In my career as a business advisor I have interacted with so many African successful entrepreneurs from all walks of life with the aim of finding out the reasons for their success. Recently, I had a privilege of interviewing a number of the most successful entrepreneurs in East Africa for an international award. I have helped a number of successful organisations in the recruitment of chief executives where issues of success have been discussed. I have interacted with a number of successful entrepreneurs at cocktails, during dinners, at the airport lounges and at golf courses. I have always taken a chance to find out the reasons for their success and of whether they are special people. Interesting enough these people are not special human beings. They make mistakes and blunders in life like many of us. Majority of them are from humble background. They are children of peasants. They walked barefooted when they were young and they studied in difficult conditions. Majority of them came face to face with rural poverty at an early age. I found all of them are willing to share their knowledge with me. Each entrepreneur I talked to has given me a number of reasons for his or her success. I have summarised all reasons for success under the following headings;
Focused on succeeding in their mission
They have their mind fixed 100% on success and the word failure seems not to exist in their vocabulary. They take what we call failures as opportunities to do better.
Strong belief in success
All the successful people I have met have a strong belief in their abilities and capacity to succeed.
Related with successful people from early age
They all built relationships with successful people at an early age.
Learnt to work at an early age
Many started working including doing manual odd jobs at an early age. Many did all sorts of odd jobs to earn money.
Means of transport
They all walked to and from school with neither an umbrella nor a raincoat. They fetched water and firewood and carried it on their heads.
Made a personal choice to succeed
They made a personal choice to succeed in life at an early age. They didn’t accept to remain in the team of the majority rural poor. They were prepared to embark on a journey to success alone.
Took risk to walk on a lonely journey to success
They understood the risk involved and the lonely journey to success. They were prepared to confront all challenges on their journey to success. They didn’t have the fear of failure as a result of challenges.
Inspiration and support from their parents
Many were inspired and morally supported by their parents especially their mothers. I say morally supported because their parents had no resources to give them except to encourage them to move on to success.
Inspiration from their mentors
They have the most successful people in the world as their mentors.
Have worked hard all through their life
All have confessed that their success is the result hard working for long hours. Over 80 hours per week was the order of the day when they were starting their business.
Taking personal responsibility for their life
Despite the family background they all took personal responsibility to make a difference in their life. They saw it as their responsibility to make a difference in the life of the family and community.
Did not want to let down their parents and other relatives who sacrificed a lot to send them to school.
All realised the sacrifice of their parents and relatives in bringing them up and educating them. Many made a decision to succeed in life as a reward to their parents and relatives for the sacrifices made.
Lived within their means in order to save
They learnt to live within their income at an early age. They ate what is considered as a poor man’s food in order to save some money for their education business.