How I Started My Business With A Borrowed Laptop, lot of Faith and 1,000 Naira

I want to congratulate you if you are reading this post; it was copied from a friend’s wall – Ronald Inna Nzimora. This story is about him, and I must confess; this story got me to rethink. I hope it helps you too!

In 2008, I was a completely broke with just about =N=1,000 to my name, fighting bouts of depression exacerbated by suicidal thoughts.

I had left school without finishing, had fallen out with my father because of the school thing. All my family member told me deciding to start a business rather than look for a job was crazy, including my younger sister who had a job at the now defunct Intercontinental Bank. She was gracious enough though to lend me some =N=5,000 which I spent as registration fees on a seminar at SADC learning information marketing.

After the seminar, I had borrowed an additional =N=7,000 from a distant cousin and ran an ad, which I thought would make me a gazzillionaire. The ad bombed. it made just one sale of =N=1,500.

At that time, I had left home and was living in an empty house, with no doors and no windows, somewhere in Festac Town. All I had to eat was garri, and I drank it most times without sugar, straight from a paint bucket I had to wash out the paint.

They say when you’re unfortunate, it means you have sunk really low, at that point in my life, I couldn’t have sunk any lower.

The only hope I still had was for some silly reason, I believed things would change. How I had that belief, I don’t know. Plus that =N=1,500 sale made me think, if someone in Nigeria, believed in me enough to buy what I was selling, maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t crazy after all.

But I was desperate, very desperate, Each day I was spending out of that =N=1,500 and each day, it got smaller. If I spent it all, I reasoned, I didn’t know what else I was going to do.

So I had a brilliant idea.

I went to my Sister, borrowed her laptop, went to a cybercafe, spent =N=1000 buying 1 hour time, and downloaded all the free internet marketing and sales books I could find within that time. If it had an interesting title, it was getting downloaded.

Then I went to Ojo Alaba International Market, bought 100 empty CDs for =N=500, 50 empty transparent plastic CD covers for =N=1000.

I then burnt all those books on the CDs and by CD 48, the DVD drive on the laptop stopped working.

Then I typed out the most intriguing book titles I have downloaded, designed it in MS-Word, and duplicated it in 4 parts inside one page. Then I paid =N=50 to print the page and another =N=40 to photocopy it in ten places.

Then I took scissors, cut each page in fours and inserted them into the CD plastic covers with a burnt CD each.

The next Monday, I packed all 48 CDs into a nylon bag and went to a seminar venue and waited.

During breaktime, as the seminar attendees stepped out, I started showing them the CD and offering them for =N=1,000 each.

By the end of the break period, I had sold 42 CDs, making =N=42,000 in cash.

And From That Day Everything Changed…

I then created a new info product, set up a website for it and advertised it. Sales poured in, then I created another, and another. Then I was invited to SADC to speak at their next seminar, (I had written the sales letter for it and gave it to them for free). 700 people were there. Before going, I wrote another salesletter for an event I was planning with my friends Samson Olatunde and Paul Oghoghorie. And using the earlier formula, distributed the printed salesletters there. 300 paid attendees showed up at our event.

Then I did more events. Then I started my marketing consulting company. Last year alone we sold over =N=5 Billion naira worth of products for our clients via our company.

Yes, that’s =N=5 BILLION.

Not shabby for something that I started with around =N=960.

Today I have a cushy office, I ride an SUV, I live in a private gated estate. I travel the world.

What’s my point?


When I started, I didn’t have a lot of options. So I worked with what I had. I went out and did what I could, and I grew from there. I wasn’t worried about what people would say. I didn’t bother about shame. I couldn’t afford to run ads, so I went and sold my CDs BY MYSELF.

I stopped hiding behind a computer screen, feeling safe and lost in that tiny world.

I am compelled to write this today because I saw an earlier post a member posted about quitting a business model, because he was having issues with delivery companies.

It’s fine to quit something if you have tried everything and it’s not working. But when it comes to delivery companies, do people try everything?

Everybody know delivery companies in Nigeria are shit. Yet many people still make great margins with them.

If you sell physical products, you know this. We do. So we have come up with our own elegant solution to the problem: which is to set up our own in-house delivery company, that delivers only our own products. We are buying vehicles and hiring riders.

If you’re having a similar problem, you need to do either of two things:

  1. You can change the delivery company.


  1. Set up your own delivery system that you control.

And before you say, “Ronald, you can do Number 2 because you have money”, let’s stop with that excuse right this minute, because you see, you don’t even have to start buying vehicles immediately.

How about selling only to residents of Lagos and its environs and doing the deliveries by yourself?

If I didn’t have money and delivery companies are messing up my deliveries, I would find =N=3,500 print a T-Shirt with my business name on it, enter a bus and do my deliveries BY MYSELF.

It’s called HUSTLE!

If you want your business to thrive, you do ALL IT TAKES to make it happen.

But what if you don’t live in Lagos? What if you live in Kaduna? Well, why not keep in touch with your buyers in Lagos, then travel down to Lagos by bus once a week and do the deliveries?

Is it hard? Yes! Is it inconvenient? Yes! But my friends, it’s the price you have to pay for your dream. You do that and you save up so you can have the funds to do it easier later in the soon-to-come future.

Most internet marketers just want to hide behind their computers and do next to nothing while the money rolls in because they have been so enamored with the glitzy rich lifestyle.

Sorry, but that’s bullshit. if you run a business, and you want it to work, then you DO EVERYTHING REQUIRED by your current situation to make it work.

But how many people will do it? Almost zero, because we don’t want to get our hands dirty.

Today, I still go out and sell, I still call events and ask them to take me on as a speaker for free. I still will distribute printed marketing material if need be.

I do not care about shame. I am hustling, and marketing and making money.

So forgive me if I don’t care about your “problems” and respond to your posts with off the cuff impatient comments. I have earned the right to. Go and do likewise.

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