I’ve known Danladi for a few months now. I first came in contact with him when I went to Lagos in April for a wedding.
Tall, dark skinned and somewhat timid, he had a rented corner at Shitta, Surulere Lagos, for his shoe-repair business.
I had been in a hurry to the office at Yaba when my sandal strap came loose. It had cut. I was happy when I spotted a small signboard with the words, “Danladi’s shoe repair” written boldly with chalk. I went to him showed him the part of the strap that had come loose. He gave me his price and then started went to work. i ended up asking him to pin every joint in both sandals, so as to prevent another dilemma on the way.
I sat on the bench he provided. I can’t remember how the gist went, but we talked from one subject to another. Despite being a shoe repairer, Danladi is sharp. He is focused. He knows what he wants out of his business but there was something hindering his progress. Confidence and self-love. I knew this from our discussion.
When I had asked how his business was doing, he said something about not having enough customers like his competition, stationed a short distance away from Danladi. True to his words, I could see that while I was the only one having my shoe fixed by Danladi, his competitor had about 3 people, each waiting his/her turn.
I asked him why and he told of how a male customer had come to him one afternoon to get his shoes made and he had boasted to the man that he was a perfect and most competent shoemaker. But after he was done with the shoes, Danladi himself had vowed that the shoe design was not exactly what the customer had described. That means his true accomplishment did not match up to his claims. He became distraught.
The customer almost made a scene in the shop as he kept demanding half refund since Danladi couldn’t produce the exact design he had asked for. So instead of accepting his mistakes that day, he had blamed his failure on his twelve-year-old apprentice. Sad.
Another young lady had come to his shop about two days later to ask him to make a heeled sandal for her. He had plainly refused simply because of his previous experience. The lady left him and approached his competitor.
Days turned into weeks. Danladi watched his customers both existing and prospective customers every day, go to the other shoe-maker to get their old shoes repaired and get their new shoes made.
Danladi continued with repairs only. But he was really disturbed. And even as at the time of fixing my sandal, he admitted he was still disturbed because he had dreams of making different designs of classy shoes. He still wanted to be a shoemaker, not just a repairer. But he wasn’t sure he had whatever his competitor had.
I looked up at the competitor just in time to see him discussing a design with one of the customers who had been waiting. My eyes didn’t miss the new customer that had joined the queue.
Above the noise of pedestrians and moving vehicles, I heard the other guy and the customer he was attending to, talk about a previous job. The customer complained that the shoemaker had not done certain parts of the shoe as described and he was stressing the points because he wanted to ensure the shoemaker got this new design right.
All through this time, all I heard from Danladi’s competitor was, “no worry sir. I no go make that mistake again. This one go dey good. trust me.” and when the customer said, “Na so you talk for that last one o,” the shoe-maker replied saying, “no worry. This time, If I no get am, no pay me the balance.’
This guy, despite a previously not-so-good job, was assuring the same client that his next job will be perfect. Not only did he assure him, he was putting his pay on the line. He exhibited complete confidence in his work and he stamped that confidence in the client by putting his balance pay on the line.
I tried to let Danladi know that his competitor was no better than him in shoemaking. But he would not hear of it. He insisted he was no match for the other guy. And so he unknowingly had sentenced himself and his dream of being a great shoemaker, to failure.
He had given his competitor all the grounds needed to succeed and grow stronger, while he remains at the corner, wishing, but taking no action to fulfill that wish.
If you’re in any form of business today, know this. You will have your down moments. But you will also have your great moments. Don’t give up. Keep refining your skills. Keep trying and keep pushing. most importantly, be consistent.
You can follow these steps below to help you.
- Do not be too hard on yourself.
- Have realistic expectations.
- Be open to the fact that it is okay to make mistakes
- Look for ways to always improve your craft, even if it means, taking courses or carry out a google search for free guides.
- Do not give in to negative thoughts/talks
- Know that you’re your own best friend
- Take care of yourself by dressing well, and neatly too
- wear what makes you happy
- Show your clients you can always deliver and put in your efforts to do just that.
- Strive to meet your customer’s expectations/your expectations
I hope these tips will help you, as you go on to accomplish your dreams.