On Thursday, May 24, 2018, CcHub, a social impact accelerator based in Nigeria held the 4th edition of its breakfast session, an initiative that brings together entrepreneur to interact with successful business owners or seasoned experts, of course, over a morning meal. This time, the seasoned Guest was Demola Eleso, popularly called D£m, who championed discussion on the theme: Building for Billions!

As a seasoned Executive in the telecommunications industry, Dem’s career days goes as far back as the 90s’. From being MTN Nigeria’s first CTO, CEO of Multi-Links and Vodafone’s Head of Tech in 2008, he’s go on to found two big companies: mCentric (based in Spain) and Contact Solutions (ConSol), a leading call/contact centre service provider in Nigeria which he started in 2009 and currently chairman.

Demola Eleso, guest at CcHub Breakfast Chat

D£m had indeed had multiple accomplishments to his name. Over the CcHub’s breakfast chat, he shared his wealth of jaw-dropping experience that leaves you wondering if you ever knew anything prior to the meeting. Of the abundance, these are 7 vital lessons that would benefit you and your business if adopted:

Never be constrained by limited thinking

D£m shared that MTN Nigeria, at market entry, never foresaw the telecoms market will boom as well as it did. Apparently, the now, telecom giant achieved in 2 years, its set target for 5 years, and thanks to its flexibility, MTN is able to adjust perfectly to suit the growing demands of its market.

The lesson for entrepreneurs here is to keep an open-mind in business. According to DEm, there is every possibility that your market projections may pan out bigger than what has been initially envisaged. Moreover, it’s limiting to only think about the local market. “You have to make plans to flexible enough for your business to go everywhere, right at the start”, he said.

Market Research is Key

Market research is a vital aspect of building a successful business. But unfortunately, it’s usually ignored. When businesses are due for expansion, understanding where to go next, and when to move matter a lot. For instance, deciding where to open a new market, between Aba, ( a state’s commercial centre) or Umuahia, (the political capital) could be tough to make.

But as an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be sentimental about it in any sense. Go right where your target market is.

Bulk purchase doesn’t equate big break

Ever gotten a tempting offer or sales that seem like the big break? Or that one customer that seems to worth more than 100 because he bought a huge quantity at once? Such massive sales are often exciting but do not get carried away. That’s just one customer.

You still have to expand, acquire more prospective users or customers and grow your business. “Do not get carried away by bulk purchases, it isn’t necessarily your  big break”

Worry less about competition

We live in a very competitive economy. You can’t fight it. The best chance at surviving is embracing it, instead of seeing it as a dreadful phenomenal it’s been painted over time. The fact is, there are positive sides to a competitive economy. The best part is, it makes you say alert.

Competition keeps you and your business on your toes.  It makes you do the right thing all the time. Especially because you now know that like you, there are many others out there jostling for the same market attention as you” DEm remarked.

It’s OK to beg for clients, at the start

Nigerian SMEs

Another side to a competitive economy is the humbling beginning it gives. Since the big guns are out there, and probably already have a huge market share, to get a chance at your product, you might decide to plead with a few persons to make the initial patronage.

Many renowned entrepreneurs have, at one point or the other done this before finally making headway in the market with their products. Demola Eleso himself recalled his own share of this dilemma at the Breakfast session. So, begging for clients at the start is totally OK. Just don’t overdo it.

It’s all about Tenacity

As long as you are certain that your product is fit for the market, then you should totally stick with it, especially when you are certain of the market’s need for it.

Most successful businesses only hit their gold mine after sticking to their value offerings for as long as it takes for the market to realise the need. Moreover, luck often comes after pain.  So, do not attempt to circumvent the pain.

Watch out for a major restraint; Fear

In building for billions, entrepreneurs have to ensure that ‘What ifs’ are avoided, especially if you hope to work with investors or partners. However, to eliminate uncertainties, ensure you only take on industry or trade investors, who are synergistically aligned with you and your business goals. Never let your decisions hinge on fear of the unknown. It’s really dangerous.

Above all, it’s imperative for businesses that intend to hit the billion height to focus on customers. Balancing the people, product and process is key to building businesses for billions.