Business Tips

Have you ever wondered what your life could be like if you could live on your own terms?

Have you ever wondered how far you could go if impossible is nothing?

Think about it, who would you be now if you cannot fail?

Some people are held prisoners by their own imagination. They’ve resigned to living day-to-day. Their experiences of life are replete with difficulties, disappointments, hardships, and pain. This is not all to life. Life can be absolutely wonderful – and it should be – when you begin to live on your own terms!

Here’s how:

First, define your purpose and set 10x goals

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

The concept of purpose is rather troubling for a lot of people around the world. They’re not sure whether it’s possible for someone to know exactly why s/he was born. They live by whatever makes them happy. They have no direction and focus.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity of coaching several young professionals and entrepreneurs around the world – teaching them how to unlock their potentials and live their best lives, now. In a mentoring session with some Mastercard Foundation Scholars over the weekend, I endeavored to explain this concept (of purpose) to them. I told them that a man or woman actually starts to live when that one comes in contact with his or her purpose. Nevertheless, there’s no rule book that defines a person’s purpose. You have to find it.

Your purpose is what you were born for – it’s your mission for life! If you don’t know what it is, then you don’t have any direction in your life. You’re like a man who’s climbed a tall ladder only to realize in the end that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

Your life will be out of course.

You’d be caught in the thick of thin things.

Your passion is for you but your purpose is for others. Click To Tweet

The easiest way to discover your purpose is by figuring out what you’re passionate about. Your passion gives you joy but when you use your passion for the greater good, that gives you a purpose.

Further, if you want to live on your own terms, you have to set goals that exceed your imagination. If your goal is not 10x what you could do on your own; if you could connect all the dots of your life, then you’re not thinking big enough!

When you set a 10x goal, you get committed. With commitment, you’ve reached your point of no return. In the words of Benjamin Hardy, “the fundamental core of the word “decision” means to literally cut-off alternative options. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously close the door on many others.”

What are you going to do with your life? How far do you want to go? The choice is yours!

Second, develop a discontent for mediocrity and mundanity

Tony Robbins says: “People have an endless list of things they believe they should do or should follow through on. But what happens when you decide something is an absolute “must?” What happens when you cut off any other possibility than you succeeding — when you decide that you are either going to find a way to make something happen or you’ll create the way yourself?

When you raise your standards and turn “should” into “must,” you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life. Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

A lot of people are comfortable with an average life. They’re helmed-in and pinned down by the pains and pangs of neglect. They have a laundry list of excuses for why they couldn’t achieve their goals.

It’s time to excavate yourself from the ordinary. It’s time to transcend the norm, chart a new course and set the pace!

Go for excellence in your life, work, and relationships. Be an example of excellence. Invest in yourself. Saturate your mind and environment with quality information. If all you consume is junk, your life and results will not be any different – garbage in, garbage out.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. — Alvin Toffler

Become intentional with personal education. Get absorbed in the process and make your life a practical life. In this era – where knowledge is synonymous with money and power – you cannot afford to be uninformed. “The value of knowledge is increasing while the value of physical things is dropping fast.” As the world gets more complex, you must develop the skill for learning and compounding knowledge to remain functional.


Are you looking for a job or hiring entry-level talents? Join us at Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019!


When you understand who you really are, you’d never settle for anything that’s not excellent! Even if you’re the last man on the block before long, you’d become number one!

Here’s a pro tip: move from good to excellent. Deep down, you have something yearning for expression. Live what’s within you!

Abigail Foaty, shot by Nana Afriyie

Third, create massive value and give more than you take

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish

If you want to live your life on your own terms, you must consistently create massive value and give more than you take. Every successful person knows this: The secret to long-term success is creating excessive value. They work from a point of transformation and not transaction. They’re not trapped by me, myself and I small-mindedness that often lead many to greed and unhealthy competition.

Become an artist and a master of your craft. Think differently.

Writing in an Entrepreneur article, self-development author and business coach, Brian Tracy captures 7 ways to create value in your job, business or products for greater success. Says Tracy, “when you begin thinking of increasing the speed at which you deliver your product or service, improving the quality, add value at every stage of production, increasing the convenience for your customers, giving better customer service, catering to changing lifestyles and trends and finding ways to reduce the actual cost, you will be astonished at the incredible number of ideas and possibilities that exist around you.”

Benjamin Hardy, best selling author of Will Power Doesn’t Work unpacks this further: “When your motivation is to give, you’ll often get insights into how you can improve your relationships… You’ll have more ideas about how you can improve other people’s lives and businesses. You’ll start contributing more, which will lead to far more opportunities and deeper relationships. People will come to love and trust you. Your work will be motivated by a higher cause and thus will be far more inspired and impactful.”

Last, create “A-Game” partnerships

Abigail Foaty, shot by Nana Afriyie

The new industrial convergence is creating more value and opportunities for businesses to adapt to technological and societal advances. However, navigating this fast-changing and continually blurring environment requires immense agility and forward thinking. More than ever, collaboration and teamwork have become paramount for progressive growth and success.

If you want to live your life on your own terms, you must surround yourself with people whose insights can help you make quantum leaps in your business or career. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Everyone that achieved success or any form of breakthrough had help along the way. They had people who supported and held them accountable to their goals. I have written more about how to create “A-Game” partnerships in this article.

* * *

You can live your life on your own terms. You can and you should! If you followed the steps I shared with you in this article, they could help you put in the pieces to actualize in a year what might take others decades to do. You’ll transform your life. You’ll become a mystery to others.

But remember this: every step of the journey towards living your life on your own terms will need focus and intention. While I cannot promise it’ll be easy, I can assure you, however, that it’s worth every sacrifice! This is why we’re creating a fantastic event to bring professionals at different stages in their career together at the 2019 edition of Quantum Leap Career Fair. SFAN events always push the boundary and we’ve done a good job in developing the content for this one! I hope you can join us – register here (apply the code *QLCareerFair19* for a discount).


If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! Are you looking for a job or hiring entry-level talents? Join us at Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image Credit: Abigail Foaty by Nana Afriyie

The Blurb: The future of e-commerce in Ghana lies in boosting internet penetration and infrastructural development, educating internet users to trust Ghanaian online market for purchases, and the sustainability of vendors' strategies. Click To Tweet

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently released their 2018 B2C E-commerce Index, which measures an economy’s preparedness to support online shopping in 151 economies. The index comprises four indicators that are highly related to online shopping and for which there is wide country coverage:

  • Account ownership at a financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider (% of population ages 15+)
  • Individuals using the Internet (% of the population)
  • Postal Reliability Index
  • Secure Internet servers (per 1 million people)

Of the ten African countries ranked in the publication, Ghana was placed in the sixth position –  with a ranking of 39.

As seen in the report, a competitive B2C e-commerce ecosystem appears to be enticing foreign investment. “Several of the top ten developing countries in the index saw inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into their e-commerce sectors in 2017, amounting to at least $1.7 billion. Venture capital is also attracted to favorable e-commerce environments. In Thailand, e-commerce companies were the largest recipients of the $106 million of such investment in the country in 2017.”

Although many African countries surpassed world growth on three of the indicators used in the index, it is estimated that only three countries (Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya) accounted for almost half of the 21 million online shoppers in Africa as at the time of the publication. By the look of things, e-commerce readiness indicators across the continent are progressively improving but many e-commerce vendors still struggle to prove product-market-fit. Nigeria, ranked at the second position, was in the news recently for high profile cases of e-commerce business failure. “OLX, a popular classifieds platform backed by Naspers—Africa’s most valuable company, Efritin, an e-commerce platform for used goods, DealDey, an online discounts platform, and Careers24, an online jobs marketplace also backed by Naspers, have either scaled back operations significantly or shut down entirely.” Ghana is not left out of the e-commerce readiness “bittersweet” tales with some of its e-commerce household names still faltering. Yet, looking at the remarkable increase in disposable incomes of many Ghanaian families as well as the rate of internet and smartphone penetration, there’s every reason to believe that e-commerce is the future of doing business in Ghana.

Keys to building the future of B2C e-commerce in Ghana

The recent mobile money interoperability policy, digital addressing system initiative and government’s interventions to get Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) online has contributed to facilitating the ease of online transactions in the country. The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Robert Ahomka-Lindsey stated at the 2018 Germany-Ghana Investors Forum that as part of the government of Ghana’s infrastructure development agenda for the ICT sector, the Ghana Post is set to be transformed into a competitive ICT enhanced service provider to help in connecting the underserved. When executed, this initiative will help to fast-track courier of purchased goods.

UNCTAD Top 10 African countries in the B2C E-Commerce Index

Nevertheless, to reach the full potentials of Ghana’s B2C e-commerce sector, the following pieces need to be put in place:

  • Reliability in the delivery of products

Like many African countries, trust deficit has hampered e-commerce business growth in Ghana. Poor customer relationship and uncertainty around receiving your orders or returning them, as the case may be, often make it difficult for customers to purchase online. Companies like Jumia Ghana have tried to solve this by introducing a “pay upon delivery” option but limitations still exist. Some people I spoke to about this issue admitted to using some of these e-commerce sites for price comparison purposes before heading to the mall or nearest market to make their purchases. Business owners need to find a way to bridge this gap and educate internet users to trust the Ghanaian online market for making purchases.

  • The high cost of data and fragmented infrastructure

Despite the commendable efforts made in connecting the unserved and underserved Ghanaian households to the internet, the cost of broadband data is still quite expensive for both business owners and consumers. In its Internet Affordability report, the Alliance for Affordable Internet expressed that Ghanaians spend an average of 3.89% of income on 1GB of data per month. Ghana’s top think-tank group, IMANI reflecting on the above information observed: “this clearly shows [the] internet is still not affordable to all income groups.” Clearly, more work needs to be done by “reducing the price of 800MHz spectrum to reflect the true market value,” increasing internet connectivity as well as investing in infrastructural developments to facilitate e-commerce transactions in Ghana.

  • Sustainable business model and funding

For the past year and a half, I’ve used Laundry Chief for all my laundry needs. The convenience of placing my orders online and having it picked from and delivered at home, on my timelines, makes it easy to plan such activities. As they begin to scale, they are establishing shops closer to their clients thereby complimenting online transactions with in-person services.

This allows them to target different types of clients and increase sales. Although their strategy might not be sustainable for all types of businesses, it shows a business progressively shifting gears to address the needs of its clients.

Surely, funding does play a part for companies looking to utilize this strategy or scale across borders. Nevertheless, any business that would withstand the market pressures today must, of necessity, have an “international agenda” as part of its business model.


To conclude, I think the best days are still ahead for e-commerce in Ghana. With a growing tech-savvy, digital natives and increasing demand for made-in-Ghana products and services, the possibilities for e-businesses are limitless. Essentially, the future of e-commerce in Ghana lies in: Boosting internet penetration and infrastructural development, educating existing internet users to trust Ghanaian online market for making purchases, and creating sustainable e-commerce business strategies.


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About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. He is a big believer in people and has trained hundreds of young entrepreneurs on how to find their purpose, actualize their goals and tell compelling stories about themselves and their work. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Pitching is one of the things that many (first time) founders dread – but unfortunately cannot avoid. You pitch your business every day and to everyone: investors, customers, collaborators, potential employees, and other prospects. As a matter of fact, your success or failure as a startup founder, in most instances, is underscored by this singular act: pitching.

From experience of helping many entrepreneurs prepare their pitches – as well as reviewing/judging hundreds of pitches through my work with organizations like Seedstars World, Adansonia, Impact Hub Accra, etc here are simple hacks for pitching your startup to investors.

  • Know who you’re pitching to

It goes without saying, there are different kinds of pitches for different kinds of people. The way you pitch to an impact investor will definitely differ from the way you pitch to an angel investor. That will equally differ from the way you pitch to a customer or prospective employee. Know your audience and prepare your pitch to highlight the metrics they’re looking for.

The thing a lot of founders do not take into consideration is the panel they are pitching to have seen several hundreds of pitches before. They probably have certain red flags they look out for in pitches. Once you make any of these mistakes – especially at the early stages of your pitch – you’ve automatically shot yourself in the foot.

Again, from my personal experience, judging pitches can be a lot of work sometimes. If your pitch is another boring, rehashed rhetoric, it can be difficult to gain the attention of your audience. So, put the effort to understand what the investor is looking for and see if your business actually meets those criteria. If you just need someone to hear you out, that’s different. But if you need them to take some form of investment decisions, you must put yourself in their shoes. No matter how much someone wishes for you to succeed – as most pitch judges often do – if you don’t connect with him/her, you’ll lose the attention.

  • Start with why

Simon Sinek’s 2009 Ted Talk argued that inspired leaders and organizations, regardless of size and industry communicate from inside out.

Why?

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Sinek’s talk is in consonance with research carried out by neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The team was able to show that reasoning and behavioral control are dependent on different regions of the frontal lobe than the areas called upon when making a decision.

Starting your pitch with your why helps you highlight the purpose, cause or belief that drives your business. This is an easy way to connect with your audience – instead of the conventional approach of hoping your product description will pique their interest.

People want to be a part of something big. Your “why” is how to demonstrate your passion for the problem you’re solving. Think about Nike’s vision of everyday greatness. That vision has gone viral because it encompasses everyone. People who, ordinarily, would have felt left behind can now connect with the feeling of greatness by simply putting on a pair of sneakers.

  • Communicate the problem you’re solving and how you solve it

One of the things I notice from many pitches I judged is: A lot of founders spend so much time talking about several irrelevant things except the problem they’re solving. Don’t waste your time with too many irrelevant details. Tell your audience exactly what you’re building.

  1. Highlight the reason why this problem is persistent and requires urgent attention.
  2. Explain how you’re solving it and who you’re solving it for.
  3. Talk about the uniqueness of your solution from that of your competition.
  4. Talk about the size of the market you’re addressing and the potential size you can capture in the foreseeable future. As Patrick McKenzie, a developer at Stripe Atlas rightly said, “venture investors are looking for companies which can sustain revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, minimum. “Niche” products where the ceiling is millions of dollars are only interesting to the extent they unlock adjacent, bigger markets.”
  5. If you’ve already launched, talk about your users. Your success stories might be one of the key differentiators for your pitch – include testimonials or news features if you’re giving a powerpoint presentation. Use graphs or charts to show your growth and traction as it’ll be easy to comprehend.

Remember, your investor might not understand all the intricacies involved in delivering your solution. Avoid all jargons and buzzwords. Make it easy for people to understand how your service starts and ends. Don’t make anyone figure out your key points. Tell them directly.

  • Talk about your financials

Gary Vee was right, how you make your money is more important than how much you make. Clearly, explain the costs involved in starting and running your venture to actualize the key milestones over a period of time. From my experience, there are two key things many investors want to see from your metrics:

  1. Value creation. That is, can the business make a profit and does it work on a per-customer basis at any point in time?
  2. Scalability. That is, what is the size of the market the entrepreneur is addressing and how attractive is it?

Here’s an insight: your business model should tell a crisp story of the user economics in terms of customer acquisition cost (CAC) and long-term value (LTV). Therefore, show how the business makes money. Highlight the costs involved in acquiring users, and make a clear projection of your revenue.

Even if you’re still early in your journey with no traction (quantitative evidence of product/market fit) whatsoever, it’s important that you demonstrate you have the potential of generating revenue and making a data-driven decision. But if you do have traction, ensure you calibrate and over-index on that. Know your numbers: revenues, growth margins, profitability, etc. This article has extensive information on startup metrics you should pay attention to.

The caveat, however, is to be careful how you site your financial projections. Manipulating your revenue is fraudulent behavior or a sign of incompetence.

  • Do talk about yourself and your team

It’s been said many times that investors do not necessarily invest in a business idea but in the entrepreneur. It’s true. Business ideas like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb or even Amazon did not look impressive to a lot of people at conception. Their teams built them to what we know them to be today. Therefore, ensure you do not sell yourself short!

If you have built something exceptionally well or achieved any form of success in the past, talk about it. It does not necessarily have to be in line with the business you’re pitching. Maybe you finished your college course work while building a startup: talk about it!

Entrepreneurship requires an awful amount of discipline and commitment and investors are mindful of this. They will always use your previous success as plausibility for success in your new venture. The same goes for any history of failure you decide to share with them. Failure can only be a plus if it resulted in something meaningful and worth talking about.

Further, ensure you highlight the complementary skills and expertise of your team members. That means: Your team should not be skewed to one direction. If this is the case, be sure to mention your plans for (or how you’re) balancing the skills.


Don’t just pitch an idea, a prototype is better than several pitches.

If you have a prototype, do bring it to on your pitch day. Understand your fundamentals and handle your pitch like a conversation. It’s great to have aspirations but your pitch will always be weighed on a scale of your business strategy. Don’t pitch the product, pitch your business. A lot of us – entrepreneurs – spend so much time discussing the product or service but say so little about the business. Also, be specific. Know what you’re asking for or the exact amount of money you want. In the same vein, before you send or deliver any pitch, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of the investor. Many investors want to see that you understand the investment risk.

Finally, if you’re delivering a powerpoint presentation, make your slides as easy-to-read as possible. Don’t clutter the slides with unnecessary information. Keep images and graphics to the minimum and review your stuff before your pitch day. Use this Y Combinator Seed Deck template to structure your deck.

At the end of the day, a pitch is not a war. Try to have fun while keeping your eyes on the goal and on the judges. Be authentic and be yourself. Even if you miss your lines, as many people often do, don’t stop! Keep pitching and if things do not turn out the way you expected, there’s always another opportunity. Don’t take rejection too hard.

My best wishes on your next pitch!


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About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. He is a big believer in people and has trained hundreds of young entrepreneurs on how to find their purpose, actualize their goals and tell compelling stories about themselves and their work. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

Related image

Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! To get more inspiring contents like this in your inbox subscribe to our mailing list.

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Youth entrepreneurship has the potential of providing the much-needed solution to Africa’s unemployment challenges, and driving economic growth on the continent. Click To Tweet

The road to 2030 – a year set aside by development partners as the deadline for eradicating extreme poverty – looks very much uncertain for many African countries. The confluence of rapid demographic growth, digital transformation, and weak human resource base in recent years presents fresh and critical challenges to Africa’s development dynamics and global competitiveness.

According to the World Economic Forum, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 13% of the world’s working-age population. By 2030, this number will increase to more than 17%, making many African countries resource-rich, labor-abundant economies. Yet, only about 3 million jobs are created on the continent annually. Many African governments have struggled to translate economic growth into improved sustainable economic opportunity for their citizens. The International Labour Organization records that young people are the most affected segment of people without jobs.

Nevertheless, youth entrepreneurship has the potential of providing the much-needed solution to Africa’s unemployment challenges, and driving economic growth on the continent. Africa’s youth could be in the driving seat of global development in the next decades thereby catalyzing economic growth through entrepreneurship (UNDP).

Historically, entrepreneurship has been a tool for helping people take ownership of their aspirations. Initiatives like Startup India and Make in India helped to spur economic growth and attract Foreign Direct Investment into the Indian economy. According to a study by IDRC Canada, youth entrepreneurship, in particular, is an option to create employment for the youth.

Why?

Youth entrepreneurs are more likely to hire fellow youths, are particularly responsive to new economic opportunities and trends and are active in high growth sectors, amongst others.

In the words of Tony Elumelu, founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, entrepreneurship is the cornerstone to African development and the key to local value creation in Africa. If properly harnessed, Africa’s burgeoning youth population could translate into a dividend for the continent through the creation of enterprises that will not only contribute towards economic growth but also create jobs for their fellow youth (OECD).

However, to properly harness and unlock entrepreneurial potentials of Africa’s youth, the following pieces need to be put in place:

  1. Funding for startups. Although there has been a remarkable improvement in venture capital funding in Africa, undercapitalization is still one of the major reasons why many startups fail. The road to startup funding in Africa is a long one, and 9 out of 10 ventures never make it. With an incredibly skewed ecosystem and lack of local funding pipeline in many African countries, the hope for venture capital funding for startups often lies outside the continent. There is, therefore, a need for more financial instruments to provide the pre-seed and seed capital to early-stage businesses.
  2. Access to market. Without the opportunity to access markets, obtain market-based prices and meet demands, business owners cannot capture economic opportunities on the continent. In spite of the tremendous economic prospects of regional integration, intra-Africa trade has remained horrendously low. It is estimated that intra-African trade costs are around 50% higher than in East Asia, and are the highest of intra-regional costs in any developing region. Not only is there a need for trade and market information to entrepreneurs, but there is also a need for inclusivity. We must create systems, processes, and platforms to connect buyers and sellers from across the continent, as well as minimize post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers. Hopefully, initiatives like the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair will provide the pathways to advancing trade and economic conditions of people across the region. The FAO estimates that on-farm and post-harvest activities account for US$4 billion tons in losses per year. To curb this, the African Development Bank (AfDB) committed to invest US$24 billion in agricultural transformative projects in Africa over the next decade. But that’s not enough, the use of data at the farm and value chain levels could potentially transform African agricultural systems and lead to greater access to markets.
  3. Mentorship and skills development. Despite the media celebration of African business icons like Tony Elumelu, Strive Masiyiwa, Rebecca Enonchong and so on, entrepreneurship on the continent, in practice,  is a long, arduous journey that requires stamina, education, and community support. According to a Venture Capital for Africa survey, of all the different reasons that might cause an African-based business to fail, respondents selected poor execution as chief. This, essentially, means poor entrepreneurship skills. As a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur, I can attest to the transformative power of top-tier mentorship and skills development as prerequisites for entrepreneurial success. Access to entrepreneurship support systems, especially for women and youth in rural areas, could spur more opportunities for innovation on the continent.
  4. A policy with a purpose. Young people often face numerous challenges when trying to establish their businesses. Among these bottlenecks are high banking fees, inadequate youth-friendly products and lack of financial literacy. Governments need to create policies and programs that facilitate an enabling entrepreneurial ecosystem and access to investment stacks to turn ideas into innovations. There is also a need for private sector support in enhancing the capacity of youth development organizations at the local level. And, the financial sector must create special products to serve youth-led startups and provide young people with access to relevant financial services. Rwanda’s Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth (PSDAG), Ghana’s National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), Nigeria’s N-Power and The Tony Elumelu Foundation serve as case studies for some of the answers we need in creating systems and platforms that turn passion to profit.

Conclusion

The economic case for unlocking the potentials of young people through entrepreneurship is simple: it is one sure way of actualizing the sustainable development goal of eradicating poverty on the continent by 2030. In other words, the biggest business opportunities on the continent in the coming decade will be created by young innovators. The impact of development institutions like the Tony Elumelu Foundation is proof positive that if governments, institutions, and private sector organizations collaborate in “democratizing luck” and setting young people up for entrepreneurial success, the social and economic dividends are tremendous! The future of Africa lies in youth entrepreneurship. Therefore, investment in youth is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do – and the time is now!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! 

The article was first published by Tom-Chris Emewulu on LinkedIn.

As an entrepreneur myself, I understand what it feels like to yearn for a lifeline, to hope for a ‘big break’, to look forward to enjoying some luck. – Tony O. Elumelu (CON)

Many entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs) have reached out to me for advice on how to put their stuff together for The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program. Consequently, I want to share few tips that answer some frequently asked questions, in hope that it might be useful to a larger audience.

Before we get into it, I want to quickly mention that this is not an attempt to speak for or represent the Elumelu foundation. The tips below are my views on how you might improve your chances of having your business selected.

Again, be aware that the program is competitive. Previous editions have seen about 10% of all applicants selected. This is not to discourage you, however, it is to help you plan to put your best foot forward.

With that in mind, let’s begin, shall we?

Q1: What is The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program about?

A1: Launched in 2015, The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs, and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

Q2: Who is qualified to apply?

A2: Anyone above the age of 18 and is a legal resident or citizen of an African country, with a for-profit business that is based in Africa, and is 0-3 years old can apply to the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.

Q3: What’s in it for me if I’m selected?

A3: If you’re selected, the programme provides you with the following tools for your business success:

a) 12 weeks of intensive online training which guides in creating and managing your business

b) Access to mentors to guide you through the early stages of your venture

c) $5,000 in seed capital to prove the concept, with access to further funding

d) Access to a formidable network of other entrepreneurs

Q4: How can I ensure that my application is accepted?

A4: The Foundation has structured the application to test for various key elements:

i. Who you are and the reason behind your decision to be an entrepreneur

Here they want to see who you are and what made you choose entrepreneurship. Who you are do not really mean what you’re called (i.e your name), but what you have achieved before this time. So this is your self-pitch – keep it nice, precise and focused.

ii. Your leadership skills

Business involves leadership – leading your team, leading yourself, managing interests and so on. Ensure to highlight what leadership abilities you have that makes you the person to succeed in this venture.

iii. The story that brought you to this very moment

Every entrepreneur has a story. Maybe you have built something so good that people fell in love with or you have produced services that everyone you know loved, tell it here. Like begets like; if you have achieved something impressive before, chances are, you can replicate that success again.

iv. Your understanding of your business or idea and the market

This is the core aspect of your application. Firstly, you must know your business to describe it in 50 words. The reason is that if you can’t deconstruct whatever complexity that’s involved in building your idea or business, and communicate that in simple, understandable language, you don’t have a business.

Also, you have to understand how the parts (process) of the business/idea work to describe it fully. Paint a picture of how the service starts and ends.

Furthermore, you need to know who your customers are and how to access them, how the business is going to make money, what you are willing to ask for each unit of service or product, and when you expect to break-even (the point at which cost or expenses and revenue are equal). Additionally, be clear about the amount of expenditure you expect to incur each month.

Finally, you must know your competitors and what differentiates your business from theirs.

v. The scalability of your business

They want to see that your business can grow to serve many more people at minimal incremental cost (the increase in total costs resulting from an increase in production or other activity). And so you must be able to show that your business can actually grow in authority to serve clients in other regions or countries. Good market research comes in really handy here.

Suffix: Remember to identify how much money that’s been invested in the business or idea so far, and how much revenue the business/idea has generated in return. Remember also to keep your responses within the given word count. Keep your responses straight to the point. Don’t be in a hurry to hit submit; review and spellcheck/proofread your work before submitting. But ultimately, endeavor to start early so you don’t have to rush. Above all, don’t lie in your application.

Even if you have no entrepreneurship experience, you can still apply for the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship program. Click To Tweet

Q5: Where can I find the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program application?

A5: The application is located at https://tefconnect.com/


Being an alum of the foundation is a great opportunity for me. The lessons from the online training and forum have been fundamental in this new phase of our work at SFAN, and I cherish the network of entrepreneurs I’ve been immersed in. I wish you well in your journey and look forward to seeing you on the alumni platform soon!


Click here to begin your application now.

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The future of entrepreneurship in Ghana is very bright, thanks to innovators and ecosystem facilitators working tirelessly to create lasting change. As we round off what has been the best year in Ghana’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, I want to share some predictions for 2019.

The Blurb: Startup funding will triple, new startup clusters will emerge, and Ghana will be a hotbed for FDI. Click To Tweet

About this time last year, I wrote that the Ghanaian entrepreneurship ecosystem will see an incremental growth from this year, 2018. Well, true to that prediction, the ecosystem has, indeed, flourished. There’s been remarkable projects like Google’s AI center, U.S-Ghana Business forum, Vice Chancellor Merkel’s visit, Germany Ghana Investors Forum, UK-Ghana Investment Summit, the inaugural Student Entrepreneurship WeekEuromoney Conference, Prince Charle’s visit and so on.

From an increased funding to new startup clusters to foreign direct investment, below are my predictions about the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana.

Number 1: An upward funding trend – Startup funding to triple

Startups in Ghana raised about $20.4M in 2017, an improvement from the $8.67M raised the previous year. As at January 2018, African Tech Startups Funding Report released by tech startup news and research platform Disrupt Africa recorded that startups in Ghana had already raised $22.3M. By the end of December 2018, interest in funding Ghanaian startups may have increased by more than 150% from last year.

With this in mind, my prediction is that the startup funding revolution will continue to unwind. In fact, I think there will be three times more investment in Ghana’s tech ecosystem in 2019. Unsurprisingly, we shall see more interests in fintech, followed by e-commerce (e-commerce could reach a growth margin of 56% by  2020) and agri-tech. Also, with the increasing need for innovation in Ghana’s education system, I foresee a spike in education funding by 2019.

Number 2: Beyond Silicon Accra – An emergence of new startup clusters

There are three major players that make up every functional ecosystem: entrepreneurs, investors, and enablers (tech hubs, universities, corporates, and the government). The future of entrepreneurship in Ghana will go beyond Accra.

For a very long time and often to the concern of various stakeholders, many activities and innovations in Ghana’s entrepreneurship space take place in Accra. In fact, most of the startups that raised funding in Ghana this year work in or from Accra. More so, a greater number of events in Ghana’s entrepreneurship space happens here, in Accra.

However, there has been a progressive argument on the need to decongest the metropolitan city to make these opportunities equally distributed across the country.

I predict that from 2019, we shall see a sprout of startup clusters elsewhere like Kumasi, Tamale, and Takoradi. In my opinion, Kumasi is prime for a considerable amount of the action. Hapa Space and Kumasi hive – two of the active hubs in Kumasi – are laying the bricks through partnerships with institutions like British Council, The Indigo Trust, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)Tamale is known for its clean air, good road network and is only 618.22 km from Accra. These are some of the merits for a “peace of mind” for entrepreneurs seeking to escape the high cost of living and traffic congestion in Accra.

Number 3: A hotbed for FDI and increased multi-stakeholder collaborations

With Nigeria going into a definitive Presidential election, I foresee that Ghana will be the focus of many foreign direct investments in West Africa in the New Year.

According to provisional figures put forward by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for Ghana from January to September has hit 1.3 billion dollars. The IMF records that Ghana experienced a 6.3% economic growth in 2018 and is among the top ten fastest growing economies on the continent.

On the heels of Chancellor Merkel’s visit in August, three German companies – Volkswagen, Robert Bosch Packaging Technology GmbH, and Voith Hydro Holding GmbH & Co KG – signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Ghana to invest in economic transforming projects such as energy, health, and automobile. Nissan was also reported to have signed a MoU to work with the Ghanaian government to set up an automotive manufacturing industry in the country. 

Granted, the recent shake-up in the banking sector and consistent fluctuations in the exchange rate has left some investors in doubt about the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana. Nevertheless, I think Ghana will see more international economic transactions as well as an increased multi-stakeholder collaboration in 2019. The recent Accra SDG Impact Investment Fair organized by the Ministry of Finance and GIPC is the beginning of such collaborations for driving change at scale.

Conclusion

Once again, I believe the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana is very bright. It is not a surprise that President Akufo-Addo has declared 2019 as ‘year of return for Diasporans’. Indeed, 2019 will not only see Ghana being the focus for millions of African descendants tracing their ancestry and their identity, but it will also see the country being the focus of many development leaders and investors around the world.


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! To get more inspiring contents like this in your inbox subscribe to our mailing list.

If Africa’s children are educated and equipped with the skills to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy, the entire continent will prosper. But if they are denied a quality education, Africa’s economic progress will be slowed, stunted, or even thrown into reverse. – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder of Econet Wireless

NIGERIA – On October 25, I had the privilege of representing SFAN at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Forum 2018 where 5,000 entrepreneurs, business leaders and heads of states gathered to discuss various topics around economic development across Africa. I was opportune to be one of the select marketplace vendors that hosted the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and the Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu.

The meeting gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts on how to fix Ghana’s education system with both men. This article is trying to extend that conversation.

If you have followed the ongoing dialogue about the state of higher education in Africa, then you’re aware that there’s an urgent need for rethinking the entire framework of Africa’s education systems. The handwriting on the wall is crystal clear: by 2050, Africa will be home to a billion young people. The continent’s future – and perhaps that of the world – hinges on investments in human capital. Regrettably, as it stands, all sub-Saharan Africa countries perform worse than the global average of the human capital index.

While there has been an incremental economic growth on the continent, the stack reality is that majority of African students are not learning the skills that can make them competitive in the digital world. And if this trend continues, our future generation will be a lost cause.

The good news is: we have a window of opportunity to avert this catastrophe. Apart from drastically raising education financing from the current meager 10%  (which, thankfully, the education commission is taking a bold step to accomplish), there are three important areas that need immediate attention for fixing the state of higher education in Africa.

To be perfectly clear, this agenda will need bold thinking as well as a refusal to settle for things as they are. Fixing higher education in Africa will equally need multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Over the past five years, a greater part of our work at SFAN has centered on creating programs and events that bring together stakeholders from business, academia, government, media, and civil society. The goal: to spur new pathways for equipping young people with skills that can help them thrive in the  21st-century economy. Our extensive research and survey of the root causes of youth unemployment in Africa show:

  • a mismatch of skills between labor market need and education
  • insufficient employment opportunities, and
  • lack of access to support services and available opportunities.

This important disconnect inspired us to set up Readyforwork Career Coaching Program; empowering the youth to take ownership of their career aspirations and grow in confidence that yields success. With a ready workforce, employers on the African continent need a upskilled talent to take advantage of the economic boom.

Obviously, the future of work will not be about college degrees but about job skills. Quite frankly, I think the current education system has outlived its purpose. CNBC recently compiled a list of top employers that no longer require employees to have a college degree. Simply put, we are moving into an era of an alternative education system.

It is not my intention to propagate a conspiracy theory but I know where the current education framework came from. Over one hundred years ago, factory owners that didn’t have enough compliant factory workers invented the system. Therefore, it made sense to arrange kids in rows, tell them what to think and make them compete for grades. And it worked excellently for over 100 years before technology disrupted the work environment.

A hundred years later, automation and robots have taken over many factory jobs, and collaboration has become more important than competition. The problem is: many schools in Africa are still stuck in the archaic mode of teaching and their curriculum has not kept pace with the changing nature of work.

Yet, programs like SFAN’s Readyforwork are rethinking the process by giving every gift an equal chance through personalized education. We are leveraging data to curate contents that tailored to the needs of learners instead of a one-size-fits-all system.

Nevertheless, if we trained every job seeker, there are not enough jobs to absorb them.

The numbers clearly show that while about 10 to 12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3.1 million jobs are created.

Consequently, there’s a pressing need to unlock entrepreneurial potentials of young people for job creation. Governments and development agencies are progressively acknowledging the fact that “Africa’s young people could enrich not only this continent but the world economy and society at large.”

Like I told President Akufo-Addo, this is why initiatives like the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program is of vital importance!

Our coaching program also serves the need of helping young people acquire the entrepreneurial mindset and real-world exposure that help them to take ownership of their aspirations for success.

Now comes the third aspect of fixing higher education in Africa: giving young people access to mentors and opportunities to engage the real world. Experts have said that mentorship is one of the smartest investments you can make in your business or career. Mentorship helps young people gain direction and navigate the digital world.

For the last several years, I have worked with different companies in finding the top ten percent of entry-level job seekers. One significant thing I’ve noticed is that many job seekers lack job awareness skills. A good mentorship program helps learners to gain job awareness and exposure to the world of work.

In conclusion, the economic case for investing in Africa’s human capital is that it is the continent’s most important resource and the surest way of ending poverty on the continent.

I agree with Strive Masiyiwa, “if Africa’s children are educated and equipped with the skills to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy, the entire continent will prosper. But if they are denied a quality education, Africa’s economic progress will be slowed, stunted, or even thrown into reverse.”

Clearly, countries like Finland and Singapore are quite ahead of the curve by “giving more time to exercises that will involve a synthesis of knowledge from various subject areas.”

This is the moment for Africa’s youth!

Donate to our crowdfunding campaign to help us scale our career coaching program through a talent accelerator that will unlock the employment and entrepreneurship potentials of indigent youth at zero upfront cost.


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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“Entrepreneurs have crossed “the risk line” from the “Time-and-Effort Economy” to the “Results Economy.” For them, there’s no guaranteed income, no one writing them a paycheck every two weeks. They live by their ability to generate opportunity by creating value for their clientele.” – Dan Sullivan, Strategic Coach.

Here’s a disclaimer: this article is for people who want to *really* understand what entrepreneurship means from a practitioner’s point of view. It is about practicality and how to thrive in the chaotic #StartupLife. If you are not ready for behind-the-scenes usually not told in TV commercials or keynote speeches, stop reading right now.

Since the last decade or more, entrepreneurship has become a fancy and celebrated word. CEO/Founder/Owner status is sexy to add to your social media biog.

People love it – being “on my grind”, “a girl boss” is so cool to post on Twitter.

You hold your shoulders high at events and social gatherings because when you introduce yourself as a founder, it seems to correlate you’re among the crème de la crème of society.

Today, “quit your job and become an entrepreneur” is the Holy Grail for success and significance in many circles. Consequently, many young people just waffle through school with the hope of finding success in entrepreneurship.

It wasn’t always this way.

Although the first usage of the word “entrepreneur” dates as far back as 1850, popular pieces of literature suggest that the term “entrepreneurship” was coined around the 1920s. The reason is not far fetched. It used to be that you go to school, study hard and when you graduate, a job will be waiting for you. And, after many years of working hard and serving your company, you retire with a gold watch and other great benefits. Life was stable and the future was predictable for the most part.

person walking holding brown leather bag

Unfortunately, that assurance disappeared around the 20th century. Hence, you can study really hard in school and graduate with a mountain of bills and little pipeline opportunities. All around the world, there has been an increasing decline in middle-wage occupations. This decline has been attributed, in part, to the advent of computerization and the spread of automation. One WEF study suggests that five million jobs will be lost to AI by 2020.

In light of this, a majority of 12 million Africans entering the job market every year are left with no option than to take up the plow in creating their own opportunities through self-employment.

Furthermore, being an entrepreneur has never been any easier than it is today with internet penetration.

Alas, the media celebration of global business icons like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc is a development which has fascinated many to go into entrepreneurship. Startup founders are now seen as pioneers with a high level of respect in society – a figure that has risen steadily over the past decade or more. For many, entrepreneurship is a fast lane for making money and becoming famous.

Unfortunately, a year and a half into the journey, reality sets in and all of sudden, you discover that entrepreneurship is nothing close to the filtered pictures on social media or TV commercials.

No one tells you about the sleepless nights of backbreaking work in finding product-market-fit nor the ungodly amount of pressure startup founders go through daily in turning their ideas into a product or service. The filtered media reports often miss the days when it seems like someone has a hammer at both sides of your head…the days when you have to go through the threshing floor.

Everyone wants to be Zuck but in reality, only one in five businesses in Africa achieve scale in five years. According to a Venture Capital for Africa research, the road to startup funding in Africa is a long one, and 9 out of 10 ventures never make it. The worst-case scenario, which we’re already seeing, is an increased rate in the suicide rate in the entrepreneurship space.

It is not my intention to paint a pessimistic view of entrepreneurship or to stop you from pursuing your ambition. On the contrary, my goal is to help you understand that, in practice, entrepreneurship is a long, arduous journey that requires stamina, education, and community support.

Not many people will read this article to this point. Making it this far means only one thing: you’re the one I wrote this piece for. To help you turn the impossible dream of creating your empire into an improbable, or perhaps inevitable concept, I have a few recommendations that might help you put in the pieces to weather the storm.

Image result for the-creative-exchange-660215-unsplash

There’s no denying the fact that at any age or social status, entrepreneurship is a very risky business. It’s a world filled with risk, uncertainty, and chaos. Therefore, the day you decide to open up shop is the day you have to assume it’s now you and you alone. If you are expecting someone to do it for you, then perhaps, you should consider doing something else. Why? Even the people who could help you may choose to ignore you. You’re now the last man on the line so it’s up to you to put the puzzles of this journey together.

Again, nothing is given, everything must be earned.

It’s not enough to just do it. You need a certain kind of mindset and skills for this craft. At the early stages of my journey, I often thought that people will understand that I’m young and new in the process and so they’d “take it easy” with me. Come to find out, when you’re green, they’d screw you the hardest. They’d take advantage of your naivety and youth.

Hence, I strongly recommend that you avoid the overwhelming temptation to just do it and create some level of management, process, and discipline around your work. Because quite frankly, if you don’t, you will burn out. You will lose focus.

And so, I implore you to reverse engineer your thinking and figure out whether you need to find/keep your day job or join an already existing team. If you are just romantic about entrepreneurship and being your own boss, your hindsight could be your biggest obstacle. Without structure or skills, it’ll be difficult to create quality deliverables for your clients.

In his book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to A Successful Startup, Bill Aulet stated that the single necessary and sufficient condition for a business is a paying customer. Therefore, if you’re building a business, you must ensure that you’re making money.

But to make money, firstly, you have to solve a problem people actually have and are willing to pay for. As Eric Ries stressed in his book, The Lean Startup, you need to see the problem from the eyes of your target market. The market always wins; no matter how fancy your technology or service looks, if it does not solve an actual problem, people won’t care about it.

Also, if you have to offer your delivery at no cost, ensure you’re getting useful data in return or find a way to pass the cost onto someone else. Whether your business is a charity or for-profit, have sustainability at the back of your mind from day one.

Furthermore, understand that even though you created a super important solution to a problem, the cynical majority will not pay attention. People will only care when you give them a reason to care. And so, you must get over your inhibition and promote yourself and your work like it’s your last job. If there’s any insight you’d ever get from this article; if there’s any lesson I’ve ever learned in my entrepreneurial journey, it is the fact that you are the PR girl or boy of your brand. No one will tell your story better than you will. Understand marketing and master it. In the words of Benjamin P Hardy, marketing is nothing more than applied psychology. It’s about connecting with people, persuading them, and helping them.

Image result for the-creative-exchange-660215-unsplash

Finally, seek support. Even the best entrepreneurs had help along the way, so, don’t isolate yourself in your little corner. Reach out for help when you feel overwhelmed. In this day of social media and digital technology, everybody looks like a lion on the surface. Most people look like they have everything figured out but when you peel off the surface, you realize it’s just a bunch of facade for most people.

Entrepreneurs are often reluctant to ask for support and for the most part, due to ego and low self-esteem. No one is good at everything. If you don’t ask for help in dealing with the social stress and challenges of the digital world, you will get into deep trouble.

Being vulnerable is often a sign of great strength. This is a marathon and not a sprint, and anyone that hope to win a marathon must be open to all the help along the way.

Build a team, join a community, get a mentor, have a life outside your business, set time aside to refill and recharge. Above all, surround yourself with positivity and move from competition to collaboration.

In conclusion, if you want to be an entrepreneur, I implore you to deploy a serious self-awareness in understanding the level of energy and skills you bring to the journey. The truth is that the only level playground there is in this journey is your work ethics and resourcefulness. Consequently, before you talk about your big ideas, first, make up your mind to out-work, out-last, and out-improve your peers. Because, if you don’t have a parent or family connection that gives you access to money and privileges, that’s probably the only guarantee of survival in the lane. And when you have put in the work, be patient and trust the journey. There’d be times when it’ll look like nothing is working. There’d be days it’ll seem like everyone else is moving faster than you. More than ever, this is when you need to be calm and stay focused. What you’re building is important, it’s precious, so be patient and do it well.

Entrepreneurship is a great adventure, it is exciting, and the reward is the ability to live on your own terms. If you have a dream of a change you want to make in this world, if there’s something you want that’s worth sacrificing everything else for, this is the best time to make it happen! Become an entrepreneur with a difference!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Need help building your empire? Reach out to us to request a meeting with one of our coaches via info(at)sfanonline.org. To get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here.

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Whether you are building a business or a career, there are times when you need a second voice in reinforcing your ideas or echoing your claims. That’s why you need quotes.

In the words of former Swiss Volleyball player and author of 100 Inspirational Quotes, Michel F. Bolle, “inspirational quotes are important because they activate an emotional pulse point in our hearts and minds when we are in a distressing situation. The right quote can help us to see light at the end of the tunnel, and give us that extra burst of hope and courage to persevere.”

Therefore, we ferreted out 40 powerful quotes from some of the most celebrated African leaders to help you get through any day.

                     Folorunsho Alakija, Vice Chair of Famfa Oil

· I never went to a university, and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly.

· You need to decide what you want to achieve. Get rid of naysayers — those who say to you that you can’t do it. Never allow anyone to tell you it can’t be done. In my dictionary, ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist.

· You need to believe in your dream. Don’t give up when things get tough, just hang in there, stay focused and be patient.

· We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

· It’s essential to draw up a “things to do” list on a daily basis and set priorities in executing them, making sure that any unfinished task gets posted to the next day’s list.


                                 Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman & Founder of the Econet Group

· Whether you’re a farmer, builder or engineer, the opportunities are equal: Just add a little innovation.

· A vision on its own is not enough. Hard work & dedication is required to make that vision a reality.

· If you are working or you are running a business you have to set aside time and money to invest in your continued formal education and skills acquisition.

· You have to be very methodical in breaking down, the reason why something is successful. Most often it is not as simple as it looks.

· I started in business when I was 25 years old, with only $75, pooled between myself and a friend. We went around the suburbs fixing broken lights, and gates. We invested every cent, into doing bigger and bigger projects. For me, nothing has really changed in terms of those basic principles: you start with what you have, you do what you can, you invest what you get so that you can do bigger and bigger things.


   Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan-Mexican Actress

· You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion, for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflamed the heart and merchants the soul.

· No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

· What I will say is that what I have learned for myself is that I don’t have to be anybody else; and that myself is good enough; and that when I am being true to that self, then I can avail myself to extraordinary things. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.

· You fail, and then what? Life goes on. It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things.

· We don’t get to pick the genes we want. There’s room in this world for beauty to be diverse.


                       Tony Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation & Chairman, UBA.

· Today we may appear young and people may not believe in us but we are going to compel them to believe in us through our achievement.

· Your idea can transform Africa. Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing.

· A true leader is one who remains committed to a higher purpose that most others do not yet see. I have studied great people and one common thing I found among them is Legacy.

· Let us remind ourselves of the power of individuals and what potent capacities and opportunities lie in this. No one, but us will develop Africa.

· People management is key. Learn how to motivate your people. Be painstaking in choosing the right people.


                       Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer, speaker, and Activist

· I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.

· Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.

· If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.

· Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.

· They themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again.


    Patrick Awuah, Founder, and President of Ashesi University College

· The people who have taken oaths and made promises, to be leaders and guardians of society, instead have disgraced us. I am challenging you to be the generation that can restore Africa’s honour.

· The ability to confront complex problems, and to design solutions to those problems; the ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual.

· I think the current and future leaders of Africa have an incredible opportunity to drive a major renaissance on the continent. I believe that Africa has reached an inflection point with the march of democracy and free market across the continent. We have reached a moment from which can emerge a great society within one generation and it will depend on inspired leadership.

· It took a little bit of naivety to get started. I did not know how hard it was going to be. I think you just have to have this incredible confidence.

· I did have a lot of naysayers in Ghana but I didn’t have a lot of naysayers in America… when I decided to quit Microsoft people said ‘hey’ this is a great idea, this is what life is all about you have to chase your dreams and when you are ready to call us and we will see what we can do.


          Rapelang Rabana, South African Technology Entrepreneur and Founder of Rekindle Learning

· Skills and business knowledge will only take you so far, your principles, values, as well as your personal growth outside the business, matter more than just what you know.

· The more congruent the business is to who you are as an individual and what you value, the deeper your capacity to persevere and outlast.

· It is important to be close to the people and things that anchor you. For me, it’s my parents, my family, my close friends to have a laugh with. Being reminded of who you are, and regardless of the circumstances, that someone thinks you are great.

· If you don’t know why you are doing it, you will battle to make the kind of long-term commitment that will see you through the challenges.

·Not everyone realizes that by not choosing, life chooses for you and that is never the ideal outcome. Those who become great are deliberately creating their life path as opposed to allowing life to happen to them.


    Aliko Dangote, Nigerian billionaire, and owner of the Dangote Group

· Endeavor to work as hard as possible to attain a new aim with each day that comes by. Don’t go to bed until you have achieved something productive.

· I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, a tenacity of purpose is supreme.

· In whatever you do, strive to be the best at it.

· If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive.

· Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home.


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