HOW TO HUSTLE YOUR WAY TO BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR
Today’s interview is with Daniel Damilola Nejo, a Business Strategy Consultant and a “Serial Hustler.” He’s the Founder & Creative Designer at Presidential Ideas, a dynamic digital agency based in London, United Kingdom.
We’re excited to have you here today. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Thanks for having me; it’s a pleasure to be here today.
Well, my name is Daniel Damilola Nejo and in one word, I’m a “Hustler”. I was born and raised in Nigeria but now living in London. I’m a creative designer and business strategy consultant with an MSc in Business Information Systems Management from Middlesex University in London.
I work with a lot of Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and provide them with a reputable brand identity offline and online that helps connect the dots between marketing technology & creativity which in turn helps them to engage their customers & grow their revenue.
I’m also a coach and mentor to a large number of youths around the world – mostly in Africa. I guide and coach them on entrepreneurship and digital designs as well.
You call yourself a “hustler.” What does the word “hustle” mean to you and why do you think it’s important for every entrepreneur to become a hustler?
Hustle means different things to different people. But to me, it means creating opportunities for yourself where there might not be one – but doing so without breaking any law or cheating people. I had to add that to it, because the word “Hustle” originally had a bad meaning to it – It used to mean to take advantage of someone. But now, it has a different meaning, one that everyone who is serious about being an entrepreneur should embrace.
I believe entrepreneurs need not only be “entrepreneurs” but also know how to hustle – how to create opportunities, how to get things done faster by either leveraging already created things or making use of emerging technology.
Where did your interest in digital designs and entrepreneurship come from?
Well, I’ve always been an entrepreneur since I was a little kid. I remember selling firewood when I was young, not because I had to feed myself or I was hungry but because I saw logs of wood lying down in my father’s compound and I figured out that it was constituting nuisance, I could pick them up, chop them, tie them and sell them to people who cooked by the road side. And I did exactly that, my friends and brothers used to taunt me saying “Dammy the firewood seller”, that’s hilarious to me now but then I kinda felt ashamed as a kid. You see, this is what society does, they shame you for choosing to be a better person, thinking outside of the box and not following the status quo.
I also sold some stuffs in University as well, from snapbacks to shoes to sunglasses to anything that people needed. I was lucky enough to figure out at an early age that business or money is simply a supply and demand game. If you can always fill a need, you will be compensated with money.
Even though my early entrepreneurship movements were selling of physical products, it took a turn when I graduated from University in 2013 with a BSc in Computer Science. Whilst in school, I’ve always loved and envied a friend of mine who designed websites and graphics. This boy was making hundreds of thousands of Naira as a student doing this and I was always angry that I couldn’t do the same, considering the fact that we were in the same class studying the same course. (Laughter.) But that’s what schools do these days – they teach you theories and no practical. So, you just know X and Ys but you don’t know how to apply to the real world to make a living.
To cut the long the long story short, it dawned on me that I can complain from now till eternity about how I have a degree in computer science but I didn’t know anything computer science related or I can shut up and learn it.
So, I decided to teach myself web and graphics design on my grandmother’s dining table using videos, blogposts, ebooks and any resource I could find. I chose to do this instead of getting a job like a normal person would after school. In no time, I was becoming very good and this was because I genuinely loved the design field and I made a very serious decision on what part of digital design I wanted to learn. I said to myself “I want to learn how to design websites but because I don’t have much time to learn how to code from scratch. This should have been taught to me in university, I’m going to learn how to get websites and graphics done in the highest quality possible without having to write code from scratch or follow the long route of being a design guru.” This made my learning process fast, smooth and easy. I started following people and websites/blogs that provide free and paid resources to help me achieve my goal. I became very good and the rest is history.
Tell us about your first business, Presidential Ideas. What really inspired you to start it?
Presidential Ideas is my baby. I started the company on my grandmother’s dining table in Nigeria immediately I graduated from University. With the web and graphics design skills I learnt on my own, I felt the need to use the skill to provide solutions for businesses. So, I came up with the name Presidential Ideas… providing businesses and individuals with designs and branding that gives their business an aesthetically pleasing image. It’s funny because I named the business Presidential Ideas because it was just me, a laptop and my office space was my granny’s dining table. But you have to sow the seed for it to germinate.
I was inspired to start my own thing because I felt I was 19 years old at that time and I shouldn’t be in a rush to get a job, I can use my design skills to provide businesses or people with websites and graphics design and I can be paid for that. I knew this was going to be big when I landed my first client based in New York who paid me $1200 for a website I did for his fitness company – the website took me less than a week or so to design. That made me sit tight and get more dedicated to my business.
What’s the reason behind your success?
Information and the application of it. I am not the best web or graphics designer from Nigeria or the best outside of Nigeria but I pay very close attention to things other people don’t. I’m always looking for information, whether free or paid. As long as it’s going to give me leverage and improve me, I’m going to get the knowledge and apply it and that’s what real hustlers do.
How did you make your first online income? How much time did it take to make money online?
I made my first money online by providing a service, it doesn’t take much time to be honest once you have a strategy. Making money offline and online is the same thing – YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE VALE! It’s as simple as that, it’s either you are selling a product or providing a service that is valuable enough for people to exchange their money for it. This is very very key because we live in a generation now where people think making money online is a miracle or its going to happen through a “system” or “software,” that’s all BS. You have to put in work, so it’s either you are selling a product or providing a service.
Anyone who is making money online or even offline will tell you the same thing.
For me, I provided a service with my skill, I was doing web and graphics design for businesses and individuals around the world and it all escalated from there. Earlier I said something very important “it’s all about supply and demand. If you have a skill, you next move is to place yourself where people who need that skill are willing to pay for it.”
How do you think small business owners can create systems that make their businesses more profitable?
I believe small business owners can become profitable if they start paying close attention to proper business planning and having strategies in place that are proven to be profitable. I know about this because my MSc dissertation was about factors hindering SMEs from success compared to their counterparts and the result of the research turned out that most SMEs run their business without having a solid business plan or following a strategy.
“Big businesses” understand the power of the internet to their brand and they ensure that their online presence is superb! From their social media accounts to their website, it’s all clean, modern and responsive and why they do this is because they understand that we live in a world where a large percentage of customers are on the internet all day and are mobile. So when a customer is in the process of finding the right product or business, if and when they land on their website, they will be enticed to buy from them because of their perception of the business from their online presence.
“Small businesses” owners pay less attention to their online presence. They tend to believe it’s too expensive to get a very professional website done or have a good presence on social media, they believe only “word of mouth” will drive their business.
Why are systems and processes so important in building a successful business?
They are very important because you don’t go on a quest and then look for a map. Instead, you have a map from the beginning of your quest so things will run smoothly and if you ever need a map, it’s there to guide you. This is what systems, strategies and processes do for businesses that have them in place. It guides them to what they term as “success” for their business.
Andrew Green is your mentor. Can you tell us more him and how you met him?
Yes, he is. He’s a very good man, very very good. I met him on the internet actually in 2014. This was when I was based in Nigeria running my design business – Presidential Ideas. He needed a good and skilled designer to work with him on one of his project in London and I was opportuned to be the guy. We grew a strong bond after I did some work for him that he had been trying to get done for years and had spent thousands of pounds hiring London based designers.
Our relationship grew from designer to client to mentor to mentee as time went on. He also played a role in me moving to London in 2015 to get my Masters and he has been guiding me through my path of discovery. Before the day runs out, I’m sure he will ring me. We talk every day.
What do you think are the things that cause small businesses to failure?
This is very broad because all businesses whether small or big have their own specific circumstances and these circumstances might play a role in their failure but I would say from a broad perspective that the lack of a solid business plan plays a major role in the failure of small businesses.
How do you manage your time in a day? Please give us detail about your daily routine.
I’m not going to act like I’ve a well mapped-out day because as an entrepreneur, even though you have the whole day to yourself, it’s still not yours. You work from one thing to another.
My day mostly starts at 6:30AM, I wake up and jug to the gym and workout for an hour. When I get back home, it’s always around 8:30AM. So I shower, eat and take a 5 minutes break or something. And then, I put on my computer, and the magic begins. I start working on different things but I allocate time to each project. Once the time allocated for that is over, I move on to something else. I reply emails in between all of these, emails from clients, from my students, from people who want me to mentor them.
I check all my personal and business websites to see everything is good. I create some content for my blog, I come up with a new video topic, I do some graphics design for personal brand. I reply Facebook comments and messages. I check Instagram and ensure all DMs (direct messages) and comments on my pictures are replied to. I kinda glance through twitter sometimes.
I just do everything that I believe needs to be done on that day and my day usually ends at midnight. To have some fun, I try to watch a movie on my phone but I always fall asleep just after 20minutes into the movie, it’s crazy.
That’s basically how my normal day goes, on days where I have meetings with clients. I hit the street of London and get those meetings done in grand style.
What has been your most effective form of marketing?
I would say Facebook has been very effective and my works themselves have sold themselves. People also recommend me a lot, and this is what happens when you have a good product or service offering.
What has been the toughest part of being a young entrepreneur?
Distancing myself from friends and family. As a young entrepreneur on his path to becoming very successful, I get to spend a lot of time on my own with my computer detached from the outside world. This makes some relationships soar and I have little or no time to check on people who are close to me and, you can’t eat your cake and have it I guess.
What’s your top 3 success tips for young entrepreneurs?
Number 1: Make a decision on what you like, please ensure this can be monetized. Meaning someone somewhere can exchange their money for you to do this for them or give what you have to them.
Number2: Hone your skills. Get all the information, free or paid that will help you become better at that thing that you love. This will increase your worth and make you more confident.
Number3: Do! You have to keep doing it, your acquired skills or knowledge will bring nothing good to you if you don’t put it to action. While you are doing, make sure you have someone you look up to and copy their steps, what they do, what they’ve done and see how to be in contact with that person so he/she can give you straight advice or mentorship.
Finally, what’s your thought about Under35CEO?
I believe you guys are doing an amazing job. Creating a hub where people around the world can be inspired and motivated to become a stronger version of themselves. Thumbs up to the team.
You can learn about Daniel Damilola Nejo below:
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