Cash at Hand is worth ten times more than promised cash or cash with Debtors. It sounds simple right? But I learnt it the hard way. Fresh from the university, I moved into Lagos and teamed up with 2 other friends from university to set up a consulting firm. (fresh graduates into consulting, what do we know, well that’s a story for another day).
We took over my brother’s dining room table and occasionally used up the fuel in his generator to power the 2 laptops that 3 consultants shared amongst themselves. Occasionally too, I rummage through the kitchen and fix meals ranging from Indomie to boiled yam to keep hunger away.
We brainstormed on a number of ideas and started to develop our strategies and proposals around them. By a combination of hardwork and grace, we landed 2 jobs. The first was to develop and implement a Leadership and Soft skills training manual for high school students and integrate it into their summer lessons. We charged 315,000 naira for the job, bought few books specifically and went to work developing the manual. It was quite an interesting period.
The second job was a sub-contract from a firm who had received contract from the Oyo state Government to supply books, train teachers and organize mentoring sessions for all SS2 students in Oyo state. We pitched for and got a slice of the job that meant we developed a mentoring manual and help organize mentoring session for more than 65,000 students in over 400 secondary schools from Ibadan to Iseyin.
While we started the contract, NYSC came calling. 2 out of the 3 consultants left to answer the National call and we reported back to Oyo state when time permits to ensure the contract was going well. We had several challenges, despite that, we succeeded in delivering the set objectives and we were elated.
We got a call from our client that our final cheque valued at 1million Naira will be paid the following week. We had 180,000 naira left in the account. We had a short meeting and decided wisely to buy one more laptop computer, making 3 in order that every consultant had a system to use. We went ahead and bought the most sexy laptop in the market costing 140,000 naira at the time and was left with 40,000naira.
Then we waited for the N1million cheque. This cheque took another 9months to arrive. We spent the 40,000naira in 2 weeks. Now the consultants are spread in 3 different locations (Lagos, Nassarawa and Abia states) and even communicating became a major problem.
We had several other bright ideas in the pipeline but we didn’t have the energy nor the resources to push it through.
Everytime that I look back, I said to myself. We should have waited till we collected and cashed the N1million cheque before we clean the accounts to make a purchase. I have never made such a mistake again. From then on, I have it stuck in my brain that ‘cash at hand is worth ten times more than incoming cash!
Don’t ask me what happened to the consultancy company!
Rotimi Olawale, co-founder of youthhubafrica.org is a youth development expert. For more than six years he has been involved in leading youth advocacy efforts mainly around the Millennium Development Goals. In 2006, he represented Nigeria as a youth ambassador at the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. Rotimi has held several global leadership positions including; member, UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel for 2 years; member, African Youth Panel. Rotimi is currently involved in shaping local, national and global policies to benefit youth and also leverage opportunities for young people. He was listed by the Nigerian government as one of 15 Nigerian youth on the world stage in 2008._____
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