The Managing Director, November Cubes Grills and Take Out, Mr. Anifowoshe Habeeb, 29, speaks on the challenges of operating a fast food restaurant in a highly competitive environment
What kind of business are you engaged in?
I am an entrepreneur with a huge vision, endless dreams and great passion. However, I am at present engaged in fast food business and construction. I am also looking at making some investments in real estate in the near future.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I didn’t start off doing business. I was in paid employment for some years. However, I always knew entrepreneurship offers a greater possibility of achieving significant financial rewards than working for someone else. It gives an individual the opportunity to build equity, which can be kept, sold, or passed on to the next generation.
I also figured that in a city like Abuja where you have a lot of young professionals and a vibrant night life, getting into the fast food business will be a good investment.
There are people who look for paid job and it is because a lot of them don’t have confidence in themselves. There is this fear factor in them and this is what is preventing many people from starting business.
Secondly, there is also the issue of preparation. If you don’t prepare adequately, your chances of success as a business person will be very slim. But in my own case, I knew what I wanted right from the beginning.
How long have you been in this business?
I am quite young in business. November Cubes ‘Grills and Take out’ has been in existence for just about a year but God has been very faithful and our customers have been very loyal. In this short year we have experienced tremendous growth and already have two outlets in Abuja with plans for other states.
What did you study in school and how did it prepare you for entrepreneurship?
I am an alumnus of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology where I studied industrial chemistry. I have a post graduate diploma in information technology and I am an ORACLE certified professional.
People always find it funny because what I do now really has no connection with what I studied in school. However, my background in science helps me to think analytically and this has impacted my business greatly.
How do you manage your business?
As an entrepreneur, I try to understand, manage and take responsibility for every aspect of the business. I ensure my customers get high quality products.
We also develop and deploy strategies and business model to grow the business. We try as much as possible to maintain good relationships with customers and manage them well. We also develop and maintain winning business processes and procedures.
We have done our best to assemble a good team and we constantly train the team. We also have very good hands. So we are there every day working together as a team. We constantly assess ourselves and look for ways to improve tremendously. We believe it’s important to put good structure in place so the business can expand.
In the food industry, quality is very important. It is what makes the customers to continue to patronize you. I also ensure good financial management of the business to ensure profitability.
Who are your target clients and how do you get them?
Food is a necessity for every age group; so our target clients are practically everyone out there who love good and tasty food.
Is the business capital intensive and how much did you start with?
It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of cash to create a successful business. It really depends on what scale you decide to get into the business.
Our plan was to start small and expand along the way and of course we keep re-investing in the business so we can stay ahead of the competition and continue to maintain our high standard of quality.
What’s your advice for fresh graduates that are desperate for jobs?
The truth is that not everyone is going to be an entrepreneur. So for those who are not, I will say keep submitting your curriculum vitae and that dream job will come along soon. But for those who dare to dream and have the heart to take a chance, I will say just find what interests you and engage in it and don’t give up because with time success will come. They can also enroll in skill acquisition.
You can also identify someone who will serve as a mentor to you and get professional advice from them on how to develop your business plan and start up your business.
It is not all businesses that require large capital; you can start up a business with low capital and as time goes on, you expand.
You also have to understand that not all businesses will succeed at first trial. If you fail at the first attempt, go back to the drawing board. Learn from your mistakes and re-strategize. That is how you can become a successful entrepreneur.
How can the government encourage young people to embrace entrepreneurship?
Since entrepreneurship is a necessary ingredient for stimulating economic growth and employment opportunities in all societies, the government can encourage young people to embrace it by making funds available to them through loans and by providing basic amenities like constant electricity, water and good roads.
It’s the responsibility of the government to create an enabling environment for businesses. Government should also help by providing interest free loans and free capital for entrepreneurs. More vocational skills acquisition centers should be made available to the public for free.
What are the challenges you face in this line of business?
All businesses, even the most established ones face challenges. So it is good to know we are not alone in this and it is all part of the business. The usual challenges include electricity, water supply, loans and finances.
I always say ‘you are not the only one doing what you are doing’ so competition is stiff and we always have to do our best to stay ahead. We are constantly thinking of new products and of course, ways to improve the quality of the products we already have. Also getting dedicated workers to understand our vision is challenging.
How have you been able to survive despite the challenges you face?
God’s help has seen us through all the way. Hard work, determination, flexibility, passion, self-confidence, tolerance and persistence have also been factors of success. And of course, we are grateful to loyal customers who continue to come back day after day.
What other key investment principles will you recommend to young aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid of taking on calculated risks. Nobody can get anywhere by just staying in their comfort zone; step out of your comfort zone. Keep moving and learn from mistakes along the way.
Remember that success doesn’t just happen to anyone but it happens to those who are not afraid to work hard towards the realization of their goals. Never take on more than you can handle. It is better to start small and grow with time than to build a skyscraper in a day and have it come crashing down the next day.