Essentials of being a team player

Being part of a team means that you have to focus on truly working with your team members in order to achieve your common goals. You need to be present and participative, always showing your support and providing the help that other members of the team need. You also need to ensure that you and the rest of the team are able to work harmoniously all the time.

It might seem simple enough, but navigating the dynamics of working with a team requires some work as well. There will be times when collaborating with your team members is more important than handling your own tasks. That is why learning to be a true team player will contribute to yours and the success of your team.

In every team, you are expected to fulfill a role as an individual and also within your team. To be a valuable team member, you must be aware of your responsibilities as well as those of others and also be sensitive to tasks that require team collaboration. That’s why it’s important for every member to know their team’s objectives, processes and expected outputs.

What does it take to become a good team player? There are four key elements that you need to learn in order to play your role in your team well. Remember that more than being the best in the team, it’s more important to become the best for your team. Let’s take a look at these four strategies and how you can master them.

Interaction

What can be more important than communicating with your team members? As a team player, you have to make it a point to regularly interact with your team members. After all, all of you will learn from one another this way. There’s nothing like open communication and socialization to strengthen your ties as a team.

Your relationships with your team members are important in determining how well the team will work together. Therefore, your interactions not only serve as way to discuss your collective tasks and objectives but also as a simple way to socialize during working hours. Frequent interaction will enable you to build rapport among members and foster a safe and open working environment for everyone.

Regular meetings, both formal and informal, are also essential for teams. If you want to be a successful team player, meetings are opportunities for you to ask questions, listen intently, clarify things, and determine how you can manage expectations. These meetings help solidify your goals as a team and remind every team member of what you should all work for.

The frequency of these meetings depends on the tasks at hand and how urgent they are. Some teams need to meet more often than others. Regardless of frequency, meetings are there to ensure that everyone takes responsibility and is on the same page, and will come out of it working more effectively towards the team’s goals.

Information sharing

How do you manage information within your team? Having access to information will always enhance your understanding of team objectives and tasks, and will also ensure that your team works effectively. It’s fundamental that team members exchange information in order to guide one another and enable smart decision making.

Information can be considered valuable if it enables a team member to re-evaluate their understanding of tasks or objectives. From task updates to process improvements, these bits of information allow team members to move forward efficiently. Relaying information can either be done electronically or face to face, depending on how rich the information is.

Face to face is the most ideal medium of sharing information because it strengthens communication, coordination, and collaboration within the team. However, it can also result in time drains especially during meetings, when too much information is shared among team members. Leaders and team members should be mindful of this, in order to maintain efficiency within the team.

In some cases, teams will not have the means to facilitate face to face communication. This is true for virtual teams. In order for information sharing to become more effective, virtual teams should aim to gather in person before starting work together in order to align regarding team objectives, strategies, and processes.

Influencing and decision making

As far as decision making goes, teams make better decisions as a group as opposed to team members working alone. So, how can teams ensure that the ideal decision is made at every opportunity? By identifying processes that will empower every member of the team to make the best decision, even when they’re on their own.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. From social factors like conformity, status and hierarchy, and “groupthink” to personality differences, egocentricity, and lack of communication skills, team members will have to approach decision-making with extra care. Leaders should also exercise caution and strike the right balance between exercising their power and allowing excessive democracy. One way to make this happen is by applying “the stepladder technique” (Rogelberg, Barnes-Farrell and Lowe, 1992) to decision-making.

To do this, each member of the team should provide input by presenting their individual views without learning about the other team members’ views first. Once everyone has given their preliminary views, each team member will be given a chance to present their input and discuss all input face to face with the team. A final decision will be reached at the end of the discussion.

The stepladder technique makes it possible for all perspectives to be acknowledged, and allows everyone to contribute and be accountable for their input to the discussion. When opinions are explored, the team members become more enlightened about other ideas, feel more empowered to express themselves, and learn how to make the best possible decision for everyone.

Creating safety

It’s every team member’s responsibility to foster a safe environment that allows everyone to grow and contribute to the team. Therefore, as a team player, you need to make sure that other members of the team rarely feel underestimated or ignored in your group. This enables them to feel valuable and encourages them to give their best towards achieving the team’s goals.

A positive climate is also important to enable your team to work harmoniously. Without it, team members will often feel anxious and think that they’re being watched with their every move. When you have a positive environment, team members feel like they are supported and trusted, making them more enthusiastic about work.

A safe environment fosters clarity, recognition, regular interaction, and appreciation for the team contribution. A safe environment makes teamwork possible. And when team members share acceptance, warmth, humor, and support, the team is able to prosper more. It ensures that the team members’ wellbeing is taken into consideration while encouraging the team to work harder in order to go further together.

When it gets easy

Going back home wasn’t an option. In fact, my life had already begun and I had no home yet. I stared down my balcony and the rain poured down heavily. There were no buses passing by.

How was I going to get to Onipan?

Waiting till the rain stopped wasn’t even an option. It was already 5:30 and leaving anytime later than this meant I would miss the staff bus. I opened my wallet and sitting tiredly in it was a single one thousand naira note, a 50 naira note and a ten naira note. I had to manage this till Friday when hopefully something good might happen. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen by opening my wallet. I always knew how much was in it at all times. Opening it solved nothing.

My mind flashed back to when I was little, how my parents would drive me to school every morning. When it didn’t matter if it rained rocks. I was waiting for a miracle that wasn’t going to happen. The rain wasn’t going to reduce just because I wanted it to. I placed my shirt on my shoulder and picked up my briefcase, opened it and removed some files I didn’t need.

I need to walk into this storm as light as possible.

My mind flashed to Remi, how all this would have been easy if she had called this morning. How her voice could have encouraged me to keep flying despite the opposing wind. I erased the thought as fast as it came. I didn’t want it to be easy because of anyone. People are not permanent, I thought. They always leave with the blessings they bring. Why should I let her make it easy when it will get a thousand times harder when she eventually leaves.

“Life” I sighed.

I hurriedly wore my shirt. I looked at my watch and it was 5:35. With all the sanity I could muster, I dashed into the rain.

What a groom means

All brides have grooms…

The word groom is a verb and also a noun. We can all agree that actions are more important than words. Therefore, focusing on its definition as a verb. To groom is a transitive verb that means:

1: to clean and maintain the appearance of(an animal); especially: to maintain the health and condition of the coat of (a horse, dog, etc.) by brushing, combing, currying, or similar attention.

2: to make neat or attractive an impeccably groomed woman.

3: to get into readiness for a specific objective: John was being groomed as a presidential candidate.

Let me start with these questions;

Is it possible to be a bride without a groom? Should brides be groomed before the wedding or after the wedding? Do wives need grooms? Who is a groom from my perspective?

I’m not very experienced in relationships. I don’t think it’s safe for anyone to say they are. I have had my share in this cake to observe that ladies love to be groomed. Don’t confuse grooming with rearing, taming or training. The difference is the later is done for selfish purposes for example:

×Domestic animals are reared to he sold to reap reward
×Wild beasts are tamed so they can be in control of their master.
×Animals and people are trained so their behavioural patterns can be to the advantage of either their trainer or the person paying for their training.

We can all agree that this processes mirror the process of clay going into an oven. This processes are forced. They are not tender and sweet. If you consider the meaning of groom you will see that it’s a process that requires care, love and attention.

I assumed my sweetheart is perfect. I still very much believe she is but only yesterday I saw how much she needed grooming and how much she loved as I groomed her. The bible talks about prepared brides. How she wants to be prepared before she becomes my bride.
A groom must first groom himself and. Simultaneously groom his spouse. How tedious a task that is.

Ladies are like wild flowers
Beautiful and ferocious
They twinkle like stars
Yet they burn like wild flames

A groom must tenderly correct. You are not a groom till you are groomed either by yourself or your mentors, friends and even your spouse. You must become a groom before your spouse becomes a bride. Get your ass off the couch and begin the race of romance and eternal commitment.

How these Successful African Entrepreneurs Raised Capital for Their

“I don’t have the capital.”

“Nobody wants to give me capital.”

“The banks have turned me down five times.”

These are some of the most common reasons people give for not starting or growing their businesses.

Access to capital is arguably the biggest threat to entrepreneurs around the world. And every year, thousands of passionate people – especially in Africa – give up on their business ideas, projects and dreams just because they can’t find capital.

But is lack of capital really the “serial killer of business dreams” that we claim it is?

In my experience and opinion, lack of capital is largely a convenient excuse. Yes, it’s true. In fact, I have found that capital is actually more abundant and available in today’s world.

And I have proof!

The problem is, many entrepreneurs who need capital don’t know where to look for it. That’s why the real problem is actually a lack of awareness about where and how to raise capital, and not a lack of capital.

Over the last decade, more capital has been flowing into places like Africa like never before. In 2015, the continent received up to $276.5 million in startup funding. In 2016, the number rose to $366.8 million. And these numbers are just for tech startups alone.

Over the long term, I really don’t see anything that would stop these capital flows from rising higher and higher as the years go by.

In this article, I dispel the myth of capital by showing you several examples of African entrepreneurs who have successfully raised funding to start, grow and expand their businesses.

I don’t just want to give you the facts. Facts can be boring, especially when you’re desperately looking for capital.

Instead, I’ll be sharing the success stories that prove just how possible it is to raise capital even in tough and challenging environments like Africa’s. And if these men and women can find capital in Africa, you can find it too!

But this article isn’t just about stories. It’s about fixing the misconceptions and wrong notions you’ve always had about raising capital for your business.

That’s why I’ve prepared a free and comprehensive short course that will open your eyes to the world of raising capital and how it works. The short course is a first of its kind in Africa and the lessons you learn could change your entrepreneurial journey forever.

But you have to finish reading this article first. I’ll show you the free course at the end of the article.

For now, I present to you 10 of the most exciting success stories of African entrepreneurs who successfully raised capital to start, grow and scale their businesses.

Happy reading!

1) Lorna Rutto (Kenya)

In 2010, she quit her bank job to start a waste recycling business.

Her company, EcoPost, collects and recycles waste plastic into aesthetic, durable and environmentally-friendly fencing posts that serve as an alternative material to timber.

But her business would have remained a dream without the financial support of international and local investors and NGOs.

Every year, hundreds of international and local organisations support businesses that tackle issues such as environmental pollution, illiteracy, disease and other social problems. They usually provide grants, donations, loans, equity or even training and advice.

The problem is, many African entrepreneurs don’t know about these funding opportunities, and as a result they don’t apply.

So in 2010, Lorna applied for and won a $6,000 SEED Award which served as start-up capital for her business. In the same year, she won a grant award of $12,700 from the Enablis Energy Globe-Safaricom Foundation.

She also won a business plan competition organized by the Cartier Women’s Initiative, and received a prize award of nearly $12,000.

Recently, her business attracted an equity investment from the Blue Haven Initiative and the Opus Foundation amounting to $495,000. This was used to expand the business and purchase advanced recycling equipment.

In the free course at the bottom of this article, I reveal the reasons why these organisations are eager to support businesses in developing countries by giving away millions of dollars as grants, donations, loans and equity every year.

2) Jason Njoku (Nigeria)

Jason is the co-founder of IrokoTV, a mobile entertainment and internet TV platform that’s particularly popular for its impressive catalogue of African ‘Nollywood’ movies.

But the struggle in the early days of this business was not as glamourous.

After failed attempts at previous businesses in the UK, Jason returned to Nigeria in 2010 to build relationships with local movie producers and purchase content rights for his new startup, IrokoTV.

Cash was tight, and starting this business would have been impossible without the £90,000 contribution of Jason’s friend and business partner, Sebastian.

Since then, the growth of IrokoTV has been remarkable. To date, the business has attracted up to $40 million in investment funding from foreign investors, mostly venture capital investors.

Its investors include Tiger Global, a New York-based private equity firm, and Investment AB Kinnevik, a Swedish venture capital investor.

Venture capital firms invest more than $140 billion every year in startups and growth businesses across the world. But in Africa, venture capital is only just starting to pick up and they’re very interested in funding highly-scalable businesses that have significant profit potential.

In January 2016, IrokoTV raised $19 million in additional funding to expand its business into Francophone countries in Africa.

In summary, by using a combination of business partnerships and venture capital, Jason has been able to successfully raise significant amounts of capital to grow a company that was described by Forbes Magazine as “the Netflix of Africa.”

I explore business partnerships and venture capital in more detail inside the free course.

3) Anna Phosa (South Africa)

Anna Phosa is one of Africa’s most successful pig farmers. She’s often referred to as a ‘celebrity pig farmer.’

But her business journey wasn’t rosy, and she struggled to raise capital to start and grow the business.

In 2004, Anna started her first pig farm in Soweto with $100 contributed from her personal savings. She started with only 4 small pigs.

After four years — in 2008 — she was contracted by Pick ‘n Pay, the South African supermarket chain, to supply its stores with 10 pigs per week. This was a first breakthrough and the request grew quickly to 20 pigs per week.

By 2010, she had signed a major contract with Pick ‘n Pay to supply 100 pigs (per week) over the next five years under a R25 million deal – that’s nearly $1.9 million (in Aug 2017 terms).

With a contract in hand, Anna was able to raise capital from ABSA Bank and USAID to buy a 350-hectare farm property. Today, her farm houses 4,000 pigs at a time and employs about 20 staff.

Most entrepreneurs who want to start a business often turn to banks and end up disappointed. And that’s because banks tend to focus on growth and mature businesses that have healthy cashflows and collateral that can be used to secure the loan. If don’t have any of these, you could be wasting your time chasing a bank loan.

Many entrepreneurs don’t know this but banks are just one out of 15 different options for raising capital. The problem is, too many unqualified businesses approach the banks for loans.

Inside the free course, I’ll explain each of these 15 other options of funding, and the important criteria you have to meet before you ever think of approaching the banks for a loan.

4) Ali El-Shafei (Egypt)

Dr. Aly El-Shafei is a MIT-trained academic and mechanical engineer. He is now famed for his patented innovation – SEMAJIB – a versatile magnetic smart bearing which has interesting applications in electricity generation.

In 2017, Dr. El-Shafei won the Innovation Prize for Africa, a grand award of $100,000. The prize money will be used to further develop his invention and create an industrial prototype.

Before winning this award, he had won €240,000 from the European Union’s Research, Development and Innovation Programme in 2009. In 2013, he landed a $100,000 grant from Egypt’s Science and Technology Development Fund.

Every year, there are hundreds of local, regional and international competitions that take place across the world. The amount of capital that can be won from these competitions ranges from a few thousand to millions of dollars.

But there are more benefits that can be gained from competitions beyond winning. Even if you don’t win, the experience, exposure and feedback can bring remarkable benefits to your business.

In the free course, I provide a long list of business plan competitions and initiatives that you can start targeting for funding.

5) OMG Digital (Ghana)

Dominic Mensah, Prince Boakye Boampong and Jesse Arhin Ghansah started OMG Ghana in 2012 when they were in college. Smartphones were becoming more popular back then, but Jesse and his friends had a hard time finding interesting things to read online.

So they decided to create a media company that provides content for people like them – young and internet-savvy Africans.

Today, the company’s brand and following has spread from Ghana into Nigeria and Kenya. And it’s set to launch sites for South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.

The team of three entrepreneurs was accepted into Y Combinator, one of the world’s most prestigious accelerator programs. And in June 2017, they raised $1.1 million from a group of venture capital firms and angel investors.

Angel investors are usually rich people or professional investors who invest in early-stage businesses. These are people who invest their own money in a young business in the hopes of making a high return on investment.

Without angel investors, some of the most successful businesses in the world today, like Microsoft, Google and Facebook may have never existed.

In the free course, I talk more about angel investors, accelerator programs and venture capital investors. These are alternative sources of capital that many entrepreneurs in Africa just don’t explore.

6) Aliko Dangote (Nigeria)

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, currently worth $12.3 billion (mid-August 2017), is a role model to entrepreneurs on the continent.

While his business interests currently spread across Africa, Dangote’s impressive fortune was built from very humble beginnings.

He started his business in 1978 with 500,000 Naira borrowed from his grandfather. That’s about $1,400 in today’s terms.

A common mistake we often make as entrepreneurs is to overlook and take for granted those sources of capital that are around us and within our reach. Friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours and people within our social sphere can be interesting sources of capital, especially in the early stages of business.

And because business flourished, Dangote was able to pay back the loan to his grandfather in about six months.

In the early years, Dangote focused on importing soft commodities, including rice, frozen fish, sugar and baby food into Nigeria. Today, his business interests have expanded into local production of cement, salt, flour and recently, petroleum refining.

These days, the banks, private and institutional investors are keen to invest in Dangote’s businesses because of the track record of success he has achieved over the years. But in the beginning, it would have been tough – if not impossible – for him to raise startup capital from any of these sources.

Remember, only people who know, like and trust you will be willing to take a chance on you in the early days of your business.

While it’s still a great option, I’ll show you some of the good and bad sides of raising capital from friends and family in the free course.

7) Bethlehem Alemu (Ethiopia)

Bethlehem Alemu grew up in Zenabwork, a poor village in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Her business – SoleRebels – is one of the most popular and fastest-growing African footwear brands in the world! Her collection of eco-friendly footwear (made from recycled materials) have been sold in more than 50 countries across the world, including the USA, Canada, Japan and Switzerland.

But her business dream would have never have taken off without the $10,000 in capital she raised from family and relatives in 2004.

Despite her poor background, it was possible to get her family and relatives to pitch in their contributions. This is the not-too-glamourous part of getting a business off the ground that glossy magazines fail to mention.

Success comes at a price. It may be embarrassing and downright difficult to ask other people to invest in your business idea, dream, vision or project. But you just have to do it if you want to stand a chance.

Using that initial capital, Bethlehem’s business took off and she has gone ahead to launch another fashion business – Republic of leather — that trades in luxury leather products like bags, belts and other non-footwear leather accessories.

Her inspiring success story has been featured on Forbes, the BBC and CNN. And she was described by Forbes as ‘One of The World’s Most Powerful Women’.

8) Giraffe (South Africa)

Anish Shivdasani and Shafin Anwarsha are the entrepreneurs behind Giraffe, a South African startup business that provides low-cost automated recruitment solutions, based on a mobile app.

In 2016, the business won the Seedstars World Competition, beating 63 other startups from 55 countries across the world to win the grand prize of $500,000 in equity investment funding.

On a continent where many entrepreneurs complain about lack of capital, this startup from South Africa beat other businesses from across the world to win the prize. Of course the judges were impressed by the ingenuity of their business model and its potential impact on unemployment in South Africa.

The truth is, there are hundreds of startups in Africa that could achieve the same feat if only they participated in competitions like this.

Shortly after winning the $500,000 prize, Giraffe attracted an undisclosed additional seed funding from a group of US-based investors, led by the Omidyar Network – a philanthropic investment firm of Pierre Omidyar (founder of eBay).

Like I mentioned earlier in this article, one of the benefits of winning a competition is the exposure it gives to you and your business. Very often, the exposure ends up attracting more investors and capital to you.

9) Babajide Ipaye (Nigeria)

For over a decade ‘Jide Ipaye worked as an IT professional, but deep in his heart, he wanted to do something much different. He wanted to make stylish footwear.

From an early age he’s always loved shoes but the options available to him were quite limited because of his foot size – he’s a size 48 (European). So, finding shoes that are the right size and fit had always been a challenge.

So, rather than just make bespoke shoes for himself, ‘Jide came up with an idea to manufacture cool and high-quality footwear in Nigeria. That’s how Keexs, his Africa-inspired brand was born.

But there was no capital to fund his dream.

So, in 2015, he successfully raised £17,871 on Kickstarter, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. ‘Jide used this capital to produce the first batch of 1,200 sneakers that effectively launched the brand and made it a reality.

Crowdfunding is rapidly becoming one of the biggest sources of capital for passionate people who are looking to bring their business ideas, projects and dreams to life.

In 2015 alone, the global crowdfunding industry raised $34.4 billion to support entrepreneurs across the world. But in Africa, crowdfunding remains largely unknown to entrepreneurs on the continent.

In the free course below, I explain how crowdfunding works and the different platforms that exist across the world.

10) Zoona (Zambia)

Zoona is a financial services business founded by two entrepreneurial brothers – Brad and Brett Macgrath in 2009. One is an ex-JP Morgan banker and the other is a former commercial director of a telecom operator in Zambia.

The startup provides both in-country and cross-border money transfer services in several African countries – Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. And so far, it has processed more than $1 billion in money transfers, bill payments and other financial services.

In 2016, Zoona raised $15 million of capital from a group of investors led by the International Finance Corporation. The funds are being used to scale up the company’s operations as it aims to reach ten markets and 30 million active consumers across Africa by 2020.

The International Finance Corporation, or IFC, is an example of an international development institution. And there are several more like it that exist to support and invest in businesses, especially in developing regions of the world like Africa.

Most international development institutions are funded or sponsored by foreign governments or global institutions like the World Bank, United Nations, European Union etc.

In the free course, you’ll learn more about these types of organisations and the kinds of businesses they invest in.

Ready to learn how to raise capital?
Like I said at the beginning of this article, “lack of capital” is not the problem. The real problem is a “lack of awareness.”

That’s why we created the Capital Attraction Secrets Course for our readers.

This free course is a 4-part lesson series that reveals:

The most dangerous Mental Roadblocks that hold many entrepreneurs back from attracting the capital they need for their business;
The 5 BIG reasons investors and funding organisations are keen to release billions of dollars in funding every year;
The 4 Major Categories investors use to classify and evaluate businesses that approach them for funding;
The Top 15 Sources of Funding you should target to raise capital;
The Good and Bad sides of each source of funding so you can make objective choices and decisions about the right source of funding for your business;
Real-life examples and success stories of entrepreneurs who have successfully raised funding for their businesses;
The SUCCESS FORMULA for attracting investors to fund your business;
The 10 Most Important Things investors are looking for in any business before they invest;
Practical Tips for identifying, targeting, approaching and attracting the right investors to fund your business; and
The 5 most common mistakes you should avoid when you’re raising funding for your business.
Here’s the link to get started with the course: http://www.smallstarter.com/funding

Happy learning!

The code to being a successful entrepreneur

1.) Have a Unique Perspective on Risk

This one seems like a no-brainer. What other segment of society is willing to step out with crazy ideas like entrepreneurs? But here is the deal for those of you on the fence — get your tail off it. According to the report, “a majority of entrepreneurs indicate they believe entrepreneurs are born — not made”.
So see? You were born to do this. But you have to take a risk and start. You have zero — repeat zero — chance of winning the game if you’re not in it.

2. Instil great passion in great team

Forbes speaking with Venture Capitalist Paul Jones the other day — he told them the leading cause of high impact entrepreneurial failure is due to team dysfunction and breakdown.

And according to this report; “These entrepreneurs and their companies overwhelmingly cite people as their leading priority. In addition, they really differentiate themselves is in their ability to communicate their vision and instill their passion to their team. More than 40% cite this as their biggest strength.”

Bottom line? Leading entrepreneurs cannot do it alone and they know it. They’ve carefully selected the right people to work with and they genuinely care about their well-being. Inspirational leaders — are you one of them?

once in awhile. But guess what? They get up and try, try again. Most times in a new direction.

3. Demonstrate resilience and rapid recovery

Tenacious as a bull-dog — rock star entrepreneurs simply don’t give up. Yes — they get things wrong from time to time. And yes — they get knocked on their rear once in awhile. But guess what? They get up and try, try again. Most times in a new direction.
Eric Ries calls it a “pivot”.
Ernst & Young uncovered this; “Everyone makes mistakes, including successful entrepreneurs. More than 30% of the entrepreneurs acknowledged having made one or more bad decisions or encountering significant difficulty in execution. But while all businesses make bad decisions from time to time, the best entrepreneurs and their teams seem to be more resilient. Encountering obstacles, they are able to set a new course and rapidly recover.”

4.) Embrace Innovation

Hurling through space at the speed of 67,000 miles per hour. Can you imagine it? Yes — that’s us here on planet earth as we fly around the sun.
Now take the break neck pace of technology and knowledge advancement we’re experiencing in our current time. Dare I say it’s whipping along at the same ridiculous speed. Which means you better build a culture of innovation into your business lest you get run over from behind.
According to the report; “Entrepreneurial companies are the predominant sources of radical innovations. While older and larger companies can also innovate effectively, more established companies tend to resist radical innovation that might displace their existing revenue streams in the short term. Successful entrepreneurs know their ability and propensity for innovation can make them an attractive investment, acquisition or partnership target.”
Key takeaway? You better always be thinking ahead about the next big thing.

5.) Focus on Core Competencies
Group, Maggie Fox so eloquently stated; “If you have any more than three priorities; you have no priorities.”

And Ernst & Young with Kauffman backs this in their findings; “High-growth entrepreneurs appropriately partner with other corporations to carry out certain infrastructure and technology needs; administrative functions; sales channels; manufacturing; distribution and regulatory compliance. This enables more rapid, flexible and cost-effective scalability as the business grows.”

6.) Pursue Expansion

“Just keep swimming… just keep swimming.” – Dory

Yes — the best entrepreneurs keep swimming. They keep pursuing innovation and they keep growing their companies. And not necessarily in the “grow or die” mantra. Smart, strategic growth and expansion.

Ernst & Young discovered; “The majority of the entrepreneurs indicate they are continuing to expand their businesses in both domestic and developed global markets. And many, especially those with revenues greater than $1 billion, indicate they are expanding into emerging global markets.”

Now certainly as a startup you’re not quite at the 10 figure mark. But don’t think smart expansion and growth don’t apply to you. So even if you’re at the 7 or 8 figure mark; no time to rest on your laurels. Just follow Dory.

7.) The Right Capital At The Right Time

No question capital is a biggie among both startups and the best entrepreneurs in America. It certainly ranks at the top as the biggest “pain in the you know what”I’ve heard from aspiring and startup entrepreneurs.

So what to do about it? Take heed at the multiple opportunities we have to access capital from multiple sources. Angels, Super Angels, VCs, banks, credit lines, family, friends, your own savings and if you’re really ruthless, your own mom’s savings.

According to the report; “Entrepreneurs have accessed a wide range of funding sources while growing their businesses. Nearly 50% report raising venture capital, angel investment or private equity. Roughly 33% cite the use of personal funds, while another 25% access bank loans. And, 16% received funds from friends and family.”

8.) Preserve What’s Been Built

Although this is a nugget from some power hitting entrepreneurs — not sure I am fully buying into it. Yes — there is no question you want to “cling to what is good — and abhor what is evil”; or in other words; work towards preserving all the wonderful things you have built into your company. But the trouble is what hides under the rug during your preservation mode. Call it “complacency”.
In my mind, this is one of the reasons those big 800 pound gorilla companies start falling behind. Unless you also create a culture of innovation (#4 above) — you’ve got be careful things don’t turn into petrified wood.

Just ask those companies profiled in Clayton M. Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. (Well, actually you can’t ask them because they got wiped out and aren’t here anymore.)

But nonetheless, here is the discovery from Ernst & Young; “Successful entrepreneurs look to preserve those company qualities that made them a market leader. Their four top concerns as they grow and mature are preserving company culture (52%), attracting and maintaining top talent (44%), protecting and enhancing brand and reputation (38%) and retaining best customers (30%).”

But again — beware of the big bad wolf lurking under the rug.

There’s your super 8 strategies — straight from the mouths of 636 entrepreneurs who are leading the way here in America

Ayo and Bisola

How Ayo had gotten into the vents that lie in my chest was a mystery. Everywhere was locked down, the windows, doors and even my eyes were shut when we kissed last night. I didn’t get a glimpse of his sunlight like skin or his chocolate cake brown eyes before they shut in ecstacy. Wait, I shouldn’t know all this. I’m certain my eyes were closed. The blackness of closed eyes must have been a perfect canvas for my mind to paint images that I can never erase. Now he hides somewhere within me, ripping the tendons in my chest to shreds.

Bisola is definitely one of the prettiest girls I have met. I’m surprised I could even steal a kiss last night. Her lips were paradise. Her warm hands melted my soul as her spirit rented a place in my heart. My entire being yearns even if just to have a glimpse of her. The more I stare into her face, the more the details of it’s intricacies burn into my brain. Maybe someday my mind can conjure her presence with perfection. Why did she escape my grasp into the night before the buds of our union could bloom. I need to see Bisola even if for the last time.

Dream chaser: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Voicemail

“This call is being forwarded to voicemail.” The operators voice responded after the ring.

Vivian contemplated dropping the call the way she would normally do but her sixth sense urged her not to. It felt like her cheeks were freezing due to the ice-cold surface of her phones screen on her face. Her heart had stopped beating minutes ago, making room for the tension in the atmosphere to build and play it’s tune.

Happy birthday Vivian, may your dreams become reality. Much love, Man in black.

Did I hear clearly? Vivian thought. She smiled in agony just before a river of tears began to stream down her cheeks. She shook her head, “I’m officially crazy”

She dropped her phone next to her and covered her face with both hands. She thought about calling Doctor Obinna. She had gotten his number from the internet last week but decided she wasn’t going to call him. She stretched her hand to pick up her phone. She could hear voices coming from it. She slowly placed her finger on the sensor to unlock it. She discovered she had forgotten to hang up after her call and a notification from true caller displayed an ID.

Paul uni ABJ.

She lifted the phone into her ears and all she could hear was laughter. This certainly wasn’t her mind playing tricks with her. Everything about this laughter was real. It didn’t sound scary, angry or dangerous, rather it sounded excited and full of joy.

Suddenly the laughter stopped. “I have found my prey” The same voice echoed sounding more ruthless than before.

****

Tobi rocked back and front as he felt a sharp pain beneath his navel. Yesterday night flashed through his mind and he agreed that he shouldn’t have taken more than one bottle.

He felt the Grey dust in his head unsettle as he got car sick. Just before he could put his thoughts together, he muttered a name.

Vivian

He hadn’t seen her in more than a year but she patiently waited for any sign of vulnerability to escape the dungeon beneath the fortress that he had successfully caged her into.

She wasn’t his kryptonite, no. In fact, Tobi could feel the fire burning once again in his chest. The fire that made him become everything he was. The fire that would help him climb to the highest pinnacle. 

​DREAM CHASER: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Birthday post

“Happy birthday Vivian!” Her friends echoed almost knocking her off her feet. 

Seun must have gotten into the room while she was in the bathroom. Seun stayed in the flat next door but she was totally part of the squad. Zainab must have done her best to hide Seun’s presence since Seun was a chatterbox. Zainab was always intrigued to hear about her conquests and this made them a bad combination. Vivian loved her friends and with service rounding up, she was sad that she just had to put up with them for just a few more months.

“So, Vivian what are we doing today? Clubbing?” Seun teased. “Zainab needs some night life for her blight life.”

“Shush Seun! My life is sweet as it is” Zainab snapped, throwing a pillow into Seun’s face. “Clubbing isn’t a bad idea though” she added.

“Oya, first things first. Both of you, out!” Vivian said grabbing her friends by their hands. “Today is my day so I’m getting this room to myself.”

“Huh…” Zainab attempted to speak.

Before any of them could comment, Vivian had shut the door.

“Phew! Finally” Vivian whispered, reaching for her phone to glimpse at all the fake birthday messages that flooded her notifications.

James Neighbour2.

“This particular post must be interesting” she whispered.

Her phone almost dropped from her hand in shock when she saw the picture he had uploaded. It was a picture of her and her late father and for some reason she wasn’t looking too happy in the picture. It was actually surprising how unhappy she looked because all the memories she had of her late dad were wonderful. What had broken her joy prior to the time this picture was taken? This wasn’t what shocked her but the fact that it was exactly the same image she had seen in her assailant’s face, in her dream last night.

What is the relationship between her nightmares, late father, the man in black and this particular picture? Does James hold answers or is it mere coincidence? 

Find out on the next chapter which I will be posting next week. Don’t forget to like and comment. Click the follow button and get notified when I upload the next chapter. 

​DREAM CHASER: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Man in black

Everything was swallowed up in the darkness. Her assailant’s teeth was the only thing visible and it was evident he was grinning. No, growling like a beast who had just found his prey.

“You can’t hide forever” his voice echoed sending chills down her spine.

The putrid smell of alcohol signaled how close he had already gotten. She shut her eyes tightly and held her breathe hoping the darkness would swallow her from his sight. Everything went mute and it was as though time paused for a moment.

“It is too late my dear” his voice pulled her consciousness back from limbo.

Next thing she knew, she was lying flat on a bed. She attempted to struggle but her hands had been chained to the bed support.

Somebody help.

Her voice could not even make it past her windpipe for some reason. All she could do was lay there gasping for air. She could not tell if it was sweat or tears dripping down her cheeks. A dark figure of a man appeared over her and suddenly everything became hazy. She tried her best to focus on his face and it was as though his face became a mirror. It was strange but the image in the mirror was that of a little girl hardly over nine years.

“Vivian! Vivi wake up!” Zainab said, tapping Vivian’s thighs.  

Vivian’s body was drowning in her own sweat and shaking furiously. This was the fifth time in two weeks that she was having this dream. They were beginning to happen more frequently. The dreams weren’t always the same but they all had something similar. Strange and faceless man who molested her but this time something was different. 

“What’s wrong? Were you having a nightmare? Zainab asked, interrupting her thoughts.

She rolled to the other side in an attempt to move away from Zainab’s reach. “Leave me alone” she replied “I don’t need all these questions”.

She kept thinking if the dreams were leading somewhere or if she was just going crazy. If she told anyone, they would just assume that she was possessed by some demon. She stood up and walked into the bathroom.  She stared at her degenerated reflection in the mirror. 

“Nothing make up can’t fix” She smiled.

Just as she was absorbing her reflection an image flashed into her mind. It was the same image she saw in the face of the man in black, a nick name she gave him when she was younger. This was the first time she was seeing a face in his blackness but why was it an image of her own self. She hurriedly rounded up her early morning bathroom ritual and made her way out of the bathroom but all she could think of was that image in his face.


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Dream chase

Vivian’s life is about to begin with her passing out from NYSC drawing closer. All seems to be going well with her. She is envied by all for her beauty and intelligence but there is more going on with Viv who is seen by all as the life of the party. 

Her nightmares are are back and they are happening more frequently. Are they lost memories or premonitions? Is this the reason for her numbness to the touch of a man or is there more to it?

Who is her assailant? Is he from her past? She must seek these answers fast and move on with the rest of her life. 
Coming soon.  I will be posting one chapter every week. 

Anticipate.