If you could get business tips for success from someone who has successfully built a property empire over the last 15 years, would you get it? I went to Ghana in December for 2 weeks and stayed with my uncle. His business journey is incredible and inspiring to hear. The first time I heard it, was when we had a barbequed dinner late into the night. He discussed amongst friends what he has learned, and how he acquired his businesses. In this article, I will highlight the main points I drew from his stories and advice.
Before I go deep into it, at the heart of it all integrity and the willingness to help others seemed to be an obvious theme. If you want to be a successful business owner, you need to put the people first. However, not to the point where it is self-limiting. Learn to do services for free in the beginning to gauge the market, and then build your prices from there.
Many people in the West from the African diaspora have hopes of going back home to do business. But it is becoming even clearer that many people do not know why they want to do it. Maybe it is something innate within them driving them to do this? Perhaps it is the fact that they believe they have nothing for them here? Potentially they believe that if they can make it here, they can make it there… Who knows? The fact of the matter is there is a movement. Even the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo is marketing 2019 as “the year of return.” This encouraged many affluent, and dynamic celebrities to travel to Ghana at the end of 2018.
Ghana, the motherland
Ghana is a beautiful land and with the rise of entrepreneurial initiatives, international business deals, and the rise of technological advancement, it is catching up with other economic powerhouses. However, it has a long way to go, just like many other countries in the world. The poverty gap is clear and obvious to see, and there is still work to be done on the roads, buildings and other areas. But this has not been forgotten, as the pace of development is inspiring to watch. Amongst all this change, cultural attitudes and behaviours do not change as rapidly and could be an issue for future advancement of the country. This pertains to efficient ways of working, better trade and business deals, as well as managing intellectual property and business governance. With these observances there lies opportunity…
My Uncle’s approach
My uncle moved to Ghana 15 years ago because he realised that if he wanted to live a life that he deserved, it couldn’t be done the way he wanted in the UK. Any move is difficult and requires a shift in mindset. It requires making new networks and new ways of living. As an architect, he thought it sensible to go into the property game and capitalise on that industry. He built his firm and hired people along the way to help grow his business. Today, he is comfortably enjoying his earnings from over 30 properties and has delegated many of his duties to other members of staff. I was amazed to see his compound engulfing 3 properties, a swimming pool, and a garden for social activities.
Business Tips for entrepreneurs
On one evening over a barbequed dinner, my friends and I sat with my uncle enjoying the ambience. Inspired by the conversations, he started to talk about his journey towards entrepreneurship and what he has learned along the way. Here are the things that I captured from the talk:
Human connection is vital
He really has a strong pull towards human connection and driving relationships. He explained that if you treat people as human, with emotion, feeling, and the sense that they have their own desires to fulfil, then business becomes easier. Virtually, he described having a sense of empathy for your fellow human, learning how to be in their shoes. This could be in reference to a business partner or gateman. People remember how you make them feel, and not necessarily what you do. To further develop a human connection, get to know people on a personal level, providing the balance for professionalism when appropriate. It just makes working with people so much easier.
Creating a huge network
It was pretty clear, that my uncle is well-known, at least in the Airport Hills/Accra area. He has been responsible for building many commercial and residential properties in Accra. Many of these have been from networks he has built over the years. When we think of marketing we usually relate it to social media marketing or Facebook Ads, however, word-of-mouth has proven to work really well for him. Many clients have been referral based, linked in with traditional sales tactics. If you are building a business, it’s important to become an integral part of the networks, so that people utter your name upon their lips.
When you hear the letters “JB” you know that’s referring to my uncle. With the brand darted around Accra it’s clear that he has made his mark. But this would not have been possible if he didn’t focus on the prior two qualities “human connection” and “networking.” But the third thing to seal the deal is to produce a brand. Not just any brand, but a brand that has a good reputation. This is not referring to colour scheme, vision statement etc. this is referring to what the brand represents. If you own a business, your personal brand represents your company brand. They are intertwined. Therefore you must be consistent with your approach and portray a brand that represents your company. This brand should express the most genuine and best version of you that there is.
Work for Free
I have many loved ones who have complained to me that I should not be doing work for free. My uncle seemed to have the same issue. But thinking about it carefully it has allowed him to know what processes to follow. It has given him confidence about what the market needs and how he can provide a solution. It has also given him opportunities where free work, has turned into a financial return. I could argue the same thing. I have done work for free for people, and over months or years that work has usually turned into some sort of financial return. There are so many benefits to working for free at the beginning including:
- Knowing your processes
- Brand awareness and exposure
- Confidence in what you are doing
It’s a no brainer, if you want to grow, you need to work for free in the beginning.
Be practical, Be intentional
Throughout his stories, there was an air of practicality and intention that covered everything. It was always clear what strategy he had in mind, meaning that every action needed to be focused on those things. It reminded me that things are to be done on purpose, rather than by accident. Too many of us are waiting to go viral, but that is delusional thinking. It became very evident that you need to build success from the ground up. Think about the strategies and activities that are going to get your sales in the near future.
And finally, the last theme I picked up was that in business, my uncle thought it very important to do what he says. This means you have to have a level of honesty to yourself and others that are rarely denied. Making your word as your bond develops a reputation and degree of trust between you and your prospects. This very quality is how he has been able to endorse all the qualities mentioned in this article. Being true to your cause, and to who you are is key for financial and business development. This is because you begin to attract people, resources and environments that liken to your walk of life. And in the same token, you are attracted to those things that support your primary intentions.
To conclude, the main business tip for success is making sure that you develop a network of deeply formed human connections, and act with integrity with everything that you do. This will be driven by purpose, intention and practicality to help you realise your goals. In order to manoeuvre you need to see how the market operates by working for free and setting a standard from there. If you work hard enough, and with the right strategy you create your own business empire allowing you to eventually focus on things that make you even happier.