I am a proud alumna of Federal Govt. Girls College Benin-City. However, a lot of my friends and sisters attended Federal Govt. College Owerri. Thus when one of my Federal Owerri friends invited me to speak at one of their mentoring sessions for young girls I had to get over my feelings of “what will I say” “me ke?” “I don’t speak well” and just get with the program. Apart from the fact that I love my friends I also thought it was just an awesome idea to impart wisdom in young girls. Though I have a 9 to 5 I am a firm believer in entrepreneurship either fulltime or as a side hustle and have always engaged in some form of business. Below are some of tips I shared with the girls.
Entrepreneurship can be said to be the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a venture along with its risks aiming to make profit. From this definition one can observe two essential ingredients in entrepreneurship- innovation and risk. It is the risk element that makes business unattractive to many women but it should not dissuade us from going into business, rather we should learn as much as we can before diving in. Here are a few things that we can learn as we embark on any business venture.
Start young: There are loads of entrepreneurs who started early and have done very well. There is no reason for you to wait till you finish Secondary School or University to start using your gift or passion to make money. Examples of young entrepreneurs include Ashley Qualls who started her website at age 14 and recently turned down a $1.5million offer to acquire her site and Maddie Bradshaw the founder of M3 girls’ designs who got the idea for her business at the age of 10 and currently makes over $1.6million a year. Then there’s Mikaila Ulmer who landed an $11 million deal with whole foods for her lemonade and our very own Tara Fela-Durotoye who started her multi-million makeup empire at the ages of 20. Age shouldn’t be a barrier to your creativity.
Goal setting: Set your goals and achieve them. Start by writing down what you hope to achieve and that will enable you clearly articulate what your plans are. A personal example is my children’s book. I had that as a goal for a couple of years and the fact that I had articulated it helped me achieve it. As a young woman one of your goals could be to start taking pictures professionally, once you articulate your goals they will be easier to work towards and achieve.
See opportunities: Opportunities abound everywhere and it’s important that you identify them. Take the example of Ijeoma Ndukwe of Bubez Pap, she noticed that there was a dearth of hygienically prepared and packaged pap (akamu, ogi) so she started her flagship product. Another idea can be if you have experience watching your younger siblings and there are a lot of families with young children in your neighborhood and can decide to start a babysitting service when you are on holiday. Perhaps there is nowhere to buy ice blocks in your neighborhood ask your Mum if the spare freezer can be used to make ice. (I know someone who made so much money from selling ice blocks that she soon bought three more freezers). There are boundless opportunities if one looks around.
Start small: Start with what you have and grow gradually. A good example is a food business; this is something you can literally start from your kitchen with very little capital. Everyone loves treats and if you are good then your business will grow in no time. Another thing you can do with very little capital is start a summer class for children in your neighborhood, parents will be happy to pay to have someone responsible teach their children bead making or some other craft.
Don’t be afraid to fail: Remember that business comes with risks and the ultimate risk is that of failure. However do not be afraid to fail. Instead of spending time sulking sit down and try and learn the lesson. Ask yourself why you failed in a particular venture and what you could do differently. I remember when I sold make-up for some months, it was an epic flop and at the end of the day I was able to tell myself some home truths. One of them was that I had picked the wrong business; makeup was and is still not my strong point so I learnt that I was better off selling a product I had a passion or strong interest in.
Encourage feedback: Constructive criticism is something that will help your business grow. Ask your customers for feedback as it’s very important to know what you are doing right and what you need to improve on. Rather than sit and wonder what your clients think of your service or product send them polite messages thanking them for choosing you and asking for feedback.
Turn what you love into money: Find what you love and find away to monetize it. When you love something then doing it is easy and making money from it a piece of cake. Back in University there was this girl who loved making hair, while on holiday her dad paid for some course and next thing she started making some good money fixing weaves for friends. In the same way a lot of young (and old) people love the internet and spend countless hours clicking away without realizing they can make money from it.
Be Creative: Creativity is the foundation of many successful ventures. When you identify what you want to start a business in then own it by giving it your own unique twist. This will be your unique selling point and will set you apart.
Financial Literacy: Good money management skills are essential for everyone and the earlier they are learnt the better. As an entrepreneur It is especially important to understand the basics when it comes to money matters as that’s the only way you will know whether you are actually making money. There are a lot of free resources online where you can learn how to keep your books.
There are many other tips however it’s really essential that parents encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of their children and wards in any way they can.