At the age of 25, Ibuka Ndjoli (@marcusdawriter) is already a published author, avid traveler, and the owner of Kusoma Group, daPromoter Agency, and Les Litterateurs – 3 businesses centered around the promotion of African talent for African consumers. Ndjoli says the success of his businesses is based on how much his creations have helped clients and consumers. With that goal in mind, here are Ndjoli’s 5 tips to young entrepreneurs looking to help build up the continent.
Tip #1: Learn to Share
“You have to work with people, you have to build a team. I tried working alone and it was hardest thing I’ve tried doing in my life. Sometimes we don’t posess certain skills and having to sit down and learn everything in order just to get started, it’s a lot. Having others that compliment the skills you lack, helps. Also the exchange of ideas: I came up with a lot of ideas, but there are also many that I did not which you can see on the site of Kusoma and my other businesses.”
Tip #2: Don’t bring your own solutions to your clients’ problems
When devising a plan for your business, do not suppose what problems exist for your clients then spend time and money providing solutions. “Ask first, for my businesses we went to people and asked them what their problems were. We then proposed solutions and brought those approved solutions to them.”
Tip #3: Don’t focus on the money
“I talk a lot with my entrepreneur friends and the problem, well the reason they give up, and the reason that many don’t try to start anything in the first place, is because they’re really focused on money. They set out this goal, ‘if I start I need to start making money in like 6 months.’ Before you can start anything, you need a strategy. You have to try working somewhere else BEFORE you start your business, so you can better understand how the industry works, and you can also save up money and put it on the side. Think big but start small. I always have a vision before I start. But money is never that vision.”
Tip #4: Brand yourself!
“When your company is new people wont trust your company at first, but they may trust you, the person who is building the company. So focus on how you are presenting yourself to others. As the CEO of your company, people in Africa are really wary about new businesses, especially when you’re young.
People ask me at times, ‘how do you make others can take you seriously?’ I tell them simply that when I meet for business I don’t go to investors or other companies as if I am asking for something. I go to them and illustrate my skill set; I tell them what I possess and why it is useful. I show them what I am bringing to the table, ‘this is what I’m doing, this is my objective, and this is why my company may be valuable to you.'”
Tip #5: Figure out the ‘Win-Win’
“What can you do for others and what can they do for you? Use the value proposition canvass. What you have is important, so when you present that to others with confidence they will respect you. I once read that when you shake one’s hand, think about how you are giving your hand, try to be equal, do not allow one hand on the bottom and the other on top.” Be aware that in business and meetings be side to side with equality. Seek how what you possess can help others even if you are going to ask for assistance or information about their experience.