In this interview with The News Chronicle (TNC), Steve Emeka John-N, the CEO of X-VIZIONZ talks about his business, motivation, challenges, future plans …and many other issues
TNC: First, let me congratulate you on X-VIZIONZ. We all know it is not easy to set up a business and run it successfully. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your company: what does it do? Why did you venture into that line of business? How has it been so far? Tell us about the company’s growth trajectory, including the number of employees.
SEJ: My name is STEVE EMEKA JOHN-N. I’m Nigerian, married and based in Abuja. I’m an event professional/consultant, affiliate lecturer, entrepreneur and author of ‘How To Successfully Manage Any Event’; which is a study text in universities in Nigeria and India. Among all, I’m also a trained actor and creative director. I studied theatre arts and event management at the University of Port-Harcourt and Afrique Arts Academy respectively. I started X-VIZIONZ first, as a business name in 2008, for event management and general entertainment services.
Later in the years, it was registered as a limited company and as X-VIZIONZ MEDIA INTERNATIONAL (XVMI). XVMI, although still fully into professional event management services, is a multifaceted company that offers several professional services which include multimedia productions and distributions, general consultancy, logistics, educational training, supplies, publishing, etc. Presently, the company employs fourteen permanent and more than fifty ad-hoc staff, and this is because we take each of the company’s structures phase-by-phase.
TNC: Please tell us about what keeps you motivated and focused on the business – despite the inevitable odds that anyone or any business faces along the way. What are the particular challenges you face in your line of business? What are some of the glorious moments of the business?
SEJ: My number one motivation is passion. I am passionate about what I do especially, event management. Then, change and development. I particularly love one definition about madness I heard, which is, “doing the same thing repeatedly without improvement and expecting a different result”. As funny as it may seem, it’s true. To have a different result, you have to change what you do or improve on what you do. So, when I discovered that event management is an excellent entrepreneurial idea, a multidimensional and multibillion-dollar global industry that if properly harnessed can generate hundreds of millions of dollars as GDP for a country, I decided to change the way the event industry is perceived in Nigeria and in the process contribute to the country’s human and socio-economic development. So far, it’s been an adventurous and experiential journey considering the fact that entrepreneurial ventures and SMEs are not wholly supported by the Nigerian socio-economic system. Yes, there are some layer down schemes and opportunities but accessing them is almost as impossible as getting a rock to float on water.
Only a few banks are SME friendly and they can’t possibly provide the required services needed for a country as big as Nigeria. So, like most privately owned businesses, our challenge is assessing the required needed funds and capital. But so far, we have done well and definitely, would climb further. One of the most remarkable milestones is affiliating with the University of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria to issue a professional globally recognized certificate on event management known as Event Management Certificate Program (EMCERTPRO), which is taught by event professionals and scholars from Nigeria and India.
TNC: How would you deliver an outstanding Event on a limited budget?
SEJ: Thank you so much for this third question. Budgeting in event management is one of the major challenges that most people face during the event planning process and most times, the reason why most events end at just ideas or at the pre-event stage. So, my answer would be based on explaining event budgeting. There are two types of budgeting in event management that is Closed Budget and Open Budget. A closed budget is when the available funds or money order event budget decides the creative idea and services required; while an open budget is when the idea or event concept decides the money to be made available.
When the case is a closed budget, the client or clients wouldn’t for any reason want to add any more money to their original budget or how much they have kept for that event. So, it is the duty of the event manager to create a worthy creative idea with a professional team that would produce a satisfactory event worthy of the available budget. And all the event staff must duly be paid from the same budget. While the open budget requires some sort of documentation because the concept may make the budget high or low. Now, this rules out the idea of a limited budget because if an idea should be executed, it has to be funded or improvised. If it must be funded, then, sponsorship should come in to play.
TNC: Please tell us of a typical day in your life as a business owner: the time you wake up, get to your office, the challenges you typically face, including with clients and employees, what puts smiles on your face on a typical day to the time you retire to your bed for the day.
SEJ: My job isn’t typical at all because most times, I sleep when others work and work when they sleep especially when I have events to plan. But at the end of the day, I retire with smiles when my day is productive and when I made someone else’s day.
TNC: Where do you think that your business will be in the next five years? What advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
SEJ: In the next five years, we hope to be one of the ten recognized firms in Africa. And my humble advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple, be careful what and who you listen to because as faith comes by hearing, so, does fear come by hearing. Believe in your dreams. No matter what, believe, keep working and don’t forget to invest in yourself for what you know will determine how far you advance or deteriorate.
TNC: What features/criteria do you consider before choosing an event venue and vendor?
SEJ: The thematic preoccupation and objectives of the event always determine my choice of event venue and vendor. I don’t comprise that.
TNC: How can you manage/handle more than one event during this festive period?
SEJ: The pre-event file always comes in very handy in situations like this. Imagine, handing over five different blueprints or execution plans of five different projects at five different locations to five different executives and as trained executives, they are to professionally carry out the different execution plans as carefully highlighted in different blueprints. That means, even if it’s more than that, with the same strategy, you can deliver. That makes multitasking so easy and smooth. That’s what the pre-event file does and that’s how I can manage more than five events thus festive season and any other time.