Most big businesses you see today started small, one step at a time. But with tested principles and determination the success shows up along the way. This is the success story of Tetrazzini Group, one of Nigeria’s most successful indigenous enterprise. Read the excerpt from this interview with the founder, Prince Don Okonkwo.
Q. Can you Tell us About Tetrazzini
A. Tetrazzini started about 13 years ago , but today Tetrazzini is not about food alone, it has become a conglomerate and with various businesses in the last 13 years. Tetrazzini Foods opened the first outlet in 1999 about 13 and the half years ago in Ajao Estate along International Airport Road, Lagos. And since then, we’ve grown from strength to strength, from glory to glory and we are still growing. You cannot push aside Tetrazzini in the quick service restaurant business in Nigerian and of course Sub-Sahara African countries.
Tetrazzini started with one outlet but today we have grown to 23 outlets all over Nigeria. What started with a humble beginning 13 years ago, has become a public liability company that is quoted in the Nigerian stock exchange on a secondary platform and very soon, Tetrazzini Foods will be trading on the floor of the exchange. We will go public on a primary level soon. So that we will be trading on the Nigeria stock exchange. We started the company with 17 staff, and today we have 665 staff. We are growing by the day irrespective of the challenges we face in the country which is too numerous to mention.
Q. Before your entry into the Fast Food Business, there were big players in the sector including multinationals. What gave you the guts that if you go into this business you will make a success.
A. The first thing that stirred me up to open the doors of quick restaurant is the passion I have for good food and developing a place of entertainment where people can eat and have a wow feeling at the end of the day. I was doing my passion and I know that is almost impossible to fail if you have the passion for what you are doing.
Another thing that gave me the guts, was the drive in me to create wealth and employment opportunity and my CAN DO SPIRIT (whatever I set myself out to do, I don’t relent until I do it. If I can think it, I work tireless to make it a reality.
Q. How Have You Been Able to Manage the Large Number of Staff you Have Considering the Fact that Getting Competent Staff is a Great Challenge in Nigeria?
A. It is quite challenging having a whole lots of staff sometimes. Because you will have some who are very effective at what they do, and some others who all they are concerned about is the salary. The challenge is even with the human capital development in the country. We are bracing through, soldiering through but is not an easy thing, because getting competent and effective staff is never an easy task. Never-the-less, we are not going to give up with human development in Nigeria and in our organisation.
Q. Do Think you and Some other Successful Entrepreneurs Have an Exclusivity to Wealth that Other Nigerians don’t have?
A. Absolutely nothing like that! It is about determination and patience. One of the reasons most businesses that are started in Nigeria don’t live to see success, is simply because a whole lot of people who go into business go with a quick fix mindset. They have a short endurance thirst. The partway to business success is not rosy, is very challenging and multitasking. It wasn’t easy setting up Tetrazzini Foods and the other 11 various Tetrazzini businesses that are under Tetrazzini Group, but with determination and endurance, we did it.
Q. What is the Limit a business person go to for Self Development?
A. There is no limit. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. A business person that won’t develop self on a constant basis has failed even before starting out in business. What makes one business better than the other is the information that is known and acted upon. Fasting and prayer or employing the aid if demonic activity by burying a cow will never make up for the place of the right information for your business. If what your business is lacking is the right information, go and acquire it. Because it will definitely bring the desired result. I as a person spend without limit on educating myself. You don’t have all the money, you can spend within the limit of what you can currently afford. The internet is even another university that you can afford at the click of a mouse. There are good business schools in Nigeria today, go there and get better. All you are is all you know. To be more is to know more. What you don’t know is bigger than you, once you know it you are in charge.