The Smart Money Woman Workshop and the Business Lessons I learned.

2015 was a good year for the smart money brand. I got invited to speak at lots of important conferences including WIMBIZ, WOWE and Genevieve Magazine’s Becoming Financially fearless event. It was an amazing experience, speaking to large audiences and feeling like I was inspiring people to manage their money better but I got to a point where I wanted to host my own event and do something that was a little more hands on that would not just inspire but teach an intimate group of women about personal finance. A platform that would allow women talk about their grievances with money, provide clarity on the steps for building wealth and investment opportunities. I had gotten a significant number of requests from my audience to host a workshop, so I knew there was demand for a workshop played with the idea for a while and then decided to Just Go For It!

The Journey to the smart money woman workshop did not come without its lessons. So I want to share these lessons with you, especially for those people who have ideas but are afraid to execute for various reasons.

Business Lesson 1: The Power of the P+L statement

Now! It all started with a budget and a P+L statement, I had to figure out how to put together an event that would offer substantial value and also make a profit. Yes! A profit! Let me explain, although it is extremely important to me to do work that has a positive impact, I am a capitalist at heart! So one of the most surprising things for me was that there was an expectation that the event should be free or ‘cheaper’. How? I laugh in Bini! I have spent the last 18 months providing FREE content and I love the impact that has had but an event costs money, time and effort to produce, so it had to start with the numbers.

Having a budget and a profit and loss statement to play around with was extremely helpful because with every decision that was made the financial implications were clear. For example, if I wanted a custom made money journal, that each participant could take away and use post-workshop, I knew I would have to cut back on some other items I had initially planned to have at the event.

I have heard of and seen people struggle when they host these events because they haven’t done enough work in terms of numbers, revenue streams or realistic cost projections, there’s great publicity for the event then at the end of the day they make a Loss or worse go into debt. What would be the point? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

Business Lesson 2: Know your target audience!

The workshop cost 30k for early birds and 40k for those who paid at the last minute, so I knew it would be expensive for some and I would get some pushback about the price. However, our target audience for this workshop was the woman who could afford to place this kind of value on personal development because she had spent an equal amount on asoebi, concert tickets and more in the past.

A sustainable business doesn’t just pull out a price from thin air! Your pricing strategy is derived from your business model. If your business model determines your price and there is legitimate demand for your product or service stick to it, your ideal customers will pay!

Understand that not everybody is your customer. Your customers are the people who see the value in your offerings and are willing to PAY for it. So some people might like what you are offering but not be able to pay for it and that’s ok. Maybe your product or service is aspirational for them; they can either save towards it or wait till their income can support it. For example, I like Hermes but I cannot afford it, so I will wait till I can afford it.  What I will not do is walk into an Hermes store and start asking them why they are so expensive. What I certainly will not do is start insulting them for charging too much or tying to price the bag!

Business Lesson 3: Don’t allow the fear of criticism overcome you.

When you have a vision, surround yourself with people who will add value, support you and believe in you even in the moments when you don’t believe in yourself. Separate yourself from negative people and comments that try to tell you can’t do what you set out to do. You have to learn to protect your mind and in the instances you do come across what *insert DJ Khaled voice* ‘they’ say – use their haterade to fuel your vision!

Let me explain, I love to say that I have a Chanel bag of support systems because the people closest to me are genuinely my biggest fans, their encouragement is beyond normal, even when I second-guess myself. They always tell me “do you know who you are Arese? ‘You Gat this’!

So, when I decided to do this event they were all more than supportive. However, I also heard a lot of negative things said by ‘acquaintances’ etc. The best of which were ‘who does she think she is? Is she Warren Buffet, How can she charge 30k? She didn’t even go to Harvard!’

For a minute, me sef I ask myself  ‘ Come Arese who do you think you are? Are you Warren Buffet?’  I confess I let ‘They’ get to me a little but after I mistakenly shared my fears with my mentor and she gave me a piece of her mind (because she doesn’t tolerate succumbing to fear), I remembered who I was!

This is who I think I am; I am Arese, I went to Aston Business School and UCL (University College London). I’ve worked in financial services for 8years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars investing in executive education programs from Lagos Business School, London Business School, INSEAD amongst others to improve myself.

I serve on the board of several companies including House of Tara and the NHEF alongside some very accomplished people, who value my contributions.  Some of whom even went to Harvard. Lol!

So, I think I’m pretty smart! Do I think I’m the smartest person in the financial industry? No!  But I know this! Each of us have a special skill set, a unique talent that God has given us to share with the world, so don’t let people who may not be doing much with their lives step on your dreams, it is a reflection of their limitations not yours! I know money, and how to break it down in a way that the everyday person can understand. The numerous people who have reached out to me via email and in person to share how my work has helped them manage their finances better are a testament to this.

So, I implore you today, articulate who you are!

If you are a fashion designer, you may not be Stella McCartney but your name is Tope and Beyoncé has worn your dress.

If you are an event planner, you may not be Preston Bailey but your name is Ayiri and you’ve brought Preston Bailey to Nigeria and planned insanely successful events.

I am not Warren Buffet but my name is Arese and I want to empower women through financial literacy.

  1. Dear Arese,

    Thank you for your post. I particularly liked be lesson #3: Don’t allow the fear of criticism overcome you.
    As persons, we tend to let other people expectations impact our dreams and drive. And as women, we tend to second-guess ourselves too often.
    Thank you for owning who you are, what you have achieved and what you want to achieve!

    It is a great lesson for each of us.


  2. I have to admit that I was one of those hoping the event would cost less than it did. However, after reading this, I’m glad you stayed true to you.

    I just hope that you’ll be willing to give those of us who really want to learn ample time (a quarter notice, perhaps) to work towards affording the next one.


  3. Dear Arese,

    Thank you for a great article.

    Do you still have some of the custom made money journals that we can purchase?

    Best regards,

  4. Arese,
    I call you the Suze Orman of Nigeria, I don’t care if you didn’t go to an Ivy League – I care that you break money down to the basics in the Nigerian context.
    Babe do you, you don’t have to be warren Buffet but you sure are imparting knowledge “in due season” fulfill your dreams.
    We dey you back gidigba!

  5. It’s now referred to as Profit or Loss (P or L). Either or. Can’t be both at the same time
    “…but your name is Tope and Beyoncé has worn your dress” :). Go Arese!
    Is Osayi too cool or what?
    Thanks for sharing and being so open about everything (fears, profit,…). I mean, who says these things? God bless you!

    Any Entrepreneur who catches this early will have crossed a major hurdle.
    I should attend the next one. I wasn’t aware of this one plus I wasn’t a business woman then
    Now I am LOL


  7. Hello Arese,

    Beautifully written article. I particularly love your sign out “I am not Warren Buffet but my name is Arese and I want to empower women through financial literacy” I can totally feel your resolve and determination to be true to yourself. We always have times of self doubt and I’m glad and inspired that you worked your way back to your core and are not backing down.
    I also identify with the struggle to balance making profit while making an impact for social good but this was clearly a service that you needed to place value on. I admit, I was daunted by the price but I completely understand and respect it. We’ll be ready next time:)
    God bless the works of your hands

  8. Lovely, well written article, Arese. God has used you to change the lives of a lot of women. I love the simplicity and definitive direction of your messages . I hope you can do a Smart Money Workshop in Abuja sometime soon. Keep up the wonderful work

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