5 Things That Helped Me Scale My “Hustle” from Nigeria to London 🔑

5 Key Things That Helped Me Scale My Hustle from Nigeria to London

Okay! So, if you read my blog and/or follow my social media (especially Facebook Page) you might know that I started my hustle at the age of 19 on my Grand-mother’s dining table in Lagos, Nigeria after getting my BSc in computer science but if this is the first time you are reading my post or hearing about me, well; that’s just my story in a nutshell.

I decided to start something of my own instead of following the traditional route of employment. I guess what gave me the mindset or drive to go this route is because: I felt I was pretty young and also I lowkey knew that the work / job system isn’t for me, I saw how my Aunts went to work in the morning, faced traffic, came back late at night and talked about the hell of a day they just had – I didn’t want any of that.

On the other hand, I also saw my dad! I didn’t live with him for a long time but for the times I lived with him as a kid and the times I spent my holiday with him, he has always been a boss man! He was self-employed and even though he went to work in the morning, there was ZERO rush and even sometimes, he chills at home and have money delivered to him by his employees in the evening. I wanted that life, life of freedom!

So, fast forward to today! I am far from the kid who started his hustle on his grand-mother’s dining table.

I currently live in London on my own terms, run a creative design and digital marketing agency (Presidential Ideas), Run a Lifestyle, Tech and Entrepreneurship brand (The Presidential Hustle), Have a Masters in Business Information Systems Management from Middlesex University (Paid my fees myself, no loan, no hand-outs), Endorsed by the UK Government as a “World Leading Exceptional Talent in Digital Technology”, Thought-Leader and Educator (NejoUniversity) and a aspiring Rapper and Stand-Up Comic… I basically live and not just exist!

Instead of just putting myself in a cave and enjoying the fruits of my hustle all to myself and just flaunting a London lifestyle on social media, I aim to be different. I spend hours, days and weeks creating content just like this you are about to read that does one thing and one thing only: Add value and push people towards becoming the best versions of themselves.

Most of my content gets mixed reviews because of my approach; I say it as it is, I don’t sugar coat anything because I have nothing to ask for or gain and I speak the truth! We all know most people hate the truth, they want and love to be fed a lie or a fantasy!

You are not going to get any fantasy in this post, you will get real and straight-forward advice and guidance! Enjoy.

5 Key Things That Helped Me Scale My “Hustle” from Nigeria to London

#1. Donald Glover Strategy (Childish Gambino).

So, firstly what do I mean by “Donald Glover Strategy”?, for those who don’t know who he his, he’s an American actor, comedian, writer, director, singer, rapper, and DJ. He’s the guy who sang the song “This Is America”. He is multi-talented, he doesn’t just do one thing or is known for one thing!

So, where those this tie in into my advice?

Well, I originally started as a Graphics Designer! I kind of learnt Graphics design during my internship in Lagos. I learnt it on my own by following video tutorials and when I went back to school for my final year, I was making money here and there providing my design services to students. This skill will later come in handy when I graduated Uni.

So, after finishing Uni and was back to my Grand-mother’s house, I made a decision to start my design business – Presidential Ideas providing design to businesses and individuals. I noticed that even though Graphics design was and is always in need, the money wasn’t all that and most clients always asked me if I did websites as well but I always said “Oh, No! Am just a graphics designer. Ask the other guys”

It didn’t take long before I realized that I was leaving so much money on the table. Someone who has worked with me on a graphics design job who now needs a Web design/development job done doesn’t need me convincing them of my skills. They already trust me and need no selling but instead of selling them the service, I was trying to follow the traditional society rule of  “pick one thing and become a master in it”. So, I would say “No, am just a graphics designer” instead picking my ass up and learning web design.

The same way I learnt Graphics design (through video tutorials), I went ahead to also learn Web design. Mind you, Web design and/or development has always intimidated me. I always felt like I couldn’t do it. I am seriously not a geeky guy, some people just have a knack for web development, I don’t! I am the opposite but at the end of the day, it is just my self-limiting beliefs in play!

So, I decided to learn web design but through the easy and modern way! I have always known that people pay for results, not steps or technicalities! They pay for results. So, if I can learn how to get websites done that achieves the client’s goals and needs, I have done a great job!

Instead of spending hours, days, weeks or months trying to learn how to code from scratch! I spent my time learning how to use Content Management Systems (CMS) to design and create modern, clean and intuitive websites. I chose WordPress as my go-to CMS and learnt the tricks, hacks and tips that made me start charging over $1000 per website whilst in Nigeria.

The switch from just having one skill (Graphics design) to learning complementary / higher paying skills within the same niche catapulted my earnings, reach and influence. I started meeting more clients with higher spending powers and better connections and the rest is history.

It’s simple, a client comes to you and asks for a Logo! What does this tell you? Well, it means he/she is just starting out their business or maybe even re-branding because a Logo is the first piece of design or identity a business or brand creates.

You can just be a “graphics designer” and charge between $5-$100 for the Logo or you could also be a graphics designer who also designs websites and then up-sell the client your web design service and make between $500-$1500 (if you are just starting out) or from $2500 upwards (if you’ve been in the game for some time). All you have to do is ensure that you create a logo that wows the client and satisfies their need and you don’t have to “hard-sell” them your web design service, if they are in the market to getting it done, you will get the job!

That is is ZERO amount spent on marketing, that is you maximizing the average order value of your customer and that is you being a Presidential Hustler! Damn! Stop sleeping!.

This simple strategy of learning complementary skills and understanding how to cross-sell and up-sell these services in a smart way made me earn 10x what other Nigerians doing the same service were making!

Fast forward to today, I don’t just do graphics and web design. I do a lot! I mean a lot! I do video editing / creation, social media management / digital marketing, content creation, Search Engine Optimization and more! So, whichever skill attracts a client in, I have an arsenal of related skills and services to sell them!

Now, that is the Donald Glover way! Having more than one skill and executing on them all!

I actually just had a meeting with a client who wants me to handle their social media marketing. They are a real estate client based in London, even though I got the project and they will be paying me monthly for the social media marketing, In order for the marketing efforts to work correctly and convert well, their website needs to be superb! Well, you already guessed it – I up-sold them my web design service and now I will make an extra £x,xxx doing the website and still get the Social media monthly gig. Having complementary skill rocks!

You might be saying, well it rocks but the work load might kill you! Don’t worry, keep reading! I will talk about this in point #4.

Key Takeaway: Learn other skills that complements the skills you have. These new skills can be skills that is currently worth more than your main one or even less. The idea is to have an arsenal of skills and services that you can provide as a package or even as stand alone. My advice is not to follow society’s rule of “picking one thing”, learn and do as much as you can! You are human, you’ve got well-developed brain! You can learn more than one thing and also if you really want to make more money, you cannot rely on just one skill , service or stream of income!

#2. Strategic Positioning (Not Just Missionary).

One would think that the only thing needed is to have a skill and then businesses and people would start looking for you but that is not the case. No matter how skilled you are, no one (I repeat), No one, will ever hire you or pay for your service or product if they cannot find you!

I always look at it from this angle; Usain Bolt is not the fastest man on earth to be fair but because he placed himself where he can be seen and then compete, suddenly, he’s termed as the fastest man in the world. There are thousands of people who will make Usain Bolt look like child play but we don’t know them. Why? they are not positioned where the spotlight can be on them and where they can compete.

This is the same by the way for anybody who is currently at the top of their field, they are only the “best” because they are well positioned.

Once you can understand this basic principle of positioning, you will win! You will stop complaining about not getting customers or clients and you will start to realize that the problem isn’t that there are no customers or clients, the problem is that you are not positioned where you can be found!

This can be compared to girls who keep saying “I am looking for my Mr Right” but never go out to venues and locations where the type of men they fancy hangs out. Your Mr right will not break into your house sister, you need to go out and socialize.

The exact thing that catapulted my career was my positioning.

Okay, I had web and graphics design skill but so does thousands of other Nigerian and people around the world who are even more skilled and talented than I am. I would have still been looking at the sky if I didn’t place myself where people are actively looking for and willing to pay for my skills and services.

The platform I joined was Fiverr. There is a big chance you know what Fiverr is, it is a digital marketplace where businesses and entrepreneurs come to hire freelancers who have skills such as Web design/ development, Graphics design, Copy-writing, Video editing and more! Fiverr is the plug or bridge that connects people who have skills to people who are actively looking for the skill to enhance their brand or business.

The whole point of me talking about Fiverr is not to have you sign up with them but to explain the concept of positioning. Its a simple concept; you place yourself where people are looking for what you have to offer and then you will have the spotlight on you to compete.

Fiverr allowed me to be based in Nigeria and earned in pounds and dollars because most  people actively looking to hire skilled freelancers were based overseas. I used my hunger mindset to ensure that I milked out all the juice from Fiverr until the point where I haven’t even used Fiverr for years now, I only make use of it to hire people.. (Imagine, I joined to earn money but now the tables have turned, I am now spending money on the platform hiring other freelancers)

Is Fiverr the only digital marketplace available? No! Its not, there are a lot out there and there are also some other strategic places where few people know!

By the way, it doesn’t have to just be an online marketplace, it could even be real life gatherings. As long as your potential customers gather there, you need to make that your new base! People need your skills and services BUT if they cannot find you, they can’t hire you and if no one hires you, money doesn’t come in…and if money doesn’t come in…you know the rest!

Joining a marketplace really helped me, I met some of my best clients (who I still work with till today) and it allowed me to create projects that makes up my portfolio. It also taught me how to compete professionally!

You should be actively researching where people who need your services gather. You are an entrepreneur, besides having your skill, you have to also be proactive on how to bring in customers into your business. You can’t rely on no one but yourself. (If you have a digital skill like web, graphics and the likes, make sure you check my Free course called “Succesful Freelancer Blueprint” where you will learn more on how to position yourself in places where clients are actively looking for you)

Key Takeaway: Go online today or put your ears down and start researching digital marketplaces, job boards or places where people or potential clients/customers gather! That is where your money is, go get your money! A lot of people spend so much time on social media looking at nonsense that adds ZERO dollar to their pocket but spend ZERO or little time online or offline looking for places to place their service, product and/or skill for opportunity to compete and earn, don’t be like them! Be different! Go get your money!

#3. Learning How To Kiss Ass (The Right Way)

So, you’ve been following the steps laid out above. You’ve done the Donald Glover strategy and you’ve positioned yourself strategically where you can be found! The money should start coming in right? The clients and customers should start hiring you just like they did to me right? Well, that’s not the case. You have to kiss some asses, but the in the right way! I’ll explain.

Being a Nigerian working in the Tech or lets say Creative design space who is also based in Nigeria and wants to get clients and businesses overseas, you are going to be faced with the “Fraudster Nigeria Stereotype” , you can either get pissed off about it, or you can face reality and understand that there is nothing you can do about it than to find a way to work around it.

You see, I remember times where I had clients who really liked my work and wanted to work with me but I was genuinely scared that if I asked them for upfront payment (which is something that is standard by the way), they will be scared and not feel comfortable sending money to a Nigerian youth via Western Union and thereby I would loose the project! (Sidenote: Paypal has to freaking make Nigeria and other African countries have access to receiving money through Paypal godamnit!!!!)

So, you know what I did? I kissed ass! Not literally though but psychologically! I told clients that I would design their projects without any down payment and that they should pay me when they see my work and the website or project is in their hands. I basically offered to work for free with hopes that the person would; like my work and not run away after they have it on their server or hands.

This worked for some and some still said “No, thank you! I am not still f*cking with you”, I still ponder till today how someone can be so self-centered or scared of a country! I just offered you a deal where you have ZERO risk and all the risk is on me and yet you still feel at risk? (is anyone feeling what am feeling rightnow?). I convinced myself that anyone who wasn’t kind enough to see that I was genuine and trying to work around the stereotype isn’t even meant to be someone I should work with!

This strategy requires hardwork and willingness to go the extra mile but it worked! It got me so many clients. It actually got me my first ever $12000 website client based in USA while I was in Nigeria, I told him exactly the same thing and because he’s a nice guy he said “Daniel, if you can get this done, I will pay you top dollar for it”. If I am being honest, the price I wanted to charge for that project because it was my first was $400 but I ended up making $1200 and that was where the hunger started. I cannot do my first website project for $1200 and ever go below that! No way!

I don’t really know how I got that strategy but it came to me and I used it.

Still on the matter of willingness to kiss ass and work for free. My best ever client who has turned into family now and was instrumental in my arrangement to coming to the UK in 2015 for my Masters was gotten through the willingness to kiss ass strategy.

He came to me and said he needed some flyers done, I did it and noticed that the flyer had some information about his website. So, I checked his website out and noticed it was shit! Remember my Donald Glover strategy of having multiple skills and then up-selling or cross-selling? Yes, I did it! I finished the flyer and ensured it was 100% dope and then asked about his website.

He told me he had spent thousands of pounds with London based designers / developers and no one had really done what he wanted. So, I said I would design and develop the website from my end without any pay and he can pay me only if he likes it!

By the way, The website is not just a front-end website. It is a directory website for Black Businesses in the UK, so a lot of time, energy and resources had to go into it. When I finished and had something worth him checking, I sent him the link and this man was wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwed! So wowwwwwwwwed that he called me and we talked for hours! He then surprised me by linking up with my mum who is based London and giving her a Mac Book pro for her to send to me via my aunt who was coming back to Nigeria at that time.

I am Nigerian, Mac Book Pro means a lot to me! Macs are expensive and not really rampant in Nigeria and he also paid me times 2 of what I would have charged and that was how that strong relationship started and I say this; this man has been so helpful in my life and journey becoming a self-sufficient entrepreneur in London!

You know what? He even put my face in the Voice London Newspaper! At this time, I was in Nigeria working from home!

daniel nejo Voice advert

Key Takeaway: So, learning how to kiss ass the right way has its advantages and the rewards it will bring to you cannot be measured. Do not always think about money first, think long term and when you can do this, the willingness to kiss ass for just for a while will make sense to you.

#4. Leveraging Others & Work (Picasso Said It Best)

If you want to make more money, you do not not necessarily have to work more hours! You just have to find a way to get systems in place that works on your behalf!

So, this leveraging others / skills will be splitted into two;

  • the first is leveraging already created works so you can work faster and deliver better projects and be able to command higher fees
  • the second is having people who will work for / with you and you can focus on other things while they do the heavy lifting.

a. Leveraging Already Created Works.

The hardest worker isn’t necessarily the most paid, the smarter worker is! Early in my career, I made a decision to becoming the latter! I could have learnt how to code from scratch but I didn’t want to , I felt I didn’t have time in my hands and in all honesty, am not a programmer at heart – am a front-end guy!

So, I decided to pick WordPress as my website building platform. If you know how WordPress works, its all about leveraging already created themes and plugins in order to create websites that businesses and people will pay for.

Developers spend months and years developing these themes and plugins and then I and thousand other WordPress website designers pick them up and use them to create websites in less than a week and we get paid handsomely for that. On the other hand, you could choose to design websites totally from scratch and I have no problem with that but if you could leverage already created themes, scripts or plugins to help you achieve the same thing you are about to spend weeks or months coding from scratch, don’t you think its smart and wise to do that?

Picasso said it best, “Good artists Copy, Great Artists Steal”

Okay, maybe his quote was a little bit too extreme because leveraging already created work isn’t stealing, it is “leveraging” but I hope you get the gist.

Stop trying to re-invent the wheel! You should aim to work smarter instead of un-neccesarily hard. You get points of achieving the results and not points for the work that went into it. Even if you spend months on a project and the end product isn’t what was expected, your hardwork means nothing! People pay for results not steps!

Stop trying to re-invent the wheel all the time. Leverage!

Find ways to achieve results and stop trying to re-invent the wheel. I use this strategy all around my business not just for Web design alone, all aspects of my business. I look for ways to cut time and leverage already created works! Does this mean that you should not innovate? Absolutely not, you should be free to innovate but always have this at the back of your mind!

b. Leveraging other people.

What do I mean when I say “leveraging other people”, do I mean taking advantage of them? No I don’t! I simply mean moving away from doer to the manager!

If you run a business, there is a big chance that you are the key driver of the business, you know everything about it and most times you do everything yourself. This is all sweet and rosey in the beginning but if you really want to make more money and expand, you need to go away from the driver’s seats and become more of a coordinator and manager.

For some odd reason, I always felt that I can’t trust anyone with my work, I had to do it myself and this meant I passed on some projects I couldn’t do because I didn’t have the skill set and also it took me a lot of time and energy to get projects rolled out for clients at the time. Looking back now, that wasn’t a wise mindset.

The shift or scale-up came for me when I decided to get other people on my team who handled the heavy lifting parts! Do I still design websites myself? Yes, I do…sometimes but for the most part, I have designers and developers who handle the most projects for me and I spend more time doing the parts of the business that brings in clients rather than spending all my time creating the project!

The most interesting thing? I only pay per project! So its not like I have employees who gets paid on a monthly basis! This allows me to take on projects that I am not personally skilled for but can get done through my “employees” and when am stucked designing a website that needs some hardcore programming, I call on my guys to come in and clean it up for me!

Sincerely speaking, I can’t remember when last I have done a graphics design job! I have people who handle that for me. I am way too busy to spend time on photoshop on something that I can get my very very skilled graphics guy to do in less than an hour and in better quality plus he also gets to earn some money. Its a win-win for everyone!

You have to be smart though, you have to spend time building your team! The current team I have took me about 2 years to gather and they’ve been with me for a long time! Am talking years! Your team and people who handle the heavy lifting for you should have the same core values as yourself in terms of quality of work and speed of delivery.

Also, remember that the aim is to be profitable! Let’s say you get a website project for £2500, having to pay your team member who will handle the heavy lifting £2000 isn’t a good deal for me. I strike for a much beneficial ratio so I can remain profitable.

Once you have a team or system in place that handles the heavy lifting, you will have more time to spend on bringing in new clients or customers and even working on some of your personal passion projects! (Some of my passion projects for example is this blog, there are tons of content posted here weekly, If I had to handle the heavy lifting of my main company – Presidential Ideas, I wouldn’t have time to keep creating these posts and another passion project is NejoUniversity where I have 100s of tutorial videos that is empowering thousands of youths with digital and entrepreneurial skills daily for free, this won’t be possible for me to do if I had to handle all the heavy lifting on my main business)

Key Takeaway:  Understand the importance of leveraging already created works and also understand the power of moving away from the “doer” of your business activities to the “manager” or “Coordinator”, that’s the scale up!

#5. Always Upgrading My OS. (Get The Strap)

The last thing that has been very instrumental in my hustle is the ability to  keep upgrading my OS. By OS, I don’t mean the OS on my phone or PC, am talking about the OS in my head!

People always ask me what exactly I do because they see me doing different things. My answer is quite cocky and it goes like this “I do whatever it takes”. You should not shy away from learning new skills, strategies, business models and more! You should never be satisfied with your knowledge base, always be learning and always be out to learn new things.

I started off as a graphics designer, went ahead to learn Web design / development and now I do a lot! I cannot even put into words everything I do and this is why am a hustler! I pay to learn from people, I pay thousands of dollars to learn new business models I am interested in and then use the knowledge gotten to add a new stream of income to my business.

You should always be willing to Get The Strap, un-learn what you already know, learn new things and always be upgrading your OS. This will give you power and help you scale up!

This helped me a lot!

Rounding Up!

Oh my God, I just checked the word count on this post and its currently at 4589 words! I have to stop here, damn! I have been writing for hours! I hope you found this post valuable and picked one or two things from it that you can begin to apply today!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the article and answer any question you might have, so please drop a comment below.

Daniel Damilola Nejo

The author Daniel Damilola Nejo

Daniel Damilola Nejo is a Nigerian born, London based Creative Designer and Content Creator with love for the hustle and community. He has a Masters in Business Information Systems Management and is Endorsed by the UK Government as a "World Leading Exceptional Talent in Digital Technology" . He is a true hustler and a forward thinking individual who uses his knowledge and skill to add value to lives around the world. He works with startups, businesses and individuals around the world as a digital designer and brand developer. Founder of some Digital startups and brands.
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