TechNext Chronicles #3: Getting an Office Space and the Lessons We Learnt
So much has happened since we launched Kolibri Limited (the parent company of Technext.ng) a little over two years ago. The way I see it, I should have written 2 chapters from our listicle of experiences already.
But, it is better late than never… So, I will start the story in chapter 3. The first two will most probably come when I leave the enterprise. The reason is things happen so fast, going back will be too much a task… Please bear with me!
Before I made up my mind about us getting an office space, after two years of managing a team of 7 remotely, I spoke with a number of friends/ advisors who should know. A verdict was half for and half against. Both sides had compelling reasons.
In the end, I had the deciding vote… And, I decided to go ahead, for a number of reasons.
First, we had grown a team without a visible culture. I mean we had staff across the country who barely meet. Beyond getting stories up, what does the team philosophy look like? We had written something but we hadn’t demonstrated.
The second part is that we realise people could be more productive if some limitations could be eliminated. Sometimes, we lose entire working hours because peeps did not have power (days of national light out). Nigeria is hard… and our team members were not exempt from the pain other creators faced.
We sought to create a place of ambience where many excuses will be eliminated and people could be a bit shielded from realities as much as they want.
Lastly, we lost a staff member, quite regrettably. Although the staff told me he was leaving because of some economic reasons, I chose to believe that somehow the company’s vision is not getting to him, no matter how much we communicate.
The truth is, I was cushioned up in a comfy job, same was my partner. Things were pretty on auto-pilot and as the days go by, we lose focus on why we started. We needed to personalise what we believe, otherwise, we cannot get true disciples.
We concluded getting an office space is a basic need for productivity and culture-building…
Miracles still exist
When we announced to the team that we will have an office space in the next 6 months, we did not have the resources to make it happen. In fact, we hadn’t figured out the details.
And, we weren’t ready for 5 months.
But the universe has a unique way of conspiring to make things work. A couple of painful experiences forced us to tweak our business model in the next 3 months. And a chain of some other auspicious activities brought the money to our coffers and we were set just on the close of the sixth month.
Getting the location is another precise miracle. I had prayed for a good location at a good price. Both answers were so on point. What is most interesting is that what we were looking for was just in our pockets all the while.
Learning Learned: Miracles still happen, if only you believe. Just show up!
Vendors and the skills gap:
After we have firmed up agreements with the space owners, our next task was to get workers on site for some major renovations. We shopped within our contacts and they were commissioned.
We had about 8 different vendors working at a go and the experience with each one was unique. I was wowed by the professionalism and attention to detail of the vendor for electricals and fittings, the painter and the Tiler.
I am willing to share their contacts if anyone needs their services.
The others showed that Nigerian skilled workers and artisans need a significant upgrade in the soft skills of client relations, pricing, supply chain and financial planning. Without these, talent is of little use.
Lesson learned: Never leave the Nigerian vendor to his devising. They have the talent and have a lack of management. You must fill that yourself.
Team Bonding & Culture:
It’s been two weeks now the team has worked together from a physical location. The difference in terms of clarity and productivity is inexplicable.
I am a firm advocate of having a lean and agile team. We had a remote working arrangement for 2 years so I have a pretty experience of how it works.
But, it has its limitations. Somethings are better seen than said. And, only the numbers and time will tell about this one.
I indicated in my anniversary update that we had experimented with the early 2 years and that we are now ready to do business. Yes, that is true.
The next year will be about making exciting moves and testing the limits of our creativity. My co-founder, Anderson and Myself have taken the first unimaginable step by resigning from high paying jobs to sit with the team and conquer.
We do not now have any other choice than perform some magic. We are inexperienced but we promise to show up and show up consistently at our best.
The journey has started!
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