Career change is inevitable for many at some point in life. However, for some people, journeying from the banking world to the entrepreneurial goes beyond the constancy of change. It is a journey driven by self-awareness, passion and human-centrism. This is the story of Mr. Sola Dawodu (ASD), as he joins us on SME Showcase. Sola Dawodu is an SME guru, a versatile business coach and trainer, fashionista and branding expert, farm consultant, and motivational speaker. He is also the COO of Laniffe Global Consults.
Driven by the passion for entrepreneurship, Dawodu dumped his growing career in the banking industry after spending a couple of years with Fidelity Bank Plc. According to him, as he became aware of his gifts of oration and motivation, he became increasingly awkward hotdesking in the confinement of the wintry bank hall. He said, “I really liked to talk to people to get things done in perfect manners. I also noticed I could orate well and manage people. At a point in life, I was tired of my banking career. I yearned for more. So, I opted out.”
Like a lamb freed from a cold foggy stall at dawn, Dawodu raced into the fulfillment of his life’s goal. This, he said, is to achieve the seemingly impossible, while putting smiles on the faces of people. The business mogul believes that life is not measured in the worth of properties and assets amassed; life is in one’s impact in the lives of people. It is not about how you die, but the legacies passed down to the next generation.
Dawodu is certified by the British Council, International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development, India. He is also an alumnus of Lagos Business School. His die-hard passion for the growth of small and medium enterprises in Nigeria recently earned him a global recognition by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). He was certified alongside eleven others by ILO as a master trainer on SIYB packages, entrepreneurship, and business development.
Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) is an international standard training module and package for tutoring organisations and developing SMEs. This was developed by ILO to address the challenges that prevent entrepreneurs from reaching their potentials. One of these is limited access to Business Development Services (BDS) such as market information, legal advice, and managerial training.
According to Dawodu, under the package are modules such as Generate Your Business (GYB), Start Your Business (SYB), Improve Your Business (IYB). Speaking on the plans to implement the Module, Dawodu said the intention is to pitch this framework to organisations in the SME ecosystem, including government agencies such as SMEDAN, FIIRO, NDE, among others.
Entrepreneurship, in Dawodu’s opinion, is a way of life through which he can attain his goal. He holds that being an entrepreneur is neither a part-time nor full-time job; it’s a lifestyle. He said, “I sleep and breath entrepreneurship.” And the purpose of entrepreneurship, he posits, is to enable people to identify their passion and creative ability, and to turn them into a viable business venture.
Attesting to the rugged terrain of entrepreneurship, Dawodu noted, “My entrepreneurship journey has been rough, full of challenges; and opportunities abound, yet it’s a continuous journey.” For him, whether under the sun or in the rain, there is no turning back on entrepreneurship.
Speaking of the indomitable spirit and non-retreating nature of entrepreneurs, he shared this on his Instagram handle: “Entrepreneurs want to be masters of their own fate, personally and professionally. Even if they do not achieve their goals, they enjoy the journey, and after a failure they often jump straight back into fire.”
It is this persistence that makes entrepreneurship the main engine for economies to evolve and regenerate. The business coach posits, “Entrepreneurship is mainly looked as equal to a small business owner, but entrepreneurial spirit is the foundation to all size of enterprises. Being an essential fuel that drives the economy, entrepreneurs have a valuable place in the society.”
“Nigerians need to wake up to this reality and government must create the enabling environment. Most successful countries thrive on the support of entrepreneurs; they contribute a large quota to the GDP,” he added.
Dawodu, who is also the convener of SME Tink Tank platform, holds that an entrepreneur’s vision of making an impact on the national economy may not be attainable without mentoring. According to him, the impact of coaching and mentoring is enormous. He said, “No single tree can make a forest. They (Coaches or Mentors) are there as business angels, based on their experience and years in business.’’
Dawodu’s SME Tink Tank coordinates and manages over 210 businesses for growth. He has also organised conferences: SEED Conference and Entrepreneurs Hangout, aimed at mentoring small and medium scale businesses and aspiring business owners.
In view of SME growth in Nigeria, Dawodu launched SMETT Diagnostic Series. This is a business clinic saddled with the responsibility of analysing challenges of businesses with a view of prospecting solutions to them.
He said, “We have on standby great consultants that are experts in growing and scaling small businesses. It’s absolutely free, as a give back to young, teeming, aspiring and existing businesses.”
On a final note, Mr. Sola Dawodu canvassed the need for passion in entrepreneurship. He said, “A business built around passion, with good corporate governance will stand the test of time. Anyone can learn to be and operate like an entrepreneur, but the terrain is full of hard work.”