Are you listening? Good.
The last #TMP was published on Monday, May 25 2015. The initial promise was a fresh post everyday.
I failed to meet up with my target.
Today is May 29, Democracy Day in Nigeria, the day presidential powers will be officially handed over to Muhammadu Buhari. That is on a global scale, but in my own little world, today was supposed to be the day I would unveil a new app I have been building for a while to the public eyes.
I failed to meet up with my target.
On Monday, May 25 as many others in Nigeria, I found my self fuel-less, power-less and to compound matters, My telco provider went offline, I was left with no network to call, text or browse the internet. It was suddenly 1998 again, literally overnight. I braved up, embraced my “fate” and armed myself with packs of candles… power supply or not, it was still gonna be a long night ahead. The break from the whole world was a great time to think straight and ask myself, what was truly important.
Are you still listening? Good.
First, it dawned on me that Nigeria runs on oil. We literally run on crude oil. We make most of our money by selling crude oil, then we import petrol and other related products that then run the economy, everything else. If a crisis cut off access to oil imports for say 6 months, I doubt if we would have a Nigeria left.
Therefore, while focused on my candle and doodling on a sheet of paper, it dawned on me that the next big thing, the ONLY problem worth our time, attention and resources was not my trivial app I could no longer develop or my inability to access my websites inorder to send you a fresh edition of #TMP. The ONLY problem we need to solve now – today is the power problem, we need to develop alternate ways of generating all the power supply we would ever need.
I do not want my kids to grow up with the phrase “Up NEPA”* still in vogue, and I sincerely believe we have enough smart people and resources in Nigeria to make it happen. We need to stop fooling ourselves, without any viable alternative to power supply, we can be sent back to 1998-style living overnight. We need to stop fooling ourselves, Silicon Valley cannot develop a solution for us, we have to join our heads together and think up a solution.
All the cool video streaming apps, banking apps, messaging apps and shopping apps that dominate Nigeria’s tech scene needs to move over. It is all useless when there is no power to access them. I wonder a lot why no one has raised money from venture capitalists to attempt and solve Nigeria’s power problem. Why are they throwing so many dollars at watching movies and buying things online?
Are you still listening? Good.
We need to solve the power problem, we need to look at how we can generate all the electric power we could ever need. We are living in digital times and all our digital devices do not thrive because of all the cool apps we are building, these devices live and breathe electric power.
The most important work to be done in this decade is to ensure that everyone anywhere has constant access to electricity. Once we fix the power problem, then we can talk.
*Up NEPA – people excitedly chant “up NEPA” anytime Nigeria’s power production and distribution companies restores power.
People frown a lot on people who are perceived to be ‘Jack of all trades’, it is portrayed as a bad thing to have knowledge in a lot of areas.
First things first, the full and correct quote says “Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one”. Do your research, this quote is actually a compliment. The quote hints at what’s possible when we open up to diversify our knowledge.
Great business leaders teaches that a generalist; someone who knows about a lot of things and not a specialist is best suited to start businesses that can shake the world. In fact, one of the challenges the world currently faces is the challenge of ‘over specialisation’.
One of my greatest asset is my diversity. Its a useful strength to know a little about a lot of things.
You will make a lot of advancement in your business, projects, anything you spend your time doing if you opened up your mind to learning about a lot of things. People like Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.) were able to innovate across computing, mobile, music, retail, and many other areas due to the diversity of their knowledge.
At the initial stages, every business founder has to wear multiple hats… Marketer, Accountant, HR, Designer and Engineer. Only a ‘Jack of all trades’ can execute it well.
A: “Jack of all trades, Master of none…”
B: “Well, Mr A… I don’t need to master them all…”
That said, there is no physical law that we know that stops anybody from mastering everything.
A man can do all things if he wills. Specialization is for insects.
Don’t you ever become a specialist! Its a trap!
Every building needs a strong foundation inorder to stand firmly and stand the test of time. A business, project or whatever you spend your time doing also needs such.
I believe there is a spiritual realm, and I believe that the spiritual controls the physical. I believe that anything physical that will stand firmly over the years will need a strong spiritual foundation.
I am always ready to prepare a strong spiritual foundation for any business or project I want to embark upon, so that they can stand the heat and test of time.
When I get an idea for a new business or project, I NEVER rush out into building it out, I try to pray it out and establish it spiritually first. I pray and pray and pray (for hours, days, weeks or months) for as long as it takes, until I can ‘see’ it.
Last week, I was hanging out with a friend and he was like there is an app he has to build right away because he had spiritually seen how the app would turn out already!
Truth be told, when I talk about tenacity and boldly moving towards our vision. The reason I never waver from my own quests is because I’m always sure God is involved, I’m sure we’ve established this thing spiritually, its just to work it out physically that is left to do.
Spend time in the ‘power house’ to generate a solid firming for your business and projects. It works wonders.
Innovators love to be left alone; introverts that prefer to hang out with their laptops than enjoy the company of other humans, but the thing is that you cannot innovate inside a vacuum.
Some of us have learned the hard way that most of the problems we face today are not because we do not have the technology to deal with them, but because of the human factor. By default, people actively resist change. People rarely are ready to take the jump and embrace new solutions.
This is why it is necessary to engage and talk to people, preferably the people you are meant to serve, run the ideas by them, weigh their reactions, and ensure you are really on the same page with them.
You cannot really innovate inside your vacuum.
Watching The World
The journey to becoming a tech entrepreneur is hardly one that we can do overnight. It seems to me to be slow and steady, gradually.
Every now and then, I meet people who have ideas for mobile apps or websites and have no clue about how to get them built. To me, the answer is obvious; they need to learn programming, they need to become more technical, but most of the time, they see it as a grand waste of their time.
Why spend so much time learning? Can we not just hire some freelancers to get it done for us? Or can we not just get a technical person to build it for us for free in exchange for stakes in the company? Sadly, it rarely ever works out as planned.
In this digital times, if you are serious about starting anything that will be truly innovative, some form of digital technology will be involved and you ought to take the path of truly understanding how it works, master the field. Besides, does it not make sense to acquire the skills that you would need to function properly? Taking 2 years to learn what you have to inorder to build a company that stays online for 10 years is worth it by my own evaluation.
That is the making of the Tech Entrepreneur. You have to understand the technologies that power these things, they really help in developing really useful services.
We are at a point in history whereby anybody who can inject some digital tech, mobile solutions or social media into what they do would leap frog a lot of competition.
How high you wish to go most of the time depends on how low you are willing to go. What sacrifices are you going to make?
Do not kid yourself, every successful man out there has a story to tell; stories of sacrifices and trade-offs, pain and betrayal. Bravery, Entrepreneurship, minting money everyday definitely looks like a very appealing rank to join, but then you must be willing to do whatever it takes to get it done.
Here is the testimony with regards to Elizabeth Holmes, a self-made billionaire you have not heard about: “She no longer devotes time to novels or friends, doesn’t date, doesn’t own a television, and hasn’t taken a vacation in ten years. Her refrigerator is all but empty, as she eats most of her meals at the office,”. She is now 30 years old, her company is worth about $9 billion. Read about Elizabeth Holmes here.
If you are not willing to dig deep and go really low, literally laying down your life, there are some success that will stay beyond your reach.
All business endeavors should not be about the “right-now” profit. Profit in terms of short term monetary gains, not all business endeavors should be all about the money. There are other factors that ought to be considered.
Sometimes you want to do things for the sake of building trust, building a name for yourself first before zooming in to make a killing.
Sometimes you want to do things for the sake of building a relationship with people you can then sell to over and over again.
Sometimes you have to contribute to overall progress of your industry through various initiatives. For example, teaching kids how to code for free. (You do not make a killing, but the world gets new developers)
These things will not translate into money overnight, but they add tremendous value and create a leverage for you in the longer run.
Watching The World
Anything that will become great has to be a daily affair. You have to do it every single day, turning it into an obsession.
Insanely dedicated towards digging a little deeper everyday. When we focus like that on our goals, vision, or mission, we tend to become increasingly aware of them and we will then be able to get it done.
Watching The World
A fashion designer once lost the patronage of a wealthy man who stopped by to see what she got. He took a look around the shop, he liked what he saw but was turned off by the pricing. “I don’t wear cheap clothes!”
Picking pricing and target market for products and services remain ever tricky. Whichever pricing structure you choose, you are bound to alienate a considerable number of customers. Pricing is one of the factors that influences our perception of a product or service.
If it is expensive, we feel its premium, authentic, reliable, exclusive etc. Cheap on the other hand is common, mass, all-inclusive etc
To our fashion designer friend, what should she do? Raise her prices for the few rich patrons that stops by every now and then or maintain her prices to keep serving the everyday people.
I picked an advice from a Robert Kiyosaki book I read a few years ago. He advises that you never try to use a brand to reach both rich and poor customers at the same time.
Start 2 brands! That is his simple advice; one brand for your wealthy customers and another brand for the everyday people.
So, in this case… The fashion designer can create a new studio around where she can sell her clothes for 10x higher than the prices she listed at the first studio.
Wealthy people who don’t wear cheap clothes can buy for higher prices over there while others can continue buying at prices they can afford over here. 2 distinct brands from the same company. Everyone stays happy.
If you are heading somewhere, it only makes sense to team up or hang out with people headed in the same direction.
If you are interested in taking the leap, starting a new business or doing some really exciting stuff with your time, then you ought to seek out and be-friend people headed that same way.
People like you, people headed somewhere cannot afford to keep friends for friend keeping sake. Allow the people you move with to inspire you and challenge you in a healthy way, steer away from friends who have sunk into the mediocrity prevalent in the society, steer away from people who are empty vessels headed precisely no-where.
(Unless you have a S inscribed on your chest, do not fool yourself into thinking you can change them either. You are not Superman, are you?)