Femi Otedola is definitely one of the well-recognized business moguls in Nigeria. He is a popular name in the oil and gas industry as he was famously known as the former chairman of Forte Oil. He also founded Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd. Aside from dominating the oil industry, Otedola is a force to reckon with in other sectors such as power, finance, shipping, real estate and more. The billionaire has his footprints in viable businesses, that’s why he’s admired by both the old and young when it comes to building generational wealth and doing business.
There’s so much that we can learn from Femi Otedola, from his early days working at his father’s printing press to amassing and maintaining a fortune while leading in major industries. Here are a few lessons we can draw from the magnate’s business journey:
Don’t allow learning opportunities to pass you by
Before venturing into oil and gas, Otedola worked at his family’s printing press in the 1980s. The experience exposed him to what was to come in the world of business; it’s only that he’s applying the knowledge on a bigger scale currently. But it laid the foundation for his career. As entrepreneurs, we should never shy away from opportunities, in any capacity, that will enable us to sharpen our skills.
Don’t limit yourself
He could have remained at his father’s printing press but Otedola decided to start his own company. In 1994, he founded CenterForce Limited, a company which focuses on trading and finance investments. This, without a doubt, must have exposed the businessman to the intricacies of running a business at a much broader level and succeeding in it. As entrepreneurs, we should always strive to grow wherever we find ourselves because we never know how our experiences would help us in future.
Don’t be afraid to explore
After establishing his financial investments firm back in 1994, he went ahead to explore opportunities in various other sectors such as oil, shipping, properties, insurance, and transportation, and also became a major shareholder in top commercial banks such as United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Zenith Bank. Femi Otedola’s story shows that in business, the wind of entrepreneurship could take you anywhere, to favourable places that you might never have conceived in your mind. You either go big or go home as there is no room for half measures when in business.
Don’t work in isolation, work with developments around you
Change is constant and this applies to the business space which is an evolving one. As entrepreneurs, we should be willing to adapt to developments so that we’re not left behind in the scheme of things.
Femi Otedola understands the dynamics of working in an ever-changing environment, hence in 2019, he sold his 75% shares of Forte Oil to concentrate on Geregu Power Plc, a power generating company he purchased during the privatization of the power sector. Prior to this, he had invested the sum of $350 million into the plant. This was a move he made after he saw that the power sector was becoming more profitable.
Don’t stay down, always get back up
Just like everyone else, Otedola has had his fair share of disappointments and setbacks. One of which was the time he had over one million tons of diesel on the high seas when the price dropped from $146 to $34. The Nigerian currency, Naira was subsequently devalued, stocks crashed and at the end of it all, Otedola had lost millions of dollars. But he weathered the storm, became smarter and came back on top. He had to give up some of his valuable assets in order to pay his debt.
It is easy to accept defeat in such a situation but Otedola didn’t take the easy way out, he forged on, although it would have been tough he didn’t mind losing some properties and letting go of some reputable achievements or positions so as to recover.
Now we can attest that entrepreneurship is a blend of sacrifices, humble beginnings, difficult decisions and a lot of learning. Femi Otedola’s story is one that young and prospective businessmen and women should gain insights from, at least for the fact that the Oyo-born billionaire has been a serial entrepreneur for decades, managing his own multinational companies while also overseeing various other notable organisations.