How to resign and run your business full time

Congratulations! You’ve decided to make a full-time commitment to your business.

Before you give your notice and burn bridges your work enemies, remember that your network and relationships are especially important to you as an entrepreneur who is just starting out.

Leave smart.


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. 

If your new venture violates any employment contracts, STOP!  You do not want to start your business with a cloud of litigation hovering over you. Click To Tweet

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?

"If starting a new business with a coworker – review all your contracts and your employer’s employment policies carefully! There may be a little something there about poaching…" Click To Tweet

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.


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Contributing Editor: Diana Odero

6 Practices Every Entrepreneur Should Adopt In The New Year

As the year closes and everyone rushes to accomplish all their 2018 goals (and set the next ones for 2019!), now is a great time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what lessons we can take away. Being an entrepreneur has its ups and its downs. The low when your proposals do not pass through or a client decides not to re-sign you. The high that you get when you finally sign a contract for a new project or when you win big for a client. For me, this year has been one of immense growth. I visited new countries, launched new projects, finished old ones, won clients, and lost clients.   I have recruited and trained a reliable, loyal team across six countries. Throughout this year, I have learned several lessons which I hope will serve entrepreneurs — myself included — in 2019.

1. Build your support system and nurture it

The reality is some days you will feel like crying, some days you will feel like celebrating, and some days you will feel like quitting. Find people who help you keep your balance, give you honest feedback, and cheer you on. These can be friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, teammates, neighbours, mentors, or mentees. No matter who they are, make sure to dedicate time to nurture these relationships and make sure they are mutually beneficial.

2. Know your value, and what projects are worth your time

This is one of the most difficult things I have faced as an emerging entrepreneur this year. As I am selling services, not products, it can very hard to put a price tag on my offerings.   Many times instead of money, potential partners will offer you “a platform to sell yourself” or “connections” to new business. But at the end of the day, accessing these platforms may be positive, but will also require more work to close revenue-generating deals. In 2019, set your minimum rate and stick to it. Decide which platforms are really worth offering your precious skills — and have a clear idea as to what outcomes you wish to have. Change your mindset and remind yourself you are a trailblazer, a changemaker, and the only one with your unique experience - @lizgrossman87 Click To Tweet

3. Have a routine

 Even if your schedule is often crazy, and you may have to jump on a plane or train with 24 hours’ notice, do your best to stick to a routine. Maybe that means having your cup of coffee while checking emails first thing each day, doing yoga, or taking a midday walk. When you are in your home base or abroad, find workspaces you can come back to that give you a sense of regularity. I recommend joining coworking spaces such as Impact Hub or using the Croissant app to find cool spaces in different cities across the world.

4. Let business be business

Sometimes, friends or colleagues will come to you asking for help with something which will require your time, expertise, and resources. By nature, I am someone who cares about others and wants to see other people shine but this year I learned I simply cannot always give my time and energy away for free. Remember, your true friends will understand if you say no to their requests, and you can always try to help in other, less consuming ways. Furthermore, be bold in demanding what you deserve from your clients and partners. Asking for timely payments or resources to do your job is not being greedy — it’s business.

5. Unplug

This is the most difficult rule for me to follow, as I am someone who always wants to get rid those red notifications on my iPhone and always wants a clean inbox. Fact is, as an entrepreneur, your to-do list will never end, so sometimes you have to know when to stop checking and unplug. When you are with friends, be with friends. When you are exercising, put on a podcast and just listen. Do not work 24/7, because that is simply not sustainable.

6. Celebrate small wins and don’t sweat the failures

 As entrepreneurs, we are visionaries. We see the big picture impact we could be having, and often feel frustrated we have not signed the multimillion-dollar deal. We forget that entrepreneurship is a journey, a series of small wins and big failures we learn from that will lead us to the end goal. Along the journey, make sure to celebrate at every step, and give yourself the opportunity to learn and grow. I encourage everyone to apply these lessons to your own careers and lives, set goals, and track your progress throughout the next year. Change your mindset and remind yourself you are a trailblazer, a changemaker, and the only one with your unique experience. Use it to be the catalyst sparking the change you hope to see in the world.
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I’ve Got Bills To Pay & You’re Talking About Brand Building?

Not every single marketing activity will translate to direct sales! Can someone please scream this from the rooftops?

If you’ve worked in a marketing capacity, you know this. And you also know a lot of clients straight up refuse to accept it. It’s easy to want to connect all marketing activity directly to ROI.

Some of these activities, such as social media, may be viewed as extras and add-ons because they do not translate to direct revenue, but do they help in solidifying the overall brand picture?

You bet!

It’s imperative to place brand building and sales activities in separate categories. Although they might occasionally overlap, they must be treated as different actions, with different strategies that generate different results.

if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It is easy to overlook the importance of building a solid brand before diving straight into selling. Especially after investing funds into a business. Granted, in the beginning stages of running your business, you might command profits left, right & center.

But what keeps your clients coming back? What prevents them from switching to a competitor selling the exact same product or services for slightly less?

Your brand – that’s what!

 

Big brands invest millions of dollars in building and maintaining a certain brand image with no direct translation to sales. This is not just for fun or because they feel like splurging. It’s because they understand the value and the equity that comes with a solid brand name.

Even the good book says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Hallelujah, somebody?

Take Coca-Cola, for example, this brand participates in different types of brand building activities designed to trigger emotions, nostalgia, and certain positive feelings associated with the brand.

Amidst these activities, Coca-Cola products are not explicitly sold. Why? The brand understands the value of building brand equity with their current and potential consumers. What is this brand equity, you ask?

It is simply the value placed on a particular brand, based on the experience, feeling, or perception a consumer attaches to it. Simply put, if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it.

If they view your brand as the best thing since sliced bread, they will be willing to pay more for it compared to similar brands. Thus it has a higher equity and commands a price premium in the market.

The problem with focusing on sales before boosting brand awareness and equity is that you may attract a slew of one-time clients. They buy and use your product,  but have no connection to keep them coming back, so they keep it moving!

A competitor product pops up the next time and they switch. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of doing this. We’re also guilty of being extremely loyal to certain brands based on the value we have placed on them.

For some mothers, only a certain brand of diapers will do for their babies, for others, such as myself, we buy fuel from only a certain brand of petrol stations. That’s the beauty of building a strong and trusted brand.

There are many angles to this “brand equity” business, including consumer-based brand equity as discussed previously, employee-based brand equity, and more. As your business grows, employee-based brand equity cannot be neglected.

In growing brand loyalty and equity, employees can be your most cost-effective brand evangelists. The people who will love and promote your brand from the mountaintops – for free.

Let’s use Heineken as an example, I have a couple of friends who work for the brand, and as we say in Nigeria, they “carry it on their head”. Sometimes I think to myself, “Na your papa own this place?”-(Does your father own Heineken?) but guess what? The last time I was in Amsterdam, where the HQ is located — What was I most excited to see & do? To tour the Heineken brewery!

The passion their employees have for the brand and the sincere love and joy that emanates when they speak about it, in turn, gave me the “ginger” and excitement to go see things for myself. When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens.

They become one of your greatest and cheapest marketing assets. The word begins to spread organically and the positive brand equity transcends from employees to consumers.

When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It’s understandable, you put money in, you want money out, and quick! Unfortunately return on investment is not always immediate or that simple.  

Recognizing the need for brand building activities which may not necessarily translate to sales in the short-term is the first step. Understanding the need to cultivate long-term meaningful relationships with your target is the next.

While creating a distinction between brand building and selling activities, always remember to look at the big picture and think long-term.

As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “Brand is not transactional. Brand is forever”.


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Investing in African Women Entrepreneurs: Highlights from Social Capital Markets (SOCAP18)

There is an immense opportunity for economic growth and social impact by investing in Africa women

According to McKinsey, the female economy is the world’s largest emerging market, with the potential to add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

Furthermore, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurship globally, with approximately 26% of female adults engaged in entrepreneurial activity. Ghana is producing more female entrepreneurs than any other country, with 46% of businesses being owned by women. 

However, due to several gender-specific challenges, the African Development Bank estimates a $20B financing gap for African women causing the growth of these businesses to suffer.

This year’s annual Social Capital Markets (SOCAP18) Conference, a convening for over 4,000 actors in the development, social entrepreneurship, and impact investors held in San Francisco, discussed the importance of driving investment capital towards social good.

Many actors came together to advocate for a greater African presence at this event, as a result, SOCAP18 invested in bringing on partners, such as my company Baobab Consulting, to ensure that African voices were heard and received the appropriate business and strategy advice to make the most out of the conference.

Not only was Africa a focus this year, but SOCAP also picked Gender and Markets as a theme with its own track. The community has discussed these issues long before the #MeToo movement, but this year, an entire track was dedicated to hearing from women entrepreneurs, investors and other actors actively working to push the agenda to drive investments to women.

To combine these two themes, I organized a panel called “Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa: The Key to Sustainable Development.” We had two female entrepreneurs, one male, and one female investor, all originating from the continent.

The discussion focused on explaining the landscape for African female entrepreneurs and encouraged the audience to value and respect the inputs of women as they build their investment and social impact portfolios.

Both Margaret Nyamumbo, Founder of Kahawa1893, and Salem Afangideh, Founder of Thrive African Girl, gave their perspectives as female entrepreneurs.

They highlighted the need to value local talent, compensate African women for their expertise, and spread the right narrative to represent them.

Salem highlighted that so often, investors will expect the entrepreneur to educate about the African context, but they should be doing their own due diligence to establish mutual respect and build trust.

Margaret highlighted that the way in which people are represented matters, and that African women entrepreneurs must build a positive narrative surrounding their work and the opportunities they are creating.

James Thuch Madhier, Founder and CEO of the Rainmaker Enterprise, and the only male represented on the panel, told stories of his life as a refugee in South Sudan.

“My mother brought me up during the war and we survived because she was entrepreneurial.  My entire female ancestry were great leaders so I am proof of the value of African women,” he said.

At SOCAP, James was one of the many men present who embodies the #HeforShe mentality, and it is clear women entrepreneurs do have allies, even in a competitive funding ecosystem.

A highlight that sticks out comes from Pauline Mbayah, an impact investor and Director, Strategy and Partnerships at the African Enterprise Challenge Fund based in Nairobi. She advised the audience that,

“The continent has hope, the continent is on the move, and opportunity exists. We ask [foreign] investors to work with people on the ground to make new opportunities, and  match-make your money to opportunities that already exist.”

Another takeaway from her is that building smart partnerships with women entrepreneurs on the ground is the best way to invest your money and receive both financial and social returns.

Beyond the panel, SOCAP also offered scholarships for African women entrepreneurs to attend the conference.

There was an array of talented women, from Ivy Appiah from Ghana, who makes high quality black soap products which are sold across Ghana and Nigeria, to Charlotte Magayi, Co-Founder of Mukuru Clean Stoves, which enables young mothers from low-income households to keep their children safe, save on fuel consumption, and reduce household air pollution in urban slums.

As women entrepreneurs, we face a different set of challenges that our male counterparts will never have to face.

But one takeaway from SOCAP is that there is a support system seeking to empower women, especially those from Africa, to attract investment and scale their businesses. I look forward to pushing forward their stories and carving spaces across the world to showcase them.


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