As an entrepreneur, you’re going to be faced with a lot of uncertainty.
You’ll wonder who’s going to give you money. You’ll wonder how long it’s going to take. You’ll question if you’re making the right decisions. You’ll sometimes even ask if it’s time to give up.
Will you let this uncertainty stop you from being an effective entrepreneur?
But what about when external factors get in the way?
In the UK (where I spent the last 11 years), there is not clarity on how Brexit will impact our ability to do business in Europe.
In Kenya (where I’m currently based), the political landscape over the past 5 months has caused many businesses to grind to a halt. People are reluctant to make decisions. And the impact on startups and small businesses is severe.
So what qualities will keep you effective, efficient and moving forward despite the s**t happening around you?
on being an effective entrepreneur
A few weeks ago, I spoke to 20 pan-African entrepreneurs at the Emerging Innovators Bootcamp in Nairobi to share which qualities are most needed to be an effective entrepreneur. Here I recap what they are and ask you to reflect upon your own journey so far. I’d love to hear about your own experience in the comments below!
Taking risks is a fundamental trait of being an effective entrepreneur. And, guess what? You’ve already done it!
You’ve chosen a path that many people are afraid to step on to. The path of entrepreneurship.
But risk doesn’t disappear once your business gets off the ground. You’ll face it in every decision that you make. Products. Services. Target market. Pricing. Geography. Team….
The list goes on.
In my own journey, one of the biggest risks I faced in the beginning was the likelihood that money would run out. Initially I comforted myself by saying I could always get “a real job” and go back to what I was doing before. Fortunately I never had to!
Although that risk of running out of money is always there, my backup plan is no longer to go back to what I was doing before. 🙂 Our strategies will change over time.
The key is to have a backup plan for any risks that you’re facing.
So what about you?
Think about a decision you’ve made recently. What outcome do you expect from this decision? What is an alternative outcome? What will you need to consider if that alternative outcomes becomes reality?
Starting a business is hard work. Keeping one going comes with plenty of challenges too!
Sometimes you’ll suffer from imposter syndrome and wonder who the hell you think you are.
Sometimes your friends and family just won’t understand.
Sometimes your motivation may waiver.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a heap on the floor, crying your eyes out.
Because here’s the thing. No matter HOW HARD you work, it’s still going to take longer and cost more than you think.
And sometimes people are going to say no, which will inevitably knock your confidence no matter how strong you think you are.
But I continuously remind myself of how far I’ve already come and how I’ve arrived at where I’m at.
It helps. Let’s try it.
What setbacks have you overcome already? What helped? What great things have happened already, no matter how small they may seem?
I can’t believe how many times I see entrepreneurs NOT accept help when it’s offered. Plus how many times they don’t ask for help when the REALLY need it!
Your network is one of the most important things for you to make use of. Tap into it! Tell people what you’re doing. Ask if they know anyone in your target market. Ask for what you NEED. Don’t be shy!
You never know who people know. And you never know what people know.
My network has been instrumental to my success. I’m always inquisitive and I listen to what people have to say. I think about how I can help them, who I can connect them to and how others may be able to help me. I look out for opportunities. I follow up. I TRULY believe in the power of a network.
And you should, too.
Now ask yourself…
What is one thing that you could currently use help with? Maybe it’s a contact, tuition on a topic, a eye on your website, anything. Now list 3 people who may be able to help you out.
Effective entreprenuers have a healthy dose of reality. You dream big, but remain cool-headed and measured.
And you do so by truly understanding who your customers are, what their needs are, and how you’re the best solution to meet those needs.
The best way to do this is to ask for regular feedback from your customers, your partners, your staff, etc – and actually take it on board!
To be an effective entrepreneur, you also need to be real about your finances. Don’t hide for your numbers. It can and will kill your business.
In my own business, I run pilots for all of my products and services, gather regular feedback through different channels, make adjustments for new markets and look at my money matters weekly.
Do you have a healthy dose of reality?
Think about one area of your business needs a bit more attention. What ONE THING can you do to address this area?
some final words
You’re not meant to do all this on your own. None of us were born knowing how to do this thing called business. There will inevitably be areas that we are naturally stronger at than others.
And that’s ok!
Join our next meetups in Nairobi and London to talk about what’s currently holding you back in business and get practical solutions on how to get past these barriers. Click on the links above to register your availability.
(And if you’re not in either of those cities, you can also join our online community here.)