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July 13, 2018

Generally, the most common outcome for entrepreneurs who hire friends is ruined friendships. So, can we really mix business with friendships? Can we effectively navigate both, with the knowledge that business relationships gone sour can ruin friendships?

Research suggests that social connections such as close friends are critical for our wellbeing as good friends help us put things into perspective. These are the people we speak to when we feel overwhelmed; they help celebrate our wins and enable us to move on from losses with our heads held high.

Essentially, our success is improved when we are supported by strong and stable friendships because for the most part, friends become advocates of our businesses.

This said, being a good friend doesn’t always equate to becoming a good employee.

While friends are likely to support your vision, work long hours, or accept less salary to help you build your business in the beginning; they can also have a negative impact on the business by bringing pe...

June 4, 2018

Imagine what we could achieve in our businesses if we were able to spot potential problems in advance before they become catastrophic? Where we can detect problems ahead of time and solve them before losing too much money.

The costs and consequences of recalling faulty products from the market or the legal ramifications of failing to read the small prints on a contract or failing to pay taxes all can accumulate to millions, including the brand degradation associated with them.

In his book, Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School suggests that checklists can help most of us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world, regardless of the industries we operate in. He further states that in medicine, the problem is making sure they apply the knowledge they have consistently and correctly. He argues that failure or problems result not so much from ignorance (which is not knowing enough about what works, but from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works)...

May 24, 2018

Imagine what we could achieve in our businesses if we were able to spot potential problems in advance before they become catastrophic? Where we can detect problems ahead of time and solve them before losing too much money.

The costs and consequences of recalling faulty products from the market or the legal ramifications of failing to read the small prints on a contract or failing to pay taxes all can accumulate to millions, including the brand degradation associated with them.

In his book, Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School suggests that checklists can help most of us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world, regardless of the industries we operate in. He further states that in medicine, the problem is making sure they apply the knowledge they have consistently and correctly. He argues that failure or problems result not so much from ignorance (which is not knowing enough about what works, but from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works)...

May 10, 2018

Mentorship is an effective tool used to transfer business knowledge, perpetuate wisdom and expertise across generations. Mentoring relationships between mentors who are generally more experienced and knowledgeable business owners or experts in their specific fields and mentees who are less experienced or knowledgeable, have existed throughout history. However, peers have always been and are still the most underutilized source of mentoring support.

While it is important to identify highly successful individuals whom you like, respect, and trust to mentor you, remember that someone at the top of their field may not necessarily be ideal for what you need. So, do not pursue someone just because they are successful and famous; rather, identify different mentors at different levels whom you can relate to and who share your goals and understand your priorities.

It’s important to find a mentor you can see yourself becoming. In fact, I’ve discovered that the best business mentors are those who ha...

April 30, 2018

While energy access has increased in sub-Saharan Africa, with more people gaining access to electricity over the past 10 years; it has not kept pace with the rising population and other changes in the sector. Research shows that there are at least 600 million people in Africa who still do not have access to electricity, despite the continent’s endowment with all forms of fossils and renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, ocean and bioenergy. That represents a sizeable entrepreneurial opportunity.

In essence, Africa’s progress and economic growth continues to be hindered by the lack of power; hence the World Economic Forum warns that Africa risks missing out on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its economic benefits. So, there is an urgent need to support African countries to strengthen their capacities not only in the energy production but also in the planning, transmission and distribution to be able to optimize investments in the energy sector. Poor...

April 16, 2018

While passion doesn’t necessarily guarantee business success, it is one of the key and essential ingredients in entrepreneurship. It is your passion that determines your level of commitment and enables investors to have confidence in your vision, it is your passion that attracts customers and motivates you and your team to keep going during tough times.

Essentially, when you have passion you breathe in positive energy, excitement, enthusiasm and fire up commitment to succeed regardless of any obstacle. However, the same passionate disposition that drives you as an entrepreneur toward success can sometimes consume you if not properly managed. According to Psychologists, business owners are vulnerable to the dark side of obsession.

Basically, given our passionate disposition and the business pressures we deal with, we are more likely to also experience the strong emotional states such as despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation and suicidal thoughts.

So, at what point does...

March 17, 2018

One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs and SME’s alike is how to handle clients who pay late or do not pay at all. So, how do you ensure that you get paid for the services you render to your clients?

When do you draw a line between preserving the relationship and risking a big fallout by taking things further to collect an outstanding payment? Furthermore, if an invoice is overdue, how should you address it? Especially if you still value the relationship and want to work with the company again. At what point do you need to involve a lawyer?  

Firstly, the best and the most sensible way to ensure you get paid is to work only for reputable clients so, it’s important to vet who you do business with. Despite your best efforts, there may be times when a client (including a reputable one) misses a payment deadline. How you deal with the situation makes a huge difference.

Here are a few points to consider:

1. Payment Policy and Contract 

Have a contract or payment policy in place...

February 19, 2018

Thomas Edison once said anything that won’t sell, he doesn’t want to invent because a sale is proof of utility and utility is success. Similarly, unless you have a good base of customers that are raving about your product or service and are willing to buy and use it; you do not have a business.

While it is important for entrepreneurs to possess some level of mental toughness that enables them to succeed regardless of the obstacles; it is just as important to know when to exit or pivot. Staying too long with a losing venture is a common problem with most entrepreneurs despite clear signs that it is time to change.

Hence, learning to quickly adapt through a well thought-out pivot is essential. Whether this means changing your business model, pricing strategies, outsourcing or leveraging innovation or moving from one customer segment to another until you find what works.

Here are some points to consider before pivoting:

  • Define what success looks like – how will you know you’ve arrived

  • ...

September 30, 2017

How have you handled rejection in the past? How did you respond when your proposal was turned down or when the client chose a competitor over you? What about the time when a funder or an associate you were hoping to partner with said they were not interested?

There are numerous stories of successful people who kept on going and believed in their vision despite numerous rejections. Colonel Sanders received over 300 rejections before he found someone to believe in his recipe and now KFC is a hugely successful global brand. Google co-founders approached Yahoo for a possible merger in 1998 but were told to keep working on their school project and come back when they were grown up. Essentially, rejection is inevitable in business and the sooner you learn how to handle it, the easier your entrepreneurial journey will be.

When my friend Stacey Speller gets a No as an answer from anyone, she finds a different way of asking. A no, essentially drives her to re-phrase or paraphrase her question to...

September 16, 2017

How often have you asked the question: “why are we having this meeting again?” You know, the meeting where you meet to discuss what was discussed at the meeting prior; where you are not even sure why the meeting is happening and when it finally ends, you are even more confused.

Meetings are essential for enabling collaboration, innovation, fostering relationships and ensuring proper information sharing. Yet, they often end up wasting the time of those attending. They interrupt productive employees, lower employee morale and consume huge amounts of personal and company time when they are excessive, poorly planned and conducted.

Research shows that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s; this by the way, doesn’t include all the impromptu gatherings.

Research also shows that, the bigger the meeting, the less effective it often is, and a bi...

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