The Art Of The Start: Brilliant Advice For Business Startups From Some Of Nigeria’s Biggest Success StoriesPosted on Friday, June 7th, 2013 at 11:22 AM
By Women of West Africa Enterprenuership
Ever thought of working for yourself and breaking out of the salary trap? I bet a lot of you have, after all, you’re all intelligent, passionate women with great ideas and who want the best from life. So what’s holding you back from taking the plunge?
One of the things we often get asked at WOWe is advice for people thinking about starting out on their own to help give them confidence that they’re “doing it right”; with this in mind we’ve asked some of the stellar speakers from the WOWe Nigeria panel to contribute their thoughts on what any woman should know before starting a business.
Preparation & Planning
Executive VC of XS Energy Deji Fisher told us that women are often better prepared for entrepreneurship than they think, he says “If she is a good home maker or if she is good at the things that define a woman- she is already well equipped for enterprise development. This fact gives the woman an advantage.” He goes on to explain that even so, preparation isn’t everything. “Entrepreneurship is a PRACTICE, not a science or an art. You learn on the job, and you will make many mistakes, just always be LEARNING. The Nigerian population is 160 million; Africa is 1 billion. There is the market, so think of meeting a need, think transactions, think of VALUE CREATION.”
International makeup artist and beauty campaigner Eryca Freemantle values the elevator pitch as the first key to success for the women entrepreneur, saying “She should know what her business is, and be able to sell it in 2 minutes flat.” She also stresses that knowledge of the competition, especially how you are valued vs. your competition and your respective prices is essential for success
This message is echoed by acclaimed author and playwright Sefi Atta who advises “Know your market, the industry you are in and how to manage your business. My business is unusual in the sense that it is not for profit and self-financed, but I make sure it sustains itself. My readers, existing and potential, are my market. My biggest hurdle was getting past other people’s inefficiencies and unscrupulous behaviour and I dealt with that by cutting ties when necessary and choosing the people I work with carefully.”
If you need more detailed guidance in preparation and planning, there are loads of great books around that advise on starting a business or any project successfully and these can help you prepare effectively, including Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start” whose title inspired our own.
The Right Skills
“Every woman should know that she should stick to her guns, be patient and don’t expect anything to happen overnight and learn to be extremely organised” says Hanneli Rupert, CEO & Creative Director at Okapi Luxury Handbags. Related to the point about organisation is advice from Ronke Ige, CEO & Founder of Bread + Butter Limited and Emi & Ben, “It’s not possible to do EVERYTHING, so don’t be afraid to delegate as your time is valuable, don’t allow others to waste it. Learn to separate work time from kids/family time (if applicable). It’s impossible to give the two the attention they deserve at the same time!”
The Right Attitude
Fatima Wali-Abdurrahman, CEO of The Filmo Group wants to stress “enjoy what you do, in fact, be passionate about it” and in practical terms make sure you “get a good accountant. Having a technical background, I had what I would call contempt for the management sciences, and thought I could run a business just by providing a product. As I grew, the neglect of background functions of HR, Accounting etc. cost me a lot”.
Finally, we received some fantastic advice from Clare Eluka, CEO of Premae Skincare who tackled one of the biggest challenges for women starting out on their own; their mental attitude. She says “you have to be hungry, committed and fearless. The biggest hurdles will be your own family, friends and your deep rooted lack of self-belief. You will wake up at night asking yourself ‘Am I really good enough? Can I really do this?’ Get out of your own way and find examples of people who have achieved what you are trying to achieve. I dealt with my own self-doubts through meditation, finding a good support system of 1 family member, 1 friend and lots of other entrepreneurs to bounce ideas with. It also helps if you have a loving, smart partner to come home to. Someone who doesn’t cause you stress and who can cook when you’re too tired!”
So there you have it, a broad spectrum of fantastic tips from entrepreneurs who’ve already made it happen, now it’s up to you to make your first move!
You can hear more from any of our contributors above at the WOWe conference taking place 20-22 June, more information is available from www.wowenigeria.com and for further information please contact: Tori Abiola by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +234 (0) 81 45999475 and +234 (0) 80 85978488. Don’t forget to join our WOWe Community on Facebook for inspiring update: https://www.facebook.com/WOWeAfrica
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