Be an Apex Entrepreneur – A Letter to Entrepreneurs During COVID-19

Man in white shirt

Dear founders,

The Chinese say: “may we live in interesting times”. These are indeed interesting times occasioned by the Chinese.

Time holds no meaning anymore, deadlines have taken on new and frightening meaning and humanity is finding itself while fighting an invincible enemy.

These times are indeed unprecedented. Never has mankind known so much, built so much, achieved so much in all fields of human endeavor especially in medicine and yet feel almost utterly helpless. The only thing we know is to “run into our shell” and “lockdown”; something counterproductive, counter-intuitive and yet lifesaving.

Building a company at these times may seem like a lost battle and everything we know about entrepreneurship and the future of business has changed for good! Has it?

Two young men dsicussing

As we speak, thousands of webinars and podcasts and experts are all over the internet promising a guideline to doing business in these times, to raising money and to getting new customers; the beautiful Nneka will say “death by webinar”. They mean nothing. Nobody knows exactly what tomorrow will be and what life will be after COVID-19.

What we do know is we are entrepreneurs and this situation is our turf, our battleground, our territory. Like the boy’s scouts will say: Be prepared! In my country, Nigeria that is grappling with chronic underdevelopment, infrastructural deficit, and grinding poverty; hundreds of small businesses will die.

This creates an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to show leadership and give hope; especially as the Nigerian political class is completely out of their depth in finding solutions to the real problems COVID-19 has exposed.Two face masks

Your business building journey has never been as important as it is now. COVID-19 has shown us that going forward we need to build businesses that will behave like the Leonardo Di Capri movie INCEPTION: a business within a business.

We must build for both a normal, paranormal and abnormal business environment all at once. Now that takes the Apex entrepreneur. It also takes very bold and crazy decisions now and pivoting within pivots. This is what COVID-19 has taught me.

I see quite a few of you are struggling to make some profit at this time. That is fine. In the game of club football (soccer) you have an entire season to win the league. Now you may choose to do match day training and prepare for the next match so you may win.

It will work for you in the short term but you will NEVER win the league. You need the general training too as well: technique, tactics, fitness, mental strength, team cohesion, attacking training, defending training, ball control, etc.

Lady writing in a room

This is scheduled days, even weeks into the season. The long-run helps you win a league. Don’t focus on the now too much to the detriment of your long term success. COVID-19 will be gone soon, it is just a match. The League goes on and on and on. Focus on winning Titles, not matches.

April 14, 1865, the last causality of the American bloody Civil war was the iconic American President Abraham Lincoln. From the ashes of that bloody war, a handful of entrepreneurs emerged and changed America for life.

This is another opportunity to help mankind rise from the ashes of this invincible enemy and help make the world a much better place.

I am committed to ensuring faster, cheaper community Internet access for millions across informal clusters in Lagos and then across Nigeria. We need it, we will get it. What are you committing to?

We are all broke, I am especially broke. It is tough thinking about survival and building a business at the same time. Well, you will survive. Don’t think about it. That is what I do. 9:00 am I am at my table for work or to learn and I am done by 2:00 pm.

After that it is play; movies, twitter where I banter with and catch up on the latest silliness of the Nigerian government or their partner in silliness-our TV and music stars, catch up with friends and generally have a pleasant day.

I am getting ready for a COVID-19 or post COVID-19 world IF it ever comes. Get ready! My faith in you all has never been broken. Nigeria will be better because of you. Like Creed in the movie, CREED II fight the battle of your lives. Start with your mind, commit to something and let’s Build!

Written by Ayowande Adalemo, Lead Director at Founder Institute


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