20 years an entreprenuer
There are personal details of my life I never share online, especially of family. But this deserves an exception.
Twenty years ago, my dad quit his job as an advertising executive to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. He was in his mid-40s, with a family of 3 children, still in school, to support.
His idea? A TV programme to educate the average Nigerian about taxation. Hardly the most lucrative idea, certainly not worth losing a very recent official
Here's a snippet video of him sharing his inspiration for Tax Matters.
Thanks to help in form of initial investments from my mum, close friends and relatives, he trudged on. The first episode of Tax Matters aired exactly 20 years ago today, July 5, 2000 on NTA Channel 5 (the station was still a big deal back then).
I remember having to watch the first few episodes, which aired on Sundays at 10 p.m. (we couldn't afford a prime slot yet), in a neighbour's house because power generators were still a luxury. This was before I-better-pass-my-neighbour generators came into fashion.
In the beginning, my dad ran the company mostly from home, using a friend's office address and my mum's business name for official correspondence. After managing to buy our first home computer, he depended on me and my siblings to type and print official letters to TV stations and potential sponsors. Without a doubt, I owe a lot of my career today as a writer and editor to that experience. We also tagged along to many official meetings and studio sessions.
Of course, when the business was eventually incorporated, he gave me, my mum and siblings (as soon as they turned 18) our due stake in the business 😉.
Things certainly weren't rosy those first few years. In fact, it took about 6 to 7 years (2006) for things to begin making headway (corporate Nigeria, especially, did not buy into my dad's vision). I remember that the year 2005 was particularly tough. For a whole year, his business experienced a drought and the family depended mostly on my mum's stable income.
There was another drought in 2008 but with his resilience and faith in the business, things eventually stabilised. He was able to setup a home office and studio and, through his business, he has supported no less than 10 families, excluding his, through the past decade.
I am thankful for Tax Matters because without it neither I nor my siblings would have experienced the relatively good life and quality education that we got. I want to say "here's to another 20 years" but that would be wicked greed 😀. It's nearing time for the old man to retire and enjoy the fruits of his labour.
Rest in peace to Jamiu Yisau, who dedicated almost 18 years of his life to my father's business. He started off as a driver and Man Friday. Then he graduated into trusted cameraman and production assistant. Sadly, he died of renal failure on October 17th, 2019. He was my dad's most trusted employee and essentially a part of the family. He didn't go without a fight, which was orchestrated by my dad with support from family, friends and business associates.
I chose to share this story today because it might inspire someone. Some of the most successful (big and small) businesses today started with a silly idea. I mean, who would have thought you could run a TV programme about such a boring subject as taxation, in Nigeria, for 20 years?
Today, Tax Matters airs weekly nationwide on Channels TV, TVC News, many local NTA stations across Nigeria and a couple of other private stations (it used to air on AIT too). At a time, it was even syndicated on many national radio stations.
There's little the mind can conceive that is impossible to achieve.