As Motherland Moguls living in the new millennia, we have a diverse group of women in leadership to get inspiration from. Here are lessons from 4 African women who have #slayed the past decade to help you to reach your Vision 2020 goals.
1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Get your receipts 🕵🏾♀️
Chimamanda’s success in the literary world comes from her ability to consistently publish high-quality work. The secret sauce for the Queen of African Literature? Reading
Chimamanda is an avid reader and researcher. Half Of a Yellow Sun, her second novel and an international bestseller, took four years of intense research and writing.
Nothing says investing in yourself like putting your name on something and sharing it with the world. Bonang has established her name as a valuable brand that will make everything from Champagne to mobile apps valuable.
Bonang’s success comes from years of strategic self-investment. If you ever doubt that you can do something, pull a Bonang.
After a show she was writing for got cancelled, Yvonne focused on creating her own opportunities with the resources she had.
In 2016, Yvonne created and starred in First Gen, a sitcom she piloted on YouTube with the goal of selling it to a major network. While the show never got picked up, it caught the attention of Issa Rae and producers at HBO when they were casting for Insecure.
Yvonne has continued to leverage her resources and network to get things done. She created her hit podcast with fellow Nigerian comedienne, Luvvie Ajayi, launched an international comedy tour and is scheduled to publish her first book in March 2020.
The lesson from Yvonne – start with what you have and build from there.
They call me a dreamer as I live in the world of fantasy, devoid of impossibilities. Several ideas that constantly run in my mind have not always matured to fruition, and for this reason, they have constantly reminded me to re-evaluate my view regarding the dreams and come back to what they consider as reality.
They laugh at me and talk behind my back that one day I will get tired of dreaming and stick to the fact that I can never make it out. With all these hindrances trying to make me give up.
I never stopped dreaming. So I decided to do something about it. Here is my strategy…
List down my dreams
I will come up with a table that will contain my dreams, how I intend to work towards accomplishing them, the benefits and the challenges that I would face and how am going to overcome them.
I stand to derive from doing them, complete with the targeted start and end time for each of them.
Tell my friends how I feel
My friends are not going to stop me from achieving my dreams. I will tell them this in no uncertain terms that I am tired of their mimics and nothing will stop me from dreaming big.
I wouldn’t care if I lose them as friends or not because I believe real friends are supposed to give you support or encourage you in what you do.
I’d rather walk alone believing in myself than walking with people who discourage and see failure you in whatever you do or want to do.
Going forward, I will put more emphasis on the below attributes as the guiding principles towards achieving my dreams:
Believe – I’ve to make the decision to start believing in myself that my dreams will come true no matter how long it will take all I need is to give out my best with full of optimism.
Trust – It’s written in the good book of life that we need to trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul and He shall make our paths straight! I have to always put lots of trust in Him and include him in each and every step that I take knowing that God helps those who help themselves.
Focused – I am going to remain focused on the task at hand towards achieving my dreams and take each step with positivism without wavering. Am never going to stand or turn around and listen to the barking dogs to disrupt my mission to remain focus in what am doing.
Competitiveness -The current world is very competitive. I am going to remain a life to the challenges that come with it while at the same time be ready to be challenged. The need to rise with every fall, learn from my mistakes and those of others and be ready to change in doing good is also going to be key to ensure my dreams succeed.
Perseverance – Success does not come overnight and neither is the road to it straight. I need to be able to withstand each storm that comes my way and overcomes it with full of confidence and never accepts to remain down since every successful person has a story to tell.
Constant research on the subject of my dreams is now going to become an integral part of what I do towards achieving my dreams.
Reading how the people who had the same dreams as mine how they were able to manage to get through their storm and be able to succeed in what they do. I will seek to find out the best way to actualize my dream and build an understanding of the same with the interested parties.
Ask for help
This help can take the shape of; financial, knowledge base and social input. I wouldn’t be shy to try to ask for any assistance from the people around me or my role model.
This is from the realization that there are other interested parties to the success of my dreams whose input will always remain valuable to me.
A step in the dark
As I embark on the tasks towards achieving my dreams, I need not to be scared of the outcome provided that it has come from my very best of input.
I must be prepared to showcase to everyone my work and be ready to accept both the critics and compliments from them full of positivism bearing in mind that you need them to grow since not everyone will like or support you in whatever you need.
Even if my crowd is small those that will listen to me; it is an achievement and will always appreciate them.
With all these, I believe that I can make my dreams come true!
Competition is everywhere. These days, everything is basically a competition in business, from online DIY blogs and vlogs giving clients all the information for the same services you render to the new enemy in the block rendering the exact same services or product your offer.
So at every point, always halt and ask yourself (with or without the competition) if your business is still relevant. You should also ask if your relevance is slowly fading out. This helps you understand and reinvent your business better to fit the changing times.
Keep your eyes on the game:
Never let your competitors get you all jerky and stuff. Stay focused on your business, consolidate on your strengths, and work on strengthening your weaknesses. Think about:
Do a Lil’ Checking Out: Eyes on your game all right, but a lil’ spying never hurt anybody.
Take a moment to check out your competitors, do some quick research, find out all you can about them especially their greatest strength and weakness. Leverage on their weakness and see what you can do about their strength.
However, don’t panic and copycat the enemy in desperation. Don’t go slashing your prices when you clearly don’t need to, because your competitor has done so.
Do Not Be The Last To Trend:
Time waits for no one and so does technology. Whether it’s a start-up or full grown business, don’t stay sleeping on your achievements and get left behind. Be innovative, research on the latest technology, (and the ones to come) and constantly build your brand to fit in before you walk into a Kodak moment.
This also involves understanding that diverse locations have diverse customer needs. Know your customers and know what is in trend for them, like if they more concerned about service or quality, or price.
#MotherlandMogul key word: Keep it spiced up, don’t hang on stale strategy (even if it was once a major hit).
Take Care Of Your In-House:
Treat your employees great and make them understand the goal, cause employees can make or mar your business, sista. You don’t want your employees telling your clients (through words or actions) why patronizing your competitor might be a better idea.
We know the competition can be fierce sista, but so are you. So, put on some stilettos, and get to work; today is for good business *raises glass*
One of the very first lessons I learnt about entrepreneurship, is that if I don’t do it, someone else will and that once you do it, everyone else will.
Let me break it down.
The first lesson is probably much easier —someone will, eventually, spot the gap in the market and attempt to fill it. The latter is the lesson a lot of start-up entrepreneurs don’t want to think about. That once you decide to fill that gap, soon everyone else (and trust me, some of them have been sitting on the idea waiting for someone to do it first) will.
This is because you are their case study and now they know the idea does in fact work. A typical first response is usually, “that’s my idea!”, when in fact, we should be thinking about the opportunity that it presents.
The good news is, if you’re already thinking ‘competition’ and ‘unique selling point’ then you are halfway there.
The answer is research, constant research. From my early high school days, I was obsessed with research, particularly on the Internet. It started with me always wanting to have the answers, because I hate not knowing.
Gradually, it became a very educational and growth-fuelling hobby. Research, although mostly associated with reading, isn’t limited to that. Depending on the industry and sector you want to operate in, it could include you
physically getting out of bed and attending seminars or,
chilling by the Mall of Africa, watching how people walk, talk, laugh or studying what they are wearing, which shops they visit first and how they arrived there or,
stalking interesting people on Twitter.
The business environment is ever-changing and to get with the times, you need to research. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or an established one already, there is always room for growth and improvement.
Research in theory
You may not know it, but there are many forms in which research takes shape outside of Google and Yahoo, and these are three of the absolute favourites right now:
Yes, it’s not just about the number of likes on your latest pic. Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram can be a huge source of information. It allows you to tap into your (potential) ultimate client/customer’s mind.
You will know what they are thinking and what they want —all of this is embedded in everything they complain about, decode it. It can also be a very good way to see how your closest competitors have positioned their products and services and learn from that.
Trends grow on social media, if I see someone with a 10k followers wearing yellow jeans, I want to buy them. Keep an eye on people with huge followership and influence on societal behaviour, these are people commonly known as ‘twelebs’ and ‘felebs’.
The beautiful thing about blogs is, the research is actually done for you (but be sure to verify, remember, if it’s my blog, I can put up anything I want).
Bloggers usually bring the newest trends onto their blogs for their readers, if you comb through their content, you will find that they are communicating to you the gaps that are opening up in the market.
Video driven sites like YouTube
Although most people would instantly associate YouTube with music videos, there is a lot more to it.
Tutorial videos and even more serious documentaries are put up there, it is a great source of information for when you’re looking to do something like write a book or even start a blog on a related subject.
Research in practice
Lerato wants to start an online channel but she doesn’t understand how it could be financially sustainable for her. Also, she has no idea what kind of content she wants to put up on her website/channel.
What can Lerato do to help solve her dilemma? Correct, research!
1. Use the resources you have
Lerato has a Facebook account, but now that she knows she has to research, she doesn’t know how Facebook can be used to do that. Easy, the answer is trends.
First, she needs to zero in on a subject. Does she want it to be a health site, lifestyle, entertainment or news site for example? For that she can visit sites that already exist to see which she feels is more for her.
Let’s say she chooses a self-help/DIY type of site.
2. Ask and answer the right questions
That’s where social media comes in, what do people need help with? Lerato will now study the questions people post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter. She will also check how many of them get the answer they are looking for and how long it takes them to.
Not only is this research in terms of content, but it also allows her to see if there really is a market for the site and if it will be more effective and efficient for the user to go to her site instead of asking for help from his/her friends on Facebook.
Once she is done with her decision, she goes to Google and types in “start an online DIY site”. Voila, a link to an article about how to make money from such sites comes up. Of course she clicks on the link, now she knows where her revenues will come from.
3. Don’t stop researching
A few months later, Lerato’s site, From Your Toolbox, is ready for action. It is an instant hit with her friends and followers, with amazing readership ratings. Soon she starts receiving requests for advertising space, nothing can stop Lerato now.
One day, on her timeline however, she learns that her friend has started an entertainment news site and instantly she is shaken. What do you think Lerato does to deal with this development?
Lerato doesn’t like fighting, so no. Instead, she uses the resources that are available at her disposal.
And that is how she gets into the culture of research, following new trends and watching relevant shows and people. Learning how to better position her business and carry on supplying her followers with relevant information. This is far better than hopping from idea to idea as soon as competition arrives.
Moral of the story?
Research is not like the perfect wedding dress you never stop looking at. In fact, it’s more like a little black pump or whatever pair of soles that tickle your fancy. We all need it and we could always do with another one. I know!
Seriously though, far and beyond the points I looked at above, research could help you learn about the
operating laws and,
existing policies that apply to whatever industry you’re interested in,
funding that is available,
related market rates and,
the basics that your client/customer is looking for.
(Bearing in mind not to completely write off the old skool journals, newspapers and maybe online news publications —and even textbooks.)
Now of course we are not all like Lerato and maybe it’s going to take you much longer than a few months to get it together. Cheer up, you certainly can Lerato it!
In the meantime, follow those who have already made it, keep surfing the net and remember, even with all this research, there is no set way to do business. Find what works for you and sustain it with what works for others.
Speaking of routine, have you done the deed today?