Last week, I shared beautiful hair inspiration from SheHive Lagos, a professional career & entrepreneurship bootcamp organized by She Leads Africa. Today, I’m here to share 15 lessons from the Hive that you can apply to your career and business (I know I will!) It’s a bit of a long read, but I hope this adds value to your life today 🙂
How can small start-ups access data?
If you are drafting your business plan yourself, you may be stuck on certain things, like- how to determine your market size?
Open, free sources like the World Bank, United Nations and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics are helpful. Look for numbers, and you can use other markers such as trends, social media, increased awareness, traffic on other platforms worldwide.
For example, you have developed a fabulous natural hair conditioner, and you are drafting your business plan.
For numbers, you have to be as specific as possible. Narrow your market. You should seek statistics for the number of women in Lagos, between the ages of 18 and 40, that are gainfully employed, WITHIN a specific income bracket. You can’t say that because Lagos has a female population of 10 million, that is the size of your market. It’s not. For starters, a big chunk of the female population are children, or aged. If your shampoo’s price is about the same as Cantu, you should narrow that down to the number of people in a certain income bracket. That’s a more realistic figure.
Other persuasive markers: data about natural hair awareness in America and Nigeria, e.g. big brands like Cantu and Design Essentials have set up shop in Nigeria, this shows that the market is ready for natural hair products. This argument is made by the use of markers- and the accompanying stats.
Market Research tip!
If you’re doing polls for feedback, use a scale of 1-4 instead of 1-5, for ratings. People tend to choose 3, except they feel very strongly. 1-4 forces them to pick a side.
Perfect balance is a myth.
You cannot have everything perfectly together, at 100% at the same time. Things in life are seasonal. At one point, it may be your priority to build your business or career ruthlessly. At another point, you may want to pay more attention to your personal life or family. Find systems that work for your lifestyle, or whatever seasons you are going through.
Create your own future, manage your career.
This is your responsibility. Don’t sit around waiting for your office to give you directions. Actively seek opportunities to grow, or improve your skills and earning ability. Find courses to attend. See if your office can sponsor you but if they don’t, save up, make the time and attend.
Every day is research, ask WHY.
In marketing yourself, your brand, your business, every day is research. At the heart of marketing is behavior. Understand WHY people respond to things the way they do, why YOU do it. Analyse your own behavior. You must ask why. Customer X didn’t buy yesterday. Why? This brand does not want to sponsor our event. Why? People had a great time at your meet-up, or maybe they didn’t enjoy it. Ask why?
A Word On Social Media!
- No matter how you build it, social media is ALWAYS rented space. Social Media should bring attention BACK to your website, the one place online you actually own. The focus should always be on your business!
- If you don’t engage with people past social media, you condition them to only deal with you in seconds, and nothing serious or valuable can come out of this relationship.
** Makes sense doesn’t it? I found this really interesting, coming from a digital marketing expert, at one of the biggest companies in the game**
Nigeria is still 60- 70% open market.
Open market as in Balogun, Oke-Ira. Do not get caught up in the hype. A lot happens on social media, but it is way more important to explore traditional channels to market your product, if you are really going to make an impact.
Don’t try to sell online what people prefer to buy in person.
Encourage them to reach you through the usual channels. We spend so much time online, we think everything happens there (don’t do it, it’s a trap). If you have an event planning business, nobody serious about their event is going to go by what you have on your website. Instead of leaving a booking form on your website, place your number there and put up content that encourages them to call you and set up a meeting for enquiries.
Ladies, don’t make the coffee.
Can I get an Amen? Girl, is this one relevant especially today!! I mean, just last Friday, our President said the First Lady “belongs” in his kitchen, his living room and “the other room”. Sigh.
Do not put yourself in that feminine box at work- as in, that place where people expect you to do things naturally because you are a woman; to make the coffee, cut the cake, take notes at meetings, be the one to get up and call somebody- automatically, because you are a woman. It’s NOT the reason why you are there. Stay in your lane, and politely decline when these tasks are directed at you. Do you really want to start what you can’t finish? When you start, it’s going to be hard to crawl out of.
What do you do when you are offered a job or position and you know it’s because you’re the token woman (or “token black”)?
If you don’t have a seat at the table, how can you contribute to the conversation? Don’t feel bad about taking on a “token position”. Just, make sure that you are qualified.
The Headlamp Principle
You are driving somewhere and the road is dark and lonely. You can only see as far as your headlamps can show you. The headlamp principle says “you can’t see all the way, but that 1 mile is good enough”. This makes so much sense to me because, so many times, I find myself wishing I had all the answers. Like if I knew exactly what I’d be specializing in in the year 2026, I’d put all my energies and resources into it now. But that’s not how life is. In the words of Brian Tracy: Your job is to go as far as you can see. You will then see far enough to go further. Click To Tweet
Separate your business!
Toyin Odulate is the Country MD of multinational food company Danone Earlylife Nutricia AND she has a side hustle, haha- Olori Cosmetics (not olori.com.ng). One thing I took away from her very insightful session about the different processes involved in getting products from both brands to their respective markets wasn’t even something she said. She talked about how she started off packaging her Olori products in recycled The Body Shop containers. She would clean them up, scrape off the old labels and stick on her own. This really struck me. As the MD of Danone, I’m pretty sure she could afford to put more cash in her business, go all out, get her packaging and branding perfectly- something many start-ups can’t afford to do as the product, distribution outlets, all these other more important things need to be worked on. I don’t know her personally of course, or the state of her finances, but you get my point. She separated Olori from her personal resources, grew it from scratch, went through the start-up process with Olori, made it pay for itself. If you have more than one source of income and you let your businesses mix, how can you really know which one is profitable? This is something my mom keeps saying to me, and it’s definitely one of the things I did wrong in my first attempt at business. I know much better now.
If what you have started working on cannot create your dream, be prepared to demolish and start over.
Bunmi Lawson, MD Accion Microfinance Bank spoke to us about growth. You will agree with me that it’s always important to start things on the right foundation. If you built a house 5 years ago, and now you want to build a skyscraper, I doubt the foundation for the house can take the skyscraper. If you really want to go to the next level, you may have to demolish what you already have, or fall back a bit, to take certain steps to build for that new dream.
I could go on and on but, let me stop here. I hope at least one point stays with you. If you enjoyed this, let me know in the comments. If you didn’t, let me know too! I’ve been kind of busy learning this year, and I’m loving it! If you’d like me to share more lessons & ting from my learning adventures at the classes and conferences I attend in the future, just say so!
P.S. Thank you Labake, Skinnybrownie, KacheeTee, Kwase and Don’t Touch The Hair for voting. You are the reason why this post is out today! ^_^