Mentored By the Emperor
Being an entrepreneur is one herculean task particularly in an environment like Nigeria where business doesn’t follow the norms but when you find a mentor like mine, you could be on a rollercoaster. I have worked with him for three months and It’s amazing how much you can learn from someone who has a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom in a short period of time. I’m constantly learning a lot from him and I chose this opportunity to share some of the lessons learnt. I never knew how important it is to have a mentor, especially if you’re a start-up entrepreneur and I know it will help you
1. Create more than one stream of revenue.
When you work on your start-up and it stabilizes; create another income generating project and if possible, another. This will guarantee when you have lows in the economy – especially in some industries, you’ll have a kind of cushion when it comes to the revenue you’re collecting. If possible, ensure that the income generating projects are in different industries.
2. Be tough and authoritative
If you are a start-up entrepreneur; you will wear many hats, especially the one of a manager. You will have to make tough decisions especially when it comes to your employees. As important as it is to work with your employees and get to know them; you are still the boss. If there are difficult issues to be addressed; no matter how hard it is, you should address them. If you have employees who are likable but are not working well, make sure to address the issues at hand. They may not like it; and you may not either, but you have to do it.
3. Have your own unique personal style
Don’t be afraid to dress the part as a start-up entrepreneur; dress accordingly. If you’re in a corporate setting; dress professionally and according to the industry setting. You can dress more casually if your industry calls for it; or if you are in the fashion industry – ‘dress to kill.’ Make sure you dress comfortably and appropriately. Select outfits that give you confidence and make the right impression.
4. Be generous: give and you shall receive
Most start-up entrepreneurs I’ve met and even heard about have big hearts; therefore it’s not hard for most of them to follow this advice. Give in any way that you can, it doesn’t have to be money, give your time to people in different ways. You can teach people a skill you know and want to help them empower themselves. You can share information about a certain topic that will help many people who have similar passion or interests but don’t know as much as you .You can volunteer your time or services to an NGO that helps people. There are many ways to give back to the community. Choose one way and start giving; you’ll be blessed in return.
5. Network – network like a fiend!
One thing I’ve noticed with my mentor is that he knows a lot of people in many different industries and walks of life. He is a great connector and is always meeting different people as well as introducing me to different people as well. At first it seemed to me like a talent you have to be born with due to how easy it was for him. He has however taught me to be constantly on the look-out for experts in different fields, entrepreneurs who can help by offering great products and/or services. As well as just meeting people in order to enrich your life; spiritually, mentally or business-wise. I have realized you can gain insight on many topics and industries from certain people even at one sitting. I have gotten better at networking and even though I have a long way to go; with more practice it will come naturally to me in time.
6. Family is Key
In this day and age; many marriages don’t last and families are constantly breaking apart. A large reason is mainly due to the spouses being too busy to nourish their family life and work on their relationships in order for the marriages to work. A lot of start-up entrepreneurs (especially women) find it difficult to run a business and have a successful family life. It is not an impossible thing; one just has to work hard at the relationship and work as partners with your spouse. Create time to nurture and grow your personal and family relationships even as you do business. It’s very important in life and especially when you need moral support. It’s very inspiring for me to see up-close how achievable it is.
7. Have faith; in God and in yourself
I am a Christian and I have a very strong faith. Whatever religion you are, make sure you have a strong belief in your faith; it will keep you strong especially through the tough times (and they are many!) You should also make sure you believe in yourself and abilities. As start-up entrepreneurs; sometimes we often feel overwhelmed by some projects and we can start doubting our skills and abilities at times. It’s necessary to be self-motivated as an entrepreneur. Believe in your idea or passion in the same way you take breath every moment of your life. Have faith in your skills and ability to grow and keep learning. My mentor is the kind of person who encounters challenges in life and doesn’t seem affected by them at all. He always finds a way out or around any issue and believes there is always a solution. He has the utmost confidence in himself and his ability as a businessman; to me that is truly inspirational.
I hope these bits of advice will help you out as an entrepreneur; I know they’ve helped me a lot. You don’t necessarily have to go out and find a mentor; but it’s advisable to have one. You can even choose someone who inspires you and read about them; learn from their actions (and even mistakes) and if possible – connect with them. Have a great 2016.
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