reasoning and cognition is commendable. This enables him to proffer cues, tips and gambits that are suitable for each segment of the society. Surprisingly, the book highlights the myths and traps that surround entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

Here, Edokpolo shows his experience of loss while starting his first company in 2002. This forms the basis of his learning process within Nigeria’s tough business terrain.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) estimates that only 20 per cent of new businesses survive in Nigeria. To avoid joining those sections with high mortality rate, it is a wise proposition to do due diligence before plunging into any business otherwise disaster looms.

The first five chapters cover ‘Crossroads,’ ‘Your passion in life,’ ‘Your competence,’ ‘Marketability,’ ‘Motivation’ and ‘The business model’ you wish to pursue. When deciding which business to establish as an entrepreneur, there must be the knowledge that risk is being taken in the hope of making profit. Also, being your own boss might be your way of leaving a legacy. Then the best business to start will be the vocation you are passionate about.
Should your passion be blogging, consultancy, interior decoration or gardening, so long as you are passionate about it you can turn this dream to reality. For some category of people, money isn’t their motive. It is what they love. For example, Christopher Kolade took on the job of Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Britain at 61, when his peers were on retirement.

Now in his 80s, he is still active at work, proving that it is never too late to make a change. Starting a business is the obvious solution to Nigeria’s present economic straits. Often in life, when all roads are closed, you have to make your own way. You have to take the initiative and create a platform for yourself. Passion is a force that unleashes creativity. If you are passionate about an idea, you will be more willing to take risks to achieve your goal.
The remaining section of On Your Marks contains such chapters, as ‘Testing the waters of your business,’ ‘Your business plan,’ ‘Minding how technology affects your business,’ ‘Balancing work and living such that you do not die suddenly.’

It is good to remember that education doesn’t necessarily make you smarter than your contemporaries. Age doesn’t necessarily make you wiser. But risk-taking and lifelong learning will make you smart, healthy and wise.

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