Friday, December 16, 2016

If you must fail, fail forward

How do you start over when a bakery in which you have invested so much—time, money, passion—is  demolished in a twinkle of an eye. How do you start over when on three occasions you have been forced, by a breach in contract and social crises, to start over an operation that you had 70 percent completed? How do you start over when the available power supply is not enough to power the machines at your manufacturing company? These are the stories of three young Nigerian entrepreneurs—Muna  Okam, CEO of Chloe’s Cupcake Heaven, Amal Hassan, CEO of The Outsource Company; and Ibrahim Bashir, an IT professional and marketing and business development manager at Abuja Technology Village Free Zone Company—who are failing forward.

They shared their experiences at a GIST Tech Connect Webinar with young entrepreneurs to
celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. The webinar featured a virtual panel of experts—Ryan Babineaux, executive coach and co-author of Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You win; Jo Ann Corkran, managing director of Golden Seeds LLC; Leticia Gasca, global director of the Failure Institute—who spoke on using setbacks to drive success. The panelists shared three key take always for anyone looking to start a business or currently running a business. The first is that failure is part of any worthwhile challenge. The second piece of advice was from Jo Ann to start ups- “do not fail for a dumb reason.”  The third take away was that failure is not an invitation to stop but to refocus.
The local panel of young entrepreneurs were inspiring and as they shared their stories, it was evident that entrepreneurs all over the world have more in common than not. While the ease of doing business varies by country, resilience is a virtue that most entrepreneurs share, and preparation and research is key to success. After an hour of interaction, the following five key points sum up why our panelists in spite of their numerous set backs are celebrated success stories

1. Fail Fast, Fail Cheap:  Prior to making a huge investment, get customer feedback on your product or idea. Muna started her business in her kitchen and sold her first box of cupcakes via Blackberry Messenger. Now she boasts the first dedicated cupcake shop in Nigeria.

2. Start Small: It’s ok to have big ideas and big vision, but do not allow funding to become an obstacle to accomplishing your big ideas. Amal’s story of starting with just 10 computers in 2008 and growing into a 350 seat call center in 2016 is a testament to starting small with the big dreams in mind.

3. Find your ecosystem of support: For Ibrahim It’s his father’s words of wisdom that kept him going; for Amal it’s her husband’s support and motivation; for Muna, its family and friends who supported her when she experienced the biggest draw back in her business. The panelists all agree that having a support ecosystem has been instrumental to their comebacks following their setbacks.

4. Keep Moving: The panelists share a common passion for excellence and a determination to keep moving. Failure is part of the process, but it should not be the end of the process. When you fail, find out why and never repeat your mistakes.

5. The only person stopping you is you: half the battle is overcoming the limitations that we set for ourselves. For Muna “there’s a lot of power in your mind, once you think it and you believe it, you can do it.”

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