Born into a very wealthy family, Aliko Dangote lost his father at a very tender age and eventually had to be raised by his uncle who was very instrumental in developing his business interests. From running a small trading firm in 1977 to managing a billion dollar conglomerate across the world today, Mr. Dangote has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest man in the Africa and the 27th in the world as at the year 2015. What are some of the key lessons every entrepreneur could learn from Africa’s business magnate;
Pursue your passion
What Aliko Dangote is doing on the continent of Africa today, in terms of trade and manufacturing has always been his passion. “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartoons of sweets (toffees) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time,” Dangote revealed. It is easy to become very successful at what you are already passionate about and love doing than what you have no interest doing. You may not become a billionaire as Aliko is, but pursuing your passion will sure bring satisfaction and joy to your life. If you truly want to become a successful entrepreneur, then follow your passion and your dreams. Do not allow life’s challenges to weigh you down. Start something today no matter how small.
Work with intelligent people
Working with intelligent people will always expose you to new ideas, and better ways of accomplishing a task. All serious minded entrepreneurs who are bent on becoming successful surround themselves with very bright people who can assist make their business prosperous. Dangote indicated his hiring strategy, “I always make sure I hire people smarter than me.” A business organisation is a business entity and must always be approached as such. As an entrepreneur, do not be tempted to employ people simply because they are relatives or friends. First find out what they are bringing on-board before you bring them on-board. That way, you are certain to get the best ideas and performance in your business.
Build a Solid Brand
For the continuous survival of your business even after you have passed on- you need to build a solid brand right from when you begin the business. Dangote stressed, “To succeed in business, you must build a brand and never destroy it. One competitive advantage I had when I ventured into manufacturing was my brand, which I diligently built in the course of my trading.” In whatever business you are engaged in, build a brand that can last and make you wealthy. “For example if you are a little business and your brand is noted for quality, timely delivery and honesty, when it happens that you go into a new industry or a different business line, people who have trusted your name will automatically trust your new product. This is why you must take your brand very serious even if you are a small business,” he advised.
Support your community
There is no sense in making so much money and having a lot of people poor in your community. Wealthy people are necessary because of the existence of poor people. As a businessman, once the money begins to come in, think about helping other people too. Dangote is one of the biggest philanthropists on the continent. He gave out over $1 million during the recent Ebola crisis. Through his foundation; he assists a lot of communities by building schools, hospitals etc. Supporting your community doesn’t also mean you should give money away anyhow. Put in place a structured process and have competent people make decisions as to how to give. The right assistance must always go to the people who really need it.
Take time off to relax
Many entrepreneurs find it extremely difficult to take time off to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labour. They are often so passionate about work that taking a vacation sometimes becomes difficult. Dangote explained that because he works so hard, he often takes time off to relax. He also noted that he normally watches Arsenal games and business news, during his time-outs. It doesn’t make sense to pile up millions of dollars and be too sick or too busy to enjoy it. As an entrepreneur, make time to rest and recuperate. It helps you to be more productive and healthy. In the end, we realize that for Africa’s richest, Aliko Dangote, business success doesn’t drop from the skies. It takes dedication, commitment and passion to achieve anything worthy.
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G. K. Sarpong