When I noticed that the business was not retaining money at the end of the month, my solution was to add more cars, because, in my foolish logic, more cars equaled more revenue, but because I could not track expenses, I could not stop the bleeding. Every time I complained to my wife that the business needs more money, she would always ask the same question that I could not answer: “what are your expenses?” Then we will get into an argument.
And I would still say her expectations for the business were too high. The business was too young to be expected to be financially sustainable. She would always tell me that I was emotionally attached to the business (which was 100% true) that was the reason I kept pumping money into it. In my mind I thought I could spend my way out of the deep whole I was digging the business into. I refused to listen to my wife's wisdom, and it cost me dearly.
So the fateful week came, the compressor for one of my cars died, it cost me 550k naira to fix, then one of my drivers pulled an amazing feat, he broke his car engine, it was split into two.
Image of courtesy of Unsplash
How in the world was he driving, where in the world was he driving to, that he literally cracked his car engine into two. We had to replace the engine. We went from 1 million naira to zero! So that fateful night crying my eyes out trying to get more money for the business, the amazing woman I married stood her ground, and made it very clear, that not one Naira would be put into this business until I can sit down and point out where every single naira went to. This was September 2017.
My superwoman aka Mrs. Idoghor swooped in to catch the crashing plane which was my business. She sat me down, opened MKI Transportation spreadsheet, and separated the individual cars; each vehicle had its own income and expense column, so I was now able to track every single income and expense generated by each car. Now I could tell how much was coming in, and most importantly, how much was going out. With this information I came to the realization that my wife reached a long time ago, being an Uber partner was no longer profitable, MKI needed to create another revenue stream.
Multiple Streams of Income
So while the first iteration of MKI was spiraling down the drain, through that chaos my brain had already started thinking of the next form the business was about to take— Chauffeur Service. Browsing through YouTube, I ran into a video about brilliant transportation. The CEO of the company had so many videos on YouTube with barely 100 views, giving detailed explanations of how he started the business, the procedures, and processes he had in place. He made it very clear, he was not trying to compete with the ride-sharing industries, he wanted to create value for his clients to keep coming back. I already had the cars; if the clients wanted high-end cars, our personal vehicles would be used.
So MKI 2.0 was born. By October I had done a photo shoot for the cars, by November I had created a website by going on YouTube and Google and by December we had already gotten our first couple of jobs. We had successfully created another stream of income for the business, but what happened next was amazing. All of a sudden we started getting emails from all over the world—The UK, New York, Spain, Russia, South Africa, requesting for our chauffeur service, stating that they had clients coming into Lagos for business trips. I had just stumbled into a thriving industry.
The third stream of income was a complete coincidence. By May 2018 the chauffeur part of the business has been going well enough that we had started breaking even, we had bought a seven sitter Toyota Sienna to add to our fleet. But we quickly came to the realization that we might have jumped the gun, not too many jobs coming in required a large vehicle. My business manager and I went for a meeting, we were at a dealership making enquires on cars, then this random guy starts having a very loud conversation. "I am tired of Uber, at this point, I am ready to sell off my three corollas on Uber and buy one Sienna and give it to another transportation company, and they will pay me a substantial amount every month, pure profit!" My business manager and I made eye contact, did not say a word.
I pride myself in one thing, and people laugh when I say it, I am an opportunist. I take full advantage of every single opportunity that comes my way. As soon as we walked out of the office, we started researching the company, it took three days to get the correct phone number, we finally called, dropped off the Sienna with them, and the rest is history. When it comes to this revenue stream, we are not doing so badly. It all depends on the number of trips the vehicle does. We just added a third car to the company.
These two streams of income have afforded me the breathing room to pull out of Uber and other ridesharing platforms. We currently just have one car left on the ridesharing platform. MKI is going to be two years next year; it was a hard fight to get it to its second year. The funny thing is every expert says 90% of all start-ups die by their fifth year. I still have a long battle ahead of me. I am not scared of failing anymore, as long as I am willing to listen to my advisors, and learn from my mistakes, I will survive and thrive on this hard part I have chosen.
About The Author: Tobore is the founder & head of operations at MKI Transportation. In addition to that, he has two other businesses. Across his businesses, he employs 30 people, which gives him a lot of joy to be able to create jobs for others, and put a smile on their faces. He likes to refer to himself as a serial entrepreneur. In his spare time, he coaches young men to pursue their passion and make a life for themselves. He loves spending time with his wife, and finding ways to make Nigeria a better place. You can find him on Instagram and Facebook with: Tobore Idoghor.
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