You have been working for five years, in this time you have set out a plan to help you become a Motherland Mogul. The plan is getting into the business. You have gone as far as saving up for a couple of years to finance your to be start-up.
Recently, you have been toying around with various business ideas, the idea that encompasses both your passion and need to make some extra cash on the side wins.
You have looked at the various ways you can implement this business idea and realised you need a partner to do so. This could be because you are a good accountant but for the business to be a success you need a partner who will be the face of the business.
Or you are the sassy lady who is good at communication and drawing in the customers, and a manager is needed to make sure all that money you are raking in is properly managed. So currently the idea and the money are in place the only thing that remains undone is getting a business partner on board.
What are the things that you should consider to ensure you end up with the right person as a partner in your business?
Sharing the Vision of the business.
At the beginning, the business is usually just an idea. If implemented correctly, it could impact your lives and those of your clients tremendously in a positive way.
The person or people you choose to work with as partners in the business must own the vision of the business as much as you do. If your partner does not agree with you on the levels to which you want to take the business. They will always have negative vibes on the job that will result in your business losing money.
A partner is part of management, and if they are pessimistic with regards to the business, the employees will notice and get demoralised. The vision is the business. It’s what positions you strategically against competitors.
It is thus a prerequisite that before you decide to partner with someone on a business, be in sync on where you see the business going to in three months’ time or in five years’ time.
Honesty and Transparency
Honesty is a virtue that is a must-have in business. Individuals who are shrewd and unscrupulous ruin your business. You could have been saving for a really long time to start off this business or you got a loan from your bank to get it running.
Therefore, you cannot afford to lose the money or destroy your business name. It is therefore necessary to vet the person you intend to partner with. Inquire into the person’s character from others who have worked with them prior to you considering to partner with them.
If the feedback is positive you have a partner. If not, find your business train another station to disembark, as this one is a definite NO!
Hard work and Resilience
Start-ups are a mountain to climb on their own. The faint-hearted cannot survive this climb. Setting up a business from scratch is not a walk in the park. A partner will share in the business profits. This means they have to put in the work and the time needed to get the business to the top in your chosen field.
There are qualities that you will compensate for each other but working hard and smart is not one of them. One could be unquestionably talented but if they never take time to create and get their skills or work to the market no one will ever know of their talent.
Moreover, if you partner with a lazy person you will shoulder the whole burden of the business which beats the logic of having a partner in the first place.
Resilience is also key in your partner. Quitters run at the first sight of trouble. With new businesses, you will meet challenges that you never anticipated at the start of your journey. This will not mean that you quit.
Overcoming this challenges is exactly what you will need to do to solidify your position in the market.
Running a business comes with a huge burden of managing people. After all, every business problem they say, is a people problem.
The demands of a growing business are burdensome and health draining in some cases where the business owner acts as the finance manager, marketing manager, procurement manager, customer service representative, and so much more.
Doing all these and hiring the wrong team members puts you at the risk of losing the business in its entirety. But, when done right, employee management can actually unlock an enormous amount of human potential. Below, we’ll look at some tips on how to set your business up for
1. Create functional systems (it’s not as difficult as it sounds). The temptation to micromanage employees can be strong, especially for entrepreneurs who are accustomed to having complete control over all aspects of their business. However, I recommend establishing a set of standards and expectations so that constant supervision is not required.
When on boarding and training new employees, your priority should be to halt your input as soon as possible thereby ensuring proper training to help them succeed. That means having clear expectations and channels of communication with people who don’t necessarily need you to function is critical.
Set up standard operating procedures for the entire business, beginning with the DOs and Don’ts that form your policy, the expected standard of production and service delivery for each department documented on paper, your mission, vision, and values, your target for the year, month, or quarter, your product description and in-depth value for knowledge selling, and a documented job description. (For example, tell your employees to write down what they do on a daily basis, review them, and add things you want them to do on a daily, monthly, or
quarterly basis). The advantage of standard operating procedures is that they allow you to control your service
standards, see your business in writing, and make adjustments as things change.
2. Be the type of leader you want to see in your employees
Employees look to their leaders for guidance on how to think and act in the workplace. Try to model the behaviours you want to see in your employees and be consistent. Modelling consistency and integrity will earn the respect of your team and show them how they can earn
Your responses to customers, vendors, and employees shape their behaviour, especially when things don’t go as planned. Reacting angrily or inconsistently to customers implies that employees can do the same. Your management approach must be consistent before it can be effective. Employees know when management fails to act consistently or fails to hold themselves to the same standards as
their subordinates. Don’t forget, your employees reflect your personality and character.
3. Help your Employees grow
The skills that your employees bring to you are merely generic and basic, not streamlined to your business. You owe them training, direction, feedback, and assistance.
If they were the best, they just maybe somewhere better. Involving them in the big-picture goals of the company helps them feel like they can grow at your business, no matter how uneducated or inexperienced they are.
Don’t be concerned about them leaving after you train; what matters is the quality of service they provide while they are with you. Learn to promote high-performing employees. Keep no one on the same level for too long. Help them see career advancement in your small business
and don’t take them for granted.
Don’t undervalue what your employees already know about your company and what they can contribute or even do after they leave.
4. Create a workplace culture. Forget the English, Let me explain…
When it comes to employee management, developing a strong workplace culture is your best bet for attracting top-quality applicants, retaining great employees, and increasing productivity.
It starts with implementing your core values and ensuring compliance. Don’t just pick an employee of the month based on the amount of gossip given to you, or how they are protecting the wrongs of the business. When you present awards, tell all of the employees exactly what
the employee did and how it relates to the milestones you want your company to achieve. Make it a habit, and other employees will see how they, too, can make meaningful contributions. Hiding performance metrics because you believe they aren’t paying attention is
risky for your business. If there are milestones, let them know, if It’s a difficult time, let them know. Don’t just say it verbally show them evidence. You’re likely to have more committed employees this way. There’s a lot of things you can do: Reimburse people when they spend their money, provide them with tools and resources needed for the job. Buy lunch when you can and sponsor office hours’ activities. These show employees that you don’t just care about the work they do but that you value them.
5. Know the business you’re in charge of
Only expertise can win authority. I’ve seen business owners cry because a certain employee took their trade secrets and customers with them. You must understand the business you manage. Be the best hairstylist or nail technician in your store while you have others. This will
allow you to review what other stylists have done and retain your customers regardless of what the rest knows. Don’t limit yourself; learn everything, or at least a portion of what you manage, and your employees wouldn’t take you for granted.
6. Protect your business
Have you been a victim of your employee leaving with your trade secrets, database, confidentiality information and more? Either converting them for personal use or giving to a competitor? This is a regular situation with small businesses of course MSMEs are not left out but its prevalent with smaller businesses. What can you do? Decentralise your business. Never have one employee take charge of production, operations, finance and customer relations etc.
I know you have a slim budget, but you’re safer in the long run with a more structured workforce. Let your accountant focus on income and expense, Reconciliation and other regulatory issues. Have your customer service rep take orders only without preparing them. Your admin can manage the logistics and procurement, while operations focus on doing the internal work without many contacts with clients., This way, an employee will need a lot to get hold of your entire business. Most importantly protect your trade secrets, database and control who has access to what. In some cases, have a non-compete agreement with employees according to business practice acceptable to your region.
I understand that not everything can be accomplished overnight, and that initiatives may differ depending on factors such as company culture, industry, and even financial capabilities. It takes time and consistent effort to develop strong leadership and talent practices.
Luckily, FMR Agency is the first consulting company to offer end-to-end HR services to small businesses directly without the cost of an entire HR team! FMR AGENCY brings elements of big-company human resources support to start-up, growing, and small companies.
From contracts and policies to recruitment and training to performance management, management advice/ payroll, leave management, conflict management, etc.
FMR ensures your business has experienced human resources support that allows you to keep your focus where it needs to be – your business. FMR will match you with a dedicated Human Resources Business Partner who gets to know your business, its goals, and challenges and supports you all the way! Unlike self-serve HR consultants who provide templates, FMR supports you with dedicated, value-added HR support.
Find out how we can get you the results you need and reduce your HR costs.
Call us: 09028896663.
Written by Thelma Ibeh
Follow for more tips @thelma_ibeh on IG
She Leads Africa in collaboration with Darling (Godrej Africa) champion young African women across Africa through the year-long “Confidence in Action” campaign starting in August 2021.
The campaign includes exciting initiatives like “Pass Me The Mic”- a dedicated video course series, the “Confidence In Action” virtual summits and “The Moment I” podcast featuring prominent African women and a pilot program to support entrepreneurs.
She Leads Africa is renowned for providing young African women with the tools and resources for success in their personal and professional lives. The campaign takes the vision a step further with Darling, a brand that is equally passionate about the success of African women. Darling helps African women present as their best selves physically and mentally and has committed to supporting partners who share that vision through its products and campaigns.
Ibironke Ugbaja, Regional Head of Marketing at Darling Africa says,
“We are really excited to work with She Leads Africa on the Confidence-In-Action campaign. Darling loves to see African women exude confidence and support them in going for their dreams and winning wherever they find themselves. We will encourage them through this project, and let them know they have it in them to go for it! That’s the goal, to help you ‘Find Your Beautiful.’”
The “Confidence in Action” collaboration aims to inspire young African women to take brave steps in their careers, businesses and personal lives. Through the campaign, young African women get to see themselves and their struggles with self-confidence reflected by African women from different walks of life and get insight on how to overcome these issues.
Another important goal of the campaign is to highlight that status or achievement does not prevent women from experiences issues with confidence. Thus, “The Moment I” video and audio podcast series features notable African women from countries like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as they speak about their journey of building self-confidence. Features include veteran Nigerian actress Nse-Ikpe Etim, South African media powerhouse Nomndeni Nonhle Mdakhi and more.
As Kofo Adebiyi, VP Content at She Leads Africa says,
“Young African women are incredibly ambitious, skilled and have a great deal to offer the world. Despite how awesome we are, we all struggle with moments of self-doubt. “Confidence in Action” is a unique year-long project to support women through these moments. We’re honoured to have a committed partner like Darling with us through the process. For me, Confidence in Action has been about making bold asks and constantly challenging what I think the limits are. I hope that through this project, women across Africa learn what Confidence in Action looks like for them and make bold moves at work, school and wherever they find themselves across the world.”
From August 2021, information about the campaign courses, podcast episodes and the summits will be shared via the She Leads Africa website, Instagram page and newsletter.
Darling is a global hair brand dedicated to providing African women with the trendiest styles and highest quality of hair at the best possible price. Darling is a subsidiary of Godrej Consumer Products.
More about She Leads Africa
She Leads African is a global media company that connects smart African women to resources, tools and advice to help them live their best personal and professional lives.SLA reaches more than 800,000 women across 35+ countries and 5 continents and has been featured in the Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Huffington Post.
We all say that we want to be leaders but many times we forget that to be a successful manager, you must learn to adapt your leadership style to suit different types of employee personalities.
Employees have a range of behaviours ranging from normal to extreme. When confronted with these different personalities, managers sometimes aren’t quite sure how to manage this. In this article, we look at seven types of employee personalities and how best to manage them.
The Employee Personalities
They can be found lingering in the break room, openly surfing the net, or parked in someone’s cubicle for a lengthy chat (which proves that slacking off can be contagious). They may find legitimate reasons to leave the office, then take time to run lengthy errands. This personality may be as a result of an under-developed work ethic and lack of good role models or they don’t just like their jobs so have trouble bringing any energy to it.
The Space Cadets
These employee personalities frequently seem to be lost, thinking of something else except the subject matter. They make seemingly off-the-wall comments in meetings and may start discussions in the middle of a thought. They may come up with ideas that, at least on the surface, seem rather impractical. They are usually abstract thinkers who are more focused on the future than the present.
The Power Takers
These employees tend to get into power struggles with their bosses. They often act like they’re managing you, instead of the other way around. These employee personalities would naturally take over a meeting or quickly step into the lead role on a project, brag about their accomplishments, so titles, perks, and public recognition are important to them. A strong fear of failure often lies behind this bravado.
They are quite easy to spot. Look out for those who prefer to spend the day working on the computer and talking to no one in a little corner they carved out for themselves. They never want to attend conferences, meetings or workshops, because they look for any excuse to duck out. They don’t dislike people – they just don’t find social interaction to be a very enjoyable activity.
The Drama Queens (or Kings)
The dramatic ones thrive on excitement and attention, so spotting them is easy. A calm, peaceful workday is just not very rewarding, so they try to spice things up with dramatic pronouncements, juicy gossip, ominous rumors, personal traumas, or emotional breakdowns. When talking with others, they are expressive and animated. More subdued coworkers find the dramatic employees exhausting and try to avoid them. They thrive on emotional stimulation, regardless of whether the emotions are positive or negative.
Challengers are programmed to be oppositional. When presented with a proposal, suggestion, directive, or idea, they automatically point out flaws, obstacles, and potential problems. In fact, they enjoy challenging management, because they feel it establishes their independence. They resent authority and never show respect just because the person has a title. Their focus is on winning arguments, not resolving the problem. Challengers have a high need for control.
The major quality of people with this personality is dependence. They like clear instructions, ongoing communication, and frequent positive reinforcement. Uncomfortable making independent decisions, because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing. Clingers are reluctant to express disagreement because they fear making others angry and losing their support. As a result, they sometimes withhold their opinions or harbor resentments that they never express. The Clinger’s main need is to feel safe.
It is important to note that in any organization or sector, asides from identifying the multiple personalities within you must first define the culture and type of leadership as a step to effectively manage for success. To be categorized as a Great leader, you must actively listen, build rapport, ask questions and give constructive feedback. Communication and flexibility are key.
Do you believe that out of sight is out of mind? Is remote work affecting your visibility in the workplace? When remote work was introduced, it was perceived as a step in the direction of work-life balance.
For many people, it allowed them to combine carrying responsibilities and work more easily while others struggled with remaining visible. In this article, I will be sharing the importance of increasing visibility in the workplace and some of the potential ways to achieve this.
The importance of standing out from the crowd at the Workplace
Exclusive access to opportunities
If you are constantly hitting those numbers, delivering results and solutions, everyone would want you on their team. Let’s face facts, everyone wants to work with the 5-star performer. It gives you that reassurance of success. If you have exhibited great skills and abilities and other people in the organization are aware of them, there’s a high likelihood that you will be picked for the next opportunity in your company and beyond. I speak from experience when I say, great work reputation travels fast in the job market. So work hard on building that visibility so when next there is a big-money event, you are top of the list.
Continuous learning and improvement
Good work requires that you work with people often. Most times, you might be working across teams with different people and this, in turn, exposes you to more learning opportunities. As you work on something new or take on new projects, you can acquire valuable learnings that add to your experience.
Stellar Appraisal Ratings
When an employee gets very good appreciation and job appraisal after working for the year, the chance of their stability involuntarily increases alongside promotions. People would always advocate for you during those meetings and this helps your manager justify your performance. The quality of work comes first i.e. your performance on tasks will get more weight but an endorsement from other managers in the organization can go a long way in your cause of getting a good rating or promotion.
In summary, the benefits include exclusive access to opportunities, stellar ratings, promotions, and an opportunity to learn.
Tips on how to go from invisible to visible
Speak up in Meetings
A closed mouth during meetings does not provide recognition or visibility. Do your research well in advance before team meetings, ask good questions, make solid recommendations, push back on ideas that you do not find feasible during meetings. Contribute, speak up, and let your voice be heard.
Participate in Learning Opportunities
Make time to be part of team learning sessions, individual training sessions, and utilize resources that have been made available to the team. Acquiring more knowledge would not only improve your ability to function effectively but improve your expertise in a particular product, service, or process. Once you’re an expert on something, people will always come to you to ask for help in that matter. This is effortless visibility.
Demonstrate Your Expertise
Most organizations admire employees who can bring something unique to the company. If you have some creative idea/skill which could improve organizational processes, reduce cost, bring more revenue, increase employee satisfaction, or reduce cycle time, etc. do not hesitate to bring your skills to bear. If the idea is implemented, you become a star in the organization. There are chances the idea may not be implemented, don’t feel discouraged because management will appraise the fact that you’re making an effort to do something different and unique.
Strengthen your relationship with your boss
A good relationship with your boss is one of the most important parts of your success story. It may be helpful to align on goals and see things from their perspective. Understand their priorities and preferred mode of communication. Focus on the positive, everyone has something worth respecting. Try to get to know your manager on a personal level by engaging them in conversation on topics beyond work.
Participate in team activities
You might work or an organization where different teams are working on different projects/tasks. Try to find an opportunity to collaborate (on a specific project/task) with other teams than your existing one. You can seize this opportunity to highlight your skills and abilities in different teams. Besides, this will show your drive for initiatives and developing a positive image for yourself.
In the world today, being good at your job isn’t the only requisite for getting ahead in your career. If key people aren’t aware of you, you’ll likely miss out on opportunities to improve your skills and take on interesting assignments, despite your hard work and good performance. This is especially important if you work remotely because people might forget about you if they don’t often see you in person.
I remember my first ever performance appraisal calendar invitation and the 35-page document I was asked to fill out before the chat with my manager.
I can tell you for a fact that I had a mini heart attack upon receipt of that email; primarily because I was convinced that I would complete that document and still get fired.
Recent trends, however, include a less formalized process focused on more feedback and coaching, rather than a time-consuming paper trail. This article debunks the myth that performance appraisals are a death sentence and provides you with tips on how to measure performance in an effective way.
Performance appraisals include setting clear and specific performance expectations for each employee and providing periodic informal and/or formal feedback about employee performance relative to those stated goals. A well-structured performance appraisal should do the following:
Provide adequate feedback to each person on his or her performance
Serve as a basis for modifying or changing behaviour toward more effective working habits
This is a process of establishing objectives to be achieved over a period of time. It is the performance criteria an employee will be evaluated against keeping in mind that each goal should align with the organization’s goals.
Types of goals include:
a. Job description goals: Goals expected to be accomplished continuously until the job description changes.
b. Activity goals: These goals may be based on the achievement of a project or objective. They may be set for a single year and changed as projects are completed.
c. Personal development goals: Goals can be based on certain behaviors. These goals are expected to be accomplished continuously. Behavioral goals are “how” things need to be accomplished.
d. Stretch goals: Goals that are especially challenging to reach and usually used to expand the knowledge, skills, and abilities of high-potential employees.
Goals should be documented, available for review, and managed continuously by providing regular feedback. Goals should be flexible enough to account for changing conditions.
An effective performance review process should include a feedback process that is continuous and timely throughout the review period so that team members know how they are performing and what is expected.
Also, there should be a process for acknowledging the outcomes of the performance review process (checklist) that is documented between the manager and the employee. Regular one-on-one sessions that allow for feedback, coaching and mentorship cannot be overemphasized.
I would recommend using collaborative tools that allow for transparency, keeping information in one place, scheduling regular calls and tracking progress. Tools such as Slack, Google Calendar, Google Docs/Sheets, Trello and Zapier.
Include the Performance Improvement Plan
Many employees see this as a step to getting fired but what I see this to be is a progressive discipline process regarding performance level, a guide to improvement and an opportunity to do even better than before.
The first step in planning a PIP chat involves creating a document used to guide the process. This will help in facilitating performance discussions, recording areas of concern and ways to correct them, and serve as legal and decision-making documentation.
The format of the PIP should contain the following components:
a. Employee information. b. Employment start dates c. Description of performance discrepancy/gap. d. Description of expected performance. e. Description of consequences. f. Action points and timelines for review g. Signatures of the manager and the employee.
Some of the most common problems with appraisal systems these days include:
a. Lack of top management support b. Perception of the process as time-consuming “busywork” c. Failure to communicate clear and specific goals and expectations d. Lack of consistent and constructive feedback
Oftentimes, the performance review process can be viewed as uncomfortable, unfair and uninspiring. In order to improve the fairness factor and ensure employees accept the feedback, managers must accept that we all have a role to play when it comes to the overall performance of the organization.
There are intentional and unintentional biases inherent in appraisals and being aware of them and training managers may be useful in dealing with some of them.
This is the last part of “Inside Global Citizen”, a limited series. We pull back the curtain and highlight members of Global Citizen staff who are key parts of the organization’s advocacy, impact, and more. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining today.
Didi Morake had a lucrative career in the corporate banking industry. After completing her Masters in Strategic Marketing from the Wits Business School, Didi landed a position working as the Customer Value Proposition Designer for Youth at ABSA Bank.
Didi’s position at ABSA allowed her to pursue her passion for helping the youth. However, when she heard about Global Citizen, she saw a whole new world of possibilities for making a difference.
Resonating deeply with the organization’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, Didi took the leap and left the corporate world. Didi Morake now works as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships where she spearheads the Global Citizen Fellowship Program powered by BeyGOOD.
Morake believes that she is now doing the work she was always meant to do.
“Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a doctor. I was always that one friend that was there for others – to pick them up when they fell. I thought being a pediatrician was befitting to me and my personality. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it wasn’t about the title, it was about the purpose – which I had at heart – helping young people.” — Didi Morake
On Creating Sustainable Programs to Tackle Unemployment
Unemployment in South Africa is staggeringly high, especially among young people. According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 from 29.1% in the previous period. It was the highest jobless rate on record since quarterly data became available in 2008.
Whilst this might seem like a crippling challenge to some, Didi and her team are doing something about it. “Young people are the future, and with the right access to skills and training opportunities, everyone can achieve their full potential. This is exactly why the Global Citizen Fellowship powered by BeyGOOD exists,” says Morake.
By working together through the fellowship program, the partnership offers young people an opportunity of a lifetime. Designed to empower young people with work experience, the program is not only supporting the vision of a South Africa that nurtures its youth.
The Global Citizen Fellowship is also equipping young people with the skills they need to play a role in social justice, helping their communities achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and amplifying causes that they believe in.
Take how the program is structured for example. It has multiple phases designed to offer each of the 10 fellows a fully immersive experience. The program covers subjects such as leadership, advocacy, international development, and global citizenship.
“Fellows will also have the opportunity to take part in a series of masterclasses given by industry leaders. The program also features educational field trips designed to help fellows develop into value-centred, community-driven leaders,” Didi added.
Didi added,“The past cohort were learning about using digital technology to drive social change; how storytelling can help spark cultural shifts; and the role of innovation in an ever-changing world.”
“ I think our youth are really passionate, and they’re very hungry to be heard, especially the females. What I pray for is that they keep that consistency to ensure that when they get to the top, they are bringing in other sisters into the workforce.” — Didi Morake
Cathy From Limpopo: A Rewarding Success Story
“I remember Cathy from Limpopo, who has her blog called Millennial Mirror, a platform born out of the need to create a space for young people to share their experiences. She came in with a very analytical brain since she had a background in Mathematics and Information Systems. It was so beautiful to see her discover her creative side by the end of the fellowship and become more in touch with it.”
“Now Cathy hopes to one day be able to use technology to find solutions for society’s pressing issues and tackle injustices,” Morake added. This is Didi’s why — helping young people reach their full potential. This success story is one example in which Didi finds her work rewarding and helping her fulfil her purpose.
Thrive: Didi’s Call to Women in 2020
2020 has been an especially tough year in youth development and employment for women. While the situation is not all grim, Didi comments that in her work, she continues to find herself asking one major question — ‘where are the women?’
According to Didi, there are a lot of spaces women still need to occupy.This is why Didi’s mandate to all women this year is — thrive.
“Thrive in what it is that keeps you up at night. Thrive in your personal and spiritual relationships. Awaken to who you are and unleash your potential.” — Didi Morake
If there’s one thing Chidiebere Nnorom wants us to know, it is that she’s a typical Igbo girl with a never die attitude, never ever wanting to give up! Even after going through a rough patch, she refused to succumb and found her way back up.
Chidiebere Nnorom is the Co-founder of Paperbag by Ebees. She has a strong passion for the environment, social impact and business.
Watch this space as Chidiebere is determined to change norms and make waves as an entrepreneur, environmentalist and a young global leader. Scroll down to read more of her story.
What’s your background story?
Before my business grew to the stage it is at now, I went through a lot! I was involved in a fire accident which kept me indoors for a while. I had to stop business operations and lay off staff. It was unbelievable. Imagine being at a point in life where you are clueless about what to do next. Well, that was me then.
It took me almost a year to heal. I couldn’t work or do anything. My savings had been zapped and I kept wondering how I’d scale through. There was a personal instinct to do something, I knew it wasn’t the time to give up but to breakthrough! I needed to turn the light on in my heart and that I did.
To cut the long story short, the accident was a validation to move on. Months later, I picked up my business and started building up gradually. Next thing I knew, business calls were coming in! People said they saw the paper bag and wanted to order. Some of the paper bags they saw were made way before the accident. The referral rate was massive! I was so elated and grateful I didn’t give up back then.
What ignited the spark to start Paperbag by Ebees?
In 2016, we started off as a food delivery business but one of the problems we faced was the packaging, we just couldn’t find the right packaging. With a background in geography and my love for the environment, we decided to start creating eco-friendly packages.
There were a lot of “buts!” That was the year the foreign exchange was high, fuel scarcity and other things kept creeping in. We had to take a step back to think of how we could make it. My team and I carried out some research, tried out different products, monitored what was moving and what wasn’t. Everything was coming up gradually.
Before I knew it, we made it official!
What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?
At the early stages, our major challenge was accessing raw materials in Nigeria. It meant having to buy in large quantities and also importing from China. We had other expenses to run the business and couldn’t afford it.
This caused a setback. We had to think of how to make it ourselves. We carried out some research and found alternative ways to come up with the resources. That was when we started the business for real!
Business development was our second challenge, it took us a while to see that the market was ready. We had to try out different products to see if the market will accept us. It was quite hard, to be honest. After a series of experiments and market research, we were able to count a milestone. Finally! We achieved growth.
These experiences really shaped our mindset as a company. To every business owner out there, celebrate your little wins! We count every little effort we make as a win and an opportunity to do better. I’m learning to take joy in the little things, every small success is a validation. I say to myself, “Chidiebere well done!” It tells me that every step I took at the time was worth it.
How do you come up with the designs on your paper bags?
I won’t take all the credit, I have a really good team. My own inspiration came from purpose. The point is, if we chase our real purpose there are things we won’t struggle to do. I found my passion, and everything fell into place.
Finding the right people who know what they are doing is key. I also took some time to learn product design. It’s a combination of all these things.
What have you learned so far from running this business?
Take your time and plan! If you’re transitioning from paid employment to business, have enough money to cover up for your expenses. Make sure that the business can take care of your bills. There is no need to go through stress because you’re an entrepreneur, life can be easy!
Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad range, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.
Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.
Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections.
About Yasmin Belo-Osagie
Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a co-founder of She Leads Africa and is one of the board of directors at FSDH Asset Management.
She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University with a bachelors degree in History and with a minor in Finance. Thereafter, she completed a culinary course at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris, before getting her Masters in Business Administration from Stanford and JD from Harvard Law.
Her career started as a business analyst at the prestigious Mckinsey & company, where she worked for two years on finance and consumer goods, in Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Switzerland and Kenya. She then founded She Leads Africa in 2015 with Afua Osei and serves as the chief operating officer (coo). In 2018, she joined FSDH Asset Management as a director.
To me, friendship is really about support and what I would call co-upliftment. It’s having a group of people who are there for each other and think about ways to make themselves better. I also love to laugh, so I especially like being around people who are funny and make me laugh.
When I talk about co-upliftment, I am not saying we have to text each other every single day. However, I find myself inspired and uplifted by my friends, just by observing the way they live their lives, and handle their careers, it drives me to want to succeed as well.
Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?
So this happens to me all the time. I find that my friends are constantly helping me out when I find myself in tight situations. I have an example from when I was doing some work for a client and I had made a mistake and was now running out of time. One of my friends came through and connected me with her husband who worked with us and helped me save the situation.
Last year, I was trying to contact the singer Kandi Burruss for an event I was planning and a friend of mine connected me with her manager.
Even beyond work, it’s the other million little things my friends do for me. With all that’s going on with me at work, I also needed to shop for my wedding dress. A friend of mine, knowing that I won’t be able to make the appointments, went and made them for me. Not only that, she took the time out of her workday and went with me to all my dress appointments.
Is there a time when your friend(s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?
My time at graduate school was particularly difficult, because between lectures all day, working with my team at She Leads Africa and the time zone differences, I just had so much to do. There were definitely days when I was overwhelmed and just stayed in my room crying and questioning myself.
During this time, my friends were a big source of encouragement to me regardless of the time I called them. They were particularly helpful, always checking in with me, reassuring me and allowing me just to complain whenever I wanted to.
How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?
I would say I have a small circle of like 3 or 4 women including my sister and my cousin, and a slightly larger one of like 5 or 7 other people I have connected with, due to my relationship with my core circle.
In choosing my friends, I really look for people with whom I share similar values. So one such instance is that I take my career very seriously, and so I look for people who take their careers very seriously as well. The women in my circle, have gone to some of the best schools, are at the top of their careers and work in the best companies. So when we are together, there are always conversations about our careers and what our next professional and financial moves are.
Another thing I look out for is people who make me laugh. I love to laugh and I don’t take myself too seriously, so that’s something I really look for in my friends as well. I like to spend time with people who also love to laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously.
I also like people who have some amazing character traits. So in choosing my friends, I like people who are kind, honest, have integrity and are thoughtful as well.
Lastly, look I love having fun so most of my friends are people who love having fun as well. I believe that life is to be enjoyed, and when we go out, it should be lit. So I definitely like people who also like to enjoy life and have a good time. Basically, we work hard and play hard too.
There’s a saying about how you’re the average of 5 people you interact with, and it’s so true in my case because if you look at my friends, you’ll better understand the kind of person I am.
How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?
For networking, I believe in networking based on shared interests. So a book lover for example, might join a book club because when you have similar interests with a person, then it’s easier to build a relationship.
Another thing that works well is using recommendations or referrals to build a network. You can ask people who already know you, to introduce you to people whom they think you will be able to connect with.
As an example, when I am travelling or going somewhere, I will ask my friends to connect me with someone cool in the city I’m visiting. The great thing about this is that since your friends know you very well, they will know the kind of people to connect you with. You can also talk about what you’re interested in learning, or what questions you want to ask and request to be connected to people who could help you out.
Also, I keep an eye out for people whom those I respect talk about. One instance of this was with my then boyfriend, now fiance. He used to speak about this particular woman and how intelligent she is, so I asked him to connect us and introduce me to her. We were able to build a relationship and now she’s on the board at She Leads Africa.
Is it okay to just DM or email people and ask them to mentor you?
In the case of just randomly texting people and asking them to mentor you, I think it’s okay provided you do it in a thoughtful manner. So I recently addressed this in our Motherland Mogul Insider program, when I spoke about how to build relationships with mentors.
One tip I would give is, instead of overwhelming people by asking them to mentor you, you can just send a message to say that you love what they do and then ask them if they have time to chat with you about 2 or 3 questions, which you can list out.
Then over time, you can just keep in touch and build an organic relationship by updating them about what you’ve done and finding ways to even be helpful to them.
Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?
My major tip is to understand that relationships are give and take, and so even if this is a senior person you’re connecting with, just find ways to help them. It could be sending them an article to help them with what they’re working on or recommending someone for a job with them. Definitely find ways to offer them something, as they give you advice.
Another tip is respecting people’s boundaries. For example, if someone says I don’t have time right now to mentor you, then you shouldn’t get offended. Instead, you can back off and check back with them in a couple of months and see if they have the time then.
It’s important to understand that people have a lot going on and may be unable to give what you’re asking, so recognising that boundary is very important.
Lastly, just be authentic. Don’t always try to be friends with the rich and famous people. Find people you respect and vibe with.
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How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?
Apply some Emotional Intelligence!
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.
Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:
1. Be self-aware
The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.
Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?
2. Listen Intelligently
Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.
Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.
3. Understand your clients’ personalities
Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.
Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.
Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.