A lot is written about standalone “startups”, but not enough is written about how entrepreneurial effort is best conducted inside a large company by non-founders. This article is written to share some of my personal thoughts and lessons regarding innovating for large companies.
Assumptions are a necessary evil, despite being the lowest form of knowledge. They serve a purpose; we sometimes need to make assumptions in our attempt to understand things about which we have minimal information. The downside of course is that they can be misleading.
If you own a business start-up or plan to set up one soon, there is a good chance you have come across this statement: “Over 70 percent of businesses do not survive the first two years.”
I still find those men with boxes tinkling along from street to street. We used to call them “shoe makers” when we were little but time soon phased that knowledge after we observed that they never made shoes; they only mended shoes like they still do today. Growing up, I believed these men had nothing to offer especially as they could hardly speak the local Pidgin English and their trade seemed irrelevant. But I was wrong. I’ve grown up to discover that indeed they were applying principles for success that are worth sharing.
March 2008 ushered in an exciting new phase of our lives. My 3 future partners and I were on the road searching for investors to back us in establishing our new firm, CardinalStone. Our mission was to build a world class investment banking firm of African origin.Today, almost six years on, CardinalStone manages over $300 million in capital and employs over 200 professionals across 6 operating companies in 3 different sectors of the Nigerian economy.
I look like a child.
I have chubby cheeks, am short, and will laugh at almost anything. So naturally, when I found myself in conversation with two Executive MBA students yesterday, I assumed they were referring to me when they made a crack about “these baby managers” – young, relatively inexperienced, and in charge. (To be fair, one of them pointed at me.)
What comes to mind when you think about volunteering?
Does the thought of spending your free time away from work doing even more work without pay turn you off? The feeling that there are too many problems in the world and your limited participation won’t move the needle substantially? Or perhaps you don’t feel strongly enough about any cause to be interested in volunteering?
Up-and-coming Zimbabwean musician Chashe has a striking stage presence, commensurate with her education at renowned music schools. She represents many Africans who, like Chashe, are looking to follow the unconventional creative path. It speaks directly to the often-visited ‘passion versus paycheck’ debate. In this candid interview, Chashe shares insights into the ups and downs of pursuing her passion for music.
You have just finished your undergrad or graduate program. You got good grades, maybe even a prize at convocation. You are elated, your parents flew in from you home country back in Africa to “abroad” to watch you walk across the stage. They may have embarrassed you by dressing in full African ceremonial regalia and shouting “Praise Da Lord” as your name was called. Whatever the case, you are happy to be done with school. Congratulations!
There is just one problem: you don’t have a job!
In my previous article on the job search process, I introduced the recruiting cycle and offered a few tips on how to get ahead of the game in order to land a job upon graduation. To participate in the recruiting cycle, you need to be prepared as early as in the first year of an undergraduate or graduate program. This fact is not often clear to African students who are less familiar with the western system. Yet, getting off on the wrong foot could have long-term implications for your career.