• If you’re a young or aspiring entrepreneur looking to build a successful startup, here are five secrets to help get you started.

    1. Learn the art of impactful communication

    It goes without saying that the greater proportion of your life as an entrepreneur will be centered on communication. This skill comes in form of your ability to speak and write effectively. Stakeholders will require you to pitch or simply explain a strategy for your following financial year. If you are not able to do this then they will not buy into your idea. 

    As you grow, your audience also desires to feel and experience a particular type of growth in the way you express yourself. The way you spoke about your project 2 years ago should not be the same way you speak about it today. Why, because the expectation is as you grow, your users also need to continue growing their level of enthusiasm to keep being identified with your product or service. How you can achieve the art of impactful communication is through listening to how other powerful speakers in your field. This does not mean imitating them, but trying to understand the core elements of their speeches which keep listeners engaged. You can never learn this skill without practicing. It is therefore important to also be able to seek for opportunities to speak in front of a crowd. It does not necessarily have to be talking about your venture, but it may be a school project, or even a community presentation. This act will give you the ability to let go of the fear of standing in front of people.

    2. Read widely

    In this information age that we exist in, the internet has loads of books and articles that you can read, on business philosophy, personal growth and the list goes on. Popular platforms such as Forbes and Entrepreneur offer very valuable information that can be both rewarding and equipping for a young entrepreneur. There are millions of more blogs on the internet, such as this one, where you can also get the same value. Read the newspapers and be up-to-date with the current affairs in your world. As a business person, you need to be aware of what is happening in the world because you never know when an opportunity or threat can come up. 

    Start a book pooling initiative with other people you share the same passions with. This will enable you to read more books and afterwards discuss the content with someone else. You will realize that great insights and dialogs will come out of these conversations. Never stop reading; I usual equate the mind to software which requires to be updated consistently. Ask yourself, which software version you are running on, the new one or the old one?

    3. Become a serial networker

    During my experience working on Shasha iSeminar, I have learnt that the best source for information and insights are people. View everyone like a walking library, no matter what age or background. Always be ready to go out and meet new people. This may be through formal or informal occasions, online or even offline. Never be afraid of reaching out to older and more experienced people to ask questions. Most of the times these people are actually more open and willing to share their knowledge. You should be then teach yourself how to be a critical listener and that way you will be able to ask the right questions. Often asking the wrong questions may send the wrong message across, so have a clear insight before asking. There is no problem in asking for facts or precise information if you are not sure. So make it a goal to meet someone new every week. You never know who will be your next business partner.

    4. Work for an older and more experienced entrepreneur

    The word I would like to use for this is “Entrepreneurial Internship.” In the early stages, our ideas or operations often outgrow the experience we may have and this usually leads to panic, ill informed decision making and also hopelessness. The best way to grow through and learn how to handle this is by getting to work under a more experienced and seasoned entrepreneur,. The older people do not necessarily have to be your mentors but in future they may be. Find someone who already as a similar line of business you are working on and ask them for a position to work under them. This will enable you to see and experience particular highlights in the life of another entrepreneur. By learning to serve, you will also find ways to lead your own initiative. So why stop; go intern for someone who has walked the path before. They will surprise you with tricks and secrets that will add a decade to your business’s life span.

    5. Set a value code

    This is a more personal journey. As you grow, your views and values evolve with you. Some remain constant whereas some do not. The most important thing is to write down your top values. These may be integrity, excellence or humility. The next step after penning these down, is to be in a position to live and abide by your values. Before acting, ask yourself how your decision or action embodies your value code. As you continuously strive on making these key values define you, you develop an unquestionable trait of discipline and originality that will make people appreciate the person that you are. Remember, character is one thing money cannot buy. Hence, you may as well start working on it now.