Tunde Owoeye-Phoster is the CEO of Phoster Solutions, a branding and advertising firm. He is the Co-founder of two other companies, a business coach, and one of the lead facilitators and consultants at Orange Academy where he lectures both new and experienced staff of Nigeria’s largest companies.
He received an award for ‘Empowering Youths through Entrepreneurship Education’ from LEAP Africa and is also a FATE Foundation Alumnus. He is a graduate of Management and Accounting from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He is a dynamic and practical speaker, particularly on the subject of entrepreneurship, branding and innovation.
What’s the vision behind Phoster Solutions?
From day one, I had a global vision to see the world more beautiful, better, improved and automated, more orderly!
The meaning of Phoster is actually illuminator (just like in the bible, when the earth was without form and void, God commanded: Let there be light! Whatever we do at Phoster solutions even if we start selling phones… It must be about those ideals. I hate being a copycat. It is about being original introducing something fresh!
That is why we’re in branding/advertising. I love design, I love beauty, I love orderliness, I love automation!
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been in business for about 12 years, but Phoster solutions proper is 10 years old (registered as a sole proprietorship when I was a student- 8 years; and as a limited company after I had graduated from school- 2 years).
Have you had any experience in running a business before Phoster Solutions?
Well, no, I had a little experience with a mentor of mine though but that wasn’t my business.
How old were you when you first started your own business
17 years old.
What are the challenges you face running a business in Nigeria?
They are the same challenges average businesses face. In my industry (in Nigeria) there is a lot of politics. The best person may just not get the job because of some relationships somewhere. Ability to hire good people was a challenge at a time. Then the ability to design a unique structure to sustain a small business takes a kind of intelligence that is probably not taught in MBA classes (this is a serious one). And of course there were cash flow issues in the beginning!
How do you handle competition?
By continuously looking for gaps in the environment. For every industry there is still something the competition is not doing, which is usually done by new entrants. So we decided to think like a fresh business EVERYTIME. Innovation is no longer what you do once in a while; it is what you do every day like you balance your accounts every day.
What sort of entrepreneurs do you think can succeed in the Nigerian environment?
Patient, resilient, innovative and strategic entrepreneurs.
We still have the Nigerian syndrome, of ‘now- now’. Everyone wants to hammer now. No one has a 20-year goal. It is not their fault. Their friend (that was a thug in school) is now probably a politician or yahoo boy (blood money gangster) and is driving the latest car in town!
In running your business, how important is it for you to train and develop your staff?
Highly important! I believe a real business is where the founder does not have to work in the business; this requires training other people to think the way you think to ensure the same flavour/culture of the founder even though you are not around the business premises or you are not meeting clients. Besides, when you are starting, you do not have all the money to hire the best hands, so to achieve the same results; train, train, and train. On-the-job, with books, in meetings, in short seminars, there are so any ways.
What are the 3 most important traits/characteristics you think every entrepreneur needs to possess to succeed in business?
One: Ability to understand marketing. To understand what is going on in the mind of the consumer, and align what you are offering to match it, and then sell with gusto.
Two: Ability to innovate! In the product, your processes, your brand and outlook.
Three: Ability to have a long term vision (minimum 5 years) and then carry out daily/monthly and yearly goals to achieve this.
Let me also add….
Four: Skills. Collaboration is a bit on the high side in Nigeria, so as an entrepreneur that does not have lots of money to hire people; you need to be very skilled in your field!
What’s your daily routine like?
Wow. Wake-up, do some meditation, dress-up for work, do some thinking and confession in the car, get to work, write my to-do list and hit the day (delegate duties from my to-do list, respond to emails, responding to lots of phone calls, go for meetings, monitor and correct what my staff are doing, and I do a lot of researching/reading/learning too. I eat when I remember!)
We don’t work weekends. I want my staff to have a life… But I dedicate that time to other projects that aren’t what we are doing every day.
What do you do in your spare time?
Sincerely, I do not have a spare time!
Once I sense I may have loose time, I get on another project (my slogan is: Always working on something). I also do a lot of speaking to young entrepreneurs. I watch WWE (wrestling) from time to time though. I am married also, so I squeeze in some time to be a good husband to my wife.