The much-publicised event, SOAR Africa Leadership and Entrepreneurship Summit finally took place in Nairobi. From the moment the main speaker, Bishop T. D. Jakes landed in the country, Kenyans have learnt important business lessons.
The American clergy and entrepreneur was not the only speaker at the event. From the dinner to the main summit, local leaders across all sectors have been sharing their leadership skills and lessons.
The speakers included Sylvia Mulinge (Safaricom), Strive Masiyiwa, Polycarp Igathe, Njoki Ndungu, Fred Matiangi (CS, Interior), Nunu Ntshingila (Facebook Africa), and Darshan Chandaria among others.
What did entrepreneurs take home from this event? Here are top the lessons in summary:
1. Look inside you
One of the quotes that caught many people’s attention from Bishop Jakes was, “”You wake up not because of what’s around you, but what’s inside you.”
The emphasis was on looking on the skills, ideas, knowledge and passions within. Many entrepreneurs seek motivation but real change happens when they start pursuing their convictions.
Looking on the inside means that you stop complaining about what is missing and work with what you have.
In addition, when you are busy building what you believe in, you have little time to focus on those who do not believe in your dreams.
You become unstoppable the moment you stop looking for validation from others to pursue your dream.
Success happens when you actualize what lies inside on the outside.
2. Grow through challenges
You must expect challenges in business even with the right model and internal infrastructure. Your attitude will determine if you soar above the challenges or remain in the same position.
The Bishop called them “fire” or “trauma.” Understand that challenges refine you. Learning the art of self-healing is not optional. You must keep working in spite of the challenges.
Anyone who has done anything great or commendable in life has overcome one challenge after another.
The circumstances in your life should not distract you from pursuing your life’s purpose.
3. Build infrastructure
Stress while running your business is a sign that you have an inadequate infrastructure. It is a sign that you need to upgrade your infrastructure to meet your current level of growth.
Your internal capacity should grow at the same pace as your business. Otherwise, you will always be stressed as a business owner.
4. Never stop learning
You must remain a student in life and in business. Be open to unlearn old strategies and learn new things.
Technology changes every day. Do not be complacent but adopt a learning attitude in whatever field your passion lies.
Growth requires that you be willing to face the truth about your weaknesses. Include honest people in your inner circle who can tell you that truth for you to grow.
Learning is not enough. You must be willing to apply the lessons fully. You cannot select the easy lesson and leave out the hard lessons.
The lessons are meaningless if you are not willing to pay the price required to implement them fully.
5. Keep your promise
Branding is perhaps one of the major lessons to take home from this summit. Every time you create a brand, you make a promise. Keep that promise.
Are you as good as your branding message?
Give the clients or consumers an experience that matches the promise that your brand makes. If you have not been faithful to keep your promise, well, it is not too late to change.
Think global when building your brand. Modern technology makes it easy now to market products to the global market.
Another important lesson about branding; protect your brand!
6. Be patient
Figuring out your passion may take years. Be patient.
Bishop Jakes shared from his own experience. He did not figure out what his real passions and purpose were until he was 40.
Your brand is not that old. Give it time to develop.
If you still have not figured out your niche, give yourself time to discover it. You will be unstoppable when you finally figure it out.
7. Design for the future
Do not build your business or brand based on the past. Instead, design strategies for the future.
As an entrepreneur, you must anticipate change in your niche and plan.
Building for the future means that you focus on building a sustainable business.
What changes do you foresee that may make your brand or product irrelevant? Which technological changes may replace you as an employee or professional?
Start planning for such changes today.
8. Learn to negotiate and collaborate
If you want to bring a significant change in your world, you must learn to work with others. You do not always get everything you want on a negotiating table.
Learn the art of giving and taking from others. Negotiate what you need but be willing to accept what others are willing to offer.
Some changes, especially at the national and international level require collaboration among various stakeholders.
The public and private sectors sometimes have to work together to effect change. Find people with similar values as you and work together.
9. Identify and meet needs
Strive Masiyiwa made success in business sound to simple. It is all about getting back to the basics.
Success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to identify and meet human needs.
You probably as doing this but you can do more.
The next level of your success in business will depend on the needs you will meet with new products.
10. Think Africa
The fact that such great minds can come together in Africa should tell you that the continent has untapped potential.
Why would global companies be willing to come to the continent?
Apart from the implied lessons about our continent, the discussions at the summit pointed to the opportunities to do business.
In fact, the panellists emphasized that it is the best time to have a business idea in Africa. You will have a market for your product because technology has created new marketing opportunities.
Local companies such as KCB are already preparing the youth for self-employment. In other words, if you do not identify unmet needs and build a business around them now, someone is in school learning how to do it.
We cannot cover all the lessons from the summit that took days. However, we have summarized some of the top lessons learnt. As the panellists mentioned, the real change comes when you are willing to pay the price to implement the lessons.