Pioneer and successful players in startup businesses have unanimously advised that success could only come the way of upcoming entrepreneurs through passion and perseverance rather than the desire to get rich quickly.
The stakeholders advised on Thursday at the breakout session on the WorldStage Economic Summit 2023 held at the event center of the Nigerian Exchange, Lagos with the theme “The Game Changer.”
Moderated by the Editor-in-Chief of Global Financial Digest, Mr. Mayowa Oludare, guest speakers took turns to share their experiences and address issues that were critical factors in understanding and running startup businesses to succeed were Mr. Tim Akano, CEO of New Horizons Nigeria; and Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi, Managing Director, HumanManager Limited who represented the Group Managing Director of SystemSpecs Holdings, Nigeria, Mr. John Tani Obaro.
Giving a presentation on startups as the game changer, Mr. Akano admitted that it was always tough at the beginning but that passion and perseverance would make starters overcome any challenge that might come their way in the build-up stages.
Reliving personal experience, he said it took him over 12 months to convince Nigerians about his startup which he started about 20 years ago after resigning from lucrative jobs with Coca-Cola and Dunlop.
According to Akano, it takes perseverance to overcome challenges and it’s not a bed of roses to scale various hurdles for anyone ambitious to venture into startups. But every startup entrepreneur must have it at the back of their minds that the reward for solving problems is money and therefore make problem-solving their focus if they desire to make headway, he stated.
Sounding out would-be startup entrepreneurs against failure, he warned against partnering with the wrong people and to cut off with negative individuals who were only good at seeing challenges but not solutions.
“Don’t make a company of negative people, particularly the learned and academic who are fond of analysis to paralysis, only rolling out problems rather than solutions,” he warned.
He also advised upcoming startups that there is nothing bad in sharing ideas with people who may not be experts to avoid discouragement by people with much knowledge.
Asked if it’s advisable to engage partners from the start, he replied that it might be difficult to build a company with just one brain.
“The fear is understandable, but there’s no straight answer to it,” he said.
He however reminded the audience that Google was a product of some students and professors and that therefore it might not be a bad idea to have partners who are like-minded from the beginning.
He advised the youth not to be dominated by fear of the risk of bringing in people to co-own startup businesses.
Speaking on the benefits of mentoring and mentorship, Akano argued that not everyone could be a mentor but real mentors were called to serve other people, with little concern for reward.
Describing how critical mentors are to the generation of upcoming entrepreneurs, he quoted a statement by Albert Einstein that ‘he sees far by standing on the shoulder of a giant’ to support his position on the significance of mentorship.
“One has to be very bold to seek help, and youths have to be disciplined, trustworthy and have value to contribute,” he admonished.
Akano highlighted other challenges to upcoming startups as fear of the unknown, overconfidence about break-even which in most cases fails expectations, and cash flow, which according to him is about retaining cash coming in rather than just inflow of cash.
In her presentation on ‘Journey from conception to launch, Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi agreed with Akano that understanding and knowing one’s passion is key to upcoming entrepreneurs achieving success.
“Focus on your goals even when your plan is cascading,” she counseled.
She outlined other factors for success in entrepreneurship as understanding and engaging with the community; asking the right questions with ideation; challenging the status quo; listening to unmet needs and desires of the world; conceptualizing by shaping ideas into the tangible, viable, and scalable solution – determining a solution that fits the problem; creating a value proposition; defining business model; and putting a legal structure in place.
Ademiluyi also recommended execution based on nurturing ideas, refining and bringing them to life, processing product development, building workable teams, and planning resources.
“A successful launch isn’t where the story ends, going live aims at monetization, customers’ satisfaction, and creating new markets,” she elaborated.
Asked how idea could be translated to reality, she recommended that a plan should be created, concerns should be shared, the structure should be put in place, ideas should be shared, the strategic partnership should be initiated, and knowledge of what moving from point A to B in the growth process meant and entailed must be established.
She mentioned the contributions of the government to encouraging startup businesses as instituting the Bank of Industry (BoI), Microfinance banks, etc to ensure easy access to funding for financially deprived individuals who sought to go into startups.
Responding to the question about the fintech sector being dominated by technical people, she said it was because investors and venture capitalists always looked for technologists and that those who applied for their jobs were people with a background in financial technology.
To halt or curb the “japa” syndrome currently depriving Nigeria of the services of her bulk of professionals, Ademiluyi submitted that it’s a global challenge that’s not limited to Nigeria alone. However, she saw an opportunity in the challenge
“In every problem, there is an opportunity. It’s a global issue. There’s even domestic japan where people resign from their jobs and prefer to work on their own. There are opportunities in Nigeria, we only need to adjust ourselves to curb the lure of Japa,” she reasoned.
To further curb the phenomenon of ‘japa’ she called on the government at all levels to improve infrastructures for people to be interested in the country. She equally advocated the improvement of the educational system as well as the social factors.
In his opening remark, the President/CEO of WorldStage, Mr. Segun Adeleye said WES 2023 was accommodating a special breakout session tagged Startups on WorldStage with the Theme: ‘The Game Changers’ for founders, startup enthusiasts, corporates, angel investors, and media to network and chart the way forward.
He said, WorldStage, a globally focused media group with strong business/economic content, is leveraging its capacity to engage emerging startups and project them for global visibility.
“Data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that unemployment and underemployment rates increased to an all-time high of 56.1 percent in 2020, pushing 133 million Nigerians into multidimensional poverty with economic growth not inclusive as it faced key challenges of lower productivity and weak expansion of sectors with high employment elasticity,” he said.
“Getting the youths to work must be an immediate task for the government and will be driven by fixing productivity through combinations of policies that cut across some strategic sectors of the economy.
“Many startups that need to be encouraged are developing technology to solve identified problems in payment systems, insurance, agribusiness, and e-commerce among others. The beauty of their emergence is that their concepts are globally acceptable, making them eligible to expand to other countries while attracting foreign exchange and creating new jobs.”