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‘Sharing your struggles in business brings relief, allows one to process and probe’

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Fatima Oladosu

Some statistics throw up really depressing numbers such as- close to 50 per cent businesses closing up shop after their first year, closer to 80 per cent of entrepreneurs survive the first year, and around 50 per cent complete five years. But we all want to be part of the winning team. In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, the founder of Fuck Up Night (FUN) in Nigeria, Fatima Oladosu, speaks on why it is necessary for people, especially business owners, to share their pains and talk about their losses.

Let’s meet you please?
My name is Fatima Oladosu, I am an accountant by profession, I’m the convener of Fuck Up Night (FUN) Lagos and I run a concierge service company called Frontida Limited.

The language sounds derogatory, how did you come about this name and idea?
This wasn’t my idea. It is a global event, it started in Mexico in 2012 and I got the franchise in 2018 and decided to host the event. It took me a while to pray about it after signing up. We all come from different religious backgrounds and we know what it means to say the words before trying to sell the idea. It was hard to come to terms with the name myself but what helped me was to understand the concept in which the word was being used. So, what F—k Up Night is trying to point out is that we all make mistakes and at one point in life and we say to ourselves that we have messed up. And the name is very apt to what we are trying to achieve.

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So far we have done three editions, the last one was done on May 26, 2019. The next one will come up on August 25, 2019, at the City Mall. We had 70 registered attendees when we had the first one, and the second was sponsored by Social Media Week where we had over 200 registrations and the third had almost 400 registered.

On what basis did you found FUN?
It was basically founded to change the narrative of failure. We want Nigerians to be innovative. I was reading a book titled, First Nation and I got to a page named Failure Institute. After secondary school, the Israelites are sent to war zone to join the army and they give them leadership roles in the army. They make mistakes in that role but they allow them to face the consequences and learn from it so that they don’t make same mistake the next time. That is why you find innovation in Israel because they have gone through processes to stand hard times. African parents will rather beat up their children for making mistakes instead of asking them what they learned from it. The idea is to make people understand that they can keep standing up regardless of the magnitude of the set- back.

Why do you think people don’t want to talk about their failure in business?
Have you seen anyone talked about the mistakes they made? Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Most times people are embarrassed to talk about their failure and some refused to take ownership of their mistakes, so this avenue allows people to take ownership, accept it and learn from it and move forward.

Why do business owners facing trouble forget the principle of Don’t Fail When Your Business Fails, which is a tip for bouncing back?
Because we take it too personal. We rarely separate ourselves from our business, which is why you don’t see continuity in many businesses. People don’t really put structure in their businesses, it starts and ends with them. There are only few companies in Nigeria still functioning or functioning at full capacity after the exit of their founders.

What is the essence of talking about challenges encountered in business before its total collapse?
The greatest thing it does is relief because that process allows you to understand, process and probe. The process of individuals coming to share gives you time to think about what you did, your experience, identify what exactly went wrong and your contribution to what really went wrong. The best way to learn is through true stories. People hear stories about success and they wonder how the people sharing them got to that stage. There were so many things that happened before that success and this is what this platform wants to achieve. We do the behind the scenes, in the middle, what happened, what steps you have to take, the decision you made before the victory. People need to hear so they can learn from their mistakes and also to change the narratives. Nowadays, people have the mindset of getting rich fast, nobody wants to do the hard work, people want to cut corners. You see a 20-year-old boy telling you he has suffered, he listens to the song that says if you don’t have money, hide your face, everybody just want to get money through any means. But there is a process for all these things, there is a starting line, there is process for everything because you will make mistakes when you start without the due process and may not be able to sustain it.

No one is born walking immediately; we start from crawling and we stumble in the process, we crawl before taking a step to learn to walk, but we forget that when we get into business, we just want to jump. So, this process allows you to see people that have succeeded talking about their mistakes and what they did to come out. Sometimes when your business is facing a challenge, it means you are doing something wrong and you can only come out of it if you are bold enough to face the fact that your business is not doing well.

What category of people are expected at this programme?
Basically people that are young at heart, trying to do something new. You can be young-at-heart and be 70-year-old; people who can think out of the box. We are expecting students, entrepreneurs and professionals in different fields. The speakers include Managing Director, Elephant Group Plc, CEO, Homeland Lenses Limited, May Morris-Kawel, Co-Founder, Hamilton and George Limited, Joseph Edgar and the CEO, The Baby Language, Itoro Ugorji.

What is the future hope for FUN?
We hope that people will learn to embrace their journey, allowing themselves to go through the process and learn from their mistakes; that we grow a culture of people eager to try something new, to be innovative. Lagos has over 22 million people, if we can get at least one million people to face innovation, not scared to step out of their comfort zone, Lagos will be a better place.

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