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The story of the event planning industry in Nigeria cannot be told without mentioning Yewande Zaccheaus and her company, Eventful Limited, which she started in October 2002, at a time when the idea of event planning as a profitable venture was strange to Nigerians. Here are 5 business lessons aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from the professional life of this pioneer:
  1. Work experience really does help. Working in a structured environment for a while before setting up your business affords you the opportunity to acquire certain skills and gain advantages you may not have had otherwise, and this is evident to anyone who is familiar with the professional life of Yewande Zaccheaus. Her experience and achievements during her working years enhanced her professional life and gave her unquantifiable leverage when she eventually decided to become an entrepreneur.

  2. Passion is indispensable. With a degree in Law from the University of Lagos, a Master’s in Law from Cambridge University’s Jesus College, and over 13 years’ banking experience serving in capacities including Company Secretary, Head of Legal Department, and Legal Adviser amongst others, she could easily have gone into private practice as a lawyer, but she knew the deep passion for Law required to sustain a lucrative practice was not there. When it comes to starting a business, choosing something you are passionate about and will enjoy is vital.

  3. Reading is one of the most helpful practices an entrepreneur can engage in. Successful people are lifelong learners. Education isn’t limited to the classroom, and reading is one way many of the world’s most successful people educate themselves. At the time Yewande Zaccheaus started Eventful Limited, the event planning industry wasn’t what it is today. Unlike in the US, event planning simply wasn’t a thing in Nigeria. So while she realised that her passion was organising things and influencing people, she couldn’t really see how that was a business idea or how to get people to pay her to organise things for them. It was after devouring an incredibly long list of books on the subject that she worked out a way to turn her passion into profit.

  4. Never give up, never give in. Focus and persistence are essential for every entrepreneur who will be successful. Naysayers and dream killers will abound, as even some of your loved ones many not support you especially if you’re leaving a plum job to go into business or if your business idea is new. Keep your eyes on where you’re going. The first few months of Eventful Limited were slow; so quiet that Yewande Zaccheaus began to wonder if Nigeria was really ready for what she had in mind. Thankfully, instead of quitting and running back to paid employment in shame, she remained focused, stuck it out, and eventually proved the sceptics wrong.

  5. Establish structure as early as possible. Having proper structure in place prepares you for growth. Put a team together as soon as you can, otherwise you will be thrown off balance when your business really takes off. It’s not unusual to wear many hats when you first start out, but as soon as it is possible, hire the necessary professionals to handle accounting, HR, marketing, and whatever else your business needs. With her background as a Company Secretary, she knew the importance of structure and corporate governance, and got to it as soon as she could.

Do you have a passion for a product or service you think people might pay for? Why not take these lessons to heart and see how you can build a business you’ll be proud of? Check out our Meet the Boss series and see what various entrepreneurs have to say about starting and sustaining a business in Nigeria.

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This article was first published on 17th October 2016 and updated on January 25th, 2017 at 8:01 am


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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