The Disciple Manual for the Nigerian Entrepreneurs
Nigerian Entrepreneurs like their counterparts across the world don’t have it easy. Entrepreneurship is a daunting affair in respectable climes, when Nigeria is the clime in question; daunting gives way to horror while extraordinary overhead becomes the new national anthem. I have had the opportunity to work in managerial roles in a few SMEs in Nigeria and the more-than-a-few grey hairs on my 25 years old head illustrates the near-insurmountable challenges posed by the menace known as our business environment in Nigeria. This post however does not seek to highlight these challenges instead it will focus on an often-overlooked aspect of Entrepreneurial success – the team.
Assembling the ‘perfect’’ team will position your business to last beyond the ‘5-mins’ mark’ however you will need to jump the hurdle of finding a decent hire first which can be as formidable as finding civilized drivers on Lagos’ road. When building a team (and even afterwards), there are certain points Nigerian entrepreneurs (& across the world) should consider;
1. Don’t hire the best, hire potential:
There will be certain roles where a professional hire is necessary, don’t compromise; get the best candidate but for every other role, hire a potential. Your company will be ripe with outrageously insane ideas and the Nigerian economy will thank you for it. See how Jumia Nigeria mafias prove this to be a successful formula.
2. Don’t be a madam or an Oga, be a leader:
In my work history in an SME with fewer than 10 staff, growth was an uphill battle but all hands were on deck to ensure that the business scales appropriately. We launched a new outlet in a different state and suddenly a memo was passed instructing all staff to now refer to the founder as madam. A refreshingly informal budding environment was overnight turned into a tyrant industry. Predictably the turnout percentage increased and critical staff resigned unceremoniously. Lesson to learn: focus less on conquering your staff and more on conquering the market as unnecessary expression of superiority stifles growth and creativity in the workplace.
3. Groom to develop:
My name is Calista. I run an Animal farm. My 2 acute problems were regarding refrigeration and logistics. I had 2 excellent employees heading these departments in my organisation but I wanted them to be more so I spun out these departments as a standalone business with these employees as respective CEOs. Now my 2 major problems are outsourced to my 2 former employees, I am much richer for it as I have majority shares in their company and I sleep much better knowing someone else is up at night working to make my life easier.
This is a fictitious story but you get the point. As a leader, your aim should be to see your staff rise up from your shadow to become equally successful and who says you can’t benefit from their success? We need to perish the notion many Nigerian entrepreneurs have that says ‘I can’t invest in a staff that will leave me tomorrow’. Think strategic and long term.
4. Multitasking 5.0:
At one particular SME, I worked at in the past, I was the occasional driver, Accountant, HR, Admin person, Customer Rep staff, Sometimes P.A to my boss, Office Cleaner (when the need arises), Admin Officer and so much other diverse responsibilities. It was a humbling experience as truth be told, I am much better for it today as I can successfully run all facets of my business before I have sufficient funds to make a hire. I used to enjoy bragging about how great I was at being superman but my grey hairs and twisted fingers sustained in an accident after meting out serious beating to a particularly annoying client (kidding…not really. Lol!) tell a different story. I was approaching burnout faster than the Nigerian foreign reserve. As an entrepreneur, your perfect team should have a healthy, balanced workforce as high cost of multitasking is in over 40% loss in productivity.
Like respect, loyalty is earned. At some point in your business you will not just want smart staff you will need loyal ones.
Delegate tasks as much as necessary in a bid to measure team strengths and weaknesses. Delegate to build team confidence. Delegate to challenge employee’ ingenuity. Delegate to show trust.
As an entrepreneur, you must show your team that you trust them to make certain decisions on behalf of your company. It is what your hired them for and the reason for the grooming. Don’t be like typical Nigerian entrepreneurs and believe that your business has to be wrapped around you in a need to satisfy some innate egotistical condition.
Other tips Nigerian entrepreneurs should take note of include;
8. Don’t destroy the competition:
Competition is the lifeblood of innovation. If you destroy your competition eventually your brand will lose its identity. Where would Coke be without the rivalry of Pepsi keeping it on its toes?
The above points are by no means exhaustive; there are several more creative methods to selecting, grooming and maintaining a great team especially one made up of millennials. You can add more points in the comment section below.