50 SHADES OF 21ST CENTURY ENTERPRISING

I stumbled on a Facebook Post some weeks ago that read
“For the first time since 1999, Igbos couldn’t get on any important seat in the country. What is left for us in this country?”

Comments were numerous. People even went as far as typing “Biafra”.
Well, in this country’s politics, I don’t see no Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, etc. The Fulanis who have been handling the presidential seat for long, how much have they done for their people in the North.

The Igbos who have been coming up since that 1999, how much have they done for their people in the East? GEJ, the president from Bayelsa, what special thing did he do for his people.

The issue and tussle in our politics is not about tribes, languages or whatever. It’s time people begin to understand that this thing is about class – high and low, this is about intelligence – the wise and the dumbs.

The Game of Politics is Smart Business.
Even the IPOB man, what special thing has he done for his people. I don’t even mean the Igbos. I mean his immediate State.

I’m deviating! I wouldn’t like to heat up this content unnecessarily by dabbling deep into politics.

But there’s one comment that struck me. It was just a single word: ‘Commerce’ and nothing else.

Anambra State is among the top 5 commercial States in the country. Yet Anambra State is the least expected to be there. Anambra is not the capital of Nigeria. And has never been. Anambra doesn’t have a seaport. Anambra doesn’t have an airport. Anambra is not an oil producing State. But why Anambra?

Though the group is StartUpAnambra, I know the members are diversified. But Anambra is not just about a State or Geographical Area. Anambra is a mindset – create something useful inspite of the situation. (Not because of the situation).

Our parents, the people who built Anambra, lifted us up to this height because they believed. Because they cared. Because they hustled and sacrificed.
It is our time to take responsibility and lift us higher.
Soon, in a space of a decade, we may become an oil producing State, we may have an airport. But the good news to become the best and the highest didn’t end there.

The future economy is in Internet Technology. Seaport wouldn’t matter so much anymore, neither will natural resources. What will matter most now is Creativity. And Information.
Now we need again the spirit of Anambra. Even if you’re not an Anambrarian. Let the spirit take possession of you.

The basic thing that exalts a country is Business. The major people that builds and influences a country more than anything are Entrepreneurs. Times are changing. The economic time that made our parents successful is fading gradually. The future economy demands a different approach, knowledge and mindset.

Today I want to introduce to us “The 50 Shades of 21st Century Enterprising”.
What’s the 50 shades of 21st century enterprising? You will ask.

These are profound crazy tidbits of stuffs you’ll need to know, do or have to enable you sail in the infinite ocean of entrepreneurship in the 21st century. The unique feature of these Shades is in their unorthodoxy. They are wisdoms, arsenals and strategies that you’ll need while treading your path as an entrepreneur. They are not basically part of the things you learn from Business School. I believe you’ll get to learn those from certain entrepreneur’s masterclass and bootcamps. But this is a bit different. You don’t often get to hear about them.

50 Shades of 21st Century Enterprising are categorised into 3:
1. The Assertion stage.
2. The Ideation/Strategizing stage.
3. The Building stage.
We’ll take it one at a time. From the surface down to the depth. One at a time.

1. Entrepreneurship is a lifetime journey

There’s no 4th stage that said ‘Succeeding’. It ends on building.

Jack Ma of Alibaba will always say “we’re not yet a successful company, even though people will say we are a big company.”

Jeff Bezos of Amazon once answered in an interview where he was asked how he feels about his company now that it has been very successful, “It is always day one. We do approach our business at Amazon the same way we attended to it in our early days.”

When Raphael Afaedor and Tunde Kehinde, the Nigerian founders of Jumia left Jumia, or were rather displaced from the company, they went on to build an Online Grocery Store and a Courier Service Company respectively.

The journey is a continuous repeated cycle of the 3 stages.
<The Assertion Stage>

2. The greatest skill you will need to develop is willpower and ‘lionic-attitude’

You can actually buy brains and brawns.

At the end of the day, your major work will be about doing the works that might not work. Creating new paths, expanding borderlines and acquiring different personalities(teams, customers, investors).

The people you hire, will take care of the rest.
<The Strategizing Stage>

3. An enterprise is a function of System and People

It is not about Product and Sales.
Our parents didn’t know this. That is why we don’t have an existing enterprise. They are more concerned with their ‘ngwa afia’. Products.

That’s the only way they made sales. And most times, making sales doesn’t equate making money.(But it’s cool though. Good sales can keep you fine for as long as you’re making ’em.)

Facebook is making huge money because of its awesome system. Google is successful as a result of its giant amazing system. Alibaba is not making money because of the beautiful chinese stuffs she sells, it’s because of the system she is.

Henry Ford didn’t make money because he sold cars, he made money because he built a system. John Rockefeller, the richest industrialist in history, didn’t just drill oil. He built a huge monopolistic system.

You wanna be an entrepreneur?

What crap, sorry product, are you selling? How long before you could stop doing that? You need to build a system that can encompass that product of yours?

Find a particular group of people (Seth Godin called it tribe), the people who are passionate for your product either as sellers or users, then build a system for them.

4. Every enterprise starts off as a baby.

Hence, your enterprise is your baby. (Some conventional trainers and investors will tell you it’s not because they don’t want you to be over-protective) You, as an entrepreneur, is a mother.

Motherhood is not gender restricted. There are males who nurtured themselves into being great mothers. They are females who will never be mothers (they give birth to a child, put it in a sack bag and throw it away into a trashcan, they took in a fellow woman’s child as a maidservant and turn her/him into a slave, etc)

But hey, my lady, this is about motherhood. The more reason why you need to build an enterprise, the more reason why you need to be an entrepreneur, a founder.

Your baby must pass through infancy. Don’t rush her into being an adult before she even had a chance to be a baby. (Believe me, adulthood sucks.)

At infancy, breast-feed her well. Breast-feed her first before seeking to feed her with pap, cow milk, cerelac, and other craps – loans, grants, investors’ money, etc.

These things might be nutritious. But mother’s milk is the first and the best.
Stop saying “I don’t want my breasts to fall (I don’t wanna go broke).”

If you’re too stingy and don’t care enough to breastfeed your baby. There’s no certainty that you’ll feed her of the other foods when you’ll get them.
You go chop all of them.

5. Don’t waste time and energy trying to solve human needs.

The Good Lord is actually taking care of most of them. We don’t even care much about our needs anymore.

Solve our wants. And the good news is that human wants are easier to solve. I have searched and I discovered that they are only three:
1. The desire to feel important and be missed.
2. The love for luxury and comfort.
3. The longing for fast life and to acquire more time.

Before every successful disruptive brands, we’re all living. Just fine enough. So their existence has nothing to do with our needs.

Facebook and most social media became successful because they understood the human desire to feel important. They made you feel like you’re the centre of the world and everything revolves around you and exists for you.

Amazon and other e-commerce companies became successful because they fulfilled our love for luxury and longing for fast life.

Google became successful because he found a way to fulfill these 3 wants.
Uber and Lyft came and fulfilled the desire to feel important and the longing for fast life.

Choose any industry and you’ll realise that you can still solve a want there.
Or… Are you already solving a need? Can you make it ‘desirable’?

6. There are three groups of people in your market. There are the A, B and C.

The As are close to you. They are family, friends, colleagues, enemies,… They are mostly the first people to see and hear about your business. So they started talking about it. It might be because it is amazing to them, or it sounded crazy or even stupid. Whatever!
The point is: your business offered them a gossip topic or something to talk about.

There is the B.
These are the people that your business was gossiped to. They are the random people who get to hear about your business while the A group was talking about it.

Then there is the C group.
The C are the people that the B knew that were looking for your business or solution, so they tell them about you.

The C are your customers.

Most of them are not your friend, most of them don’t know you. The guys in the B group just told them that you are the one that can handle their problem.

Stop wasting so much time with the A group, stop explaining and persuading them. Focus on what you are doing, the C will find you.

7. The chances that people will switch from their trusted brands and your bigger competitors to choose you is very slim.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t build your enterprise and compete. It means that you have to be smart and strategic. Your bigger competitors have more money than you. Don’t compete by trying to do what they are doing better than them.

“If you go in to eat a giant’s lunch, the giant will eat you for lunch.”

You can’t beat Jumia or Konga by attempting to ship faster or sell cheaper or offer more discount. They will use their loads of money and data to starve you to death.
There’s something your bigger competitors are not doing(most customers might not even know), find that thing. Do it, do it well, accentuate it and spread the story!

There’s a new company, Via, coming up to challenge Uber and Lyft. Instead of choosing to be tagged as ridesharing company, Daniel -the founder, chose to describe his company to investors as “dynamic shared ride.” They are capitalising on the faults of Uber to grow.

Currently, they are in over 70 cities and have raised millions of dollars from investors. Walmart was already a retail giant in America before Amazon came up. Jeff Bezos chose to start with a different business model and strategy.

Nnanor Anthony

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