Five Indispensable Tips for Starting from Nothing, according to Ayo Megbope


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She is the CEO of No Left Overs, a business started in her kitchen in 2007 because there was no food to eat, and with ‘a check’ of N1000.

Her moin-moin, the main product of the now diverse food business chain, was enjoyed by Michelle Obama at a dinner at the White House in which she introduced the then American First Lady to an audience. And ever since, she has not looked back.

Ayodeji Megbope’s life is one of those rags to riches stories that are very practical and replicable, and it is no surprise that her episode on Kemi Adetiba’s King Women has been commented on as a favorite by most viewers. Starting off well from a middle class home, she found herself in a situation in which she could not get a University education in a society where a certificate was part of the gateways to success.

Rather than sulk from unsuccessful efforts at getting the white collar jobs – being, in her words, a “musing local champion” – Ayo created her own job with green leaves.

Her beginnings – of regular abuse, and distrust from mum – and rise to glory is realistic. It follows a pattern that may not repeat scene for scene in other people’s lives, but provides a guide that, whatever be the depths of one’s present state, can be followed to achieve successes that will be laudable and sustainable.

Gleaning frim her life, here is Ayodeji Megbope’s guide:

Start with the best thing you can do comfortably

“Give me a thousand naira and I will make you a bag of moin-moin” was how she turned it into a business but it was not obvious from the start. It began with finding herself with only N1000 to cook for her children. An effortless ability to cook beans and make the delicacy that comes from grinding it was appreciated by enough persons to lead her into monetizing it.

Lesson: Don’t go looking for a laptop with which to Photoshop shots you will take when you buy a camera; start with your Smartphone and download any of the photo-editing softwares on the store. Instagram waits.

Trust your hustle, and your support

She ground her beans by 5am, having to wake two hours before that to tend the children for school. But it did not translate to automatic success. Even on days it would, unforeseen circumstances – like soured beans or bashing some other person’s car – could take all of the earnings away. But she had her “cheerleader”, same person who had given her the first N1000.

Lesson: Nobody really wins alone, because when lose, you would need someone to help get you back to your feet.

Be visible – literally

This is the age of digital marketing, where brands are doing all to be as in-your-face as possible. Helped by Facebook and Google, unbelievable algorithms are used to make what you read linked with the brands you see. Ayo did this too, in the analog days, and it was not as trendy as the online one. Going to the school where she had resigned as an admin staff to sell moin-moin at the gate must have been humbling but it was literally the type of advertisement she needed to finally blow.

Lesson: Be very good at what you do, and from that, gain the confidence to be vulnerable about it with others.

Prepare to deliver on your first big deal – by perfecting the little ones

The saying is that opportunities for success come regularly but in work clothes. For Ayo, her opportunity to take off No Left Overs to the point of no return met her at those gates but she had to make the move. From feeding 100 staff, to training with Goldman Sachs, she fed the most powerful First Lady in the world, and it has only got better ever since. But had she not been very good at the waking early, and salting, and wrapping, including branding her bags to attract that first big client, it would still be a story at the scripting stage.

Lesson: Those who hammer realize that the small nail has to be hit right, repeatedly.

Be in your skin, sweaters are overrated.

While watching this video of Ayo Megbope, you could understand that she was eventually going to succeed. Surely it comes with hindsight because she did but there appears not to be any hidden covers. Ayo did not go to Harvard but her communication is natural and enlightening, without any need for accentuated conditioning. She just wanted to do something and make something out of her life for happiness sake. And she did, and is still doing.

Lesson: Be true to yourself, and that which is yours will fit with ease.

Feature image: King Women on YouTube (Screenshot)/No Left Overs

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