I started my working life at age 21, after completing a course in Engineering Fabrication and Marketing – my old colleague and I were the first batch of what is today in - Ghana School of Marketing in 1991. In summary, I was working for 2 different organizations - doing welding fabrication and marketing personnel safety equipment. One fine morning in the early 90s, I had this strong conviction re: I should be able to build up an organization that will change the landscape of direct foreign investment into Ghana and Africa. Leaving people with a hand - to - mouth income but rather changing lives of people and families. Therefore, I went ahead to set up a company that focuses in collecting abandoned railway wagons, coaches and engines and process this for sale as steel scrap to Ghana’s growing steel industry. As fate would have it, I discussed this opportunity with many people and almost everyone said this was almost impossible. I kept persevering to get a partner who would see through my dynamism. Eventually a foreign partner came my way, we registered a business and tried this on a small scale. Unfortunately, I had no financial reward after 2 years of my hard work. I was left with an abandoned and broken down 17years old truck and 21years old trailer which I was to sell as scrap and walk away. Behind every bad situation lies an opportunity. However, I decided to invest my way into prosperity and not cut my way out of it. In August 1996, I looked at the old truck and trailer and revolved to set up the largest industrial specialized / heavy transport and project logistics company in Ghana and looking at being the target in Africa in 2028 - (JonMoore International). Moving forward, at this chapter I still encountered many hurdles, there were days when I felt my world is falling apart. The cost of financing was high; we did not have the equilateral to apply or receive loans or capital anywhere. We face competition that were involved in ‘under the table’ dealings. Even international and multinational companies considered as incapable to trust us with transport contracts and we had clients who would just not pay us. I realized, the solution was to grow at our own pace, not run but walk briskly. Importantly, engage our staff and team in the direction to be emotionally involved in the growth and success of the organization. I resolved that what used to annoy me should end up motivating me – example were personality types I had to deal with and avoiding being distracted by family and friends negativity. In some cases, this can be 2 cutting edge sword especially in developing countries. In my opinion, family influence could have a massive - positive or negative effect on losing one’s sense of pursuing a startup company. As well as, friends could also directly or indirectly have an influence. One thing, I fixated on was to set a benchmark for myself based on friends, business and level of success. I focused 100% on my daily pursuits and directions on achieving results. Therefore, if there are areas I am lacking I sat back and did more thinking, more investigations and reinvent my point of direction. During this journey, I crossed paths – connecting, working with stakeholders, partners etc with character defects – in other words not good influence. What you need to do as a leader is to quickly identify intelligently the people you want around you and stay away from people who do not optimistic re: your ideals, principles and directions.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I am conscious of the fact that very little is expected from Africa, I am conscious of the fact that in Africa people still believe that to succeed, you have to be hand - held from a source outside the continent. I am influenced by the many things, hurdles and challenges people of African descent have chalked over the past 100 years, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, just to mentions a few and many other people developing and devoting to change nations and people. Importantly, I am greatly influenced by my religion, because what always looks impossible to man is ALWAYS possible with God! There are days when I look around and see that there’s no where to turn - I find the answers in prayer. The good book says “trust in the Lord with ALL your heart”.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
There are no short cut to success; even winning the lottery will not give you success. Anything outside hardworking is a mirage. Money should never be the agenda; it should be the by-product to success. The vision, direction and focus I gave clients was the satisfaction that exceeds expectations, this led to being rewarded in a legitimate way. Learn, study, read everything, no – one can take what you have in your brain. However, people can take away your cash saved up at the bank – everyday is a learning curve and don’t ever think you know it all. Always look at doing something new, something different, something challenging. Challenge yourself beyond your limits. Keep your passion burning - that produces positive energy and foundation to excellence. Passion and hard work is the key to success. I believe your purpose on earth is not to be filthy rich, instead be influential, a blessing and successful, then success will bring you financial blessings!