Princess Toyin Kolade is the CEO of Fisolak Ventures Limited. In this interview she opens up on various issues including how to run a successful business in Nigeria and how her company became a mega brand in the industry.
When did you start this business and with how much?
I started when I was with my mother with a little money. I can’t remember the exact amount.
So, what made you go into business?
It was my mother’s business and I liked it so much – because you can buy a little thing, sell it and make so much money. So, I liked the business from the beginning.
When did you break even as a business woman?
When I started clearing and forwarding in 1995/96.
What is the biggest mistake that most business people make?
Not being trust worthy. Then, not putting God first in what they are doing. When you put God first, everything will be okay for you.
What makes a good businesswoman?
What makes a good businesswoman is to ensure that in everything you are doing, you pray before going into it. You don’t just venture into things by saying because my friend is making money in this business, I want to do the same business. It’s better to be knowledgeable about the business you want to do. Also make sure it’s a very good business. Your friend is selling clothes and you want to venture into it, no! Somebody is selling maybe rice and you jump into it, no! Any business you want to do, you pray over it. And if it is truly your line of business, God will be there to watch over you.
Why do some people attain success and lose it?
Why it happens is this – like in this my business, I want to be like Shoprite, I want to become like Marks & Spencer and instead of me to be doing my business little by little, I want to make it quick. Some of them will go and collect money from the bank; maybe $1 million, $5 million, $50 million and at the end of the day, they don’t know how to control the money and no matter what happens, they are going to lose it. Let me give you an example, if I start a business with N10, I will work on how the N10 will become N20, how the N20 will become N50. But I cannot just wake up one day and say I need $50 million to start one business, which is not possible. That’s why at the end of the day they will lose.
Why do most successful women not have successful marriages?
Because they have bad friends. So, when they are making money, their friends will tell them, don’t mind that man, don’t honour your husband. But my husband is my friend, my everything and anything I want to do; I will first get his blessing. I will say, honey, can I do this, can I do that? And I don’t have any other friend than my husband. God is my Alpha and Omega, but my second alpha and omega is my husband and I love him so much. The first thing when you wake up, you ask your husband what he wants to eat, you give him the best of the best food and you check the clothes he’s going to wear – maybe suit or shirt or whatever. You tell him honey, this is okay for today, you pamper him, you let him feel at home and then it’s not good for a married woman to engage in extra marital affairs. It is very, very bad, but common today. I thank God I don’t have any boyfriend. My husband is my boyfriend, he’s my everything.
How did you meet this your husband that you love so much?
I met him long ago. It’s a long story, but it was love at first sight.
What attracted you to him then?
He’s very trustworthy and his smiles and then he’s very, very honest. That’s what I like about him.
Any time you have an issue with him who apologizes first?
It’s me o! Even if he’s at fault, he will never beg me (Laughing). That’s the problem with him. I always beg him o! Because I want my home to be okay. I don’t want problems. I don’t want to tell his friends, I don’t want to tell his family, I always want both of us to resolve it amicably, which is better.
Who are the people you look up to in business?
Good people! All the good women in Nigeria who are doing good things and are successful.
What is the greatest lesson that you have learnt about business?
The greatest lesson is don’t trust anybody in business. Just trust only God, because no matter what, there must be envy. So, trust God in anything you want to do in life.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt about marriage?
The greatest lesson about marriage is to trust your husband. If there’s trust in marriage, there will never be problems. Don’t listen to rumours and dem say, dem say…Like me, if somebody calls me now that your husband is in one hotel with one woman, I will say thank you and then say, honey, please enjoy yourself.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt about life?The greatest lesson is that one day you will be no more, because nobody can live forever. Nobody knows the time that he will leave this world. So, it’s better you are close to the Almighty God because this life is full of atrocities and vanity upon vanity.
Anytime you are not working, what do you do for relaxation?
There’s no time I don’t work, there’s no time…
You don’t relax?
No! But it’s what I want to plan this year. I want to plan for it. In fact, that’s what my doctor told me yesterday. He said, please, madam, try to rest, try to go for holidays.
What does money mean to you?
Nothing! Because God Almighty is the owner of everything.
God has been nice to you and it’s obvious. What more do you want from Him?
I want my husband to be promoted in the Customs and I want my children to be great in life. I want my husband to be great too and I want God to bless me more and more. I want my business also to be like Walmart in America and Marks & Spencer. That’s my dream, which I also know that God will do for me very, very soon.
Who is your closest friend and what does friendship mean to you?
I don’t have a close friend, because if I mention one, others will shout. So, everybody is my friend (Laughs). But my husband is my closest friend.
What is your dream for your business, Fisolak?
I want to be like Walmart, which God is doing for me. First, in secret, but later it will be in the open.
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