Starting a business in Nigeria is as hard as running the business. However, against all odds, women have risen up to the challenges and are carving a niche for themselves.
Publisher of Genevieve Magazine, Betty Irabor shares the story of how she started her business on Against All Odds With Peace Hyde and every business woman can relate to it.
Growing up and having to see her parents separate, Betty Irabor did not grow up to be a confident woman. She had esteem issues and never had any inkling that she would be a great woman.
She just wanted to get married and live happily ever after.
One day, she was going through some lifestyle magazines a friend had given her when she realised that Nigeria had no women lifestyle magazine.
At 45 years old, Betty started her magazine. However, it came with several challenges.
From people telling her that women don’t go into publishing, that she was too old and that Nigerians do not read, Betty was adamant. She pressed on until she had her first copy at hand.
“At 45, I decided to start Genevieve. With the birth of Genevieve, I realise that there was more steel than silk in me. It was something I started with no industry experience. I was very passionate about something and I thought I would go for it. I didn’t stop running until I had the first copy in my hand.”
With the birth of Genevieve, Betty was happy that she was finally fulfilling purpose but then, a challenge came and she thought that people who advised her against starting her magazine had been right after all.
“Until we had the first copies of unsold magazines returned to us and I thought that they were right, this isn’t a job for a woman because I was so emotional. I was thinking we had a good magazine out there, how come we didn’t sell everything? And it was like someone had put a pin to my balloon.”
Thankfully, despite the insecurities and the esteem issues she had growing up, by the time life’s challenges came through her business, Betty had become more stronger and audacious.
“I picked myself and continued going. I was telling my stories about my insecurities about how regardless of my insecurities and my fears and about how I was starting at a later age and the fact that magazine publishing was always said to be a very difficult business with a very short lifespan that I was still going ahead. I learnt along the way to pause a bit and give myself a pat on the back.”
Even though she wasn’t sure how far she would go, Betty kept doing it afraid and the statement that kept resonating with her, which she even shares with others helped her journey.
“It doesn’t matter how many people who have done it and failed, what matters is that you are going to do it and you are going to succeed. Let those negative voices be some of the things that push you to say to yourself that you are not going to fail.”
For a business to be successful, it is important that the owner is familiar about the intricacies of running a business; something Betty Irabor wished she had known when she started her magazine.
“At a stage, I was thinking that I should have gone to business school, to learn the business aspect and marketing of magazine and also one of the biggest challenges was the fact that I didn’t have head for numbers. I wasn’t very good with my books and those were the things I wasn’t really thinking of when I was starting and I think, a lot of journalist turned media entrepreneurs are guilty.”
The lifespan of running a magazine in Nigeria is three months but Betty has managed to run hers for 14 years and her daughter has taken the mantle. With that, a question forms the basis of her advice for people in business, which is the motive for starting a business and their plans for sustaining it.
“A lot of people are in businesses because they want to blow and I have no problem with blowing but wanting to blow in six months so you can get yourself an SUV and show off to other people that I’m successful, I think I have a problem with that. We must learn that everything is about the long haul that its not about the short cut. I cannot be defined by the things that have happened in my life, and I should not play a victim.”