December Issue 2014

Page 83


Learn the language of investors. When engaging with investors all start ups need to have a basic understanding of key financial concepts including ROI, Cash Flow, Income Statements, Balance Sheets. This financial literacy will make you more appealing to investors. Contrary to popular belief there is a lot of venture capital floating around Africa. Start-ups need to learn how to present themselves as real businesses rather than “cool ideas”. It is this business savvy that will attract investors.


Done is better than perfect; be 80:20 The start-up scene moves quickly and relentlessly. Instead of waiting to design the perfect product, we would encourage entrepreneurs to go 80:20 and strive to create a product that is 80% perfect. Get this product out quickly and iterate as you go. This strategy will also make it much easier to get feedback from the market quickly and adjust as needed.


Think bold and dream big When we initially started She Leads Africa we thought it would be one off pitch contest. In essence we limited our own dreams. After a period of self reflection and many long conversations with mentors we were encouraged to think bold and dream big. Our ambition is to become a household name amongst African female entrepreneurs who see us as their one stop shop support system as well as shrewd investors who are looking for lucrative and

exciting investment opportunities on the continent.


Teamwork is key

We‟re very used to the Big Man culture in Africa. We see Dangote as the force behind the Dangote group, Tony Elumelu as the force behind Heirs Holdings but thousands of individuals drive the success of those organisations. When building your company it is critical to build a team that will challenge each other, think creatively, and dig in to get the hard work done.


Do your homework

Getting to market quickly is one thing, jumping in without any prior research is folly. Entrepreneurs need to learn to how to listen for, rather than guess, what the market wants. You may have hypotheses about what the market wants but until you have tested that, it‟s little more than your gut feel. One of the first things that we did was to create a survey which we sent out to 100 female entrepreneurs. The responses from this survey gave us excellent insights into what female entrepreneurs wanted and needed. In many cases our initial hypotheses were right and this gave us the confidence to forge ahead. In other cases the responses surprised us and forced us to rethink some of our initial assumptions. []