Martwayne | Power Through Fashion: Knowing When to Back Out of a Project...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Knowing When to Back Out of a Project...

Stunning flyer right?!  I totally agree!  Perfect way to launch the FECs in Abuja!  

And why did we consider Abuja?!  Simple!  From the market reaction and mails we were getting from prospective participants who stated their willingness to attend the Courses... if only they could hold in Abuja.  

SO off we went making plans to run a 2 day training which was meant to take place this past weekend.  I had contacted the partner company in Abuja, designed the flyer, they had paid for the hall and were about to launch the marketing campaign when I listened to my instincts and pulled out of the project!  And THAT, my friends, was the best decision I ever made!  I'll tell you why just now..

Yes I am a risk taker.... I hear you have to be one to move ahead in your business but I'm sure you know there's a big difference between a risk and a calculated risk.  Hey, I could always cut my losses in Lagos if I didn't meet my target number of participants, but I could not afford to do that in Abuja.  Not after all the costs involved in the logistics, the air travel, hotel accommodation, feeding of self and participants, and most important of all, since I wasn't running this particular project on my own.  But I realized that the average Abuja participant would still expect to attend the same course at the same fee of N15,000 without considering all the extras that would be incurred in bringing the course over to them.

Furthermore, after all the calls, mails etc I received in response to FEC 4 (of which I am yet to post pictures of ARGH!) and confirmations from people who were "on their way to the bank right now to pay and needed my bank details" (errr... perhaps tomorrow or next year maybe...), I still fell short of my target.  Only then did I realize that an intention to register was completely different from an actual registration.

From there, I learnt other important lessons:

1.  Never to fix a price for a product or service based on "conscience" or my perception of what I think people can afford.  All prices should be fixed only after, at least, considering the total costs incurred in providing the product or service.  Why?!  Because I actually did myself a disservice charging N10,000 for FEC 1.  Although the figures and my advisory board, including my mother, warned me against that Course Fee, I went ahead because I "felt" people would not be able to afford it.  Truth is, how do I know what people can or cannot afford?!  Their ability and in fact, willingness to pay, would depend on the value they believe they can get from the product!  After all, I know people who sell handbags for N70,000 and Brazilian Hair for a lot more and people still buy them!

When I was faced with the harsh reality when the time came to pay the bills and the first installment of my loan, I sharply had a rethink.  Interestingly enough, that mistake cost me future registrations from FEC 1 participants because one told me, only yesterday, that one of the reasons (which was in fact the first she gave) for not attending the other volumes was because of the increase in the Course Fees.  Bungling noted!  Lesson learnt!  Moving on!  

2.  To give enough time to create awareness and market the course in order to give people ample time to get used to new prices.  Although I had warned the FEC 1 participants of the increase, I never told them what the figure was until much later when I released the flyer.  That, of course, had a huge impact on the turnout at FEC 2.  But thankfully, when people got used to the new price, the turnout improved at FEC 3 and FEC 4. 

Why am I telling you all this... of course apart from warning Abuja participants in advance of the likely fees they would pay for the FECs if they ever came to Abuja?!

Because many times in this environment, we designers are too shy when it comes to charging for our products or services.  We charge based on our conscience when we know deep down the work we put into the product / service is not commensurate with what we are charging for it. Simply put, we sell ourselves short simply because we want to increase our customer base!  And guess what?!    My mother always told me her mother always told her it is better to stay home and sleep the whole day than run a business at a loss!  At least, if you're on your bed sleeping, you are not losing money!  

Furthermore, you do realize that only profit makes sense right?!  As they say, "Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity"!  You can have a huge customer base and still be running at a loss....and more often than not, you are!  Simply because the average individual doesn't really consider the opportunity costs and intellectual property when fixing prices.  

Now I'm not saying charging N18,000 for a calico skirt is the way to go, like some of my students planned to after a grueling Level 1a, but at least charging something that can allow you cover your direct and indirect costs would ensure you don't feel cheated at the end of the day.  Plus leaving a little something for you to plough back into the business and, at least, eventually go out for drinks with friends someday makes all the difference in the world.  Why?!  Because you deserve it!

And also, never be ashamed to back out of a deal or project if it does not make good business sense at that particular point in time.  Sometimes we let our pride get in the way but never speak up for fear of being seen as losers.  Well guess who'll be the bigger  loser?!  Your bank account or your pride?  Of course when you back out, fear of the unknown should not be enough reason.  It should be based on clearly documented facts or reasons not just... "I didn't think it would work".  In my case, I had clearly established the reasons why it may not have worked out then... but it doesn't mean I would totally rule it out.  

So my Abuja peeps! :-D  What says you?!  Should I go ahead and reinitiate plans to hold the Course... bearing in mind that if you had to factor in your flight tickets to attend the Course in Lagos, it would probably cost you much more.  And please... if you have any ideas on how to make the fees more affordable, do share them.  Who knows, maybe someone can sponsor certain expenses such as training halls, marketing expenses and even air tickets.  After all, a current FEC student offered to print colored copies of the FEC 4 handouts for free to make them more reader friendly (thanks a lot Juliet) AND I got a call from a lady last week who offered to work with us, pro bono, to bring the Course to Abuja.  

Don't worry, we have also gone back to the drawing board to see what else we can add to the Course to make it really worth your while.  You will notice the days are much longer, 3 FECs have been packed into 1 day and we have 2 breaks with feeding time. However, our ability to run the Course would be based on a confirmed number of registrants.

As for me, I have decided to stick with Lagos until I have a good business case to run the Course in other locations.  And for those who have requested for reruns of previous FECs or who would like to buy the training materials only, it would be at the exact same cost of N15,000 for either option.  After all, eventually, I need to get compensated for my intellectual property and my sleepless nights. ;-)  And I tell you, I doubt you will find a cheaper course, here, online or abroad especially with the guest facilitators I invite to the Lagos FECs who are experts in their field.  These, I bring in based on relationships I have established over time!

So there you have it.  Abuja people!  Do send me an e-mail, BB message or SMS if you are still interested in the course.  Don't worry, we also intend to give discounts to people who meet certain criteria as shown in the flyer.  Thank you so much.  

Here's also me thanking Aunty Nike and Folake of Nikels Multi Solutions for their willingness to work with me on this project.  As I said, we have not totally eliminated the plan, we have only postponed it till we are certain we will meet a certain minimum number of students.  

And on this note, I leave you with pictures of the 1st Lagos Accessories Fair 2012.  Unfortunately I couldn't stay for long because I had to prepare for my 3pm class.  But there were stunning goods for sale.  Just check them out...

Here's me looking forward to your e-mails an d looking forward to you registering for the Basic Course in Pattern Making & Garment Construction!



  1. My name is Daniel Udoma,i reside in Abuja and i really went through your write up...Lol its amazing how you put this piece of good work together God bless. In the other hand yeah the fee is something else but i think there's a way out for people of Abuja to scale through and am willing to draw out the plan for it but first and foremost i need you to reply me via my mail( so i can dish out some God giving ideas in me. I wanna be a voluntary worker. Truly yours Daniel Udoma

  2. Hello Daniel,

    Many thanks for your compliments. Much much appreciated :-)

    Re the Course, I will definitely send you an e-mail so we can discuss the possibility of running the Course in Abuja at a more affordable rate.


  3. Honestly this is my next line of interest I want to be a part this. When is ur next batch commencing and I need a full details on pattern making n garments construction. My email is link2grace247@gmail. Com. Thanks


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