Entrepreneurship seems to be the new career wave. Do you agree?

More folks are beginning to quit their corporate work to own their dreams, become their own bosses, and above all, do the things they love! This is particularly true of ladies who are brave enough to quit their job for their dream jobs.

Chichi Equomah is one such lady.

Chichi Equomah, now Chichi Yakubu is the CEO of NyoNyo Essentials, a food brand that celebrates Ghanaian food in style! Just google the top eateries to look out for in Ghana and NyoNyo Essentials is definitely one to pop up.

From the humble beginnings of a food catering service, Nyonyo has expanded to a restaurant and the corporate go-to food services firm in the industry within a span of 3 years.

Their client portfolio is already impressive, having catered to clients such as MTN Ghana, Cummins Ghana, National Petroleum Authority, Eische Life, Ghana Water Company, EIB Group of Companies and Cocobod to name a few and with the recent opening of a restaurant, one can only imagine the way to the top.

As an erstwhile HR practitioner at TNS, a multinational market research company, Chichi leveraged on her skills in communication and project management, and her lifelong passion for cooking and creating to develop NyoNyo Essentials. But that can’t be all.

We caught up with Chichi to tell us about the relevance of her former traditional corporate jobs in her day to day running of NyoNyo Essentials. She talked about the lessons she learned and what existing and future SLAyers can pick up from their existing jobs before they make that full time transition into entrepreneurship.


 

The mastermind behind the meals:  How did the story of Chichi and NyoNyo Essentials begin?

The story of NyoNyo began with my mother. My mother is an amazing cook, and she owned a thriving food business. I picked up after her when it came to cooking and I am a foodie too, so naturally I also wanted to venture into the catering industry.

I grew up determined to start a restaurant, but life happened and it became a dream deferred.

In 2014, I felt the inkling to pursue this dream again.  I took some time off social media to lose weight, rebrand myself and strategize for this dream, and a year later, NyoNyo Essentials was born.

How did you know the time was right to leave your job and fully invest yourself in NyoNyo Essentials?

It was a rather gradual process.

I worked full time at TNS at the time, when I started this food business. I spent my spare time catering to NyoNyo, but the business was growing bigger by the day mainly because of our social media marketing and excellent recommendations.

It was becoming challenging to adequately balance the two. So one day after careful consideration, I packed my bag and baggage and decided to fully dedicate myself to NyoNyo Essentials. I have never looked back.

There comes a point in life where you really have to decide what you want to pursue.

It’s a decision you can only hold on for so long, but deep inside you know what your guts want, what you are yearning for and what fuels your passion, and eventually, you will have to choose. And I did.

Looking back, what are the top 3 lessons you have learned from your roles in the traditional corporate world that have proved useful today?

I spent four to five years in typical 8-5 jobs and I feel that’s enough for me to have pursued my dream now.

My time and experience I garnered there are still very relevant and extremely beneficial to what I do today. The first thing I learned was to be accountable to a superior. I strongly believe that everybody has to be accountable to someone; accountability makes you upright and productive.

I have also come to fully appreciate some other attitudes I learned during such time.

Be conscious of your time. It’s a priceless gift - Chichi of @NyoNyogh Click To Tweet

I learned how to be punctual. From reporting to work on time and managing my work schedules, I learned how to be consistent with my time and also manage it efficiently so that I deliver on tasks promptly.

Today, it’s one key trait that drives NyoNyo Essentials and how we operate.

I still work at Nyonyo Essentials as though I am still being monitored by a superior and I encourage my staff to also work in the same vein. If we have a delivery at 2 pm, and you show up even 15 minutes late, your client is not going to be pleased.

Besides, we deal with food so soothing a hungry and an angry client is double the work.

Another big lesson for me is that we are all replaceable, don’t get too comfortable - Chichi of @NyoNyogh Click To Tweet

I am not the only employee at work. If I goof today, I am replaceable. If I make a big blunder, I can be replaced easily. The question that makes the difference is that what am I doing to be excellent and to constantly upgrade myself?

This is same for Nyonyo Essentials. We are not the only one in Ghana’s culinary space- there are others chasing their dreams like just ours. This is why we are always challenged to be better with our food and our customer service.

It also spurs me on to continuously set milestones for Nyonyo and find answers to this burning question at all times. “What can I do to make the NyoNyo brand relevant to our customers always?”

You can only do so much. Learn to delegate - Chichi of @NyoNyogh Click To Tweet

Before entering the corporate workforce, I found it difficult to ask others to assist me with basic tasks. The one thing I learned while working was that there is always a lot on my plate and I couldn’t do it alone no matter how hard I tried to multi-task.

We work in teams, and it is important to utilize the strengths of your team members in getting things done. It is simple: train yourself to delegate when you have to, otherwise, you will be overwhelmed.

As the CEO of Nyonyo Essentials, there’s so much to do. Between overseeing the cooking and delivery of food, the management of staff, meeting new clients, preparing and reviewing our books etc. I also oversee managing our social media presence, building my personal brand and overseeing the restaurant, the duties are numerous, and I have learned that I can’t micromanage everything.

The lessons of the delegation have been very important here. I can leave my staff to handle some aspects of the business and I have a general oversight over everything.

Delegation has made me more productive, I do not burn out easily now.

Here are the other reasons why you should also get a job before starting a business, there are a lot of lessons to learn.


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