7 Business lessons from the Romance Novel – ‘A Chance Awakening’

7 Business lessons from the Romance Novel – ‘A Chance Awakening’

A Chance awakening is the first romance novel I read since leaving secondary school and it brought back a lot of fun memories of starting a book and literally not dropping it till I was done with it. Somehow I have not been able to achieve that level of speed while reading business type books lol. The book is beautifully written, and there was a depth to all the characters and her vivid descriptions literally placed you in the middle of the lives of the characters like a fly on a wall. The story about friendship, flaws, feelings, family and fighting for what you want is filled with intrigue, suspense, irony and truth.

This review is unlike any review I have done in the past for several reasons, first and most important, the Author, ‘Uyu Darling’ is a friend turned sister. How many people get to say those words in their lifetime?… that a ‘badass author’ is family lol. I haven’t met Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Chuck Feeney (DFS), Jack Ma (Alibaba) yet, and so its a privilege to showcase the work of someone I actually know.

The second reason this review is unlike any other is that it is actually a Romance novel.  They say to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail so i guess as a business person, I always look out for business lessons and principles in materials I read. There are things to learn everywhere you just have to be open minded enough to find it in the most unlikely places.

While its tells a beautiful story of love, friendship, family and stepping up into life as an adult, Uyu Darling also had a bit to say about career, starting and running a business. I highly recommend the book for both romance and non-romance novel enthusiasts alike because it really is a very beautifully written book… and a first book at that.

I won’t be feeling you on all the ‘lovey dovey’ juicy stuff, you’ll just have to buy the book yourself. I’ll rather talk about the career and business side themes highlighted the the book without giving too much away. *I’ll try not to spoil or review too much. I won’t mention the names of the character

1.       Starting a career, workplace relationships and being female: There are many organisations that frown on workplace relationships with fellow employees and clients around the world. E.g. Access bank, a Nigerian company also has a policy that prohibits married employees from working together in the bank at the same time. It is so strictly adheres to that if one person wants to get married to a colleague, one of them will have to resign. I once asked why the policy is in place and he guessed that maybe it is to reduce the risk of fraud or possibly collision to commit a crime between the two parties involved.

While the bank might have set this policy in place for specific reasons, many business owners just copy-paste policies like this without really questioning what is right for their company. Why should you resign because you fell in love? surely there should be safeguard measures put in place around this. most people send a large percentage of their time at work and so the likelihood of finding love at work is very high. 

Another point is the Female factor. I have often wondered why it seems easier for women to walk away from a job, business or career when faced with deep personal and emotional issues. E.g A relationship with a co-worker goes south, a male colleague breaks up with her and maybe starts seeing another colleague and the brokenhearted woman feels the need to resign. 

Reading the story of one of the characters in the Chance Awakening I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the roles were reversed and it was the man who had emotional/relationship issues that connected to the workplace. Maybe men just have a better handle on their emotions than women. Do you have an opinion about this point? Leave a comment below.

2.       Starting a new business and maintaining friendships: One of the things I loved the most about the Chance Awakening was the way the characters built their relationship in spite of the pressures of career and work. Many times it’s really hard to strike that balance and the parties involved have to be deliberate if the relationship is to last. Every great relationship takes work especially when they are in different industries and companies. One thing to not do however is ‘guilt trip’ a friend who is in a season of immense pressure at work about e.g not calling you or accepting your invitation to hangout over the weekend. If you have to order takeout and go hangout at the business friends house, then do. If you have to be the one that continually checks up on that person, then do. for the sake of the relationship, someone has to make the sacrifice.

Stop trying to be right in your relationships, do the right thing” DGA  

3.       Starting a new business and health: One of the characters almost worked themselves to the ground and landed in the hospital as a result of not eating properly and not sleeping properly. I know for sure how that feels like, especially when there is so much work to do and so little time to do it in. It’s funny that as smart as entrepreneurs are, most never really think of the consequence of overworking or a possible breakdown. In the event that people patronize your business simply because of you, the whole business might come to a screeching halt when the you are sick. Even though I am a big believer that there comes a point when the entrepreneur must set themselves apart from their business, it’s still very hard when customers insist their work shouldn’t be delegated by the owner. E.g A musician wants Dr. Dre to produce his music; a bride whats Vera Wang to design her dress etc. I guess the way forward in this instance is to ensure the number of jobs taken on per-time is controlled and impromptu or urgent orders are limited. So in the event that life happens, there is ample time to recover and think of a way out.  

4.       Patronizing your friends’ business: Many new business owners know this dilemma. How do handle an exchange of money when friends and family patronize your business. People have different mindsets and mentality when patronizing their friends and family. Some think: 

  • the owner should give me the product for free
  • some expect/ask for the cost price to be given instead, implying no profit should be made on the sale. 
  • Others expect a heavy discount
  • a handful want to be treated like any other customer and pay full price. 

Depending on whether its a product or service, many business owners still grapple with the decision to take. A few things to consider/keep in mind though is that you have to be careful of the type of precedent you set. If you give a free product or service the first time and there is no protest of paying, it’s more than likely this is a mindset issue and the person will grow to always expect free or heavily discounted prices. What if the value being provided is a service not a product? E.g. you are TY Bello and you already have a camera… all you have to do is just ‘snap’ abi?. Or it’s a knowledge product and you are just talking “aka your brain is being picked” It is so easy for people to want to take advantage when it’s in that category. In my opinion, I think entrepreneurs should have foresight and also consider handling these types of ‘customers’ on a case by case basis. One thing i would say though is do not be afraid to charge. you know your worth and don’t feel pressured to accept what you don’t want. I can tell you first hand that no great business is every built on the back of family and friends. For my business jaraCake my first set of customers weren’t family or friends but absolute strangers and 3+ years on, the majority of my customers are people i do not know.  

A great book that helps you seperate yourself from your from your business is E-Myth revisited: why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it.

5.       Continuous learning: If you love film making, fashion, cooking etc, there is absolutely noting wrong with going to a school to either learn the core of that skill or just sharpen those skills further. You can never learn everything at the start of the business. All you know is enough to start and you will pickup the rest as you build. I went to University of Warwick to get my Masters in Innovation and Entreprnuership, after  undergrad in Law. I still had to learn manyyyy of the things i’m doing now on the job. The Warwick degree was a good start though. Even if you do not commit to a full academic year of studies in a university setting, there are manyyyy websites online that offer valuable short courses at a fraction of the cost. for example: Coursera  

6.       Hiring Staff: No matter how skilled you are in delivering the product or service or even creating automation for your processes, you’ll get to a stage where you need extra hands in your business. You only have 2 hands and 24 hours, so the best thing to do it hire some other peoples 2 hands and some of their 24 hours. In the event of falling sick, going on holiday or just being unavoidable absent, properly trained staff will hold some things down for you. You’ll have to create a workplace environment that empowers your staff and lets them express themselves creatively. As easy as this point is to write however, this is what i have struggled with the most in my business till date.

7.       Building a business to pass on to your children: Many build businesses and romanticize about a future where their kids will take over the business and continue the building process. While that is a great vision, especially because your children can finish school and not have to look for a job as they will already have a company to come work for, sometimes the path kids take is very different from that of their parents. It is best to have it in mind, that not all families will be like the Walton’s where many of the children worked at the company at an early age and took over the running of the company in their adult years (see my post about the Walton family business, Walmart HERE). One importnant point i will add here though is that Sam Walton introduced his children to the family business at a very young age. It is not a good strategy to try and win children to a family business they were excluded from when growing up. Phil Knight in his Biography: Shoe Dog mentioned his one 2 boys were interested in being a part of his shoe business, Nike. 

To fully understand the context through which all the above points played out, you have to read the book 🙂 

You can follow Uyu Darling on Instagram. she is also “Uyu Darling Ita” and on other social media platforms.

Uyu Darling (Right) and I at a mutual friends wedding in Feb ’20

Leaving a comment is also not a crime punishable under the Nigerian criminal code. If you share this post I promise I won’t be upset 🙂

 

Thanks for reading. Remember there are no rules so live your best life intentionally everyday. 

Leaving a comment is also not a crime punishable under the Nigerian criminal code. If you share this post I promise I won’t be upset :-)

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