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How I grew my business from scratch, manage challenges

Ayo Aranmolate, a plastic surgeon, is the founder of Grandville Medical and Laser, a household name in that line of business in the country today.

In this interview, he shares his success story with Daily Sun, while also revealing how he has managed related challenges.

Background

I started from a humble beginining. When I was through with my training, I needed to go study Plastic Surgery in the US. I applied for visa but it didn’t work out initially. I later decided to start up in Nigeria. It started out as a plastic surgery outfit but we are now expanding it to other medical units which includes intensive care units, laboratory services and a trauma centre coming soon. We have three centres in Lekki, Surulere and Abuja. We also have an after-care which is like a home where patients are taking care of, apart from the regular hospital.

I started with my last earned salary when I was in the National Orthopaedic Hospital. Subsequently, consultations fetched me some money too and that was how I was able to buy some of the laser machines. At the initial stage, I was using other hospitals. I was using a one room apartment in Gbagada,Lagos and then went for a place in Ajao Estate where I was using their theatre and their consulting room. We had an agreement that a certain per centage of my earnings would be given to them. Six months down the line, I met a friend who could no longer afford to pay for his office rent and we agreed that I take ownership. I had the office in Surulere. I can always say I started with N325,000. The next thing was that my wife had to get a loan for me to buy about two laser machines. That was when someone that saw me the previous year let out his existing rent. That was his own contribution to the business.

Business development and growth

What I can tell you is that the business was grown organically. When I started, my staff salary was less than N150,000. It was just about three of us. We never had people placed on admission. What that meant was that I brought in another staff to do the admission care. After some time, when the business started growing, we recruited both morning and midnight doctors. Then, I was not paying myself any salary. I was just living from hand to mouth that I had to sell one of my cars to sustain the business. I remember that that period, I had two cars for my wife and I. When I sold one, I became a driver that every day, I would first take my wife to work and go back to pick her in the evening. I was not even earning any salary. It got so bad that at a point, I needed N3,000 to fix my generator set but I had to be given that by a friend. For about four years, there was no salary and all I did was take something for upkeeps. When it was time for another level of the business, the other partner went to the bank and took some loans with which we renovated the building then. The building was for rent and the landlady had agreed that we pay later. We started fixing the rooms little by little. After a year plus, we went to get about N30 million to take care of the business.

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Challenges

Just like it is for every regular business, the major challenges are; money and human resources. Yes, I know that there are other environmental factors like electricity, good roads, good policies. All of these influence business. We also need the right patronage and the right workers. If you are doing it right and you don’t have people that follow you from behind, it would just amount to futile efforts. If we all have a common goal, it would just appear as if we are doing more than enough. So, sometimes, if you have the money to sort the financial part of the challenges, the human resources is there because money will buy all things but won’t buy good workers. So, the people that you work with determine how successful you will be. The other issue is about power and that is where the government really needs to look into.

Managing challenges

That would be in a way of looking for investors. Another is through borrowing which we have had to do in recent times. You also want to have assets so you can use them as collaterals for your borrowing. The trauma centre costs a lot of money that I had to call in some investment bankers to come in. You will always need other people’s money to grow your business. When such funds are involved, people will be more interested in the business you are doing. If you think it is less stressful borrowing, then try and borrow. The funny thing is that it is the microfinance banks that I borrow from the most. They are easily accessible. Commercial banks don’t easily give out the money. We once approached a bank and when I heard the type of collateral they were asking for, I asked how much is the money I am even borrowing. If I knew I was going to produce N40 million before I can borrow, then, I would have taken the whole thing as nonsense. The only thing with microfinance banks is that you are under pressure to mop up the money you have taken. But then, one thing I have learnt is to trust in God. You can be hardworking and be poor but when you have a good workforce backing you, it would look as if you are the richest.

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Competition

I really don’t see any competition here. Nigeria has well over 170 million people. What makes us different is that we started showcasing the plastic surgeries on social media through the consent of the patients. People started realising we can do it. In terms of competition, it will always be there but I don’t see it as a threat. The advantage we have is the experience and the number of people we have done for. I also try to update myself frequently. I know every other person that is in competition with me. They trained from me, apart from those who came from abroad. Some have been with me. You can’t know more than the master, except for a special talent. I also know that my talent is unique and it is divine. There are several feats I have achieved and I am happy with that. I like to do extremes of surgeries that many would rather turn down. I like to take up such tasks and get to success. That is when people would appreciate you and that adds to your wealth of experience and knowledge.

Skills and expertise

I will say that patience, skill acquisition, risk taking are part of the lessons here. If you are afraid to start, you can never start. I wasn’t afraid to start which was why I suddenly became my wife’s driver. At least, I was driving a car of my own before that happened. It is not bad moving from up to down in order to go up again.
Sunnews

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