‘One Seminar Turned My Life Around’
...Toye Oyeleke, first Nigerian to legally earn $1m doing online business
The popular maxim that ‘You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read,’ perfectly define who Toye Oyeleke is.
Sometime ago, Toye Oyeleke was recognized as the first Nigerian to have earned $1m legally doing online business. Yesterday, Toye marked ten years of success in internet business with the launching of TBS (Toy Boy Studio), his latest business venture.
THE JOURNEY TOYE GRUDGINGLY AND RELUCTANTLY STARTED 10 YEARS AGO HAS NOW DIVERSIFIED INTO VIDEO PRODUCTION AND RECORD LABEL WITH BIGGER PLANS STILL. THIS IS SURE A STORY FOR UPCOMING ENTREPRENEURS TO LEARN FROM.
But how did it all start? What event and people helped Toye achieve this enviable milestone? What challenges did he run into in his long journey to success? Plus how did he overcome them? These and many more are the life lessons Toye shares in this unique interview he granted WSD. Read on…
WSD: Congratulations on your success as a Netpreneur. Considering that not many people believe that you can do a successful business online, can you tell us how you got started?
T.O.: Thank you very much. The beginning for me in Internet business was when I came in contact with SuccessDigest in 2002 and attended Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase’s Internet and Information Marketing Boot Camp. That was when I learnt that it was possible to do business through the Internet and do legitimate business. That was really the beginning for me and where it all started.
WSD: What specific challenges did you encounter doing online business in Nigeria?
T.O.: One of the challenges is the wrong perception that the society and the government have about doing business on the Internet. It has made one go through several harassments from security agencies and people around you who seem to think that anybody doing business on the Internet is a fraudster.
Other challenges have to do with young Nigerians who go online to do fraudulent things and this have in a way made business on the Internet very challenging. So, I would say that these are the biggest challenges we face on the Internet when doing business.
WSD: How did you overcome each of them?
T.O.: For the case of the fraudulent people, apart from the fact that they go out to do their scam, at some point, their own scam started affecting us. But God has been very merciful because they have tried in all ways but have never succeeded. We have tried to educate ourselves about Internet scam and fraud so that we can smell it from afar and steer clear.
Again from experience, one has also learnt to avoid businesses that can easily expose you to the attack of fraudsters.
For the society and the government, we have tried to keep sensitizing people about what we do and how we do them. We have even gone to the point of setting up an association through which we can put some pressure on government to recognize us and what we do, and we are getting relative success in the direction. We are not resting.
Again, one of the things that have been set out for this 10 years celebration is to organize a program that will sensitize and educate the public and also encourage the young ones and those that are just coming into the business. We are organizing an Internet business reality show before this year runs out. It is going to involve newbie to Internet business, they will have to go through a competition for some weeks and get the best, it will be filmed and broadcast on TV stations for the general public to see. And when they watch such a program, they will be exposed to the workings of Internet business; it will also encourage people who are new in the business.
Just like you have a reality show for talent hunt in the music and movie industry; but in this case, it will be Internet business and we are hoping that we will be able to do more through that means.
We are also looking at a situation whereby we will be organizing a training program that will be running for a long time, to teach people the relevance of the Internet in relation to their own areas of business. How they can use the Internet to advance their business.
So, the more people come in and know about the Internet, the less they are going to go out and say what is not true about the Internet business or that Internet business is a fraud.
There are also smaller challenges. Which include when you do business like ours on the Internet; it is difficult to get people that are familiar with what you do to employ them to work for you. So you will find out that for a very long time, you will have to be doing everything all by yourself. And of course it takes its toll on your health. And if you are going to bring in people, you have to train the people that will work with you from the beginning to know all that they are required to do.
But in my case, after several years of trying to do everything all by myself, I have been able to get the right guys that were open to training and we have a wonderful team now. That is not a challenge anymore at the moment.
Also, then we used to have the challenge of having customers to buy our products because not much people knew about the Internet but that has changed now because more people now know how things are done on the Internet.
WSD: If you have to mentor a Nigerian to follow your footstep, how would you ask the person to proceed? Give us six to 10 bullet points and explain each step clearly?
T.O.: I will say first, as it relate to other business, the main thing is passion. Passion actually plays a very big role. Examine yourself. Do you have the passion for what you want to do? If you don’t get paid for one to two years, will you still be happy to wake up very early to do what you have been doing? If no, then it will be better for you to follow your passion, but if yes, the next thing will be to get some education which is the number two step. I mean education that is related to Internet business. Get to read about or learn from the people who have succeeded in doing that business you want to do, study their models and their works.
When you do that, get more education, more education in the sense that you want to start from the scratch. You want to know the basics like; you want to know why they talk about list building. Is it important? How do they do it? Do I need it? How do I use autoresponders? Website; how does it work? Must I have a website? How do I create one? You need to know the basics and learn the process of marketing it as it applies online. So when you learn all these, you want to decide what business exactly you want to do.
And when you are still deciding on that; it doesn’t have to be something very fancy at the beginning. When you are just beginning, make sure it is something that will take you from the beginning to the end.
The beginning being when you start from the scratch, where you create your website to when it is uploaded and running; to when you put a product out there in the market and you get paid for that product. So, don’t go after fancy or BIG project that you don’t even know how money will come.
Three, when you have done that and put together all you need; don’t be afraid to approach the market. Don’t wait till you are perfect. But you must keep marketing. Marketing your product is very important until you get it right.
Fourthly, get more education. Keep studying, keep learning.
Five, always stay connected to someone that has gone through that lane you want to because you will always have reasons to ask questions if you are making mistakes or go back to get advice and let the person know how far you have gone.
Right now, for every major or minor move I make, I always go back to Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase because he has been my mentor right from the time I met him through that seminar, to ask for his advice or get his consent, and I must tell you that he played a major part in most of the things that I have achieved.
WSD: What is the idea behind TBS? In other words, what is the purpose of Toy Boy Studio? What did you set it up to do?
T.O.: Toy Boy Studio (TBS) is actually a video production company for all kinds of video production. Toy Boy Studio has three branches and it is rooted in entertainment. You can’t have a studio without entertainment. The studio has one of its projects; the “Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club” which holds every last Sunday of the month. We are not broadcasting yet because production is still on. There is also Toy Boy Music; a Music record label. We have a recording artist and we also want to bring in other Nigerians who are talented in singing to come and use the platform.
The idea is to use the Toy Boy Entertainment and Arts Studio tools coupled with our internet marketing skill to project these people for the world to see.
The name came about when we had a strategic section to pick a name, where several names were submitted and eventually we settled for Toy Boy Studio. Knowing that anywhere the name is mentioned questions will be asked, it will immediately attract attention and that is what we want. And it’s been working for the purpose.
WSD: What should Nigerians expect from TBS down the road?
T.O.: Let’s say five to ten years’ time is a pretty long time. Let’s say you had asked me this question five or ten years back; of course I don’t think I will accurately have given Nigerians the answer that we would have been in this position today. I also don’t have the accurate answer to where we are going to be in 5-10 years time, but we hope that by that time and by the reasons of what we are doing presently, TBS would have metamorphosed into TB TV. You know; providing quality content which can be distributed in various media and medium, which is what we are doing now. We will grow to the stage of actually having a TV station. And we also hope that before that time we will be able to empower more Nigerians through the various branches that we have. We expect that the biggest artist in Africa or the world will come out of our recording label.
WSD: Are there books that you read or events you attended that impacted positively on your life?
T.O.: When it comes to book, there is a book I always recommend. When I have to talk about financial prosperity, that book is “The Richest Man in Babylon”. In fact, I buy that book in large quantity and give it out as gift to people because I don’t know where the magic came from that book. I am sure there is some kind of magic in that book. To me it is a simple book that has explained what it takes to be financially free and intelligent in details.
It has explained money, how to make money, how to keep it and how to lose it if you want to lose it. “The Richest Man in Babylon” is the book.
For event, I have attended a few. But the one that has really changed my life which is still changing it till today is Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase’s Internet and Information Marketing Boot Camp 2002. Maybe tomorrow I will attend another one; but for now that Boot Camp is the event.
WSD: Advice to aspiring Netpreneur out there.
T.O.: To aspiring Netprenuer and entrepreneurs and even those younger than us, I would say that whatever you want to do or whatever you are doing, make sure you know everything about that thing or almost everything, educate yourself very well.
Challenges will definitely come; do not let them overwhelm you. When they come; always learn your lessons. Make sure that the one thing that you pick from every challenging situation is the lesson that it brings with it so that next time, you do not fall prey to those same challenges again.
Finally, I will say that entrepreneurs should be financially disciplined. They should be slow to seek for funding or capital outside. From my experience, as long as you can generate revenue, form the habit of saving and plowing back to expand. Of course, breakthrough will come with delayed gratification. WSD