__Can you spot it?
In the end, you’re always going to react to a new venture in one of three ways: 1) as a consumer; 2) as an entrepreneur; or 3) with dismissive indifference. Just remember: Every new venture that’s created also creates opportunities for YOU to #imagine and #create a new venture.
Consider Vaya which I wrote about last week: What opportunities do you see as an entrepreneur now for YOU to create a new venture? Since this platform is about #Afripreneurship, I’m urging you to open your eyes to the infinite possibilities that it opens for you. What do you “see”?
# You might have simply spotted something in the concept, and go on to use it for other things.
# You might have seen something my team and I missed, and now go off to create something new or better.
# You might have seen a way to use it to enhance and scale your own business.
When we completed the Vaya business concept, I actually said to myself: “I wish Vaya had been there when I started my own business for the first time.”
This is because most of the money I raised went into vehicles, and now it’s possible to start a business without ownership of a vehicle.
As Entrepreneurs we learn to ride on the back of businesses started by others. Most great companies out there came about as a result of an entrepreneur appreciating this principle of entrepreneurship.
To be able to take advantage of this principle, you must have more than a casual interest in what makes a particular business work. It requires a deep level of curiosity.
I created Vaya after first studying Uber, and then every other player out there that had emerged. My studies were not casual Internet searches, but that is where I started.
The more I studied it, the more I realized that I could use this model to tackle a lot of things. Now I could have gone to Uber or Taxify and asked them to partner with me, but I did not. It is an option, but actually sometimes a lazy option. I like to breakdown and distill a business model, which I can use to tackle the issues I see around me.
The business I created, Vaya Mobility and Logistics (VML), may not be in your market, and it probably never will be. Remember there are people on this FB platform from over 100 countries! Asking me to come and set up in your country tells me that you have not fully appreciated what I’m trying to say to you, as an entrepreneur, which is @FastFollow me!
If you are really an entrepreneur, you must do three things:
#1. Re-read what I have written, several times, because there is always something very deep I’m trying to convey to you! I’m not trying to sell you a product or get you to admire me; I’m trying to hone your entrepreneurial skills, like a mother Eagle teaching an Eaglet to fly!
#2. Go to the website: I never allow a business to be launched that has no website! Neither should you! Go through the website as well as news articles. Read about the competitors and others in that business and industry. Stay with it. Don’t get distracted.
#3. Start writing down practical lessons for yourself: “What can I do with this thing?”
It is absolutely about YOU!
# Can you use this to start a new venture, or improve an existing one?
# Is this pointing you towards something happening out there that you had not yet recognized?
# Where is the smart money on this?
During the past 12 months, my team worked extremely hard, against some extraordinarily challenging head winds, to create and develop several new technology ventures:
# Distributed Power Africa (DPA) was an absolute rock star!
# Cassava Fintech International launched Sasai App, which has now been downloaded in 140 countries.
# Africa Data Center (ADC) became a Unicorn!
# Vaya Mobility and Logistics (VML) launched 17 services, including Clean City and Vaya Tractor.
We also took a hit and had to shut down our beloved Kwesé. This was really hard and painful, but it’s part of entrepreneurship. That is why those who are not entrepreneurs associate what we do with the word “risk”.
Even then, we learnt good entrepreneurial lessons and salvaged unique opportunities such as Technites Africa. I will write a series about this experience one day.
To be an Entrepreneur you must be willing to give something a try, and you must not be afraid of failure or even harsh criticism. If you don’t try, you have nothing!
Don’t be afraid. Be of good courage.
I hope my own modest efforts as an entrepreneur have encouraged you in what you are already doing!
Image credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission/Hal Korber
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa