Blessing Okebe Ifegwu is an entrepreneur, a social media influencer, and founder of Lucien Professional Services. In this interview by KINGSLEY ALUMONA, she speaks about her work, among other things.
As a young girl, was there any incident/experience that informed your passion for business? At what age did you start chasing/actualising your passion for entrepreneurship?
I have always wanted to have a sense of independence and the ability to not rely on anyone, not even my parents. This was a propeller for me. Amusingly, I started my first business when I was 10. My mum bought a lot of stuff from the market for the house and for her baking business, so I saved up and gave her some money to buy these items in bulk. Then I resold them to her as a retailer. From less that N10,000, I was able to make up to N100,000 in less than a year of starting the business. I was just 10.
You are very active in the social media, mostly writing about branding and digital marketing. Are the stories you post on these kinds of businesses based on your personal experiences or based on what you learnt over time?
They are based on what I have learnt from different sources, applied to my business and for my clients, and gotten results. So, it is a mix of knowledge and practical experience. I learn, I apply, I get results, and I teach.
You are the founder of Lucien Professional Services. Briefly tell us about it and why you think Nigerians need its services.
Lucien Professional Services works with busy professional and business owners to increase their visibility online, attract opportunities and make income through digital marketing strategies, content marketing and digital products. Summarily, we help ambitious people build their personal brands.
We believe that everyone has something the world needs to learn from, an experience that needs to be shared and a story to be told. We also understand that they may not have the time to put themselves out there consistently and may not possess the necessary technical knowledge to go about it. So, we provide that support through our services like virtual assistance, digital product development, social media management, community management, customer services, transcription, etc.
Nigerians need to take advantage of the opportunities the internet has to offer, and we help them do just that.
Many people believe that business acumen is hereditary, like in the case of the Igbos, and not mainly from what could be formally learnt. What is your take on this?
I won’t entirely debunk the notion that business acumen is hereditary, but what I will say is that business acumen comes largely from knowledge gathered over time and the application of that knowledge. This also involves learning from other business owners who have a track record of success in their businesses.
Do you think smart Nigerian brand and business strategists are not as rich as they should be?
The answer is simple. Many businesses in Nigeria do not really understand the lifetime value a brand strategist brings to their business. They are just focused on immediate profit than building a sustainable brand that can outlive them. So because of this, they don’t see the reason they should pay so much to a brand strategist. The Nigerian business owner needs to understand that it would come to a point in their business where they would have to hire a smart brand strategist to help them set and achieve long term goals for their business.
What business(es) have you help with their branding and publicity? And how are they faring so far?
I am not at liberty to disclose my clients’ details because of Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) policy. But a very good number of them are faring amazingly well.
You pride yourself as a Facebook and Google certified digital marketer. What criteria qualify one as a Facebook/Google digital marketer?
To become certified by Facebook or Google, you need to take their courses and prove your knowledge through a thorough assessment. However, been a digital marketer doesn’t stop at taking these courses. It involves niching down to a field in digital marketing and building expertise in it.
Apart from the expertise you get, another benefit is being paid by Google or Facebook to train other people to use their platforms and tools. Your affiliation to these top brands also boosts your credibility.
Your profile says that you are an on-air-personality (OAP). What broadcast station(s) are you affiliated with, and what do you usually talk about when on air?
I am not a professional OAP. At least, not yet. I just get the opportunity to speak on these platforms quite frequently. I have spoken on Real FM, Magic FM, Vision Africa Radio, ABSU FM and have been featured on AIT. My conversations border around digital technology, and how people and businesses can maximise it.
Among Aliko Dangote, Folorunsho Alakija, Tony Elumelu, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mike Adenuga, and Mo Abudu, who would you love to be his/her brand strategist?
Mo Abudu. This is predominantly because I am passionate about the media and this passion will inspire my strategies and processes. I believe so much in using media for positive world change starting from my country. So, I am given to anything that uses it. I wouldn’t want to be like anyone. I would rather want to become a premium version of my current self.
If you were given a billion naira, what would you do with it?
My first thought will be to equip as many people as possible with relevant digital skills and support them through mentorship from different experts and equipments like laptops to start off their own businesses. I believe the large number of problems we have here can be credited to poverty which can be alleviated by empowering young people for the future. This is why I am ready to spend a billion naira on doing just that.
Where do you see yourself and business in the next five years?
Honestly, this is one over-flogged question a lot of people are excited to answer. As a personal conviction, I don’t have a five year plan. I am more of a short-term goal kind of person. I love to walk with 3 months maximum and scale from there. This resolution came as a result of how unpredictable life can be.
What two advices have you been given first, about business; and second, about life that you value so much?
My best advice usually come from myself. For my business, I advise myself to remember that I am not just in business to make money. I am in business to make people’s lives easier and productive. When I focus on this, I get beyond the money. I get the opportunities, social capital and, most importantly, the fulfilment of purpose.
For life, peace of mind is worth more than being right. Sometimes you have to let things go just for the sake of peace. You will have to ignore some things and take the blame for them, just so there is no trouble. Being at peace is much more than being right.
What are the major challenges you face in your line of business and career?
Getting people to place premium on brand building by understanding how important it is to their business or personal brand.
And how do you relax when the pressure/stress is much?
I just take a break. I switch off my phone, binge watch a series and eat a lot (not healthy, I know but that’s what works for me).
What advice do you have for young people who are aspiring to be like?
As much as I appreciate that you want to be like me, I would rather you work on being a better version of yourself. I am still in the process of being a better version of myself, and I still have a long way to go. I am growing to be much better than I am now, and that is what you should do too. So, I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be an upgraded you.
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