My girls and I were having dinner, and after laughing about everything from fashion to family, the subject of career transitioning came up.

Fola raised the topic—not for the first time—and this time she desperately needed answers from us. We honestly thought she would follow her passion for baking, and “give daddy his law degree” as she had always said she would. Imagine our shock when she told us four years ago that she had decided to work at her uncle’s law firm. I’ll never forget how loudly we laughed when she joked that her child couldn’t live on cookies alone.

Our other friend, Bimpe, had successfully transitioned from owning and running her fashion business for years to becoming one of the best business strategists in the country. Bimpe’s voice was the loudest during this conversation, as it had every right to be. We all watched her handle her transition gracefully, how she sometimes had to delete comments by entitled people who had heard rumours about why she closed down her business. But she was soaring in her career, and that’s all that mattered.

Here are a few lessons on career transitioning that Bimpe shared with us, and will be helpful if you’re in a similar stage in your life.

Keep an open mind
This is a crucial season for you and your loved ones. Before you take that leap into a new career path, be open to the opinion of others, especially those who have transitioned before, or currently work in the industry you seek to join. Be open to asking and answering very tough questions. We didn’t spare Bimpe or Fola these questions, so I doubt your loved ones will. When people give you answers to your questions, ensure you’re not defensive.

Enhance your skills
A career transition can be one of the most humbling experiences ever. You’ll most likely find that some of the skills you have will not come in handy in the future. In order to be very effective in your new industry, ensure that you take a break to enhance all needed skills. Do it at your own pace; there is no rush. You may want to start out with a quick online search, a course, or take on a whole degree if that is needed in your new field. You should also consider an internship position to learn for a few months. Just ensure that you’ve evaluated your past experiences and measured it with what you now seek. Mentorship can also not be over-emphasized. Get a mentor or friend in this field who can help guide you.

Be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons
A career transition is a big deal. It’s important that you do not limit yourself, but it’s also important that the big decisions you take in life are well thought out. You have to look inward and question your motive. Why am I changing careers? Will I look back in five years and regret this decision? Should I seek counsel? The biggest reason for your career change should be fulfillment. Although I understand there are times where life just happens, still, always be fuelled by other desires that are not monetary.

Don’t hold back
Sounds like a contradiction, right? But life is too short to be doing anything that doesn’t give you fulfilment. You just have to take the jump. Do it afraid. There’s only so much analyzing you can do, at some point, you’ll have to just try it and see if it’ll work out. You’ll never know if you don’t try, and if you do try and it doesn’t work out, then at least you can tell the world that you’re great and trying new things and experiences.

About Debbie

Debbie Larry-Izamoje also known as The Entrepreneur’s Best-Friend is a Nigerian Entrepreneur. With Certificates in Innovation and strategy from Harvard University and user innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Debbie is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs which is why she founded Image Boosters , a digital agency that specializes in Digital Marketing, Social Media Management, PR & Communications. She is an author of 2 business books and was for 25 under 25 SME and recently recognized as by Trek Africa as outstanding entrepreneurship personality of the year. www.debbielarrryizamoje.com www.imageboosters.com.ng Twitter and Instagram: @dee_larry @imageboosters_ Email: contactus@imageboosters.com.ng

Discussing too many ideas is a red flag. For example, saying that your company intends to land one major customer, and then saying that you intend to land ten bigger ones at the same time shows you lack focus. Why? Because investors would rather have you record a huge success on the first one before hopping onto others.

Getting early stage investment can help new and existing startups worry less about short-term issues such as overhead costs, and help to focus on areas such as gaining competitive advantage, customer retention rates and expansion.

However, for entrepreneurs who aren’t savvy at the game, they could make mistakes that could prevent them from getting funds to expand their businesses. As the founder of a growing hair care solutions brand, I have made some of these mistakes in the last 6 years, and I learned these lessons the hard way. So let’s get into those mistakes and how to avoid them in the future.

Lack of Focus
Investors don’t like to waste their time and money. Therefore, when pitching to them to get funding, pass your message across clearly and keep it short and sweet. Additionally, since their main focus is to get returns on their investments, make sure that you explain the strategic plans you’ve put in place that would help you generate leads and bring in revenue. However, don’t make unrealistic claims or say things that aren’t related to the topic.

Likewise, discussing too many ideas is a red flag. For example, saying that your company intends to land one major customer, and then saying that you intend to land ten bigger ones at the same time shows you lack focus. Why? Because investors would rather have you record a huge success on the first one before hopping onto others.

Underestimating Your Competitors
Don’t make the mistake of telling potential investors that your business has no competitors. Saying that automatically translates to telling them that a market for your business doesn’t exist.

No matter the type of products or services you offer, your business has either direct or indirect competitors. For instance, if you intend to produce luxury cutlery and kitchen appliances when no one has, it’s safe to say that you don’t have direct competitors since there isn’t any other business offering the same product. However, your indirect competitors are other companies also producing affordable cutlery and kitchen appliances.

Additionally, don’t say horrible things about your competitors. Don’t make them look like they aren’t doing anything right, because the truth is if they aren’t doing it right, they won’t remain in business.

A Long/Boring Business Plan
When pitching your business to investors, one of the major items they’d ask for is your business plan. Don’t go to presentations submitting a 70 to 100-page business plan. Those are too many words, and most investors just want to see how your solution can guarantee a return on their investment. Likewise, your revenue model shouldn’t be shallow, It should adequately convey your plans for your business’ success.

Based on my experience, I’d recommend that your business plan shouldn’t exceed 10 to 15 pages. If it’s a pitch, it shouldn’t be more than 10 slides.

Not Understanding Your Metrics
Want to scare off investors? Don’t understand your metrics and you’re good to go. You should be able to know how much it would cost you to acquire a customer or cost of delivering the product and marketing. Knowing these metrics would give you an idea of the amount of money needed to fund or expand your business. Additionally, understanding your metrics would help you and your team work purposefully towards setting and achieving your business’ growth goals.

Being Overconfident
Investors have experienced successes and failures; and they can sniff a lie from miles away. While investors expect you to be an expert in your business, they don’t expect you to be a Jack of all trades. Instead of touting yourself as a know-it-all, acknowledge your investors’ experience and let them know that while you are knowledgeable about your business, you welcome their suggestions and ideas about other areas of your business.

Excess Focus on Product Features
Strictly focusing on your products and their features when raising funds for your business isn’t a great idea. Sure, while you need to sell your products and their features to potential investors, you also have to clearly communicate that you aren’t just selling a product or offering a service. Let them know and show them that you’re building a customer-centric brand.

Without strategic marketing, a great team, financial literacy, emotional intelligence and efficient operations, your business won’t survive, even if your products or services are gems.

Likewise, let investors know if your products have a special feature, and make sure that you communicate clearly how you’ll ensure it isn’t copied or reproduced, such as patent protection or copyright.

Poor Forecasting
Nothing puts off investors more than an unrealistic goal. When you aren’t authentic, you lose credibility. Most business owners make the mistake of exaggerating their financial projections, metrics and market size.

Don’t say it would take competitors five years or more before they can reproduce your products; because when investors carry out an investigation and discover that your claims are far from the truth, you’ve blown your chances. Period!

Instead of falling into this, sell your execution and your value proposition.

Slow and steady still wins the race. If you’re a broke CEO and your parents are giving you hell, ask yourself: do I need to make money now or do I keep at this for as long as it takes?

We’re gradually moving away from the norm and edging toward change. We question a lot of things, feel powerful because we’re armed. We’re armed with the power of social media. One tweet can change your entire life and this is interesting because exploiting the full potential of this power guarantees us a future our parents never had.

We’re also overly inquisitive and more receptive to new ideologies. We’re embracing newer forms of fashion designing, interior designing, cartoonists, animators, and we’ve even redefined comedy. It is also very intriguing that success can just happen in a minute. You can create something right now that a lot of people will love and before you can say jack the whole world is vibing to your tune (mans nuh hot).

But the universe has an interesting management technique in which everything must balance out. Anything with an advantage must have a disadvantage. Because we’re overly creative, someone is always faster and doing better somewhere. When you think you have this fabulous idea, with adequate research, you find that someone is already doing it. But then, the major disadvantage here is that because we’ve seen that success (which we’ve equated to money and fame) can happen in an instant, it has made us impatient and blind to the process and journey to success. No one wants a business idea that will take a while to flourish. We want the money and we want it now.

However, leaving all these aside for a moment, what I’ve found to be common among millennials is the friction being a broke startup CEO introduces to our relationship with our parents. If you’re someone like Maraji who is at the top of her industry, I don’t think your parents would mind much that all you do is sit at home and make funny videos for Instagram. But if you’re still unpopular and no one pays you six figure amounts to make a video, and you somehow still lean on your parents for financial support, and then refuse to pursue a nine to five, I think we can all agree that the relationship with your parents won’t be so smooth. Arguably, this is the case for nine out of every ten millennial. Having an idea or passion that you believe in, but money is scared of your account.

It probably isn’t helping that we now toss around big titles like CEO, executive director and the likes. “Start-up” sounds so posh and befitting, but half of us don’t even know that we need to be small businesses and not start-ups. Let’s digress and study a bit.

According to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank, the biggest difference between the two company types is in their top objectives. Small businesses are driven by profitability and stable long-term value, while start-ups are focused on top-end revenue and growth potential. In simpler terms, starting a small business means you’re in for making money ASAP, but a start-up is an innovation, a distinct idea that has the potentiality to grow big enough to change the market over time (Apple inc).

Here’s how to know: what do you want out of your life in five years? Financial freedom or a really great idea with the potential to blow up? This helps you choose between the two business types according to your goal in life.

We all want to make money now and live that easy life of being financially free and providing for the parents. But here’s a fun fact: Financial experts say that about eighty percent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria fail within the first five years of their existence, due to lack of experience and other wrong business practices. Let’s face it, Nigeria isn’t exactly an easy place to do business.

We often learn this too late, the effort required to turn an idea, product or service into a groundbreaking and lasting success is nothing short of herculean. There is a huge difference between the idea and the business of the idea. The steps involved are, of course, numerous and complex: refining the concept, defining the market, creating the business plan, conducting the market research, selling the plan to investors, lining up vendors, partners, and suppliers. We get really pumped reading and listening to motivational speeches and tapes but this in no way eliminates the work that needs to be done. Excitement does not sustain a business.

What then is the cure for a broke CEO?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with starting your entrepreneurial or start-up career with a small business. Building a solid financial base will help create a longer personal financial runway for future start-up ventures, while also eliminating being a broke CEO in your father’s house. Also, establishing a successful small business can build credibility and networks through the business community, which will be hugely valuable when launching a startup that requires outside and huge investments.

Our youthfulness and creativity has cut us open to a lot of pressure. Pressure to make money as soon as possible, pressure from parents, pressure from social media, seeing this one and that one celebrating yet another milestone with a photoshoot and long caption. Pressure gradually builds up to anxiety, self doubt, inferiority complex and even depression.

We all just need to be patient. We need to exit this self imposed pressure and anxiety of trying to be a multi-millionaires in three years. This happens for some people, but not everyone, and the one person we’re truly in competition with is ourselves. Slow and steady still wins the race. If you’re a broke CEO and your parents are giving you hell, ask yourself: do I need to make money now or do I keep at this for as long as it takes?

About Chisom Winifred

Chisom Winifred is a creative/freelance writer, content creator and a self published Author. She’s also the co-founder of C&C Digital a social media management firm, dedicated helping small businesses monetize social media using smart online marketing strategies. Find her on Instagram @chisomwinifred or visit her blog www.chisomwinifred.com

Source: Bellanaija

On Thursday, November 22nd, 2018, Lagos, Nigeria will witness the official launch of Fundanenterprise.org at Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. Fundanenterprise.org is a donation-based crowdfunding website (first of its kind in Nigeria) built specifically for fundraising activities, solely in form of grants to support start-up, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria and beyond.

Date: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018
Venue: Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos

The website is owned and operated by the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Crowd Funding Foundation, a new not-for-profit organization in Nigeria. Given the imbalance in the Nigerian economy and its recent rating as the poorest country in the world, it is high time individuals and groups joined hands together to make our economy work again. It is high time we began to support one another in every little way in order to expunge the poverty index and make our economy great again.

The MSME Crowd Funding Foundation, through Fundanenterprise.org, is here, not only to provide the much-needed relief to start-ups, small and growing businesses but to change the way Nigerians in particular and the world in general support business operations. Crowdfunding (raising funds from a large number and spread of people all over the world, majorly through a website) is a globally accepted financing method, practiced as a much easier alternative to the traditional fundraising through the Capital Markets and other Financial Institutions.
Crowdfunding has been used globally and successfully to fund a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures/activities and community-oriented projects, as well as test the community’s reception of a particular project or business idea to find out if it will be successful before embarking on such business. The MSME Crowd Funding Foundation, Nigeria, believes that by bringing this practice of crowdfunding for enterprises closer home, Nigerians can benefit from the much-needed ease of funding / financial support for their personal and group enterprises.

The mandate of MSME Crowd Funding Foundation is therefore solely to help build thriving enterprises, as many as can possibly be; to guarantee a meaningful life and livelihood for Africans, and Nigerians in particular. This mandate is carried out through three (3) key functions as follows:
Skills Training: The Foundation provides its enterprise community members with the necessary financial and soft skills training to start, manage and grow their businesses. Most importantly, the Foundation works with intending start-ups to develop a business plan that is realistic and practical.
Crowdfunding: www.fundanenterprise.org is a crowdfunding website designed to link enterprises that need funding, with good people who love engaging in philanthropic activities and changing lives.
An African proverb says “If you think that you are too small to make a difference, you have not spent a night with a mosquito”. Every small donation, from any volunteer, would make a big difference in our community and by extension, in our country.
Handholding/ Monitoring of Enterprises: A compulsory one-year hand holding support is put in place to assist enterprises who are beneficiaries of grants or backers’ grants from www.fundanenterprise.org put a proper legal and operational structure around their new businesses. Existing businesses are also offered the same business process improvement to ensure that they henceforth grow more, generate their own funding needs and also assist other start-up and struggling enterprises with donations.

It is all intended to be a communal enterprise building circle, to empower our people and build our economy.
The MSME Crowd Funding Foundation, through Fundanenterprise.org, is here to help our country and our world, in the following ways:
People who love to engage in philanthropic activities (both in and outside the country) can now help build enterprises and change lives very easily by donating to enterprise building on Fundanenterprise.org.
Donors can get the products and services they love, through rewards that campaign creators are encouraged to offer on the website.
People with entrepreneurial drive and energy, can now very easily get the funds they need, to start up or scale up their businesses, through their well thought out fundraising campaigns to be published on Fundanenterprise.org.
Young businesses will get it right from the start, as the Foundation and its handholding partners will set up the right legal and operational structure around their businesses for free.
Prospective and existing business founders will find the much-needed knowledge sharing partners/ mentors for free, in the Foundation and its consultants.

Campaign creators will have their business plans critiqued and reviewed by professionals, to ensure that they are good enough to turn out viable enterprises.

Campaign creators can pre-test the public’s reception of their intended products or services through the pattern/level of donations and reactions they get on their campaigns on fundanenterprise.org.

The Foundation can help build the consultancy industry by engaging as many qualified consultants as possible, to render professional and training services to our enterprise community on fundanenterprise.org.
Our people and their dependents can have a meaningful livelihood.

The country will increasingly become an entrepreneurial hub and our economy can grow to reach its full potentials in the ranks of developed economies.

It is the belief of the MSME Crowd Funding Foundation that unless many more people undertake meaningful and viable enterprises; unless the elite and more successful people in our society make it a point of duty to support budding and struggling enterprises, our economy will continue to be underdeveloped. The Foundation is, therefore, calling on everyone out there who wishes to make an impact in the society (no matter how small) to support us in this cause to make our economy buoyant again.

Donate to an enterprise today on Fundanenterprise.org. Photos of the Foundation’s latest enterprise building projects in partnership with its handholding partners – Vi-M Professional Solutions (a tax, audit, and business advisory services firm) are displayed below: