The African entrepreneur belongs to a different species. He/she evolves in a rather difficult environment, must develop qualities inherent of the market in which he seeks to operate. Here are the 5 traits that will allow him or her to get a head start on his or her competition!
1 – Punctuality
The phrase, “African time or regular time” is often heard. The best way to stand out of the crowd is by showing up on time at your appointments. The good impression you will make by arriving on time will show your client that you take your business seriously and that he is dealing with a professional.
2 – He/She Can’t Do Everything
When one is looking for extra revenues, the temptation is high to throw oneself onto every opportunity that comes knocking in order to fill up the company chest fund.
As an ancient Chinese proverb goes, “he who knows how to do everything, knows nothing”.
We all have a friend, or cousin who is a mason but also a tiler, an electrician, an urban designer, a mechanic, but also… You get it, he can do just about anything but ultimately nothing at all.
This type of entrepreneur is very recurrent in Africa. He/she can offer web designing, online community managing, handling your online reputation etc, at a very good price.
Make sure that you do not belong to this category and specialize yourself in a domain, this will reassure your clients as they will know that you aren’t just desperate to take their CFAs away.
3 – He/She is Bilingual
In the IT world, understanding and speaking English is a must. The most obvious reason is that the content that you have access to while doing your research on the web is tremendous and your most likely going to find what you are looking for on the Internet.
Another reason, none the least important, is that the English-speaking world is becoming more and more interested in Africa. Events showcasing competing Start-Ups from across the continent are more frequent, thus, it would be a shame to not be able to present your projects or speak to potential partners.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, consider that most of the major companies who have decided to have a representation in Africa, have at their head people from English-speaking countries. Though the latter are capable of speaking in French, they would give more attention to your competitor who was smart enough to follow Mrs. Anderson’s English class in 6th grade.
4 – He/She is a Perfectionist
By being a perfectionist you are ensuring that your job is always at its best quality. Too often in Africa, the last touches are botched. The finishing touches that you bring to your work will make the difference between a well done job and one that is executed too quickly. Ensure that when you are delivering a client’s order he/she doesn’t feel as if your sole objective is to put your hands on the remaining 50% of the contract you signed.
5 – He/She Has A Network
The opportunities that will you and your business a success will not come on their own. You will have to go get them! Your achievements, the caliber of your references and the impression you give to the people that surround you will create your reputation. This reputation will be the pillar of setting of your network. Thus, during a conversation, Mr. Sawadogo, with whom you play soccer every sunday, will answer when asked if he knows of a company that is capable of delivering high quality work, “Yes, of course! I’ll put you in contact with a friend of mine who has an IT business. He does great work!”
Building a quality network, based on the quality of your services, will be the best advertisement you could hope for.