Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfery and Sim Shagaya amongst others in difficult circumstances? I have, and for that I spend time studying the critical characteristics of great entrepreneurs particularly as it relates to their mental resilience, optimism and an unfailing ability to succeed.
I chose to make mental strength the focus of today’s article due to the numerous responses I received from last week’s piece which centred on the “Economic wonders of Cotton” . Where do I get cotton seeds? How do I get financed? How do I get hold of ginning machines? How would my business thrive against the irregular and hazardous domestic industry policies? The hows, whats and wheres kept coming and it dawned on me – I had placed square information in a round mind. Nothing wrong with the square and round forms operating separately, but in order to attain maximum positive impact, they need to fit. So I take it upon myself to start from the very beginning, that which births every entrepreneur – self development by one’s ability to adapt to change and, the doggedness of one’s mind to identify “chance” and ripple big on small opportunities. Only then will one be able to appreciate the resourceful entrepreneurship information I publish for your digest. Let’s delve and see what mental toughness these tycoons possess which could prepare budding entrepreneurs to succeed against Nigeria’s economic odds.
- Embrace change:
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” Charles Darwin’s quote is the very first rule seasoned entrepreneurs live by. With Nigeria’s government unleashing a number of economic reforms which intends to bring about radical transformation; entrepreneurs are to adapt to change and quickly deal with the fear an unknown future will bring to avoid being stagnant and complacent. Change signals uncertainty and risk but an entrepreneur embraces the change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity. Change is the only constant thing in life and it sure is more prevalent in Nigeria’s business environment. For an entrepreneur, change is a movement; upwards means growth of a business and downward movement means death of a business. Embrace change, take calculated risks and soar.
- Don’t self pity
If there is one way an entrepreneur can by his own might distort or out rightly terminate his business, is by engaging in self pity. Mentally strong people like Dangote never feel sorry for themselves and avoid situations that render them perfectly miserable. Nigerians focus too much on the negative aspects of change factors and are too quick to clamour over “why mes” and “what ifs”. Every entrepreneurs needs to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and have an intrinsic understanding that life sometimes isn’t just fair but that wherever there is a will , there definitely is a way. As a Nigerian, don’t pity yourself and your country over the underdevelopment Nigeria has suffered in the colonial years and don’t cry non-stop over the corruption ills. Whining only offers momentarily pleasure and distracts us from reality. Yes, Nigeria has lost a lot due to bad government but you and I have so much more good to build up together. An entrepreneur is never a victim of his mind so muster some mental strength and ascend your goals.
- Own their power
Why on earth would you let someone take control of your destiny? It’s pathetic to know that an average Nigerian doesn’t believe in his/her capabilities to succeed at self will. Nigerian’s have given so much power to politics and religion and as such build their daily lives around these institutions’ ideologies. Entrepreneurs know how to take control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond. As long term visions are intricately connected to ones success, mentally tough entrepreneurs know well not to tie such to a governor’s, minister’s and even president’s, tentative four year tenure. Be courageous, own your power and start.
- Don’t please people
Great entrepreneurs don’t please people, they please purpose. In other words, they ignore small-minded people and focus on bigger pictures. This is particularly important for anyone setting up a business in Nigeria. Our society is sadly one that tends never to forgive ones past and largely judges your success to your pedigree. I have been told a thousand times “what good can come out of Kogi state? Ebira, at that?” “Mixed race people don’t fit in, go to your mother’s country”, “Single mother? Please get married for some respect”. Listen, being alive is just enough to be an entrepreneur. Your ethnicity, educational qualifications, gender, religion and even physical challenges should never deter you from your goal. Never expect to be validated; never stop doing your best even when no one gives you credit. Remember that all great achievements start with an idea, and that idea is given by God to you, so be careful of how you share and in turn absorb condemnations. Grow some tough skin and excel.
- Create opportunities
Away with the saying that opportunity comes but once. An entrepreneurial mind is configured to create opportunities. One thing Richard Branson is known for is the ease with which he accesses challenges and creates chances. Little wonder his Virgin empire spreads across the aviation, music, hospitality, fitness, telecommunications, health, automobiles, energy, sports, charity amongst others. “Business opportunities are like buses” Mr. Branson says, “…you can always catch another”. If your dream job or service you need doesn’t exist, create it. Victoria Secret was started by Roy Raymond who felt embarrassed shopping publicly for his wife’s lingerie. Nigeria imports almost everything that can ordinarily be produced and manufactured here. Good thing is president Buhari’s government is big on import substitution. Going by an economist view that the best time to start a business is when there is a need to be satisfied or when someone is doing badly at it; this is the right time for Nigerian entrepreneurs to spring up. Get up, leverage on, create opportunities and start producing toothpicks, paints, school bags, table mats, hinges, shovels, cotton buds etc. Remember, the best way to predict a good future for our children is to create one, starting today!
- Appreciate your limit
Mentally strong people know when to stop. As an entrepreneur, It’s very important to know when to recognize factors beyond ones control and pause temporarily or stop an action altogether. Running a business is quite complex and it demands a lot of energies set in motion almost simultaneously to work in basic cause and effect theory. Several macro and micro environmental factors affect businesses and applying breaks every now and then is only normal. For entrepreneurs, time is fluid; perfect moments pass away and sometimes reoccur with even better opportunities. It’s true that you shouldn’t allow anyone define your limits; but, you must be wise to recognise the importance of controlling one’s attitude and responses. “The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits” Albert Einstein. Indeed, push hard beyond limits, but be mindful not to crack.