There are two striking things that you can’t but notice about Mr. Kunle Onime. The first is his intimidating height and the second, his rugged dark complexion. Beneath all of that, however, is a good man with a good heart. The MD/CEO of Marketing and Promotions Concepts Limited, Onime pioneered experiential marketing in Nigeria in 1999. Currently operating in other countries like Guinea and Ghana, he spoke to YES International! Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, on a number of issues…
What makes a good businessman?
A whole lot of things make a good businessman – planning, focus, determination, financial backing, support from God, family and friends.
Why do most people fail in business?
A lot of reasons are responsible for why people fail in business. Number one, most people are not able to persevere. Most people don’t plan properly, because it is said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you lose focus, concentration, you must fail and of course, let us also not forget the Nigerian factor. There are too many issues in Nigeria that can make a business to fail, no matter how much effort you put into it. But even with the Nigerian factor, a lot of business succeed, so why would you allow the Nigerian factor to make you fail? Rather than allow the Nigerian factor to make you fail? You should allow the Nigerian factor to make you excel even more; not fail.
What is the costliest mistake that any businessman can make?
Not getting your priorities right.
What is the best way to start a business and also grow a business?
Dis questions wey you dey ask me dis morning na wah o! (General laughter). I will use myself as an example. What has been my strengths are my perseverance and my determination. I have never for once, no matter the obstacles, lost that zeal and determination to excel. For me, that is the key. Very key!
Why are most people reluctant to go into business?
Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown, basically.
What is the first thing that every businessman must do?
The first thing that every businessman must do? It depends really! For me, I had a vision and I grew the vision. A lot of people are middle businessmen. They just assume that because Azuh has started YES International!, they can also start YES Nigeria. But they don’t have the zeal, they don’t have the vision, they don’t have the focus, they don’t have anything. They are the ones that fail the most. But once you have the vision, you see the vision through and you are determined to go through all it takes, the chances of you making it are very bright.
Why do some people succeed in business and fail in marriage?
That is a very difficult one. They are two different things. The success of a marriage is destined by God. There are so many people who are successful businessmen, but they are not able to manage their homes. There are some people who are successful in their businesses and they are also successful in their marriages. Some people can’t just manage the two. For me, it’s God basically. Because they are not the same thing. Managing a business is completely different from managing a home. Jeez! Managing women is one hell of an assignment. Likewise men o!
Why is it that most people attain success, but find it difficult to sustain it?
That is equally dependent on a whole lot of issues. A lot of things! It’s part of the determination I’m talking about. I have never, and up till this minute that I am speaking with you, lost hope. I have several challenges even now, but I’m more determined. The more the challenges are coming, the more determined I am to ensure that my business succeeds. A lot of people, once those challenges come, the determination begins to lose steam and the moment you are losing steam; it’s like somebody doing a 100 metres race. At the take off of the race, you are so determined to be number one and the moment you see one, two, three people going past you, you are just like what the heck! But interestingly, if you are determined, you could still spring faster than those people. For me, it’s when you lose your steam, that’s when you lose track.
Why do most people find it difficult to do business with integrity?
Whaaoh! There are very few people in Nigeria that have integrity in the first place. Integrity has been thrown under the carpet in Nigeria and if you ask me as a businessman in Nigeria, people who do business with integrity are less than 10%. People don’t give a damn, they don’t care, as long as they make the money. For me, money is not everything. If you have integrity, chances of you getting to the top are there. But in Nigeria, what is integrity? I’m not even sure those at the top have integrity.
What business model do you practice at MPC?
We are an events and experiential marketing agency. We are the first indigenous experiential marketing agency in Nigeria. So, the model we practice here is leadership by example. I get here so early, I get my hands dirty, I’m part of the system and it has worked for us.
What stands MPC out?
Just like I said before, we are the first indigenous experiential marketing agency. It was a vision that I had several years ago, and what sets us apart is the fact that we are the first and we are also the best. A lot of the other people that have joined the ranks of experiential marketing agencies don’t have any vision. They are just middle businessmen who just assume that there’s supposedly so much money to be made in this business and they just put two and two together and off they are going. We have a vision to remain here till Jesus Christ will come. We have moved outside of Nigeria and set up offices in some West African countries and we have the determination to move into even a lot more African countries and that is one of the things that also set us apart. Aside that, we work for all the biggest names in this country in FMCG category and even beyond.
What gave the confidence that this line of business which you pioneered would fly in Nigeria?
Quite frankly, right from when I was in school, I was involved in all manner of events – musical shows, music promotions, artiste management; I had done all sorts. Quite frankly, when I had the vision, I can show you a few of the proposals that I wrote then and they wrote back to me to say that it wasn’t gonna work. A lot of people said I was mad really. That this thing wasn’t gonna work. But because of that word that I used earlier on – determination. A few of my friends also believed in my dream. My vision never allowed me to lose that steam of determination. They were there, always encouraging me, always telling me don’t let go. I will make a particular reference to my friend, late Otunba Gadaffi (Isaac Durojaiye) whose office I used as my very first office when I started doing business on my own. He always said to me, Kunle, never let go. I mean, you have this vision, I also see that vision, it’s gonna work, it’s possible. Yeah, you are facing stress now, but don’t let go. If I refused to let go since 1993, 94, why would I want to let go now?
Who was the first client you worked for and how were you able to corner the account?
As MPC, the very first client that I got was Promasidor, followed by Nestle and how I got them – it’s providence. I can’t share that in public, I’m sorry about that.
What do you like most about what you do?
Whaaoh! I love this job like mad. If you make me the managing director of a bank now, I will not take it. What makes this job very interesting? It’s a hobby that has developed into a business. I quite frankly don’t see myself as working. I’m making money from enjoying myself. I love what I do, it’s exciting, it’s interesting; you are able to touch people’s lives in different ways and manners. Ah! I just love this job a lot.
What don’t you like about the work?
What don’t I like about this job? That it takes me away from loved ones a lot of times.
Is there any client that you would like to work for but hasn’t been able to?
Hmmm! Yes! But I can’t say that here.
Who is the sweetest client that you have worked for and why?
I’m also not able to say that (General laughter). Do you know why? If I mention this client, I will get into trouble with that client. I work for different clients and I enjoy working for all of them. So, saying this is sweet and this is not won’t be okay. All my clients are sweet.
Where do you hope to see MPC in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, God willing, God giving me good health and me being alive, by the special grace of God, we should have evolved into at least ten African countries.