Thursday, March 08, 2007

Journey of an Afropreneur: Pursuing and Living the Dream

A few words of advice before and after you decide to quit your day job and become a freelance techie or an entrepreneur whatever comes first.

  1. Build a trust network, a reliable network of people who can recommend you for projects that will ensure that you always have business coming in even when things seem very dry for other people. Trust me this is a must have.
  2. Do the leg work even when you don't want to for the very reason that you need to. Go out there and talk to people, even volunteer to do work for free in exchange for your name/company being mentioned in the next issue of a technology/business magazine.
  3. Always do the research for any major product/service. If your going to pitch for any contract, facts and figures will always win the day since they show a serious commitment to the bottom line which is what all managers care about.
  4. Don't be afraid to outsource some of that excess work you have even if it means it will reduce the size of your pie. Look at like this if you have 6 projects and your constrained for time, outsource 3 and deliver all 6 on time, at the end of the day you have happy clients who then give you more work in the long run your pie gets bigger.
  5. Form mutually beneficial partnerships with individuals and groups. At the end of the day they are the same people who will refer business to you and vice versa.
  6. Pick a mentor who will help you focus and work on your weaknesses as well as help you build that business.
  7. Don't be afraid of meetings (my techie friends will hate me for this). Despite what people say or think, meetings do yield a lot, but only well planned meetings that address the key issues.
  8. Take time off to enjoy the fruits of your labour, "All work and no play makes jack(jane) a dull boy". Take a drive to the countryside or even just go for a swim, release the steam and when you get back to the hustle of building that business you'll be better at what you do.
  9. No project is ever too small to undertake. On many occasions people will approach you with projects that may not offer large financial rewards and you might be inclined to turn them down but remember for every project that you do you build a portfolio and gain mileage in the industry they also go a long way towards paying your bills.
  10. Take time to plan and strategise. A leading CEO of one of the most successful companies once told me "80% planning and 20% execution" what this means is that planning well gives you a strong foundation and will sustain through some of the most challenging times.
  11. Last one is don't think too long about making that "giant step" or big decision as to whether your ready to go solo, sometimes you just need to do it even when you see no light ahead, may be the reason there is no light is because its waiting for you to come with your ideas and light the place up.
I guess that's all I have for now, I'll be sure to add some more as I learn new lessons.

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