How To Maximise The Value Of Network

Network! Network! Network!

There is absolutely nothing like self made billionaire. Shocked? In your journey as an entrepreneur, it’s pertinent that you network with people.

This is still a continuation of the 50 shades of 21st century enterprising, we began few weeks ago.

21. Attention!

Attention is not about hearing nor about keeping silent. It’s about listening.
Everything we seek is in the air. If only we can listen, we’ll find them all: the next big idea, the reason it is not working yet, why your customers aren’t satisfied, why your competitors are above you, why the money is not coming already, …

Listen closely, you will find your answers. Most of them even lurk in this very Shades I’m sharing with you. Listen to them!

Listening doesn’t mean agreeing, it doesn’t mean that you are not as busy as everyone else. Listening shows that you care, it shows that you want to understand.

We don’t pay attention anymore. There’s so much noise around and within us. We are very much distracted. And every one of us speaks so loud to drown the voices around and be heard. Hence listening turned out to become scarce. Money often tilt towards where scarcity is.

The ability to listen has become an economic asset in the century.


22. The value of network

You need to understand the value of Network. There’s a situation called “win-win”.

The thing is: we all went through school and school never taught us that. It taught us something entirely different -“win-loss”. That’s why people were graded. Some people have to be smarter and others have to be dumber.

You cannot come first if someone didn’t come last. Some people need to fail because some people succeeded.
There’s nothing like: we are smart and talented in our different areas of interests. No!

And Networking? School labelled it cheating!
You don’t help other people score as good as you.
What a system!

After they must have inculcated that culture deep into our skin, we’ll grow up to attend a certain event and someone will stand up and say to us: “Network. Cooperate. Work together. We rise by lifting others.”

It took me over a year in a Network Marketing Company to learn that. MLM(Multi-Level Marketing) is a hell of an industry, you know?

I still think that the only entrepreneurs’ school is Network Marketing Industry. Business Schools, MBAs, Entrepreneurs’ Programs, etc none of these can make you more entrepreneurial than an MLM company.

You can’t understand the industry if you’re not in it. And since it’s an uncontroversial system, it makes it more difficult to understand even to some of the distributors in the industry.

There, you’ll learn all the attitudes you will need as an entrepreneur: leadership, marketing and sales skill, confidence, etc. If most of the guys who succeed in the industry can learn how to quit from it and go out to build an enterprise. They have a greater chance of doing better than anyone else.

Well, this shouldn’t be a post about MLM company.

Our people don’t understand Networking. We don’t believe that you can win because someone is winning. People who have the money don’t want to cooperate with people who have the skills, and this two people won’t agree to work with people who have the business acumen.

We all would rather stay separate and end up as mediocres; when we can come together and build something formidable.

It is appalling. It’s all around us. That is one of the reasons it is difficult to get committed co-founders and teams.

Learn how to network. We can bring our different potentials together and win big. A single broomstick, no matter how strong it is, can’t sweep any shit.

Someone said “I would rather own 10% of a billion dollar company than own 100% of ten million dollar company.” Believe you me a greater number of us will say otherwise.


23. Money – System

Every Startup is a capital intensive project due to its nature to scale fast and grow big.
Without money, you can never lift your enterprise beyond trade. Since trade has to deal with products and sales. But an entrepreneur has to build a system. And no one builds without money.

Find a team member who can provide the initial financial support.

Forget the lies they keep telling you about raising capitals from a third party. No Investor, Venture Capitalist, Bank, etc is going to give you money to start and build your business. These people only give you money to expand. They give you money to be a part of what you have built.

Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder and the first CFO of Facebook was the one who provided the initial financial backup before they were able to raise $500,000 from an Angel, Peter Thiel.

There are many avenues and platforms that want you to apply for funding and pitch your business to them. There are more of these funding platforms in existence now than the number of entrepreneurs who are really building businesses in Nigeria.

I assume you are building something different, you are building something unique, you are building something that is going to bend the curve on the graph, something that will disrupt the existing exploitative system, they are in awe of what you intend to build, they are afraid of how powerful it might become.

Most of startup trainings are not to teach and guide you on how to build a 21st century enterprise, because the only way to build it is by building it.

Mark wasn’t intending to solve any problem with Facebook. He was offering something new, something unique. Google wasn’t build with problem in mind. Jeff Bezos didn’t start Amazon to carry America’s retailing problem for head.

It’s not like they have much of it. But I believe Jeff intended to offer his people a choice, convenience and luxury. The Wright brothers didn’t build aircraft because of the problem of transportation.

Every problem solved is a problem created.
You can say that Henry Ford built automobile engine to solve the problem that came with riding horses. So, now Elon Musk is building electric cars to solve the problem of the oil-powered automobiles. However, Ford just wanted to offer his people faster horses.

Think of what you can offer, bring something new to us, that something will end up solving a particular problem. But if you keep your mind on the problems of humanity, you can’t build something phenomenal, you might just build nothing.

PS: I don’t know, but if you didn’t get to read any other Shade after this particular one, it might just be that this Shade has earned me a red card.

24. Beware of the underdogs. They are more powerful than your giant competitors.

“The most dangerous enemy is that which no one fears,” Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code.

The seeming weakness of the underdogs are actually their strengths. They are invisible and nimble. They are neither noticeable nor loud. They grow securely under the shadow of the giant brands.

They will climb under you as an humble subordinate, milk you quietly until you are dry, raise you up as their king and in your euphoria, they will let go of you and watch you sway weightlessly to the tune of the wind like a dry harmattan leaf.

eBay and Eachnet were eCommerce pioneers in Asia before Alibaba came up and crumbled them. IBM was the computer giant in America before Apple usurped them.
With every Goliath, there is a David.

Every big existing company paid huge to stay afloat. WhatsApp wasn’t much before Facebook acquired it. Twitter wasn’t global when Google acquired it. Instagram didn’t ring a bell until Facebook made it theirs.

These small companies weren’t bought by the bigger players because they want to save them. The bigger players buy smaller companies in order to stay safe. It sounds insane the amount these companies were bought. Were they really worth it?

If you intend to build a long-lasting enterprise, if you want to stay big for long, never underestimate the power of the underdogs.

This Shade is for the future. I believe we are the underdogs. At the moment, most of us are. But we never put the words together. That is why we are seen as DOGS kept UNDER to lick poops.

Yhongh company is not something you’ve heard of, right? The only YOUNG without a “U”. But …

25. Avoid the conventional admonition: “start small but think global.”

Remember the basic adjective in the entrepreneur’s dictionary. BIG! Avoid “small”.
Start with a baby step, start with a step at a time. Don’t start small.

You want to build an enterprise, an empire state building that will tower into the skies? Due to insufficient capital, because of little experience, because ‘Rome wasn’t build in a day’, you need to start somewhere first. So you started small. How?

You use the available resources -money, labour, experience, etc and built a bungalow. Then you rent it out. With the rent you received, you continued work on your bungalow. So, you knock off the roof and decide to make it a storey building.

As you acquire more money, you increase the storey from one to two. But there’s a limit. The foundation was that of a bungalow. As more money comes in, you started to furnish and redesign the building. But you can’t increase it anymore, the foundation you laid has reached the storey beyond which the entire building is gonna collapse.

There’s no way you can build an empire state building here. No one converts an SME to a startup. The beginning and the attitude required for both are entirely different.

What if you started a step at a time…
You have a PLAN of what you intend to build. The money you have available can’t build the dream on your PLAN. But you started anyway.

With the limited resources you have, you dug your foundation. You invested the entire resources -money, skills, time, experience, etc into digging the right foundation. People feel that you are crazy. So they will tell you:

“How stupid of you to waste so much money like that? The money you have spent is enough to build a bungalow and start collecting some bucks. Instead of building higher above the ground, you are busy digging deeper into the earth. Are you drunk?”

But you know what you have in your Business Plan, you know where you are headed.

I’ll need to emphasize at this point that this game of enterprise hugely pivots around luck. Being hardworking is a constant in the equation. It is luck that varies.

After the foundation is done, you are eligible to get mentorship and fund from startup accelerators/incubators. Or grants, equity-free funds, loans and donations from government, foundations, banks and organisations respectively.

This is when luck comes in to accompany your hardwork, intelligence and other entrepreneurial attributes.

The worst thing is not to have the capital to start and complete the foundation. Nobody will help you at that point. The foundation is the prototype. Your idea will not attract any money from a third-party.

The bad news here is that we don’t have real startup accelerators in Nigeria. Most of ours are focused on training rather than funding.

With the funding you acquired from startup accelerators or others, you build your first floor. After that, you can start renting out. This is where you begin to gain traction, this is when an Angel Investor comes in.

Accelerators care about the depth of your foundation and the number of people who are interested in the work you are doing. At this point there might be no monetary transaction going on. While the angels are interested in the number of people who rent in your house and how much they are paying.

With the money raised from angels and the rent you collected, you start building the second floor and above.

At a point, venture capitalists will get attracted by the tower you’re building, they’ll see it, they’ll hear about it. You don’t necessarily go to them, they will come to you because they have seen the work in progress. And how many people are already living in the floors you’ve completed (the waves your enterprise is making).

Money will keep coming and you’ll keep building. With each floor you completed, you move on to another round of raising money.
You know why?
It is the foundation you laid, it is because your business can scale. With more money you’ll keep building into the sky.

That’s why I told you that the last stage of enterprising is building (a verb). You don’t stop building. The joy of entrepreneurship is in building(verb).

Don’t rush to make up a product (build a bungalow) and start selling (renting out). You work is all about the System and People. With a beautiful System and great People, any cool product can circulate.

So what now? Your Business Plan! Start writing it immediately. We can help you here.

Nnanor Anthony

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