Odera Odabi is a successful entrepreneur and a self-driven chief executive officer. He has over 25 years of expertise in founding numerous multidisciplinary companies in local and intercontinental marketplaces. As a visionary leader he has advanced strategic directions for the advancement of his businesses through innovation and organization, which has been critical to the continuous growth in the present and evolving global market.
Odera Odabi earned his BSc in Political Science and Sociology at the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1990. As a new graduate, with the intention of law school being his next step, he discovered upon launching his first business (importing used vehicles internationally from Europe and the United States to the West African regions) and gaining immediate success,that his drive and passion had changed. Growing the profitability, performance and value of his new company was his calling.
Over the next twelve years, Odabi ran his business with distinction, networking extensively and establishing strong relationships with prominent executives within the petroleum industry. In 2002, the relationships he had established over many years set the foundation for his next business ventures, OD & Bell Oil.
The start of OD & Bell Oil eighteen years ago, was initially set-up as a business selling valves to the petroleum industry. The company has come a very long way since its inception. Today, OD Bell Oil & Gas is an expansive business providing a variety of professional services to an ever growing and ever changing industry in the west African region and beyond.
As a humanitarian, Odera Odabi engages life as the gentle tide in a safe harbor. He recognizes that Nigeria has many people in need. As the rising tide that raises all ships, Odera Odabi’s financial success has brought comfort and benefit to many people in his community. He provides financial support to churches, and orphanages. He gives to individuals and looks for opportunities to support a good cause.
Where did the idea for OD & Bell Oil come from?
OD & Bell oil is a company that I decided to start while I was still running the vehicle exportation business. In the process of importing/exporting vehicles, I also imported the parts to foreign made cars. While networking with many talented individuals, I discovered there was a profitable niche avaliable for importing/exporting parts for oil drilling equipment in west Africa. I started small by importing minor parts and quickly moved up the ladder to also providing services and equipment to oil companies throughout west Africa.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend my day purchasing finished petroleum products from importers doing business in the West African region. I mark-up products by a dollar, then I market the products to gas station owners or buyers and sell them to gas stations. I make my commission on each transaction. I fill the gap between the importers and the gas station owners within the region.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have found that communication and networking with professionals within the petroleum industry is key in bringing ideas to life. I have built very strong relationships within the import industry and with gas station owners, which has helped me significantly throughout my career. Feedback, both positive and negative is the main tool I use to mold many new ideas and revamp old ones already in play.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Seeing a company grow from conception to realization is something that has always excited me. Knowing my hard work paid off and I made all the right decisions to make it a profit earning company.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The thing that keeps me productive and motivated is giving back to the society I grew up in. I am from Nigeria where many people are in need. As a rising tide raises all ships, I have experienced the joy of the tides. I try to impact the lives of people in my community, through employment opportunities, investing in small upcoming businesses, plus scholarships for the aspiring entrepreneurs still in school. This continually gives me a new perspective in life and also exposes me to new inspiration.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to start building my credit earlier. Guard and watch it as it grows. Once you have a good plan and good credit, the sky is the limit. I have been able to borrow a million dollars with good credit. Surrounding yourself with positive successful people is also very important so you can remain positive and focused.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe in forgiveness regardless of the misdeed. I don’t believe in retaliation, as we all make mistakes. I am a Christian and try to apply this to all faucets of my life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One of the things that I do over and over is I never quit! I always have a plan B,C and D if necessary. I never fold up and shut down. Persistence always pays and has never failed me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Structure, organization and focus are the key elements that are essential. Once you have a business plan and are able to focus and give it structure with a sturdy foundation and keep it organized you are able to predict the trends and patterns of the business and equipped with this you have the tools to help it grow in departments that are lacking.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have encountered deals that were too good to be true and I fell for it. I learned if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be real. I don’t dwell on failures for too long and immediately look for a learning experience that will prevent a repeat incident,
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I believe in franchising at this point. I have started as a stockbroker and I want to get into it further. I would advise anyone to look into a business to franchise. The sooner you start it and pay your dues, the better.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best hundred dollars that I’ve spent was giving it to charity. It gives me joy to give money to charity. I love seeing the look on the face of the recipient. I love knowing that the money solved a problem for them. I give to churches, and orphanages, I give to individuals, I look for opportunities to give to a good cause. I won’t support organizations that harm people or animals.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My biggest web service comes from my wife. She is very good with technology and I am not. I have my phone, she does everything on the computer for me. I am grateful that I have someone to help me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Credit Secret by authors Scott and Alison Hilton. It is an excellent guide to building good credit. As I mentioned earlier, good credit will change your life.
What is your favorite quote?
In the time of survival, there is no morality or integrity.
• When you have a good plan and good credit, you can achieve anything.
• Once you grow your credit and your financial power, the sky is the limit.
• If you have lost in a deal just leave it alone. always have a plan “B” and a plan “C.”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.