With a net worth of $21 billion as at the time of this writing, Aliko Dangote is the richest man in not only Nigeria, but also in the whole of Africa. He is the founder and CEO of Dangote Group, a multi-industry conglomerate with subsidiaries operating in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Togo, South Africa, Zambia, and Cameroon.
When he was once asked the secret to his success, Dangote summed up everything with the following words:
“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008. But it didn’t happen overnight; it took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me, but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”
What can aspiring entrepreneurs learn from Dangote?
Having experienced both the rosy and the bitter during his 30-year journey through the path of entrepreneurship, Dangote really has a lot to teach other Nigerians who are also looking to venture into the business world.
In his statement quoted above, Dangote had indeed revealed the magical formula that can help anyone attain success as an entrepreneur.
So, if you are looking to start your own business with the ultimate aim of building a conglomerate in the future, you have much to learn from those few lines of Dangote’s golden words.
Now, here are some critical lessons you can learn from the formula success prescribed by Dangote:
1. Patience is key
Entrepreneurship is not for people who are looking for overnight success. The path through entrepreneurship is a long one, along which there is so much to learn and experience. And any attempt to find or take shortcuts will only result in a big failure.
So, as an aspiring entrepreneur, you must be patient. And you must remind yourself always that it takes time to build a successful business. Dangote drove home this point by stating that it took him 30 years to get to where he is today. Yes, 30 long years!
If what you are looking for is a venture that will start fetching you six-figure profits within few weeks to months, then entrepreneurship is not for you. You can only achieve that in politics — Nigerian politics — or crime.
2. Dream big, but start small
One of the most effective ways to stay motivated as an aspiring entrepreneur is to frequently paint a big mental picture of the business empire you have always dreamed of building. That will remind you of your destination and prompt you to start working towards getting there.
However, since the longest journey must begin with a single step, you need to start small. Even though your dream is to build a successful business empire, you should start out on a small scale and then expand from there as time goes on.
So, at this point, while you keep your ultimate goal at the back of your mind, occupy the “front” of your mind with the initial small steps that will lead you to that ultimate goal. In other words, focus on the small scale business you want to start out with.
3. Planning is crucial
As with any other venture, starting a business — no matter how small — requires adequate planning. Writing a business plan for any business you intend going into will give you a lot of insight into what the business entails, what the market is like, things you will need to run the business effectively, how much time and money you will need to invest at different stages, how you will expand the business over time, how much you hope to generate in profits, and what challenges you are likely to face as you move on.
However, bear in mind that knowledge is the basis for adequate planning. If you do not have enough information about the business you are planning to start, there is no way you can come up with a realistic, workable plan. So, before you even start writing a business plan, gather as much as possible information about the business from as many different sources as possible.
4. Stick with your plan
Having a plan and putting it in writing is one thing, but implementing that plan and sticking with it is another thing entirely. Your business plan is no more than a mere pamphlet until you start implementing all you have in it. So, action is what really matters.
Sometimes, you will be tempted to abandon your initial plan in favour of something else, even when you are not sure of getting any benefit from that. But you must always stick with your plan without giving in to such distractions. That means you need a great deal of self-discipline, and you must imbibe that quality if you really want to succeed as an entrepreneur.
5. Determination matters most
Above all, you need to be determined at all times. The journey through entrepreneurship is full of challenges, most of which you will not expect or plan for. Your determination and ability to face these challenges and overcome them is what will help you achieve the success you always dreamed of.
In addition, reality sometimes will not agree with your plans. That is, your plans will fail woefully. But you must remain persistent and determined to turn that into a positive outcome. Remember that challenges will surface during every phase of your journey through entrepreneurship, so always be prepared to face and overcome them. This is the only way to move on. To surrender means to fail. And that is why Dangote said, “In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”
While each business has its technical aspects that you must learn to succeed at it, these five broad principles deduced from Aliko Dangote’s golden words will be enough to keep you firmly focused until you eventually achieve your dream.
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