Mariam Animashaun is the CEO of Linson Page, and a member of IBEX consulting. She started Linson Page, a marketing company that deals with SME marketing and brand identity. She says, “We call ourselves a 360 degree company. A lot of things we do are based online. We do guerilla marketing, which is more of letting things go viral”.
Linson Page was started in January 2017. For Mariam, the goal had always been to start up her own business, it was more of a passion for her. Before she started, she decided to learn more on entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom however on getting back to Nigeria, she realised that the Nigerian business landscape was really different. “Nothing is the same, there is no textbook to Nigeria”. Starting for her wasn’t the hard part for her. The hard part was, not giving up and going day by day. “The hard part is the ability to get up in the morning, go to work when you know you haven’t made a dime, the ability to stomach a lot of nonsense from a lot of people just because you feel like you may get something from them”.
One wonders what her biggest challenge has been so far, and she says, “The biggest challenge in Nigeria is the Nigerian people. They are not very good business people. They do not keep to their words, from employee angle to the vendors angle. Promises for them mean nothing. Example you have someone who owes you for 3 months knowing fully well that you have a company to run or salaries to pay”. She goes on to narrate her experience with an artisan whom she had called to fix her air conditioner a couple of months after she got back from the UK. She says, ” I left the office for a bit so I could put on the generator downstairs, and when I got back, he was gone with a laptop worth hundreds of thousands of naira”. That event left her devastated as it was her work tool and had so many important files on it. “We reported to the police and till today, we havent been able to find him” she continues.
A lot of businesses seem to be into SME marketing these days, but Mariam has this to say about that, “The thing about Nigeria is that when one person starts something and is successful, everybody starts it. A lot of businesses now know they need marketing, so everybody wants to do marketing for small businesses but they forget that you cannot compete with a big marketing firms if you do not bring something innovative to the table”.
On her worst experience running a business in Nigeria she says, “I feel like I have had a lot of bad experiences, but this one really stands out. Sometime ago, we had to do this work for this big organization and I saw the CEO as someone who was my role model. My company had done jobs for them in the past, and they always paid. One morning, he came running into the office and said he needed something done in less than 24hours. So I did not see the need to charge upfront because he had not been owing me before. My company did the job, and sent it over. When it was time for payment, he said he thought we had done the job for free. I was beyond baffled”. According to her, it showed me that even people one put on a pedestal were not even it at all.
Working in Nigeria cant be all bad experiences now, can it? Her best experience she says is “The moment I present my ideas to a client and they appreciate it. Basically, the ability to give birth to something and the fact that the client appreciates it, is the reason I’m still in business”.
Mariam is not big on seeking out investors for her business, she says, “Because I studied entrepreneurship, I knew that there are really not a lot of investors in Nigeria. Investors don’t really invest in firms that are not IT based and we are not hundred percent IT based. We are service based. Every investor I have heard of only wants to invest in IT based firms because they can get their money fast. With service based firms, you are not sure if the business is going to succeed. So I understood this on time, and so I was able to get investment from my family and friends”.
She speaks about her plan for the next five years saying, “In the next five years, we hope to expand and conquer new business terrains. My dream for Linson page is for everyone to come to work feeling like they are coming to meet their family members even though we are working. I don’t plan to build a military ground. I plan to build a company where we are succeeding together, innovating, growing. We are building a family basically”.