Due to the unsteady and risky nature of entrepreneurship, it’s tempting to play safe by waiting until the profits from your business equals the amount on your monthly paycheck, but this might not be feasible because it would be difficult to upscale your business at infancy when you are engrossed with a 9-5 that demands your attention for the better part of each day. This is not to say that you should throw caution to the wind when quitting your job. At the barest minimum, you should have substantial savings, a feasible business plan, your minimum viable product and a contingency plan just in case things go south.
I had all these in place before ditching my job, and 4 years down this journey, I am certain that entrepreneurship is best learnt by ‘DOING’. Read about my journey below, and how my parents assumed I was crazy because of the decision I made to focus solely on my business.
“Leaving my 9-5 to focus on my business got my parents thinking I was insane“
Up, Close and Personal with Founder; BizGuru Africa, & CEO, DMX Logistics, Saidu Mubarak.
Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your business, DMX Logistics?
Hello, I’m Mubarak Saidu. I founded DMX Logistics, alongside several thriving businesses; DMX Auto-Garages in Abuja which is focused on painting and pimping cars, I manage a secondary and primary school called SmaBirm International School, SmaBirm Sports Arena, which is a Sports Arena in Ilorin, and a host of other flourishing businesses.
You seem to be a master of all trades, what drives you to go overboard in your endeavors?
Although I was in the corporate sector, entrepreneurship has always been a passion for me, which is probably why I decided to resign. It was strategic because while I’ve always known that I’ll run my own business, I wanted to test the corporate hustle waters for about two years. The two-year timeline which I gave myself was cut short because I read two books. Although I was well acquainted with books by foreign authors, I read two books by Nigerian authors while I was en-route Abuja, and it changed everything for me; Working on a Dream by G.Fagbure and Small Business, Big Money by Akin Alabi.
The weekend after I read those books, I informed my parents that I wasn’t going to continue my job. They thought I was crazy, especially because my salary was just increased. They gave in eventually after they realized I wasn’t going to change my mind.
Care to share how you began your entrepreneurship journey?
Entrepreneurship has always come naturally to me, I began making money at a young age, and I tried my hands on a lot of things. Now that I think about it, DMX Auto-garages started eight years ago, without a workshop. I used to go to golf clubs to prospect clients with my business partner. I collect their cars, paint and/or pimp it, collect my cash, and move on. I’ve been able to make money without cash on the table. I’m aware that a popular problem amongst entrepreneurs is lack of access to capital, but for every business I’ve established till date, I test-run them without finance, and I think this is something that entrepreneurs should learn from, because if you can establish a business to a fairly good degree without sufficient finance, you can actually sustain that business for the long haul. There’s a difference between requesting finance for an idea and requesting finance for an existing business, even if it exists on a small scale. Truth is, an idea could be mind-blowing on paper but a flop in reality.
When did you begin DMX Logistics?
DMX began in December, 2018, but officially kicked off in 2019. It’s been both a challenging and learning environment for me. I was lucky enough to have few friends that had been in the logistics sector for over 5 years before me. I became conscious about joining their circle, studying them, attending their workshops & seminars. Afterwards, I merged their business model with my USP as DMX Logistics and officially kicked off.
Did you pick logistics because you had friends whose expertise paved the way for you, or was it a thing of passion?
Funny question because I didn’t choose logistics. When I informed my boss about my resignation, he advised me to take a leave of absence to be sure that I was making the right decision. After a month, I was certain, but didn’t know what to do. My sister had a motorcycle for her business. So, on my birthday, I collected my sister’s motorcycle, called her driver, began my business without prior knowledge of anything logistics, and began studying afterwards.
Who was your first customer?
Naturally, my sister was my first customer, and afterwards, she introduced me to several other businesses around the locality, and I did a pretty good job with prospecting them. I was determined to develop healthy business ethics, which is why I decided to dedicate the same amount of time I did when I was employed to my business.
What are some key challenges you’ve dealt with while running DMX Logistics?
I’d say the government, and its bogus regulations. Typical example is the ridiculous prices that are enforced on logistics companies for as high as N50,000. There’s also the recent threat with NIPOST. Truth is, despite the fact that SMEs are the pillars of every economy, the government doesn’t seem to be strategic about helping SMEs scale, which is obvious with the policies and regulations in place to stifle their growth. An extension of this problem is the intensification of insecurity, which has impacted the logistics industry significantly.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your business?
Contrary to popular occurrences with other sectors, the logistics industry experienced a huge boom, and I was a beneficiary. Before the pandemic hit, I restructured DMX Logistics, automated the business model & processes, and shut down for two days to set plans rolling before the lockdown was officially announced. Afterwards, DMX Logistics was operational all through.
What would you say is the best thing about running your own business?
It’s the freedom to think, decide, and implement according to your capacity. Truth is, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Sometimes the socioeconomic outlook of the country makes people dabble into entrepreneurship without prior preparation, but its how well, not how long.
Your Advice to Entrepreneurs?
I’ve realized that businesses with a defined structure last longer, and will win, regardless of how terrible the economy is. Another advice is to jump on digital innovations to leverage automated payments and systems with human interaction. Another advice is to prioritize profit maximization regardless of how little, because some factors like inflation can put you out of business if you incur losses consistently.