Opinion: It’s not enough to be a ‘young entrepreneur’ – let me tell you why

by Demola Adedoyin

In these new fast paced modern times everything is subject to change especially when it comes to business. New ideas and innovations are debunking older ones and there has been a great shift in entrepreneurial thinking.

An award winning video / film director was recently casting for a new high budget TV show to be filmed in Lagos, Dubai and South Africa in the HD format and I was invited to do the branding / art direction for the show. The show is formed around a set of young, beautiful Lagosians and I must say he had an overwhelming influx of young people during the casting sessions. The challenge came when he had to cast parents for the main cast. As the older generation of articulate thesp seemed to trickle in sparsely, an obvious lack of available talent in this demographic became obvious.

When I was recently invited to Abuja  by the PNNI (Patriots for New Nigeria Initiative) to discuss possible ways in which the youth of the country could get more involved in politics, my preliminary research led  me to some revealing information. With 70% of an estimated 150M Nigerians being below 35, the country is heading towards a period where the job market will be dominated by the youth. Since unemployment figures in developing economies are historically known to be erratic, we foresee a boom in entrepreneurship activity in the next two decades as more and more youth take matters into their own hands. This sounds good on paper, but we must keep in mind the inevitable aftermath of a boom, which is saturation. However, not everyone suffers this dreaded part of the economic cycle. Most of those who excel in their field, always fewer than those that don’t, survive recessions and market saturation.

Many young people often ask themselves the same questions when they first explore the thought of starting up their own business; “how much do I need? How much am I going to make out of this? Should I run this myself or employ people more experienced in this particular line of work?” These are all crucial questions but are being considered at the wrong time. Your first patterns of thought should be more like; “Is this idea potentially popular/useful enough for my target audience? Do I love this idea enough to see it through the inevitable storms? Am I prepared for the possible ways this idea could expand, contract or even change? Do I have the energy it takes to be responsible for other people?” These questions are pivotal in your decision to go forth and if you find that you can’t say a resounding ‘yes’ to all of them then you should reconsider your motives for entrepreneurship.

In these new fast paced modern times everything is subject to change especially when it comes to business. New ideas and innovations are debunking older ones and there has been a great shift in entrepreneurial thinking. This new paradigm introduces a breed of business man / woman that we call the forward thinking entrepreneur.

The concept of a ‘forward thinking entrepreneur’ is born out of the swift changes we’ve seen in the global commercial landscape in the past decade; with pop culture, worldwide financial upheaval, the speed of information access and revolutionary activism in politics and environmentalism overwhelming the status quo, also indirectly playing a major role in business viability and success. Technological advancements have pulled the world closer together creating, for the first time in history, one global market where everybody speaks the same language: Profit! The forward thinking entrepreneur is an expert at combining social and commercial objectives based on these changes. It has become far more necessary to research outside of one’s particular sector of industry in order to prepare for modern changes which come upon us so rapidly.

Synergizing business goals with co-existence with other companies in the same and other industries he or she aligns with the inevitable, drawing fewer lines between business operation and social interaction. In order to reposition yourself as a forward thinking entrepreneur and facilitator of change for your business whether small or large, at start-up stage or mid-cycle, here is a list of vital steps toward independent business success in these modern times;

–  Constant Re-education: it is pertinent that you are knowledgeable, getting access to the latest information on broadly influential topics, not limiting your quest for knowledge to your specialized line of business or lifestyle. Read as much as you can; Literature, the news, magazines, websites, health and business journals, etc. No knowledge is wasted knowledge, especially for the modern entrepreneur who never knows where the next opportunity or business idea will spring from.

–  Passion: pursue your business fuelled by a real interest and not just economic need. Most independent business owners get so overwhelmed by the daily operations of their business that they lose the inner flair that inspired its inception in the first place. If you don’t love what you do it will slowly reflect on your business, your team and their output. Lack of motivation is a silent killer of independent business. An enthusiastic, clear and purposeful mind facilitates better judgment and decision making.

–  Self-branding: structure your professional life so that you function as a brand and not just a brand manager. A forward thinking entrepreneur realizes that he or she is the business, not necessarily the manager of the business. Expanding a base of clientele requires the breaking of any barriers that may have resulted from limited social interaction or the geographical distance of a business to its desired audiences.  Consumer perception has become greatly influential in the modern world of business, with the health of a CEO having the power to affect stock prices, as we have seen with Apple. The bottom line is that nobody wants to invest their money in a brand that lacks confidence and poise. Be outspoken, challenge mediocrity and most importantly be helpful and deal fairly with other businesses you happen to come across because they all contribute to the perceived nature of your business.

–   Milestone Development: Detailed mission statements and goals should be regularly set for yourself and your team. This can be on a weekly, monthly or even daily basis. To survive in any environment you must be ready to adapt and by achieving the short term goals you set, it shows that you are adapting to your environment and it gives you a feeling of growth and self-fulfillment, as well as the advantage of recording the exact level of operational progress.

–  Internet Marketing: The internet is the fast becoming the most widely used marketing tool in the world. Everyday millions of people surf the net looking for information about a product or service which you probably offer. Position yourself to be noticed on the web, either through a company website or social media platform.

There is no strict guideline or manual for making the transition from a ‘business man / woman’ to a forward thinking entrepreneur, the important thing to remember is that the world is changing in ways that are new to all of us. The key to it all is preparation; being ready for when opportunity knocks.

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Demola Adedoyin is the CEO of Yin Media. He holds a masters degree in media & communications from the London Metropolitan University. His cross-cultural knowledge stems from experiences in Nigeria and abroad.

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (4)

  1. well i dont see the possibility of young Nigerians thinking this way! we have a long way to go !!

  2. so N aija is getting younger maybe thats when we will have revolution

  3. ideas and innovation in this age are the fruits of success. the forward thinking entrepreneur put colloquially is definitely 'the boss'.

  4. One of the best most useful pieces ever published on YNaija! As a "young & forward-thinking entrepreneur" this is very insightful. Thanks!

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