“What separate achievers from mediocre entrepreneurs”

Speakers and participants at #AWPLagos2014

  • Experts discuss strategies to execute business ideas at #AWPLagos2014

The number one reason people fail in business is because they refuse to execute their ideas; a team of analysts said at a free entrepreneurial forum organised by the AWP Network in Lagos in January.

The well composed panel included women who have been selected for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, Echoing Green fellowship, Cartier Women’s Initiative Award, Tech Award, Nigeria Prize for Innovation, and who are listed as Africa’s Power Women. They were categorical in their analysis of what constitute business success, which reflected the theme of the event: “Go from Ideas to Execution in 2014.

It was intended for participants to begin the New Year inspired with information on how to properly execute their vision and learn strategies to move their business ideas forward.

For several weeks leading to the event, the internet was abuzz in anticipation with #AWPLagos2014. Over 150 people registered and many did turn up at the Dover Hotel Lekki venue on Tuesday, January 21.

It was also an opportunity for many Lagos based entrepreneurs to meet with founder of the AWP Network, Mary Olushoga, in person. The event opened with the Lagos Lead of the organization, Olufemi Omotayo, after a period of registration and networking.

And how best to start than Mary Olushoga who moderated the session taking the first shot?

“Take that first step and give it your all,” she said.

The conversation shifted from one speaker to the other; each relieving experiences that have made their businesses move from dream to reality.

According to Nkem Begho of Future Software Resources, winner of the Etisalat Nigeria Prize for Innovation which created the iConnect project; planning is crucial to executing great ideas.

Corroborating that, Ashoka fellow and executive director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, Oreoluwa Somolu said: “Research, plan and just take the step. A “now” passion should be done now!”

“Have a clear idea,” was the simple admonition of Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, co-founder of Wecyclers, a for-profit social enterprise working to help communities reclaim their neighbourhoods from unmanaged waste.

CEO of Fine Dining by COCO Ltd, Clara Ohakim said: “Conquer the fear, believe it’ll work.” She said further: “Taking the first step is difficult because of the element of fear. Eradicate fear by believing in yourself and your idea.”

Ayomide Condotti of Africholidays Travel advised entrepreneurs to start with things that are free and use their networks.Beh2AtkCAAAEwlN

That became a major talking point, as Condotti who, prior to starting her business worked as a banker clarified that every new business idea is like a baby that needs nurture. She is combining her passion for travelling with her love for business. And she started the business with just her phone.

Supporting this, Shomolu admonished business owners to “use free stuffs; don’t take loans; document their spending and accept offers of free services/expertise. For Begho, it is about being creative. “Dress well. A virtual office may do. Be honest. Use your start-up money for the very needful,” she said.

Joining the conversation, Ohakim said: “Start with the things that are free. Package your product well to highlight your selling-point(s).” She also believes that “networks are important for start-up funding.”

Adebiyi-Abiola’s suggestion is to “Start from the smallest the business can be. Have an idea and stick with it.”

Since “every business employs labour,” according to Ohakim, it is good to know what your “bread and butter” is because it will give you your “bread and jam.”

The discussion became interactive after a while, spanning other aspects of business success, with the panellists giving their personal examples.

Entrepreneurs should learn to “celebrate their achievements” and never give up. “Encourage yourself. Talk to people about your business at every opportunity. If they tell you “NO”, go back to them and ask in a different way. Push your selling point more – that is your bread and butter,” said Begho.

Other suggestions follow. According to Condotti: “focus on yourself and forget about the competition,” while Begho advised: “Put the money you make back into the business.” Ohakim said: “Structure your business on systems.”

Continuing she said: “Dress well before you meet any would be investor! Fake it until you make it!”

Rounding up, Olushoga said: “Hire slowly and fire fast.”

Appreciations and commendations followed almost immediately. Ogungbile Kolapo thanked the organizers of ‘such a great event.’ “Travelling down from Ibadan was worth it,” he said. Hamzat Afe Isede admitted to meeting “some amazing women entrepreneurs today at #AWPLagos2014.”

The volunteering organisation, Volunteer in Nigeria, tweeted: “Great to have been at #AWPLagos2014! Well done.” Adelekan Adebayo also said: “Great shout to the magnificent African business divas ably led by the maestro @AWPNetwork lady in business networking.” Oyeniyi Oluwashogo confessed: “It was an awesome session today. Thanks for the initiative.”

Many are already looking forward to another event. Indeed, Davy Jones said location meant he sat the event out. “Wishing you all the best today and many thanks! Cheers ma’am!” he tweeted.

Aransiola Damilola thanked the panel for the tips. “It was awesome meeting you. I can’t wait for the next event,” he said. Condotti also tweeted:

“#awpLagos2014 was amazing!! Pls pls pls do not miss the next AWP Event. Well done @AfricWomenPower you did well and thank u for including us.”

Enspire Incubator joined with: “Well done with the Lagos Meet, We should look at Abuja too. We would like to explore this linkage.”

“Thank you Lagos for the warm welcome. Thank you for honouring our work,” said The AWP Network, organisers of the event.

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