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What we learned at entrepreneurial boot camp

#AnzishaWeek2014 – Part 1

Today at African Leadership Academy, Anzisha Prize Finalists gained important insight on what it means to be a successful entrepreneurial leader. Here’s a recap of the concepts they explored.

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Build a foundation. The Marshmallow Challenge demonstrated that a strong, supportive foundation is required to keep the marshmallow standing tall. Business ventures are similar. A strong foundation or business model – where you clearly define your mission and vision, value proposition, product or service offering, target customer and market, operations, expenditures, etc. – is required to ensure your business is sustainable.

Reflect. Ensure that you take time to step back and look at the bigger picture. A common mistake for entrepreneurs is they become so involved with the day-to-day operations that they often forget to react to the evolution of their business and strategize for the future. This is why it is important to build an understanding of yourself (emotional intelligence) and your business (products, services, pricing, operations, financing, etc.) at the very beginning – only to revisit again and again.

Collaborate. A true entrepreneurial leader communicates their vision and mission to their stakeholders. The Lily Pad Challenge illustrated that it is necessary to communicate your ideas to those around you. If you keep things to yourself and try to go it alone, you may find yourself ‘stuck’ or falling into the ‘pond’. Everyone, from the CEO to the secretary, should be aware of the vision of the organization. It is also important to listen to others and re-evaluate your goals as required, based on your stakeholders’ (staff, clients, customers, investors, etc.) needs and preferences.

Be humble. Humility is not only a virtue, but it can also allow you to have a competitive advantage as an entrepreneur. Humility will allow you to recognize personal and business-related weaknesses and therefore seek areas where expertise can be brought in. Entrepreneurs are incredibly visionary, passionate, and driven individuals, but they can easily develop a blind spot for gaps or weaknesses within their businesses. As an entrepreneur, remember that you aren’t perfect and you can’t do everything.   If you open yourself to a diversity of perspectives, your business can reach a more creative and engaging level of impact.

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