When we start out in business, 2 of the most important questions we have to answer is: WHY are we doing this? and then HOW are we doing this?
The WHY question describes the problem we are out to solve and the HOW question describes the current solution. Now, here is the thing; do not fall in love with your HOW, remain open minded that it can change at anytime. It is the WHY that ought not to change.
If you focus on the problem, you will be able to keep generating solutions, but if you focus so much on your solution, if the market does not resonate with it, you will dry up.
Watching The World
I stumbled upon Noa Mintz yesterday. 3 years ago, she started a babysitting agency. Today, her company rakes in over $300,000 every year. (That is around ₦60, 000, 000)
Today, she is 15 years old and HIRED a 26 year old woman as CEO to run the company for her.
Say hello to Nannies by Noa
She has acquired about 200 clients in 3 years of operation. With 25 full-time nannies and 50 baby sitters working an average of 15 hours a week, she’s made enough money to hire a CEO to run the company for her while she attends school.
Anytime I discuss the concept of Student by Day, Millionaire by Night with students and employees, the reaction is usually the same: these things are not possible, these things are not feasible. While I admit to be a very optimistic person, I still fail to see why it is impossible to own 2 or 3 taxis running the street while you face your studies.
But that aside, one reason I am interested in this Noa Mintz story is because of the nature of the company she started. For a long while, I shrugged off starting businesses in what I consider to be “pure-water factory” category. What I mean by “pure-water factory” businesses are business ideas that are all over the place, businesses that do not really require any deep thinking or innovation to startup.
I started changing my mind when I realised that such businesses can serve as cash cow while I keep chipping away block by block at these mountains I am trying to move.
That is partly why I got into the Bulk SMS business.
As I write this post, I am wondering how fun life can be if I had a side-business with its own CEO generating $300, 000 for me every year. That is free money, just like printing money! Money that can be used to finance the long term businesses! And been a Nigerian living in Nigeria, the truth is that I can start and run 10 of such businesses. Every sector of Nigeria’s economy is broken and can be easily fixed by a correct thinking person.
Noa Mintz is just 15 years old. Can your exposure and maturity (and ICT skills for those who have it) help you achieve a similar feat? Can you do better??
Watching The World
Nowadays, everyone has nearly equal access to publishing tools. A new blog, Youtube channel or online magazine comes along everyday, trying to demand our attention.
It is the content then that truly differentiates everyone.
Organisations need to be clear on exactly what their content strategy is. It is not really something we can set and forget, a content strategy has to be constantly reviewed for effectiveness.
From my own end, the content strategy for The Morebise Post is to release a post everyday, preferably in the morning, before 5AM Nigerian Time. We have been doing this for over 6 months and we review often by asking questions:
On the other hand, CloudPitcher has a weekly publishing schedule. We try to update the blog once a week and then spend the rest of the week promoting the post and getting feedback from customers.
The important points to note is that:
The content you produce is important, it is a great vehicle that helps you attract the kind of people you seek.
Watching The World
If you fail to act on the ideas you have and keep waiting for the right time or the funds, the chances that you will eventually launch that idea is slim.
What is more likely is that one day you will read it in the news: someone else has launched a very similar product…
The world is not static and you are not the only mega super star in town. Some people are also thinking up new ideas everyday!
When you hit the snooze button rather than work on your ideas, you lose!
Watching The World
Aliko Dangote may not be well liked by certain people, but ignoring him is surely hard to do.
A business entity; Dangote Group and not the government is taking up the responsibility of ensuring Nigerians are fed. In this digital times, it is so easy to forget that we need a live outside computers, we will need to eat! But these days, all the smart cool kids want to build the next Twitter, Vine or Whatsapp – companies not really worth anything but generating loads of hype. (This will be discussed further in a future edition of #TMP, let us stay on topic)
I think claiming responsibility for a cause is a great way to make serious headway in business (and life).
I have taken up the responsibility of sharing the little knowledge I have gathered from my pursuits in business, creativity and productivity, and I have further committed to talking about it every single day to the point that if #TMP arrives late (as it did yesterday), most subscribers actually start troubleshooting their devices for connectivity errors, the thought that maybe we have not sent it out yet almost never occurs.
I have read the forecast that we are expecting to have 440 million Nigerians by 2050 and so I am working towards that future by spending a good chunk of my present life training people that will create jobs. My focus is not to give people jobs, my focus is to create people that will give people jobs. That is responsibility.
By 2050, I will be 60 years old and I want to take a glance around the world and see that it is my cabal: people I know, people I trained, people I invested in their companies are the ones dominating the global economy. That is the kind of miracle I want to be responsible for.
Mr Morebise, why not leave such headache for the government? Why do we have a government??
We cannot expect the Government to do everything, they have enough on their hands already. The way to go is a public-private partnership that has been successfully deployed in various countries of the world. Let the Government regulate our activities and free the brightest minds to tackle the hard problems and profit from their work.
Over to you, you do not need to start claiming responsibility for the whole planet yet, remember that we have to start small. You can (and should) look for a small starting place.
The kiosk outside your street has taken responsibility to ensure you can get your daily household needs easily. For all the disrespect we show such people, the fact remains that you cannot dip your ₦50 note into your water and it converts to milk, you really have to go out to exchange the ₦50 for milk and the kiosk made it easy to do.
So, look around your community, what can you claim responsibility for? What business can you create to fill the gap?
The money is an important part of the equation, people will pay when you solve their problems. You do not need to be a non-profit organisation! Dangote Group says they want to ensure Nigerians have food, but that does not mean they will give us for free, does it? We really should stop thinking that only non-profit organisations can solve problems effectively.
I think my first taste of claiming responsibility for people was in 2011 during my 6 months industrial training exercise, I was able to find some like minded people in the local church’s youth assembly and together we organised series of life changing events for the youths. We did not wait for the leadership of the church, we merely presented our ideas to them and pressed them to give us the go ahead, once they did, we worked out the execution.
Take up responsibility! It will help grow those muscles and you start qualifying yourself for bigger things like feeding 440 millions Nigerians when they arrive. Just like Uncle Dangote is currently doing, he does not have 2 heads now, does he?
Watching The World
Sharing The Morebise Post
To share today’s post with people you feel might need it:
Many Entrepreneurs are driven by the mission, hence they almost nearly forget about the need to have a salary and grow fat at expense of the business. A real Entrepreneur is ready to work out her heart and ensure her idea moves from virtual to visual.
If you wish to label yourself as an Entrepreneur but cannot work with such a mindset, you have work to do.
The team on the other hand are not so. You would need to go a long way to keep your team encouraged and motivated enough to give you their best.
One of the greatest frustrations you will face is the fact that your co-founder and team members are not as fired up as you to pour out their hearts into the work. Especially if you are a crappy startup working without any real capital investment from anywhere and looking instead at how you can compensate them in the long term by giving up stakes in the startup.
I have been in this position before and I still meet a lot of people who are trying to get their ideas off the ground and the result is almost the same: the team just is not working. I still spoke with someone who angrily disbanded his team last week over the same issue and I could resonate with him. I think my decision to disband my team in 2013 ranks among the smartest business decisions I have ever made.
I am not suggesting that teams dont work, far from it. What I want you to realise is that you cannot expect your team members to be as vested in your idea as you. You cannot expect them to work harder at the idea as you, you need to keep them motivated and interested.
You would not know these because you are 100% committed and will work for free as long as you have to, but do not expect the same from your team.
So, what can we do?
I think the answer is obvious, find a real co-founder that can see things at a higher level, a co-founder that is sound and exposed and really understands what you are trying to achieve and can also see the future you are seeing.
Many of the people we marshal into a team are either short-sighted and want the good things now (which you cannot provide) or just senior members of your fans club (they admire you but cannot cultivate your kind of work ethics). Neither classes of people are really needed at this stage.
Do not build a team for team building sake, you can explore freelancers, contract staff and marketing agents who are only paid a commission (I discuss this in some deeper detail in the BUILD YOUR IDEA course).
For projects to stay on course, you must not forget to concern yourself with your team and their motivation, if you cannot get them to believe in the mission and work their hearts out, if you cannot meet their needs or pay a good decent salary, then kindly let them off the boat.
The team has got to be motivated.
“Nothing is impossible”
“All things are possible”
“Expansion without limits”
These are just a few of so many feel good words I have come across the past few months or so. And when I come across people who toss them around in the air, my reaction remains the same: What exactly does it mean? Can we quantify it?
If you claim to be expanding without limits, what is your current level? How fast are you expanding per time? Without having such measured metric, we do not know for sure that you are really enjoying any expansion.
The way I see it, these things remain mere words until you sit down to pragmatically think it through and then decide you would love to actually experience it and then you move on to try to live it out.
Buzz words are just buzz words until you internalize it and truly believe in it.
That is when we can see results!
And in this line of work, it is the results that count, not hype! And definitely not buzz words!!
Money can be seen in a role as a staff, working for you.
Donald Trump, a popular American Real Estate mogul says he sees his money as staff and as such since he can never be happy if his staffs sit around all day not doing anything, he cannot also allow his money to sit idle inside banks. All money must be put to use immediately to generate more money!
Lekan Ayejimiwo once pointed out to me that it was cowards; mainly poor people that saved money in the banks. That the bold ones come boldly to the bank to collect the money and go use it for business.
If the bank is ready to lend $4 million at 5% interest rate, a coward is scared and runs away: “what if I do not make the money back?”, the bold one collects the money with the mindset “I have to make an interest of at least 8% on this money…”.
A senior colleague once taught me a lesson: rather than buy a car, he decided to use the money to do something that will buy him a car. This sentence is deep, you probably want to re-read until it sinks.
Rather than buy a car, he used the money to start a business that can buy him a new car every year. He put the money to work for him by starting a taxi business. His driver is available to him anytime he needs access to the car, else the car is out there generating money for him.
To the poor masses and other people who cannot think straight, they only see money as something used to buy stuff, but for some of us, money is a tool that we can use to do all sorts of things.
When 2 or more people are combining ideas and resources to startup a new business, a lot of things come into play. Let me shed a little light on some of them.
First of all, we have to be clear on exactly what each partner wants to contribute. A lot of people push for 50-50% splits between founders but I do not see any basis for it.
If the idea is largely owned by one founder and he has the drive and hustle to push it through, the other co-founders have to prove they are as passionate, committed and dedicated to the startup as the main visionary. Without these qualifications, it is best to just go out and hire staff.
(Hiring staff is actually easier than it sounds, you do not have to give up stake in your company just because you think you cannot pay salaries!)
If the other co-founder is promising to finance the business, let’s be clear on that also: she is not a co-founder, she is an investor. You are still on your own as you will still have to run the whole thing by yourself.
If the other co-founder is peddling himself as an ideas man, let’s be clear. That is an advisory role, not co-founder. You are still on your own as you will still have to run the whole thing by yourself.
I once had a venture in which most of the team mates merely wanted the glamor and glitz that came with the work but not willing to invest in any decent volume of time to advance the work. So, let’s be clear, they were not co-founders, they were senior members of my fans club.
How on earth do you do equal splits with such people? A startup is not a band wagon, We must must be able to clearly and honestly answer the question: What exactly does co-founder X does in this startup? Is it worth having her on board?
I once read some really bad advice for fresh people just starting out in the entrepreneurial journey and they are advised to build a website and list all their friends as team members. This is completely bad advice because having undefined business relationships with people will cause all forms of problems as we progress. If the business fails, its fine. No one fights over failed courses, but if the business works, all the fake staff and co-founders you claimed you have will come knocking at your door, demanding for a piece of their company. The one you handed over to them on a platter of gold.
Watching The World
We need to stop waiting for the right time before we make certain moves. Because sooner or later, it dawns on you: there is no right time. The time and season is never right, the stars will never align and give you a big push.
You have to push up yourself.
I meet a lot of business minded students and serving youth corpers who are waiting for a vague time, X in the future, Y before they allow expressions for the business ideas embedded inside them.
I have certainly fallen victim of this illusion before, waiting for the perfect time to get something done but after months or in some cases, years… the truth dawns on me. There will never be a perfect time to get it done.
There is no perfect time, time is whatever we make of it.
But really, If not now, then when?
Watching The World