I discovered the need to always double-check my idea and ensure I am solving a real market need rather than just developing an interesting idea
The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) is by far the best training I have ever received on entrepreneurship. All my life, I have dedicated myself to learning about starting and growing a business, but I have never been really trained on the basics of successful entrepreneurship. TEEP has made such a huge impact in my business orientation.
Even though the training was online, it was so impacting that I don't think classroom training will do better. After my first week, I decided not to rush through the answers but instead take my time to carry out the activities specified by TEEP and record my findings.
What I Learnt at TEEP
By the middle of the TEEP training (that's about the 6th week), I had received so much insight into developing a better product that I spent most of my time interviewing prospective customers and improving on my idea.
Now, I look back at my initial idea (before starting the programme), and I see several loopholes that could have crippled my business. I can see more clearly now; and, to some extent, I can tell what is feasible and what is not feasible.
Now I understand how to plan better.
More importantly, I have gained a lot of confidence that my product will be really successful if I continue reiterating and following the tips that have been dished out to us.
Right here, I can’t exhaust the wealth of business information I got at the just concluded Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme (TEEP). However, I will briefly run through a few of the things I personally gained at TEEP.
Focus on Solving a Real Market Need
Right from the first week, I began to learn to interact more closely with my potential users, and then analyze my solution more thoughtfully and check again if my solution truly solves the problems of my prospective customers directly or indirectly.
By interacting with potential users I was able to refine my idea over and over again throughout the 12 weeks under TEEP. Particularly, I discovered the need to always double-check my idea and ensure I am solving a real market need rather than just developing an interesting idea.
Choosing a Niche to Serve is Key
By the second week, I had identified existing solutions that are similar to my value proposition.
TEEP taught me to also analyze how effective these solutions are compared to my value proposition. I saw that to effectively deploy a real market solution, I have to understand my own niche and deploy my solution to them.
One key thing I took away is the fact that I might not be able to cut a good slice of the market without adequately understanding my real competitor's strengths and weaknesses.
Value Proposition Should Be Clear
I had to state my value proposition in just one sentence. This took me several hours of redefining my value proposition. I had to compress a long explanation of what I have to offer to a simple sentence.
One of the key benefits I got throughout this programme is the proper way to use the Business Model Canvas. Using the canvas (especially because of further explanations provided), I had to properly state my value proposition, key partners and suppliers, Key resources etc.
Adequate Pricing is Important – Not too low or too high
How to price my product has been a key issue on my mind for a while. TEEP demystified this headache!
Most people advise new businesses to under-price in order to attract customers. This is not what we were taught. Our tutors took into account the fact that new businesses have a lot of overheads and may not be able to follow this principle.
Instead, we were told our cutting edge should be service delivery and never price even though our pricing should be within range.
Get Business Advisers, Directors & Co-founders with Complimentary Skills
I learned that co-founders, directors and advisers should be people with complementary skills and not just anybody. I particularly learned a lot about vesting.
I realize that I could more effectively attract experts as employees by agreeing to give them a share of the company. Also, I discovered the importance of having advisers early enough.
In short, it was a great time. I learnt many other things that I may not be able to adequately explain in this article. Some other things I learned are to:
- Use daily checklists, calendar reminders as well as pre-meeting checklists to improve productivity.
- Never rush into getting funds. Instead, as a startup, it is important to build my business to a certain level before considering getting venture capital funding.
- Network as an addiction. Entrepreneurs must dig their wells before they become thirsty.
- Always have a full and complete business plan. This will make a huge difference and help in the final execution.
- Learn to do a one page summary of a business plan. With this, you would be able to see a snapshot of your business idea.
I particularly love the TOE Way materials. One that I will never forget is that fact that …
African entrepreneurs should start looking beyond the present and build businesses that will outlast their time on earth.
Overall, I am so excited that I have gone through this training before completely developing my business idea. My approach to developing my business idea has completely changed. Like I said earlier, the value of research and customer feedback has been revealed to me more than ever.