Some Few weeks ago, I was carrying out a research that centres around some of the most successful business organisations in Africa and how they have been able to, effectively, overcome some dire challenges that would have crippled most businesses and thank God for the internet, I was able to unearth a few that still stand tall till date.
The African continent is indeed plagued with a lot of difficulties, such as poor government policies, inadequate infrastructures, low adoption of technology and little, or no internet penetration, which combined, can make it extremely difficult for businesses to survive the first 5 years of their existence and not scaling.
Many promising businesses that would have gone on to solve some major problems besetting the Africa continent, have been stifled, by some, (or all), of the difficulties mentioned above. There are, however, some businesses that have gone on to grow in this same environment and became so big that, their solutions are sought after, by other countries and one of such companies is a leading fintech company, SystemSpecs.
At appoint in time in Nigeria, the Federal Government was finding it, so difficult to balance its book and could not keep track of its finances, because of the high level of fraudulent activities that were going on, by those in charge of revenue collection on behalf of the government across the country. It was a huge problem and the solution seemed out of reach.
This challenge was taken on by SystemSpecs, as it developed a payment app called Remita, which enabled all government revenues to come in through a single funnel called, Treasury Single Account.
This and other solutions, have been developed and put up for use, by SystemSpecs, to solve some major problems. How did SystemSpecs get to this stage? What has the company done differently?
The man behind the growth of SystemSpecs is, John Obaro, the Managing Director who, through a dint of hard work and doggedness, has been able to move the company from being a small software company, to one of the biggest fintech companies in Africa, whose Head Office is located in Lagos.
I read through his profile and checked out everything relating to his background and his journey towards building his company and I was able to pinpoint some key hacks, of which I am very certain, start-ups will benefit immensely from, if applied.
Below are eight, (8), hacks according to John Obaro, MD SystemSpecs that will, effectively, help start-ups and budding entrepreneurs to grow and scale, in Africa
Ethics and Integrity
The first thing I was able to learn from John Obaro is, the fact that he always hit on good ethics and integrity, whenever he was called to speak at any public events.
For him, good ethics and integrity, should be the bedrock of every business and once this is, effectively, solidified in the company, the chances of the start-up growing, increases, immensely.
He explained that these two factors, should never be overlooked and it should be, effectively. ingrained into every employee that will be coming on board.
Learn to respect your employees
Obaro explains the need for employers to, never look down on their employees. “Treat them with respect because, they are the ones who would push you far”, he says.
Learn to work very hard
Africa is a unique continent and despite the land being fertile for innovation to take root, it still has some problems that are difficult to solve and for this, founders need to work extra hard.
“If you still believe in 8 to 5, then you are in the wrong business, your business should be a continuous process that you must think of, at all times”, Obaro reiterated.
Fail and be prepared to rise each time you do
Failure is a normal process and the fact is this. For you, as a founder to grow, you need to take the risk and fail woefully. Failure is the needed ingredient that will fill you with experience and ensure that you are now more prepared to start all over again. “How you fail does not matter, it is how you handle it and rise that matters in the end”, Obaro stressed.
Think of Cyber Security
Cybercrimes are on the rise now and recently, social media sensation, Hushpappi was nabbed for defrauding close to 2 million people, through phishing and hacking company’s websites. Tech start-ups need to be aware of the risk posed, by cybercriminals and effectively, prepare themselves for it. “This you must do, as a Tech Start-up, to protect your software applications and your business, in its entirety”, John Obaro proffered.
Networking with your peers is very essential, but you should be mindful of the people you keep in your circle. As a businessman, you need connections, but it is essential that you are careful.
“People would say you need lots of connections, but you need to be careful, while doing it. Choose your friends wisely and play safe”, Obaro explained.
Learn to walk away
It is not every fight that you should fight and not every business opportunity you should pursue. Develop the habit of walking away from some unfavourable things that will smear all the efforts that you have poured into building up your start-up.
“This might be the hardest thing for some people, but it is imperative. Some items may look very attractive but might not be, eventually”, opined Obaro.
Strive to be a pioneer
Always strive to be the first to do something different and in a unique way. “Do something different. Learn to carve out something distinct and you will always stand out”, Obaro advised.