“Youth on Entrepreneurship for Entrepreneurial Positive Impact” – Mrs Folorunsho Alakija

 

(By Mrs Folorunsho Alakija)

Competition has always done things in a certain way and companies just follow suit believing in the very safe methods of obtaining the cheapest, quickest route to a lucrative bottom line. You may need to try the Blue Ocean Strategy which would no doubt require more risks but bold steps to bring bigger revenue.

‘Do you see a man who is diligent in his work? He will stand before kings he will not stand before unknown men’. That is what my Bible tells me, and you are the kings and queens in this hall today, the leaders of tomorrow, that will go back to affect your generations positively through your communities, your society, your country, Nigeria, Africa and even the world

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t” an unnamed student of Warren G. Tracy’, one of the most successful Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists

I call it: ‘Doing things the way most people won’t, and excelling the way most people can’t’

  Youth today, adult tomorrow, where would it have lead you.

    Most of you will in a few years’ time, have reflected on where time has gone and what you have achieved.

 What choices would you have made? Would you be on the route to success? If so would this have been achieved through the right channels? They say: Make hay while the sun shines and Time waits for no man (or woman!)

 Urgent demand for skilled Youth to lead Nigeria into greater heights more than ever before

 Are you willing to go the extra mile?

Challenges faced by Youth

 Failure of the educational system to educate and equip the youth of this generation in comparison to their counterparts in other parts of the world.

 The issue unemployment after graduation still remains a challenge for the Government.

Best Practice Tools for Entrepreneurship

When we do not adopt and adapt best practices or, when we do not plan appropriately, we are definitely preparing to fail.

You are here this morning and your goals may not be far- fetched from:

o Wanting to improve your business or,

o Sharpen your leadership skills Your personal development

You may be in this hall right now because:

You are seeking new tools for your personal development or,

You may want to build and develop relationships with others

Well, I would like to warmly welcome you to today’s topic: ‘Best Practices for Entrepreneurial Positive Impact’

Greetings and standing on all protocols.

I will relay these practices to my life and mention how some of them have helped to shape, mould and bring me to where I am today.

Generally, best practices, must be able to be measured, replicated and considered successful otherwise, they are of no use.

BEST PRACTICES FOR BUSINESS

You must have read and learnt about best practices in business in the past, so I will only dwell on the most important ones, and some of which helped me. However, in doing so, I will focus on the new wave and methods to drive businesses as well as using networking tools.

Strategy and Marketing methods: Competition has always done things in a certain way and companies just follow suit believing in the very safe methods of obtaining the cheapest, quickest route to a lucrative bottom line. You may need to try the Blue Ocean Strategy which would no doubt require more risks but bold steps to bring bigger revenue.

o BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne – Basically, this highly acclaimed strategy which advices eliminating competition by making them irrelevant. It is a matter of being innovative enough to provide the public with new ways of giving them value. Such are termed ‘value innovation’ unleash new demand. So don’t join competition, forget the fight for competition advantage, battle the market share and the struggle for differentiation. Create some new innovative ideas or products that are new to industry standards. Get out and think out of the box!!

Choices:

o About 45 years ago, I was as young as many of you are here. I have made a number of choices as an entrepreneur, some of which you will hear about, the choices you will make will differ BUT have to be made before you can get a break!

o I have learnt a lot over the years about business, leadership requirements, personal development and relationships.

Entrepreneurship

Being called an entrepreneur is the easy part!

 A definition of an entrepreneur is “‘someone who starts a business or organization’ – anyone here can do that correct?

 But it is the success of that business that will be crucial – ask yourself will that business stand the test of time?

 Will it eventually feed your family?

 Will it educate your children?

 Will it sustain you in your latter years?

 Will it grow to be an empire or conglomerate?

 Will it even last 6 months let alone 6 years or go on for generations?

These are the questions you all need to be asking yourselves NOW as you consider becoming successful entrepreneurs

Being successful is also :

Liking yourself

Liking what you do

And liking how you do it

Let’s look at some statistics on Youth around the world and at home

o According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) , half the world’s population of 6.3 billion people are youth

o The UNPF also states that 1/3rd of Nigeria’s Population of approximately 170million are youth

o The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Youths Development in 2012 reported that 54% of Nigerian youths were unemployed

Statistics like these make it imperative for youth to be empowered and equipped to get it right from the start

So what are the perceptions of the Nigerian Youth Today?

 Many young people want to be rich entrepreneurs with no thought as to HOW this can be achieved

 Youth seem to have a desperate need for the fast life and to live BIG e.g

o Wear designer clothes

o Carry designer bags

o Drive fast cars

o Live in big houses

o Travel the world

 Many do not want to work hard or even understand the concept of hard work as they crave overnight success dropping onto their laps!

 They are happy to compromise –

o Men & women (BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION) o 2% of Women will sleep their way to the top

 They have no thorough business /vision/strategy/plans

 Hardly look for inspirational role models/mentors (WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?WHY)

 No real passion or enthusiasm

 They have the “Copy cat syndrome”‘ – ‘my cousin is doing that business and is rich so will I’

 Prayer and fasting – Faith without action

 Youth of today do not have any idea about professionalism –

o Excuses for every shortfall

o Our attitude to the problem is the problem

Therefore I can tell you from MY experience as an entrepreneur, if you are a youth who operates like this, the chances of being an extremely successful entrepreneur are slim OR as our American bothers/sisters sayIt just ain’t gonna happen!!

So what are some of the right tools?

Hard work

o Mothers Yoruba saying ‘‘Ise ki pa enia – Ole lo n’pa enia’

Integrity (no compromise of standards and be known for it).

Success doesn’t happen overnight it takes time

o (relate to how long it took you to get the oil)

Go the extra mile

o With the invasion on technology, people can work smart and can achieve outstanding performance!

Persistence It’s not the number of times you fall, but the number of times you get up that matters

Perseverance (Never give up!) Today’s world enjoys electricity because of those who did not give up.

o We sometimes allow challenges become larger than they are rather than working around or through them

Confidence/Boldness

o Believe in yourself and eliminate any form of inferiority complex

Professionalism

o Excellence, learn to pay attention to detail – (Sloppy work depicts a sloppy person!)

o First Impressions: The way you appear speaks volumes not only about your person but also, about your company.

Wearing the wrong clothes at the right time could portray you and your company in bad light, no matter how knowledgeable you may be.

o No excuses – they deliver on the job

o Presentation – personal and work

o Timely/consistent/dependable, no chasing after you, allocate quality time to what is important to you

o Reliable, serious, passionate

o Plan/prepare for the diversities of life

o Hardworking

o Communication skills: Be a good Listener, communication is a two-way method of conversation and should not be over-bearing or one sided. So, develop good listening skills. A British bank used to refer to itself as “the listening bank” and the slogan actually endeared the public towards it.

o Enthusiasm: “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”- Winston Churchill

o A firm handshake and eye contact are considered to portray confidence. The ability to hold intelligent conversation and be professional make room for a lasting positive impression.

Personal Development

o Training: Proficiency and efficiency calls for training in any professional endeavor. Acquire skills and be properly groomed. I have had cause to attend many training programmes in different parts of the world to sharpen my skills and fill in gaps where I believed I had needs or just to fine- tune. Some of these were mini MBA courses, leadership skills, negotiations, owner/manager business courses and lately, public speaking. It is all part of personal development.

Appoint mentors: Surround yourself with successful people. Appoint mentors whose lives and ideologies you admire, who can build you up with their wealth of experience. It would have taken them years to get to where they are and they are usually willing and feel honoured when appointed for such mentorship roles, especially when the requests come from youths. One young lady I have become quite attached to and who I continue to encourage is Miss Toyosi Akerele from Nigeria. She in turn mentors thousands of youths and was recently invited by Mrs. Michelle Obama to the White House for a programme where she represented Africa.

Build Relationships: The two most important relationships in life are with God and with family.

God expects us to come to Him who is our loving Father who nurtures, guides and guards His Children. We too should do the same with our families, bringing us peace of mind to enable us excel in business.

Self Criticize: SWOT Analysis

o What are your strengths – keep these up

o What are your weakness – improve on them

o What opportunities are there – have they been trailed

and tested?

o What are the threats – are you aware and taken necessary steps to address them?

Networking on-line – male and female. Using social media sites like Facebook, linked-in, twitter, instagram etc. Do something new and post it on all these sites. You may want to begin with a well structured and informative website. The reality of the moment is such that if you are not connected via the Internet the world will pass you by. Let social media do the leg work for you by taking advantage of all of them as face to face traditional networking cannot take you very far. Some people and companies have millions of followers. If you don’t do it, others will do it for you in an inappropriate manner, including impersonation. I experienced that until I put up my personal website recently. I found that though I am the one and only Folorunso Alakija, in the whole wide world, yet many people had impersonated me and fed the public with lies. So, I implore you, don’t get left behind.

Target Audience: As you try to network, decide on who your audience should be and consider how you can leverage on opportunities they can bring to the table or how they could be useful in opening new frontiers for your line of business. Make the right moves, introductions and invitations for cocktails or entertainment to break any ice. Don’t ever part without leaving informative materials with your new contacts. However, a quick follow-up by email confirms seriousness of purpose.

Every social, family, religious, sports, or gender related event is an opportunity to network, meet new people and get friends to link you. Take it, use it and develop it.

Be Selective: Decide on your purpose and plan towards it.

Choose the appropriate events you should attend that will enhance your vision and the social media where you need to have a presence. Careful planning brings awesome results.

For instance, I have set up a committee to evaluate my invitations, and determine those that fall in line with my calling and vision and fit them into my itinerary. One of such is today’s gathering.

Don’t Discriminate: By all means, never look down on anyone and don’t judge a book by its cover or you can make very serious mistakes or get a rude shock. One woman who shocked the entire world had entered into a singing contest called Britain’s Got Talent. She looked unexciting and rather drab in her dressing and her overall appearance and age was certainly not on her side, But, the minute she opened her mouth to sing, the entire audience watching via television from all over the world, got the biggest shock of their lives. She gave them all what I would refer to as “a wakeup call” as if she was saying: “I can do this and you don’t have a choice but to reckon with me and judge me by my content and not my looks. Her name is Susan Boyle and she finished in second place that night, had over 12,000 u-tube hits within minutes, but her winning song became the title of her debut album which became UK’s best selling debut album of all time. Within 9 days, videos of her had been watched over one hundred million times. From then on, her life changed. She has received huge publicity, been invited to take part in many very important programmes, met with the high and mighty in the world and told her own story which I believe must be inspiring others within and outside her industry.

Round Pegs in Round holes: When we fail to carefully select our staff for certain positions but do so from our emotions, empathy or because he or she is a relation, the company’s bottom-line could be seriously affected. Ignorance and wrong attitudes are bred and in-efficiency and chain breaks set the company back. The constant struggle to move the company forward can certainly do without unnecessary distractions.

Diligence – ‘Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will stand before kings; they will not stand before unknown men’ Proverbs 22:29

Faithfulness – ‘A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished’ Proverbs 28:20

Renew Your Mind – ‘Renew your mind. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ Romans 12:2

Destiny – Nkan ti a wun omo je ki run ono mimu (what do you deserve to be? What talents do you have? Jeremiah 1:5

Obedience– respecting and obeying authority

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of the ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Deuteronomy 28: 2-4

o Holiness (Be detached from the world and its negative influences. Be consecrated and dedicated to God

o Humility

o Appearance (Are you always presentably dressed, clean and smart?).

o Dexterity (Are you mentally and physically skilful? Do you think and act quickly and cleverly).

o Character (The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes a person, group, or thing from another). What distinguishes you that would get people endeared to you?

Be ambitious – If you are going to dream, dream BIG. The sky is not your limit BUT you’re stepping stone to success

Be submissive – accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person i.e.: God, Parents, Teachers and Government.

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves Romans 13:12

o Be a trailblazer! Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail!!!

o Wisdom: Through wisdom a house is built and by understanding it is established Proverbs 24:3 (Meaning: When homes are built on godly wisdom, family members respond to circumstance according to God’s design, not their own. A wise home builder recognizes God as the Architect and Builder of the family. When you have God’s perspective of your mate and children, you accept each other’s differences and learn how different personalities can complement each other).

o Have Faith: God is faithful. Never mind about those who tell you to leave God out of your business. Business is God’s business. The bible says He is the one who teaches us to make wealth. Rely on Him as it says in Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Don’t let anyone mislead you. My covenant at the time was that if the Lord would bless me, I would work for Him all the days of my life. He did not let me down.

o LEADERSHIP: Good leadership qualities will empower and impact your business positively.

o A leader is a visionary who can drive a mission by successfully carrying others along to achieve the aims and objectives of that mission within the required time frame.

o No matter how we define a leader, it is obvious that the person is at the helm of affairs and the decisions he or she takes can and will affect the organization positively or negatively.

o It is therefore pertinent for a leader to have the skills necessary to succeed. Some people are born to lead and others acquire the skills to lead. All are permissible and the tools are the same and the results are appreciable.

o Leadership calls for certain values and principles to be in place. Taking the right decisions at the right time is crucial and personal development is a must.

Personal story

I come from a polygamous muslim family of 52 children and eight wives from Ikorodu town in Lagos State. I am 63 years old and married and blessed with four grown up gentlemen and grand children.

o Not rags to riches fairy tale

o Not an overnight phenomenon – live TV Soap

o For as long as I can remember, have always wanted my own business

o Hard work, diligence and persistence

o Days where you nearly gave up

o Would be easy to compromise BUT stayed focused

o Could have stayed a secretary as father desired BUT had bigger aspirations

o God strengthened me and gave me wisdom o Had a passion and burning desire to succeed

o Being a Secretary, banker, fashion icon, corporate promotions and print, real estate, oil magnate – NO easy feat

o Firm belief that what is worth doing is worth doing well or not at all

o Took charge of my life with the tools I have shared with you

o Today additional accomplishments include

o Wife of 4 decades

o Mother

o Grandmother

o Ministry, Counseling and Outreach

o NGO Rose of Sharon Foundation

o Wife 4 decades

o Writer of several inspirational books

o All to the Glory of God

o At 63, I am not yet done so what is your excuse!?

Summary

o Many believe that the lack of money is a problem and that money is the answer – myth!

o Many think that if they do not have a family member or friend who gives them financial assistance that they cannot ‘make it’ as Nigerians say! – Myth again!

o Being a successful entrepreneur will take hard work, enthusiasm, patience, diligence, adopt best practice principles, professionalism and ethical principles all rolled into one – so what is YOUR agenda?

o   Are you ready to put these best practices into becoming an outstanding entrepreneur?

o   I am glad that the UN have recognized such a day where we salute all 3.1billion of you – we appreciate you.

o   Get educated, so that you can mentor others of the importance of education.

o   Personally, I do not have a university degree BUT the best values and practices are some of the skills which I have told you about today and which have got me where I am today.

o   SO for those here, consider yourselves lucky and take full advantage of the opportunity you have here,.

o     Dream Dare and Deliver

Thank you for listening God bless you all.

KEYNOTE SPEECH delivered by Forbes rated Africa’s richest woman and MD/CEO of Famfa Oil, MRS FOLORUNSO ALAKIJA titled ‘INSPIRING YOUTH ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP’: “Youth on Entrepreneurship for Entrepreneurial Positive Impact’ at the NIGERIAN COMMEMORATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY 2014 Event organised by RISE NETWORKS.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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