Nigerian entrepreneurs can learn from the recent low-key business visit of Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg, the tech entrepreneur and young billionaire is a fairy tale of how a college student became the founder and manager of Facebook (from its forerunner, Facemash), one of the most influential websites in the world.
He was in Nigeria the previous week. He went around Yaba, Victoria Island and Lekki in Lagos, the economic heartbeat; and later Abuja, symbol of power of Nigeria.
He met with young technologists, social entrepreneurs, technology companies, investors, Nollywood stars and government functionaries. He talked, walked, jogged and shared meals with everyday people. His humility, simplicity and fraternity with people belie his $54.5bn worth and are a sharp contrast to the pictures of rich people in this clime.
With his visit and lifestyle, Zuckerberg communicated non-verbal messages to Nigerian entrepreneurs, to challenge their world-view about enterprise and sustainable wealth creation.
Cultures are inter-related in post-literate world. Capacity development and learning are global tools. Global citizens are progressives who think globally and act locally. They draw inspirations from ideologies that work from any part of the world and contextualise them in their environment.
- Work hard to succeed
Most people are superstitious. They expect the divine to interrupt nature and transform paupers overnight into millionaires through petitions and supplications. Unfortunately, superstitions and luck do not make people successful in business enterprise.
The founding fathers of America laid its foundation on the puritan ethics of honesty, responsibility, hard work and self-control. The divine is impartial. Saint or sinner, the laws of nature guarantee success to individuals who work purposefully and patiently hard to create wealth.
Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak worked hard when they started Apple in the former’s parents’ garage. Then he was 20 and in 10 years; Apple grew into a $2bn company with over 4,000 employees.
- Adapt, change and thrive
Nothing is static in life. Everything changes. Yesterday, it was yearbook. Today, it is Facebook.
Some ingenious entrepreneurs are already interrogating present products and technologies and negotiating a future of possibilities.
Entrepreneurs cannot afford to be idle in boom times or depressed in recession. Sessions come, seasons go! There had been boom in this economy. There is recession today. It is cyclical, it will not last forever.
Entrepreneurs should be learners, who question their challenges and rethinking their environment. The society is always evolving and entrepreneurs should be open to exploring new and better ways of engaging their target markets. They should stay hungry and always strive for excellence.
- Gain mastery of lifestyle
The undoing of the typical Nigerian entrepreneurs is the quest to upgrade their lifestyle when they start making money. They want to live larger than life. They become afflicted with the incurable disease of ‘bigmanism’ once they start making money.
The cocoa farmers of the South West in the 1980s made money during economic prosperity, married more wives, spent lavishly on ceremonies and funerals and bought brand new Peugeot 504 to announce their new-found wealth.
The trend subsists till date. Entrepreneurs want to live as celebrities when they make more money and ironically crash before they build any meaningful brand in the marketplace.
Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart stores in America, told his story in his autobiography titled, ‘Sam Walton: Made in America’, that he drove his old pickup truck for years, wore a Wal-Mart ball cap and got his hair cut at the barbershop, off the town square.
Expenditure has a way of rising up to income. Entrepreneurs should maintain moderate lifestyle and keep their expenses lower than the average even when their fortunes grow. This is the way of Spartan lifestyle for entrepreneurs who want to build sustainable legacy for posterity.
- People matter always
Entrepreneurs have the tendency to make friends with their equals: they dine with the high and mighty in the society. They seldom care about their employees or feel the pulse of the society where they do their business.
Yes, entrepreneurs need to be in the good books of government and fraternise with powerful people. But, more importantly, people, matter always. People – employees and customers are equally important stakeholders in the business enterprise equation. They can only be neglected to the peril of ignorant entrepreneurs.
Smart entrepreneurs surround themselves with intelligent and talented employees, youthful and enthusiastic consumers. They are comfortable around mentors, coaches and people who inspire them to innovativeness and greatness.
Building businesses in capitalism is about profit- making but profit-making is practicable and sustainable when the motive is wrapped around the love for people; the desire to create solutions and products to make their lives easy and better.
- Zuckerberg is back in America
Zuckerberg was here. He promised to come again when another opportunity comes. The opportunity he desires is always with us. Nigerian entrepreneurs can find their acres of diamonds here faster than anywhere in the world. With or without recession, dreamers, potential entrepreneurs and start-ups should not stop thinking about tomorrow.