Nine Valuable Lessons from a Successful Young Entrepreneur

By Dolapo Adeyanju

Necessity and passion are two common phenomena in the Entrepreneurial world. While some people don’t set out to be entrepreneurs, some are determined from a young age never to wear a white collar or seek formal employment.

Meet Mahmood Oyewo, a 28-year-old and Forbes 30-under-30 Entrepreneur from Lagos, Nigeria. He is the Co-Founder & CEO of Rubiqube Ltd – an open mobile cross-platform tool that gives users access to replicate mobile content depending on geographical locations.

Nine years after winning a perk prize from the Anzisha Prize, Mahmood shared nine of the most important lessons from his first decade as an Entrepreneur.

Don’t be scared to make tough decisions

By definition, entrepreneurship is a tough decision-making process. According to Mahmood, the first tough decision every entrepreneur is saddled with is the decision to leave  “certainty” for “uncertainty”. With a flourishing career and well-paying job, he shared how he worked away from all the glams and money to create his own brand. He said: “The tough decisions come even before you start the business. You must put your emotions aside and step outside your comfort zone.” Other tough decisions he highlighted include taking investment risks and “letting people go if it would benefit the business.”

“Things will not always work as planned and without persistence, you may not go far.”

There is no single path to start

One of the most common misconceptions held by young people is the existence of a special formula for starting a business. They adopt popular ways that have worked for other people. Without condemning these methods, Mahmood has a completely different take on this. For him, entrepreneurship is a thick forest with no definite path. “There is no one way to starting a business and the best way to start is to start wherever you are and with whatever you have.” He, however, emphasized the need for prior research before jumping on the train.

Be Creative and Innovative

According to Mahmood, starting a business is a lonely road laced with many ups and downs. In the face of many challenges, he stated the importance of creativity and innovativeness to business survival rate. He said: “Every start-up that wants to survive in a tough business environment like Nigeria or any part of Africa has to be creative and innovative around their solutions.”

Persistence is key

Every great business started with a drive and passion. However, persistence is the fuel that keeps the engine running. “Things will not always work as planned and without persistence, you may not go far.” He attributed his enterprise success to his drive, passion, and most importantly, his ability to forge ahead when things become so tough.

Team building

Ideas are better appreciated and actualized when there are people who believe in them. Thus, to achieve success, every entrepreneur needs a supporting team, who believe in the business idea. Mahmood highlighted the importance of team building in achieving success as a business owner. He said: “You cannot do it all as a young entrepreneur, else, you will be overwhelmed. You need to build a strong team that will relieve you of some of the workloads.”

Hire based on values against emotions

In relation to team building, Mahmood emphasized the need to hire the right people. He said: “Regardless of the size of your enterprise, you must not compromise on your standards. People should be hired based on specified goals and not on emotions. Hire the best talent to complement your skills ” According to him, the fragility of a start-up and the fact that one bad egg may crumble the entire business makes this highly important.

Money should not be the main focus

Beyond financial gains and liquid cash, more focus should be on creating a valuable product that can overcome market stress and strains. Mahmood opined that even though money is important as it sometimes fuels passion, it should not be an Entrepreneur’s main focus. He said: “Once you have a valuable product, the money will flow in.” He added that in pursuit of money and valuable products, “It is also important to value relationships and networks as they are important for survival.”

Look for ways to motivate yourself

Motivation comes in different forms. While some bank on financial gains and cheers from peers and family, Mahmood highlighted other ways that every young entrepreneur should explore. “There are times when you question your passion and drive as an entrepreneur. During these times, you can read inspiring stories of successful entrepreneurs to reassure yourself that success is non-negotiable. For me, I pick up Forbes Magazines and read about successful entrepreneurs. My motivation is that if they defiled all odds to make it, I can make it as well.”

Never stop learning

The entrepreneurship journey is a learning process. “Once you are on this road, you must accept every challenge as a learning process and ensure that you don’t just learn but use the knowledge gained and experience gathered to reshape your business for better outcomes.” He added that “Learning is not complete until you have demonstrated the lessons.”