Insanity is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur – Fola Adeola, Founder, Guaranty Trust Bank

Fola Adeola remains a successful entrepreneur by all standards and he is one man I know with a large heart for small businesses. FATE Foundation is 11 years old, thanks to this man who single-handedly set-up this great organisation, with the sole aim of helping people get started in business.

It is sad to note that Government still hasn’t realized the importance of Small Business Enterprises (SMEs) to the economy. While researching for this topic, I stopped over at US Small Business Administration (SBA) website and found this;

How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

Small firms:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers)
  • re 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
  • Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

Source: SBA

The Small Business Owner in Nigeria is faced with numerous challenges that is preventing her from becoming a successful entrepreneur.

[quote]According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) a third of businesses fail within these two years. Extended to four years, the number of surviving businesses decreases to only 44 percent, meaning that about 56 percent of businesses fail at the five-year mark.[/quote]

In my humble opinion, the percentage for Nigeria would be much higher – but that does not mean we can’t succeed. I have made up my mind to a successful entrepreneurbecome a successful entrepreneur, that is why I make out time to attend programs or events that will feature a successful entrepreneur. Thankfully, this year’s FATE Foundation annual general assembly featured Fola Adeola as the guest speaker and I was excited because this guy knows how to play the game of entrepreneurship. The topic was Growing a Successful Business and Building Strong Governance Structures“. You need to hear him breakdown the subject matter with real life examples – I was glad I attended and I left the venue much more encouraged and motivated.

Below are some of Fola Adeola’s thoughts at the event;

[quote]Establish that you are a mad man or woman if you want to be a successful entrepreneurFola Adeola[/quote]

According to him, only insane people set up businesses, especially in our clime where you have to be both the business owner as well as Government, generating your own social amenities i.e. electricity.

[quote]If you cannot become crazy in growing your business then you better go get a job because there are so many mad people out there willing to employ you – Fola Adeola[/quote]

4 characteristics of a successful entrepreneur

He talked about 4 Characteristics a successful entrepreneur should possess

  1. Discipline – keeping your eye on the ball and avoiding distractions
  2. Decisiveness – knowing what you want and going for it
  3. Determination – moving ahead against all odds
  4. Observation – ability to observe other successful entrepreneurs within and outside your industry

He made reference to two of my favourite Thomas Edison quotes;

Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration and I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

4 hindrances to becoming a successful entrepreneurs

According to him these are roadblocks that have to be avoided;

  1. Lack of good corporate governance
  2. Philosophy of owner/founders
  3. Lack of accountability
  4. No Planning

On constitution of a board of directors, he recommends that this should not be considered for a business with less than 25 staff and that a business owner should have two types of boards;

  • The official board members
  • The unofficial board members – mentors or coaches you look up to.

He said when he was the MD of Guaranty Trust Bank, he used to drive down to Iganmu to see Felix Ohiwerei who was then MD of Nigerian Breweries and Christopher Kolade who was then with the Lagos Business School – both men served as members of his unofficial board because they offered him insights and free advice that helped him grow Guaranty Trust Bank but they never sat on the official board with him.

When it was time for questions and answer the compère said no one should ask about finance…… story, story, story Smile trust my fellow small business owners they asked him why can’t FATE Foundation set-up a micro-finance bank?

His response; one of the things you must learn in business is that you can’t please everyone in life, so FATE is designed to be a not-for-profit, having a for-profit arm may kill the purpose for setting up FATE.

I agree with him 100% – they should just focus on training entrepreneurs and helping small businesses.

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My prayer and wish is that you become a successful entrepreneur sooner or later. Just don’t give up!