image: venturesafrica.com

Today marks the 17th year we've run a democratic system without a break. In the way birthdays go, I will say it's a good thing. We've managed to not commit suicide as a nation (break up). But in the way my own birthday goes, today is just another day -- like yesterday was and tomorrow will be.

I don't much fancy birthdays. All you have to do to get one is to stay alive. Staying alive is a sign of being responsible and your primary duty, so why do a yearly celebration of it? Okay, you are celebrating how far you've come since you were born or last year. If it is for since you were born then you need to get a more challenging goal, and not a goal everyone achieves. And if it is since last year, it's a trap then to keep you short-term focused. There is a reason companies split their balance sheet into current assets/liabilities and long-term assets/liabilities. Long-term starts from over a year and is much more strategically useful in all the world's best run companies. Why then should you invert yours -- giving more attention to one year over the long term? The only reason I have nothing against birthday celebration is if you are doing it to thank God for one more year of life. Though, I prefer to thank God daily for gift of life and not wait a whole year to thank Him.

Why am I saying all these?

Happy democracy day? Well, for which of the reasons I earlier listed are we celebrating? Is it for that we have not bombed, slaughtered, kidnapped and robbed ourselves to death? Or for how far we have come since 1999? Or for how much we changed since last year? Or for the noble reason of thanking God for the gift of a nationhood?

I hope it is for thanking God for the gift of a national life, because we have failed every other reason. We are bombing, slaughtering, kidnapping and robbing ourselves to death. So that one doesn't count as a reason for celebration. We have pretty much gone forward like a statue since 1999 -- forward on the same spot. And don't even talk about last year vs now. That one calls for weeping and not celebration. So thanking God is the only acceptable reason.

I would like to hear the summary of the president's speech today. What he is going to say to his fellow Nigerians. Most especially why he thinks his favourite sentence is doing us any good -- "It did not work when I was head of state 31 years ago; I have not been convinced enough." I hope he pledges to stop micro-managing his ministers. And if his team has done any intelligent analysis of the last one year, their biggest advice to him would be he shouldn't many promises. Somehow, he's good at achieving the opposite, though due to circumstances outside his control.

To end on a good note -- Happy democracy day!

Last week, my iPhone screen stopped working. It all began four months ago. I noticed the screen was coming off. At first, I was trying to push it back in. Then after a week, it wouldn't go back in. The screen started bending at the middle outwards. Then one fateful day, it came out from the middle upward, only the bottom part was still fastened to the iPhone. It became really embarrassing to use.There was a big visible gap between the phone body and the screen.

Then it got worse. The screen would flicker occasionally. Like once or twice in a day, it would just go off and I would have to massage it to bring it back on. Gradually, it became more frequent. Like everytime I put in my pocket. So I decided to google for a possible solution. Alas, it is a common problem with iPhone 5 and the main reason Apple discontinued its production in just a year after launch and pushed people to get the iPhone 5s or 5c. The problem was the battery was expanding. It was sort of blowing up in size and pushing the screen out. The only solution is to replace the battery. So in March, I came across a tech genius in one of the shops in the E-centre, Yaba (where Ozone Cinema is). I gave him the phone and he replaced the battery. The problem was partly solved. The screen fits back in, so the bulge was gone. But the screen had been permanently damaged by my repeated pushing back in and hard massage. 

I managed it that way for one more month and finally decided it's either I get a new phone or fix it permanently as the flickering was back. Thanks to Buhari, I opted for fixing the phone. I ordered a screen replacement part and even an extra battery on Amazon. Yesterday, it arrived. One week too late as the screen finally died last week Tuesday and nothing I did could revive it. So my MTN line was unreachable and people had to email me that I was unreachable (I gave them the Airtel line).

Now I am very happy to say the phone is back on alive and looking new. I replaced the screen myself. Was a little tricky but I got it. My 5 years of Electrical Electronics Engineering degree, gladly, wasn't a waste. And for everyone who's been unable to Whatsapp me or reach me on my MTN line for 9 days now, there's also good news for you. You can now reach me.

Thanks! 

image: 6masters.com
Two months ago, I was at a data journalism training and one of the main lecturers said people who blame their struggles on the government are just being plain lazy and uncreative. His theory is that anyone can rise through sheer hard work and resourcefulness. I agree with him that anyone can rise above the rot around us, but should everyone have to be extraordinarily hardworking and creative to live a fairly comfortable life?

Next week Switzerland is having a public vote on a decision to pay every citizen a guaranteed basic after-tax monthly pay of $2,500 even if you are unemployed. Consider the equivalent in Naira and the type of company and role you must be for you to get that type of income in Nigeria. Why are some countries able to give their citizens, regardless of how hardworking and resourceful each citizen is, a very good basic life? They don't have to sweat as much as we do to get the necessities of life. The answer lies in proper use of national wealth.

Countries that have a transparent system of public fund administration prosper whether they have little natural resources (Japan, Iceland etc.) or have a huge population (USA). Whereas countries like Nigeria where people steal from the nation's coffers without restraints suffer from infrastructural decay and low living standard.

Early this month, I was at Port Harcourt to train the south-south and south-east staff of a pension fund administration company. The international airport in Port Harcourt is terrible. Looks like that a war torn country like Sudan would have. Everything is falling apart. No proper boarding counter. We basically had to pick our bags from the vehicle that brought it from the plane to the makeshift exit tent. No conveyor. And the city itself looks not much different from a less rich non-oil producing state. So what happened to all the oil money? Now the rate of robbery, kidnapping and militancy has gone up. They kidnap anyone who has got a SUV. Even pastors. They rob whether it's daytime or night. And why? Because no more easy money.

We live in a 55 year old country that makes almost all (80%) of its revenue from oil found in the Niger Delta. The entire country feeds off just a small portion of the nation. We treat the people there as dirt. They are further ill-fortuned to have self-serving leaders who help the outside world suck their communities dry and destroy farms and fishing rivers. Now they have nothing to show for the blessing of crude oil.

And that is the same way we allow the politicians to destroy Nigeria. They go into government to loot the national coffers. We pay tax (as VAT factored into everything we buy and tax deducted right before we see our salary). We generate our own electricity. We dig our own wells and bore-holes. We hire own security guards and vigilante. We have poor roads. We bear the full cost of economic mismanagement (fuel increase, non payment of government workers salaries, mass retrenchment in the private sector). Some very few feed fat off the wealth of a nation. They eat as much as they can and ruin the rest. They do not allow any meaningful growth in the country. They steal and show their face, only their accomplices in the private sector face trials. We tolerate them. They individualise the nation's wealth and nationalise the risk/consequences.

Who are behind the rot in the power sector? the rot in the every sector of the economy? Corrupt politicians. They only think of what must come to them. They have more companies than proper businessmen. They inflate project amounts and award to their 1 month old companies rather than let them go to competent contractors. Yet they do a very low quality job despite the huge mark-up. And the projects they can't eat from, they kill. They make life difficult for everyone. And we let them roam free. The justice system is in their pockets.

Because of corruption we are not progressing and cost of living is going up uP UP. Because of corrupt politicians the criminally minded make the most gain and everyone else suffers for it.


These are terms you will come across a lot in the business section of our newspapers. And the journalists who are kind enough to share with us what is happening to these ratios do not bother to spare some time to explain what they really mean and why we should care about them.


image: premiumtimesng.com

Today, I intend to share with you what they mean and why they matter.

Monetary Policy Rate
This is just a fancy word for the interest rate at which banks can borrow from the central bank. And it is how the CBN influences the rate at which banks can lend to companies and customers. The higher the rate the less favourable terms you will get for loans from banks. 
Currently, in Nigeria, it is 12%. In 2011, it was 8% and has steadily risen since then to 13% towards the end of last year, then briefly dropped to 11% and for a while now has been 12%. 
So when next you come across this term in the news, you now have a fairly good fundamental knowledge of what it is about and how it potentially impacts the economy. Lower is better, usually (for economic expansion).

Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)
If you've got a banker friend, whenever he wants to make you feel less educated, he throws around this term. CRR. You'll be amazed by how simple a situation it describes. It is simply the ratio of customer deposits the bank should hold as cash (or safe keep with the CBN) and not loan out. It is usually to prevent banks from being too aggressive with their loan issuing. So when this rate goes up banks tighten the loan tap. And currently it is at 22.50%. Banks must hold in reserve N22.50 out of your every N100 deposit.

Liquidity Ratio
This one is less thrown around in discussions like the other two. And it is more of a general financial analysis term, not only a bank ratio. However, when the figure comes from the Monetary Policy Committee of CBN, then it is specifically for banks. And it means the amount of highly liquid assets (cash and near cash assets) the banks have to meet their financial obligations (most importantly, customer withdrawals). Currently, it is set at 30% in Nigeria. Like the CRR, it influences the amount of money the bank can do aggressive business with.

image: guardian.ng

Yesterday, CBN finally did the only logical thing -- float the Naira. No more pegging the Naira to Dollar (and other currencies) exchange rate. And it is good news for me for several reasons, which I will be generous to share below.

1. Stock Market Rises
I have been noticing my stocks investment grow impressively from last week. It seems some people got wind of this very early. I even read in ARM's daily research report on Monday or so that the rise is because people are expecting CBN to devalue the Naira and ease Forex transactions. Well, they've not devalued but have very well eased Forex sourcing. All the investors waiting till they get a clear picture of the direction the CBN is heading are now happy and can do concrete analysis now. The expectation of the increased inflow into the stocks market has buoyed the hope of local investors and made them re-organise their portfolio in favour of stocks. Which is good/gain for me as I have moved my investments from money market to mainly stocks, knowing that things can only get better, not worse.

2. Better Economy
At least compared to that of the first part of this year. The companies caught in this Forex debacle have been slowing down their operations. Especially, foreign companies who have issues with sourcing from unofficial forex markets. Now there is some relief. And better economy means better business for me.

3. Joy of seeing something new
Finally, I get to see first hand how a nation transitions from managed float to free float. Even the CBN is not yet sure how this will be implemented. And I will be following to see how it is actually done. 

4. More reasonable Exchange rate
I don't mean stronger Naira but an exchange rate that is based on sound reason/logic. High or low. I can live with something I can explain, rather than something that makes no sense.


The business world is now data driven and every business professional must now be fluent in the language of data. William E. Deming had the most accurate way of portraying this new age: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” Without data skills you will have a tough time influencing in the business world. You must learn to manipulate data, make compelling data stories and leverage data for insights.

UrBizEdge Limited, Nigeria’s leading business data analysis company is putting together this special training for proactive business professionals. This training is aimed at making you extremely good in Microsoft Excel, dashboard making, data presentation and business data analysis; teaching you with live business scenarios from our experience consulting for multinationals within and outside Nigeria. It's intended for Sales Managers, Financial Analysts, Business Analysts, Data Analysts, MIS Analysts, HR Executives and power Excel users.

This training is coming up on Friday 17th June 2016 to Saturday 18th June 2016 for Lagos and Friday 24th June 2016 to Saturday 25th June 2016 for Abuja. You will get tea break + lunch, a branded DVD with over 20 training videos and practice files, training notepad with pen, a comprehensive training reference material, a training certificate from us (
UrBizEdge Limited, a registered Microsoft Partner) and free refresher classes.

The training will be facilitated by a Microsoft recognized Excel Expert and the only Microsoft Excel Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Africa (there are just about 125 in the whole world and it is the highest level of recognition from Microsoft to an industry expert). We have had participants of our training from Citi Bank, Dalberg, SaveTheChildren, Mobil, Total, Vodacom, Nestle, Guinness Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries, Delta Afrik, LATC Marine, Broll, Habanera (JTI), SABMiller, IBM, Airtel, Diamond Bank, ECOWAS, Ministry of Finance, Palladium Group, Nokia Siemens Networks and DDB.

To register reach Michael on 08089382423 and mike@urbizedge.com or Hannah on 08021180874 and hannah@urbizedge.com to register. There is a class size limit.
Lagos Date: Friday 17th June 2016 to Saturday 18th June 2016
Lagos Venue: Kristina Jade Learning Center, 70b Olorunlogbon street, Off Alade Lawal street, Anthony Village, Lagos. 

Abuja Date: Friday 24th June 2016 to Saturday 25th June 2016 for Abuja.
Abuja Venue: Rosebud Hotel, 33 Port Harcourt crescent, off Gimbiya street, Garki 11, Abuja.

The training outline is:

1) Data Manipulation in Excel 
We’ll show you, from a consultant expertise level, how to manipulate data in Excel. From data preparation/cleaning to data formatting the professional way. We’ll cover both the science and the art of data manipulation in Excel, and share very useful keyboard shortcuts and expert tricks that will speed up your productivity in Excel.

2) Data Visualization and Presentation in Excel
A picture is worth a thousand words. And in the business world, it is often the only way to not bore your audience and pass the valuable message you’ve uncovered in your data analysis. We will teach you the foundations of data visualization – from the different types of charts to when to use each of them. Then we will work through business samples to learn the art part of doing data visualization right. You will learn the rules of business data reporting via charts and gain from our industry wealth of consulting for businesses in this vital area.

3) Large Data Analysis: Pivot Table, Pivot Chart and PowerPivot
You should never say you know Excel if you don’t know how to use Pivot Table. It is that important. It is Excel’s premium tool for analysing large data – sales data, inventory data, HR data, transaction data and most business operations data. We are going to cover from the basics to the very advanced use of Pivot Tables. We will show you how to create dynamic reports with Pivot Table; how to overcome some of its layout issues; how to turn off the distracting controls in your final report; how to create calculated fields; how to create Pivot Charts; and the special tricks only a full-time Excel consultant can show you that will turbo-charge you Pivot Table skills. Then we’ll show you how we analyse data of up to (and even above) 30 million rows in Excel. Yes, in Excel. Heard of PowerPivot?

4) Business Data Analysis 
In this section, we teach you the secrets that separate the analysis experts from the people with head/academic knowledge of Excel. It is one thing to know the different tools in Excel and it is another completely different thing to know how to expertly mix them together to creatively deliver value at high speed. As full-time Excel chef, we will show you the secret ingredients that make companies consult us even when they have Excel super users in their organizations.

5) Executive Dashboards and Reporting
This is the level self-knowledge will not get you to. How do you create an uncrowded insightful visualization for a report with 37 rows? Then how about for your sales analysis report of many rows and columns? How do you show the different interactions in your data? In short, how do you bring your data to life and take it from a boring confusing mass of text to an interactive exciting visualization? You have to come to get the answers.

6) Excel to PowerPoint
Management level reports are best presented in PowerPoints. When you’ve got a delicate story to tell, you have to guide your audience through a one idea/insight a slide PowerPoint. We won’t teach you how to design slides but we will teach you how to make your chart slides speak very loud. You will also learn the tricks of linking your PowerPoint charts to Excel. It will help cut down the hours you spend on weekly/monthly PowerPoint reports. We will also show you how to embed Excel files in your PowerPoint slide. No more sending separate Excel files when you can embed them right on the very slide you reference their data.

7) Excel VBA
Forget about all you’ve heard about Macros or VBA. Let’s show you how easy and exciting it is to break into the Excel VBA world.

Reach Michael on 08089382423 and mike@urbizedge.com or Hannah on 08021180874 and hannah@urbizedge.com to register. There is a class size limit.


You can also sign up for our highly educative tutorial newsletters at http://blog.urbizedge.com/
image: improveconsulting.biz

I am currently participating in Microsoft Imagine Cup competition as a judge. I am evaluating the software ideas and execution of university students across the world. I am amazed by how much they already know technically. Things I have been trying to know for over 5 years, they have been able to grasp extremely well while still in school. 

There are many days I ask myself why it is taking me too long to learn web development. Like am I now dumb at learning or is it that very difficult? Comfortingly, I believe it is because of the latter. It is extremely difficult. But not only that, I am also very pressed for time. There are too many times demanding my attention, such that I can't put in as much dedicated time as I would have when I too was a student.

I face a lot of roadblocks. I am learning, but not fast enough because I am having to learn too many things at the same time. And also having to earn. It is like the days are very short and the week runs out really fast.

My work has turned me into a tool. Good specifically for some tasks. I can look at data and see what most people won't see. I can do in 3 hours what it would take a sales analyst 5 days to do. I can debug Excel VBA programs over phone. I can solve Excel issues without being there or in front of my PC. I know too much about Excel and it has taken up too much space in my life. And it is my roadblock number 1 to learning web development, the future for my business.

It is very difficult to earn and learn from different fields at the same time. When it was only Excel I was interested in, learning was very easy. I was basically learning off the live projects I got. Sometimes I look through my past projects and wonder how I managed to do something that complex in Excel. Now, learning is very difficult when it is in a field I do not earn in. I am not able to dedicate as much time and mind to web development. And that is my roadblock number 2.

I have been lucky to find the key to turn knowledge into business. I am now good at getting marketplace attention in any field I want. I have earned from all kind of services I sold -- even ones I can't mention on my blog. Till now I am still struggling to get clients off me for the services I don't want to provide any more. It has not being very easy. I get too much attention than I want or is healthy for me. And that is my roadblock number 3. Time I could be spending doing the things I really want are taken up by requests I don't want to tend to anymore.

I really hope Henry Ford was right when he said, "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you  take your eyes off the goal." So if I focus more on my goal, the roadblocks should disappear. I hope.
image: wholeed.com

What is the eAdvantage?

It is the huge productivity gain you get from using online tools. The multiplier effect on your output that comes from strategic use of online productivity tools.

Everyday, I write. Not just on this blog. I do a lot of other creative writings. The last two months there were many days I wrote over 2,000 words per day. But do you know the writing that gets me the most interaction and positive attention? It is the ones I post online. Especially, the hurried ones I write every morning for this blog. My other writings often fade into oblivion after the week I am done with them, but the ones I post online take a life of their own and are constantly bringing me new contacts. And that is an example of the eAdvantage.

I don't go for networking events and I have stopped offline advertising. Yet I get more client requests than I can handle. Why? The eAdvantage. I run daily Google Adverts. So when people search for "Excel training", "Data Analysis", "VBA programming" and other things that relate to my service, my advert shows up. And they contact me. Saves me a lot of stress and extra staff. 



I like to see myself first as an artist, second as an entrepreneur. And what artists do and enjoy doing is creating. I love to create. Be in new articles (that's why I would rather get late to my training class than skip my early morning writing), or training content for my class, or programs for other people's use. I would rather be creating something than doing something else. I am very terrible at promoting myself. You wouldn't want me to give a motivational talk at your event. So how do I get people to notice my works? You guessed right -- the eAdvantage. If you do a google search for me, I dominate the results even up to the page 10 (and beyond).



I have contacts in places -- high and low, far and near. That I don't make use of this advantage is another thing entirely. And how did I amass most of these contacts? Again, you guessed right -- the eAdvantage. Weekly (wanted to say daily as it's multiple times a week) I get emails from people from across the globe. Nigerians and non-Nigerians. Telling me how helpful they've found my articles and contents and training materials and me. And some become friends. 

And most importantly, my business has survived and somewhat flourished because of the eAdvantage. I have peace of mind and assurance of greater things to come for the business because God has given me a safety net in form of the eAdvantage. With that advantage, I can get some results consistently and predicatably.

With Power BI, I easily monitor my website performance and see the important figures from any device I am on. Also, I am able to monitor my business finance -- track sales, invoices, expenses and instantly generate financial reports. And same for my email marketing campaigns. All in one central place. And you know the best part? The reports are automatically generated for me and updated daily. No need to have a staff make me reports or depend on my now less reliable memory to remind me to generate the report.

And what if I tell you that all these are free and can be easily set-up by you. All you have to do is sign up for Power BI.



Sign up is very easy. Then log in afterwards. You will be directed to a page similar to the one below.



And immediately redirected to the Power BI dashboard. In your case, you will see Microsoft sample reports. I have connected mine to my Google Analytics to monitor my website performance, Mailchimp to check the performance of my email marketing and QuickBooks to see my business performance.


Google Analytics Automated Report


Mailchimp Automated Report


QuickBooks Automated Report
So how did I initiate the report generation? Very easy. I simply connect Power BI to my Google Analytics account, Mailchimp account and QuickBooks account. And that's all. Power BI will generate a comprehensive report that shows you the important numbers all by itself. And if you want, you can customize the reports or add more analysis.

Just click on "Get Data" at the lower left corner to get started.



Choose "Services".



A list of all the services you can connect to will come up. Click "Get" on the ones you want the automatic report generated for.












Notice the detailed report of my business finances from QuickBooks


And that is all.

And if you are a smartphone person, like most of us, you should install the Power BI app from your phone app store (available for Windows Phone, Android and iPhone). So you can always view your reports on your phone. And it automatically updates everyday. No need for you to recreate the report or refresh or update. It does that daily for you without your intervention. That way you always see the most recent report.




Once you are able to get your business to be self-sustaining, I mean have it generate more revenue than the expenses, so you don't need external funding to stay in business, then being a full-time entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding with many main advantages.

image: womenentrepreneurship.in

1. Unlimited
There is no job in the world that gives you the liberty to do what you want, the way you want as being a full-time entrepreneur does. There are no imposed limitations. No one to seek endorsement from before implementing any great plans you have. There are no office politics to get sucked into and limited by. No single person has any significant power over you. You can try every idea that pops into your head. This is what I now most cherish about being a full-time entrepreneur.

2. Little Distraction
I was tempted to write no distraction because it's approximately that. I don't have to pad my CV with certifications or degrees. I don't have to follow any office culture. I don't have to live up to anyone's expectation. I get to focus very well on what matters. I work however I consider best/optimal. I might sleep during the day and work at night, and not worry about it annoying someone else. I work on weekends and often relax on Mondays. I don't have to follow meaningless trends.

3. Intense Focus
This is from the combination of facing no limits and having little distraction; I am able to pick the very field of business I want to operate and focus intensely on that niche. I don't have to worry that it will limit my job mobility. I don't have to worry that it's not the new hottest skill/field. I don't have to worry about the job market and recruitment trends. I don't even have to worry about what people (especially HR Managers and other business executives) think about my chosen field and skills. What matters to me are my customers. As long as whatever service/product I provide sells well in the marketplace, every other thing is irrelevant.

4. Long Term Strategy
I can have a genuine long term strategy. Their is no short sighted manager to convince. Also I am not bounded by the current strategy of any business. When I spot a future boom, I can position myself for it without the risk of losing my job or being demoted. I can scale down activities that generate instant revenue in favour of ones that will position me for dominant position in the coming future boom. I can more easily think long term -- 10, 20 and 30 years down the line -- than any employee. 

5. Security and compounding growth
The biggest drag with being an employee is having to combat job insecurity, career ceiling and partial restart everytime you change jobs. As a full-time entrepreneur, as long as the business brings money to sustain itself, all my security worries are gone. I also don't face any ceiling. Whatever I can think I can achieve. And most importantly, I can keep growing without any restart. Every of my growth compounds both in my favour and in favour of the business. I don't have to tell people I no longer work for XYZ company and now work for ABC company. I no longer have to restart credibility and relationship building every couple of years. I no longer have to deal with entirely new clientele and shut out old ones because of a job switch.

Every day I wake up as a full-time entrepreneur, I feel very happy and fulfilled that I have picked the best profession in the world. And I have found the job I want to do for life.