Before you give your notice and burn bridges your work enemies, remember that your network and relationships are especially important to you as anentrepreneur who is just starting out.
Testing the waters—To resign or not to resign?
If you are going to be a full-time entrepreneur, you have to make sure you’re financially and legally in the clear
The golden rule before quitting your job is to make sure you have 3-6 months worth of your fixed-income saved up before leaving. If your finances are not in check, you should reconsider resigning.
It is not unusual to start your own business journey while being employed. If you want to keep your “day job” while starting a business, please ensure you’re not violating your employment contract. If in doubt, seek legal counsel and/or inform your current employer about your new venture.
Employers and courts take contractual agreements seriously, so do not call your employer’s bluff.
For example, there was a case in Nigeria where an employee entered into a service contract where he was not to engage in a business similar to the employer’s business within a certain geographical area for one year.
Less than 3 weeks after he started work, he breached the contract by resigning and joining a rival company in the same area. The Nigerian Supreme Court held that contracts that prevent employees from engaging in a similar business as the employer are enforceable as long as the contracts are “reasonable with reference to the interest of the parties concerned and of the public” (Leventis Motors Ltd. v. Andreas Koumoulis (1973) 1 All NLR (Part 2) 144 at 146).
Diving in – Your resignation
Before you resign, review all your employment contracts, if applicable. The contract usually details the resignation procedure, how your resignation must be presented, and the necessary resignation notice period – 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.
It is important that you follow the rules sis! You do not want to expose yourself to unnecessary legal liability by ignoring those words in black and white.
Secondly, check if you signed a non-compete agreement with your current employer. Will your new venture involve the use of your employer’s proprietary information?
If you did sign one, make sure that the scope of your new venture does not fall within the scope of services your employer offers, and that your new venture will not apply your employer’s proprietary information.
Finally, are you planning to start the new venture with a coworker?
Ensure that you and your co-worker’s departure will not result in a breach of your contract or your employer’s policies. Also, ensure that your potential business partner is not subject to any non-compete agreements and will not be using any proprietary information in the new venture.
Keep your start-up team in legal tip-top shape.
It is important to dedicate time to thinking through your resignation. There is no point in rushing to the finish line without laying the right foundation.
Got a question? Send a message or voice note to +2349078653509 on Whatsapp anywhere in Africafor our new video advice series – #AskASis.
As Sub-saharan Africa lags behind in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business report, one woman-led startup thinks it can help entrepreneurs grow their companies in this tough environment.
After years of mentoring startups and running businesses in Ghana and Nigeria, Munachim Chukwuma started IB Consultingin February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.
According to experts from Harvard University, startups that want to stand the test of time must learn new ways of operating and behaving. This is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because these new ways tend to be completely different from their start-up roots.
Most startups struggle to grow and scale either because they do not know how or lack the proper structure and strategy. This is where we come in.
Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting
IB Consulting believes that African entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses must realize they are in a different phase of their business life cycle, and therefore must change.
IB Consulting’s growth recipe for startups.
To help entrepreneurs struggling to scale, Munachim and her partners created a service model that combines strategy consultation, negotiation, and content creation.
IB Consulting bets its 3 service tentpoles are what entrepreneurs need to grow faster despite the difficulty of doing business in Africa.
We decided to focus on strategy consultation, negotiations and content creation as a company because we realized most of the challenges most businesses face in today’s society are tied to those three areas in one way or another.
Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting
In addition to its unique service model, IB Consulting promises clients efficiency, personalization, and great service.
Why you should watch out for IB Consulting.
In less than a year, IB Consulting is proving it is not just all talk. The company reports that since February, it has helped over 10 business owners rebuild their structures and execute action growth plans.
It’s also not just about the money for this company this woman-led company. They have done some pro bono work for new entrepreneurs who could not afford to pay for some of our services.
In 2020, the company plans to expand aggressively to reach, help and educate help businesses across Africa.
We intend to grow over the next year of business and reach more people across the continent, as we also reinvent our business and launch more products that can meet the needs of our prospective clients.
Chidi Koldsweat is an international development professional and the founder of Donors for Africa.
She is a recipient of numerous awards including CEO Global’s Africa most influential woman in management, business & public service (civil society category).
Chidi Koldsweat was also nominated amongst the 100 unseen women changing her world. Recently, she was appointed to join the board of CHEID, therefore becoming the only female board member
In this interview, Chidi talks about her personal growth, and how she’s designing solutions in the society through Donors for Africa.
Your achievements in the development sector are remarkable. What gaps do you see Donors for Africa filling in the years to come?
We are building the capacity of nonprofit leaders across Africa to implement their work successfully.
Within a year, we have helped nonprofit leaders go from confusion to clarity and then impact. We have helped then generate funds for their organizations and most importantly teach them how to.
We are designing solutions that allow African nonprofit leaders to build sustainable organizations for the long term. Ones that do not rely totally on external funding to do all their work.
If we empower nonprofit leaders and organizations, then they can be around for more years and in turn, their solutions are more lasting and impactful in the communities.
We are helping private sector companies launch affordable CSR activities. Also, we are saving them the cost and connecting them to social impact leaders who are making a world of difference with a fraction of the cost.
We are filling the gap between knowledge-developed organizations and donor opportunities. These are needs that will always be present.
You have a robust career portfolio, what strategies did you apply that young women can learn from?
You must constantly learn, the more you learn and apply what you have learned, the more opportunities are opened up to you. As the opportunities open up, you will find lapses and you will keep learning to fill those gaps. This is one way I have grown exponentially.
You must also be ready to do the work. If you desire to build for the long term and not fade away in the future, you must focus on developing roots.
This means, doing the work, being committed and focused, failing as much as you learn, finding your voice, matching passion with boldness. Learn to speak up and take up responsibilities.
Whether or not you can do it, sign up for projects that challenge you. Intentionally seek out global opportunities and apply! apply! apply!
These opportunities will introduce you into an ecosystem, where you can connect with other development leaders from other parts of the world and form the right connections. These connections will amplify your efforts in the future.
Above all, be mentored, directly or indirectly by women you admire in your sector.
What sort of courses do they take?
What meetings do they attend?
What schools do they go to? How do they dress?
How do they comport themselves?
Observing other women leaders will subconsciously teach you how to act and engage now and in the future
You pitched your business at the World Bank Youth Summit in one minute. What advice can you give to future applicants?
When I applied to pitch our project at the WBYS, my pitch wasn’t selected. However, when I attended the event, I got there on time, found a seat right in front and looked the part.
I made eye contact with the MC and was present during each activity when he asked if people were ready to pitch, I said YES and on the day of the event, I was invited to pitch as my passion and zeal were obvious from the very first day.
So my advice will be, ‘be prepared’. Always.
Find time to clearly define what you do and how you do it. Prepare and master your pitches, so that when opportunities find you, you are ready.
Any advice for women who are just starting out their careers in the development sector?
You must be intentional about your journey. Be ready to learn.
Do not let the desperation of this generation to be heard and seen deter you from also developing the content and character needed to keep you.
A career in development is hard; it comes with a lot of rejections. Don’t let it validate your self-worth. Keep creating. A career in development may not give you immediate results but it will in the future and the rewards are endless.
Do not turn down opportunities to lead where you currently work.
Irrespective the task, DO IT. Every single knowledge counts and will come in handy.
How can women distinguish themselves in any field of endeavor they find themselves in?
Simply by moving beyond being responsive to being proactive. We need to lead the conversations.
You distinguish yourself by building thought leadership. Challenging the status quo and proposing solutions you believe may work.
It is long and hard but soon your thought leadership on subjects of interest or national concerns at either the regional or international level will help you stand out.
You recently got appointed to the board of the ‘Center for Education, Innovation, and Development’. Being the first female to have this position, what does this mean for you?
It means a lot. Innovation and development are two things that are important to me.
Being invited to join other leading experts to craft sustainable practices that will revamp the educational sector through innovation further supports my passion to leave a lasting impact.
I also believe it will pave the way for other women and hopefully, we can have more women seat on the boards of leading organizations.
What are two life lessons you apply every day?
Be honest! Be honest with yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses. This will help you clarify what areas you want to expend energy on and the things you have to outsource. It informs your character and your ability to do what you say you will do and apologize when you cannot meet those obligations
Be authentic and true to yourself. Authenticity is slowly fading away. So many people are clamoring to be everyone else but themselves. Authenticity comes from a place of self-awareness and that self-awareness informs your every decision.
I constantly question my actions. Is this me being my authentic self? Is this my voice? or am I trying to mirror other people’s opinion.
Being able to stay true to my authentic voice has led me to stand out.
This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.
So, you want to be an entrepreneur? There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that it may not be at all like what you see on social media—the serene photos on the beach, overnight insta-fame, and the perfect work/life balance.
The truth is, only a handful of people get to experience those things consistently, and they typically have to pay their dues for an average of 15 years.
Research shows that only half of new businesses survive for the first five years, and only 35% are able to survive for 10 years. Even grimmer, Bloomberg research shows that 8 out of every 10 businesses fail within the first 19 months.
But don’t be discouraged!
There’s good news too, which is that freedom and autonomy are real, and so is the thrill of doing something that you love day in and day out.
The question is: how do some people do it?
In my latest book, The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: I share 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School and share the secrets that every new entrepreneur should know.
From the value of infrastructure to remaining relevant, aspiring and operational entrepreneurs will learn:
How to stay true to their original vision, while creating a model that consistently engages their audience;
How to avoid common reasons for business failure including leadership and management failure, weak value proposition, unprofitable business model, and poor financial management; and
How to create cash flow streams that will enable them to defy the odds and beat the statistics.
Want to be part of the success stories this year, then The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School is a must-read.
Here’s what readers are saying:“…I bought this book and I’m so glad that I picked it up. The author, Andrena, explains her own personal journey of entrepreneurship and TRULY breaks down her struggles and triumph in the area of finances, making a profit, health journey, love and all. The reality is that (as) an entrepreneur it will affect all areas of your LIFE, Sawyer talks exactly about the things that they don’t teach you when you’re getting your MBA. Quick read as well!”“…This book is worth the read. It has incredibly insightful information on what people tend to not address in business school. A must for anyone that wants to pursue owning their own business. Definitely recommend, it is a keeper.”What are you doing to gain a global perspective? We want to share your story! Click here to share.
I recently came across a TED talk by Natalie Case and Freya Estreller. They are co-founders of CoolHaus, a company that creates architecturally designed Ice cream in the U.S.A
I found their passion and drive for their business fascinating. They started their business with an old postal van, which they converted to an Ice cream truck.
In less than a decade, CoolHaus has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. It now has over ten trucks, two scoop shops and is being distributed in over four thousand groceries stores across the U.S.
They currently oversee seventy employees and they plan to broaden CoolHaus to the number 1 recognized Ice cream brand in the world.
Bringing this home to Africa, with the entrepreneurship buzz going on right now, I began to look at the reasons for the springing startups we have right now, especially the businesses founded by women.
Why do women want to be their own bosses? What makes entrepreneurship exciting and interesting right now? I asked around and found answers like:
I. More income will help me take care of myself and my family
II. A business will help to beat the recession crunch
III. It will enable me to be independent of my spouse/ partner
IV. No one wants to be a stay-at-home mom anymore
V. I want to be respected and admired as a capable leader
All of these are great motivating factors but are these all there is to entrepreneurship? These do not have the ability to project a business to global standards.
It is important we know the motive for creating a business because of this, in most cases, determines how far a business will grow.
A woman may want to augment her spouse’s income. She may start a business to achieve this and this will determine the kind of business she goes for and what her vision for her business will be.
If her trade achieves that goal in a few years there might not be a need to expand the business any further. While earning enough to cater for her family is important, having this mentality about the business may stifle it.
If we survey all outstanding businesses, we would discover they were created by people who had a vision of making their companies prominent in the world. This factor may be deficient in Africa’s startups.It is imperative that African women entrepreneurs must first begin to develop a different orientation towards startups.
Building the right business starts from the core, but the right questions need to be asked. Why is it being started? What motivates an individual to start a business?
If these questions are answered correctly, this would change the way African women entrepreneurs approach their businesses. Sadly many entrepreneurs do not know the ‘WHY’of their business.
This crucial step is neglected AND camouflaged with reasons like “Everyone swears by it onInstagram“, “It’s what brings in the cash” and “It just seems like the best thing to do now”
The ‘why’ of a business also establishes if a business is the right thing to do. Does it really meet a need? Does it emerge from an undeniable conviction in the entrepreneur’s heart?
Listen. There are two ways to go about it.
1. Find a passion to turn to a business or find a business to turn to a passion
While a business is something entrepreneurs should be passionate about they shouldn’t be delusional about the relevance of their business. Every business should satisfy the needs of people while accruing profit.
2. Striving onwards
While being financially liberated may be a reason a business is started it should not be the sole reason a business continues. 50% of the United States GDP comes from small businesses employing less than 500 people.
African women entrepreneurs should seek ways to come together and build a conglomerate enterprise that can employ young people from every scope and status in Africa thus helping young entrepreneurs off the streets.
Women should be encouraged to dreambig and start businesses that can grow into mega-corporations in their lifetime. This indeed is possible.
The moment you hit rock bottom is not a very unique experience. Although the actions were taken after the realization vastly differs from one person to another.
For me, it was while watching a very romantic movie, the kind of movie where the guy races through traffic to get to the airport so he can finally pour out his true feelings to his dream girl.
He just manages to catch her at the ‘check-in line’, runs up to her, grabs her and begs her not to leave. She looks deep into his eyes, doubting him, doubting everything and then all of a sudden.
He gets down on one knee and proposes to her with his Grandma’s wedding ring. Romantic right? And yet, I couldn’t figure out why it was at this exact moment that I started to cry like someone stole my cat or something…
It was a few light tears at first…then it turned to real sobbing.
At that moment I realized that:
This movie is so corny, no guy would make it through traffic in time to get the girl – not Kampala traffic anyway, plus we have only one airport!
My tears, these tears, had nothing to do with the movie and everything to do with the fact that I was failing at life…with a capital F!
I was exhausted and starting to hate this dream I’d been pursuing what felt like an eternity. I’d been working myself to the bone, but nothing seemed to be going right.
I’d received negative client reviews, was behind on important production deadlines, my landlord was starting to begin all his messages with scary sentences like “If you do not pay by the close of business today…”
It was hard, really hard but if you’re an entrepreneur, failure isn’t a choice, its part of the game, it’s how you learn and if you’re smart about it, it’s how you grow.
Failure is the big “F” word one no one wants to talk about. The time you didn’t meet a client’s expectations so they decided to go with a competitor. That time you couldn’t make the payment. When you took the business loan and didn’t anticipate how the market would react to your product. That time your marriage fell apart leaving you with a broken heart and nasty attitude to boot!
Much has been said on the subject, some believe there’s only one correct way to fail in business. Fast and hard, get all the pain out as soon as possible and then try again.
As an entrepreneur you need to know failure intimately, take it out on a few dates and study it! Why did you fail? How did you fail? Did you pass the buck or were you just distracted?
Should you be in this business? Are you disciplined enough to handle the responsibility? Failure isn’t glamorous, often times, it’s ugly and it’s really messy. Kind of like your ex!
So here are a few tips from someone who’s had a taste of it and still has a huge bowl to get through;
1. The x + y = z of it.
The only way to get really good at something is to fail at it enough times that you finally get the formula. When you fail, you must have the courage to distance yourself from it.
You must understand that you aren’t a failure simply because you failed at this thing. Understand that it’s part of the journey to becoming one of the greatest. You must get up, dust yourself off, cry a little, or maybe a lot, and then try again.
2. You must not wear failure as an identity.
I’ve met a lot of people that have failed at something or the other in their lives and have turned it into an identity they walk around with. They pull it out at appropriate times when the gathering is big enough so everyone can see how well they failed.
They have it at the ready to “warn” others who might actually try to pursue that same treacherous path. They have horror stories with examples all the way from China! Do not pay attention to that fear, use those horror stories as markers and pointers for your own journey.
You’ll learn that like in all the Hollywood horror stories, you never ever go to the basement parking lot alone!!! Bottom line is you’ll learn.
3. Failure is evidence that you actually tried at something.
Many would-be entrepreneurs are stuck in the zone between having a really great idea and having the courage to do something about it. For most, the fear of failure is stronger than the possible joy that could come from winning. You tried and you failed, now all you have to do is try again.
4. The F-word means you’re badass.
The people we celebrate, the greatest entrepreneurs the world has ever known built their empires amidst great odds stacked against them, and most importantly, did not let failure stop them.
So, why should you?
A quote from the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo dedicated to all those entrepreneurs that have faced a few setbacks in the first half of this year and need a little more courage for this next half;
“What you need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the soul of the world tests everything that was learned along the way.
It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream.
That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”
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Because budding entrepreneurs have to take on many roles while building their companies on a shoestring budget. They sometimes end up with little or no time (and a limited budget) to attend to their style/fashion needs.
Appearance makes a good part of business especially when you are still climbing up the ropes and trying to spread your tentacles in the business world. It is however important for an entrepreneur to consider the industry in which you operate while putting your wardrobe together.
It is best to keep in mind that what works for a tech entrepreneur who is constantly in meetings with investors might not necessarily work for a creative entrepreneur who attends more of networking events.
Overall, the aim is to find a fashion style that’s affordable and gives a good impression of you as an entrepreneur especially when it matters the most. As a budding entrepreneur, you need to be able to slay on a budget.
Here are 2 factors for putting together a wardrobe that works and suits your budget.
1. DEFINE YOUR STYLE
COMFORT: Always have it in mind that whatever your style is, it’s important to be comfortable in clothes. Clothes that are not comfortable can affect your mood, esteem as well as your general wellbeing. Ensure that whatever style you choose keeps you comfortable.
CONFIDENCE: Even after dressing up in clothes, you must exude a level of confidence that helps you stand out in a crowd; So as you build your fashion style, remember to always step out with confidence and charisma.
COLORS: Determine the colors that best suit your skin tone. After this, you can go further to determine which of these colors are most appropriate for formal than casual outfits. Overall, the goal is to understand how to coordinate outfits color wise so you always step out looking well put together.
PHYSIQUE: Once you understand your physique, you can easily go for clothes that are the perfect fit for your body structure; clothes that flatter your good features and minimize the appearance of your “flaws”.
ACCESSORIZE: Accessories can easily be used to give outfits an edge, depending on the occasion. Having accessories (like brooches, cuff links, belts, glasses, scarves, earrings) as part of your wardrobe can help you create different looks even without owning so many clothes.
2. FASHION STAPLES EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD OWN
A well-tailored blazer (preferably black) – This can easily be put together nicely to achieve different formal and business casual looks.
Jeans (dark rinse /black) – Ladies, you can pair this with heels and blazers to attend networking events; men can also pair with sneakers and blazers for the same purpose.
Functional footwear – Neutral colored pumps should easily do the trick as they are comfortable, blend with other colors and are suitable for formal and business casual looks.
Handbag or briefcase – A basic handbag/briefcase should do, it does not necessarily have to be expensive but should be in very good condition (not worn out).
Dresses/pencil skirt – dresses and pencil skirts are very versatile and can be styled differently (with or without accessories) to get a variety of business looks. Ensure the fit is right and the length not too short
Most importantly, choose quality over quantity when shopping for a business wardrobe; endeavor to buy the best quality you can afford.
Handle your formal and business casual clothes with care especially when washing so you don’t have to replace them so often.Avoid clothes that are distracting and too revealing.
Remember dressing for business is also dressing for success…. Slay on!!!
Getting addicted to TED is a habit that would not only spur you to greatness but would keep your mind bubbling with ideas. If you only watch TED videos once in a blue moon, it’s time to make a switch and come to the winning team. TED seeks to share great ideas with the entire world through storytelling and sharing insights.
With the many TED Talks I’ve watched, it’s been hard to choose my favorite. However, those I liked were by women who have ignited my passion and encouraged me to chase my dreams.
The following videos have left me sprawling with laughter, and I must tell you, they are the top TED Talks that every Motherland Mogul should watch.
1. Natasha Case and Freya Estreller –Female and Millennial Entrepreneurship
If you think you’ve reached the peak of your entrepreneurial journey, this video is definitely for you. In this TED Talk, two co-partner entrepreneurs talk about their journey starting a distinct ice cream brand – Cool Haus.
With over four thousand stores in the United States alone, Natasha and Freya are making a huge impact and taking a fair slice of the market. In this talk, they talk about their experiences navigating the business world as female CEO’s and the changing trends of women in business.
Though a lot of data shows that there is still work to be done in bringing more women to the top of the corporate ladder, some women such as Natasha and Freya are already slaying!
3. Sara Nuru -Finding your Identity
Do we get to choose what we do without existence? In this TED Talk, Sara presents a strong message of an identity of how we can make a choice on positive living. As a model and an Ethiopian activist, Sara has spent her life bringing impact to young children in Ethiopia.
Her talk is both insightful and inspiring. She shows us that nothing stops us from being who we truly are if we dare to believe.
No one can achieve much without a healthy self-esteem. Having self-confidence and loving yourself should be something we strive for every day.
Whitney is bold, powerful and very unlike any other speaker you have heard before. She spares no ground in sharing her experience of Obesity and it’s grappling effect in her life.
She dealt with shame, something we all have experience in one way or the other. Using emotional intelligence, Whitney keeps you captivated with her story of self-confidence.
At the end of the Talk, you are left with one lesson: learn to love yourself because nothing changes until you do!
4. Yvonne Orji – The Wait is Sexy
You may not agree with everything Yvonne says but this girl knows how to work her space! She knows how to knead her dough. Yvonne is audacious in her choice of waiting until marriage and she explains her reasons for staying true to her stand.
According to Yvonne, we all have to sacrifice short-term comfort to get a long-term quality relationship. This principle can be applied to everything including business and personality.
When making decisions, we should consider principles such as compromise, purpose and taking a stand for what you believe in. Whatever you’re working towards will definitely be worth it.
5. Courtney Ferrell – Girl Up! The Secret to the Extraordinary Life
This has to be my absolute best video! From the moment she walks on stage, Courtney keeps you wanting more. She cleverly engages the audience through picking one random person who she delivers her message through.
Courtney’s intimate yet personal talk carried a strong message for women and girls. She believes these are the key to development in every society. Sometimes, all we need is to be who we are and say what we believe in.
Though these are just a collection of some of my favorite talks. There are many more TED Talks that will inspire you, challenge you and expose you to many more great ideas.
From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to film director Wanuri Kahiu, there are a lot of Motherland Moguls who will definitely set you on the path to slaying.
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Chantal Fraser is a fashion designer and house singer based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She started her fashion label Chante Clothing in 2010 as a side hustle and transitioned it to full time in 2014.
Her clients comprise of everyone from local celebrities, to brides and bridesmaids and any young lady wanting to look chic and well put together.
Chantal also works with locally based international brands like Edgars which is part of the Woolworths Group of companies.
Following the family tradition, Chantal finally decided to venture into music in 2017 and released her single Better than Yesterday.
When did you fall in love with fashion?
I’ve always had a passion for it since I was young – like seriously young. My passion started with creating beadwork and eventually sketching fashion ideas.
What gave you the courage to pursue Chante Clothing full time?
Passion full stop! My passion was burning so much that I just could not ignore it. I was miserable, working and doing other things. Even though I was getting paid well, I just didn’t have the passion.
I said to myself, if others can dive into their passions and do it, why can’t I?
What setbacks did you have during that transition period?
Definitely, finances. I was jumping into an unknown business. Yes, I had passion but obviously, I was still trying to weave my way through it.
In addition, I had to patiently grow my clientele which took a lot longer than I anticipated. When people are committed to their designer you know that’s it. It is hard to convince them to try someone new.
Before setting up Chante Clothing, what were you doing and how did it help you later on?
I was doing accounts. I hated it! But for some reason, I’d find myself doing accounts in jobs. But when I did switch careers, I began looking at design as more than just a hobby – but a legitimate way of making an income. This made establishing the business easier.
Do you feel like there are enough structures that help women build a business?
Yes and no. There is still a mindset that it depends on what the trade is. Some people don’t look at design as a business; they still see it as a plaything. But if there are women seeking financial assistance for something like chickens they are able to source funds much easier than us. I believe that there is a bias against fashion to some extent.
Have you had any mentors help you in your entrepreneurial journey?
Yes, I have. I’m privileged to know loads of people in the same business as me. My fiancé has been in the fashion industry much longer than I have. Since we collaborated on C and C Clothing, I have been able to learn a lot from him and his support.
I also have friends who helped me learn to sew. While I did have the passion, I needed to acquire the skill. This led me to camp at a friend’s house and eventually learn how to sew. I really appreciate her for doing that for me.
What has opening a business taught you about yourself?
It’s taught me that I can have discipline when it comes to money lol. Initially, I didn’t think I would be this disciplined, but opening a business had really exposed me to some of my strengths.
What do you want Chante Clothing to represent as a brand?
I want it to represent elegance and style.
It’s about bringing out the inner you. It’s about genuinely feeling confident and beautiful and not conforming to what people say is the latest trend. That’s what my business is all about!
Who are your style or fashion icons?
I really like David Tlale and his tenacity. Dolce and Gabbana are also inspiring as they are a team like my fiancé and I. We look up to them. If they can do it, so can we!
You currently have a single out, Better Than Yesterday. How did you get into singing and why a motivational track specifically?
My parents are actually musicians, they had a band ages ago. I didn’t choose music, music chose me! It was in the blood!
I’ve always had the passion and have been singing from forever. When I released my track, I chose motivational music because there’s a world out there that is extremely confused. A lot of people do not know who they are really.
If media says this is the style everyone moves to that. No one has a backbone to stand on. So, with my motivational music, I hope to inspire people to be who they are no matter what situations they are going through.
The themes vary but basically, it’s about you being you being proud of who you are!
So where did you get your obviously innate sense of confidence?
I think I got it from my parents (Not I think, I know!) and especially my mum. She was a very bold person and I learnt a lot from her.
I was fortunate to have parents that allowed us to be who we wanted to be. No matter what you wanted to do they supported you all the way.
What advice can you give about being true to yourself and following your dreams?
Every child is born with a dream, and as time goes on, people that surround you can slowly discourage you.
Don’t forget what that first love was. Go back to it and don’t allow anyone to stand in your way. Even if it seems hard just keep going, keep at it because at the end of the day, that’s what you were born to do.
There’s nothing as depressing as doing something because it’s a trend or because family is pressuring you. Misery is the most disheartening thing ever. Indulge your passion and you’ll get there eventually.
How do balance two careers (and a personal life!)?
It can get difficult at times. What I’ve learnt to do especially with two careers is put timelines and plan to do specific things within certain time frames. Planning is essential.
I go as far as saying when I get home, there will be no work talk but it can definitely get hectic.
What does success look like to you at the end? How will you know you have achieved your dreams?
Success is when I can look back at my life and say well-done Chanty and I’m happy and I have tried everything. If you haven’t tried it all how would you look back and truly be satisfied?
That’s where I find success even in failure. Failures can be a success because you made the effort. You don’t want to have a what if in your mind. What ifs are horrible!
Success should be about inner satisfaction and being happy. It’s not something that can be equated to a particular amount of money or how many likes you get on Facebook or how many people follow you on Instagram. It’s about self-contentment and being able to say at the end of it I tried it all.
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Brand strategy is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your target market. The goal of every brand should be to be top of mind in their customers’ heads – that is whenever a customer thinks of your product, your brand should be the first name that pops in their head.
For instance, whenever you think of ordering a cab, the first name that comes to mind is usually Uber, or, if you want a cold, non-alcoholic drink, Coca-Cola comes straight to mind.
The aim is to be the top of the market niche of your brand, the customer needs to specifically identify your brand as distinct from others in the market.
Brand positioning occurs whether or not a company develops a brand strategy, for every market, there is a market leader and less recognized brands. Every company has to craft a brilliant and progressive approach to positively position its brand to grab the attention of its target audience constantly.
Basics of Brand Positioning
The basic four elements of brand positioning are:
Target market: Who are your customers? What is the major demographic constitution of consumers that your brand appeals to?
Market definition: What level is your brand competing for? How is your brand relevant to customers?
Brand promise: What is the most convincing, logical or emotional benefit to your target market that your brand has over your competitors?
Legitimacy: What is the most credible evidence you can present to confirm that your brand would deliver on its promise?
Brand strategy styles
There are four branding styles prevalent in Nigeria, choose the ideal strategy for your brand and implement.
The big bosses battle
This branding style is usually for brands that are in a prominent market category with the market leadership margins within fringes of each other.
Examples of these are Coca-Cola versus Pepsi and Jumia versus Konga.
These two categories of brands are very similar and are constantly competing to gain market share. It is honestly a battle for the big bosses due to the amount of money and time it takes to successfully attempt this strategy.
Big Fish, Smaller Pond
This idea is the basis of most specialist and personalized brands. It is based on the idea of creating a niche within an underserved market, which is basically identifying a sector of an existing market whose needs have not been met by market leaders and positioning your brand as the solution to this market gap.
For instance, there are several platforms that cater to needs of career women and female professionals, however not a lot are youth-focused, which is where She Leads Africa comes in. Fundamentally, this style avoids going head-on with the market leader but focuses on a specific niche.
This brand positioning reframes an existing market in new ways. It gives customers new and innovative benefits that make market leaders and your competitors so irrelevant that your brand becomes the new market leader.
If the needs or expectations of your customers change, you differentiate your brand from competitors by highlighting its distinctiveness or marketing your brand in a revolutionary way.
Take Jameson’s foray into the Nigerian market, for instance, other drink companies brand their product as aspirational lifestyle brands or luxury brands, to be honest, aspirational branding is the de-factor brand strategy for products similar to Jameson.
However, Jameson took the alternative route and branded as an artsy, cool kids brand, which has sporadically fast-tracked its market penetration in Nigeria.
Another example is Wanneka Hair, the hair extension retailer that achieved Instagram fame by using unique brand storytelling, unique content, influencer marketing and several other techniques to achieve market leader status in a saturated market.
This branding strategy will highlight your distinctiveness and help you beat the market leader, however, your strength must be backed by good quality product and service. This style gives a feel of exclusivity, community and a unique experience for its customers.
When there is no other product or service like yours and you are the first of your kind, you have first mover advantage and you get to invent your market. This strategy is for brands that do not fit into any existing market.
The taxi-hailing app market did not exist before Uber created it, so also a Nigerian online DIY print provider had not been invented before Printivo. The benefit of this strategy is that your brand would be the default market leader because you literally created this market.
However, this strategy can be risky because you might not find the right product-market fit simply because the market does not exist because there is no need for it. There are several brands that flopped in an attempt to fill a need that doesn’t exist, don’t join them.
This strategy comes with several copy-cats, nonetheless, patents and trademarking might help, but if your product can be easily imitated, ensure you get enough head start to gain as much market share as possible.
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