Do You Have What It Takes To Become A SUCCESSFUL African Entrepreneur ?

Do You Have What It Takes To Become A SUCCESSFUL African Entrepreneur ?

The secret of success

Here is a crucial fact: Success is not just a word or a nice attribute to life, which is the result of either luck or hard work.

Success is an attitude. It is a powerful concept that has been studied by many experts and thought leaders. It has a recognizable pattern. So much so that one can almost predict who will become successful and who won’t.

Forbes articles, success websites, e-books, and audios about the characteristics of highly successful people is simply not something most of us come across…

What an eye opener when I first realized their existence in 2012!

The bad news about success is that contrary to belief you will most probably not lead a fulfilled life and reach your full potential if you are not at least somewhat aware of the attributes you need and the steps that are crucial to take. That’s why you may still feel stuck right now despite all your hard work – in fact, most people do.

The good news however is that you can learn how to become successful and then follow it. Step by step, consciously, until it becomes second nature to you.

What is success?

entrepreneur Rapelang-Rabana

For everyone success in life means something different. But I think most would agree that success is long-term achievement, and in particular the achievement that leads to a truly fulfilled life.

Are you consciously working on it? The best sign that you are on the right path is when you find it hard to stop planning, working, and creating because you need to get some serious sleep, and when you wake up with new, great energy the next morning excited about your next steps and what the new day would bring.

Unfortunately, you may not have felt that way in a long time. Maybe you have even never really been at such a personal place in your life. Instead, you are stuck in routine. You somehow lost direction not really knowing what to do next. You may think that this is not really the life you wanted, or you wonder why you work so hard, run your business, yet you do not seem to move forward to greater heights.

Lack of energy and motivation are often a result.

I was in that situation myself. I was hard-working, confident (ok, that got bruised a little over the years), open-minded, and I even had a career I loved. Yet I still felt there was no real progress regarding the things I thought I was capable of doing. I felt extremely stuck and limited.  It can be a lonely place. And yes you guessed it, the satisfaction you get with a new pair of shoes and a new job in another office is usually rather short lived.

I was te one point probably so starved of answers that I started looking everywhere. To make a long story short, I came across articles of African entrepreneurs, e-books, blogs, and audios about ‘success’.  So still being a student myself (I think one remains a student for life) here are the top 5 attributes you need to become a successful African entrepreneur:

1) Have a grand vision and a clear goal


Yes indeed, it is not enough to just wish that one day you get your dream career, or house, or financial independence. Your brain needs a map and it only understands a map that contains visual images and clear instructions. This means that you have to build a clear and vivid vision in your head: how exactly does your perfect life look like?

At this point you need to know one more important rule: You have to think BIG. Yes this is a must. It is important because it expands your will and ability to achieve. Here is an example: Let’s say your goal is to become the manager at a prestigious hotel. Your mind focuses on that plan and as a result your action will be aligned to that. You may end up as the HR manager.

Now if you however seriously plan and visualize you want to own the hotel, so you aim big, you will take a completely different approach with your actions, because you have widened your horizon and set your bar high. As a result you will reach for that goal and act towards it, which will make it much more likely that you end up as a successful business man and even if you will never own the 5 Star chain you may well find yourself investing into hotels or building your own. You have reached far higher than being a hotel manager on a payroll.

In a next step you need to form clear goals and action steps that lead you towards your grand vision. Start visualizing and internalizing them several times a day. By doing so, the following will happen (it is a scientifically proven – here in short): both your subconscious and your conscious mind will store the visionary images and action thoughts, which means that you provide your mind with a clear road map to follow. Your subconscious mind will send the necessary signals out to the rest of your body to act in alignment to the road map. You are moving towards your goal because you are feeding your mind with the right triggers (thoughts and images) each day.

So the rule is: don’t limit yourself in your vision. This is your chance – no, actually a request from Mr. Success – so dream big!

Tip for Africa: If there is something Africa needs right now, it is many good  and determined people with a grand vision.

2) Strengthen your ability to focus

funny glasses

This is all about self-discipline and efficiency. In order to succeed you need full focus. Regular distractions like unhealthy and unproductive thought patterns, excessive use of social media, mobile phones, or TV, too much hours in the week having fun or sleeping into the day are all taking crucial time and energy, which you should use towards building your vision and business.

By the way, did you know that according to Forbes magazine (an article I read), over 80% of financially successful people have the habit of writing daily, weekly, and monthly to-do-lists while less than 20% of the remaining ‘poor’ population do so?

Follow the habits of the few already extremely successful entrepreneurs to become successful yourself!

Tip for Africa: The advice here should be to switch your mobile phone off once in a while to increase focus and to save time, you do not need to be available to everyone all the time. Personally, I love having a tea or drink during meetings (hmm….and would not turn down a delicious whole lunch served on the manager’s desk during a work meeting in the Sudan). But constant mobile phone interruption during work meetings are not effective nor competitive.

I think it is of great value to respect being on time, or even better: be there 5 mins early like the Germans. Time and increased productivity is not only money, it also means that you will arrive faster at your destinations. Just add up the hours per day you spend on Facebook or chatting with friends – this is time you should spend on your business!


3) Patience and Perseverance


As they say there is no elevator to success you have to take the stair case.

Your ability to be patient is particularly true in the beginning when you have to make a lot of input, learn, and continue believing and marching despite the little you get return.  And of course you will fail, in all shapes and forms, but as long as you truly believe in your goal you need to have enough courage and perseverance to get up, take the lessons on board, and keep going anyway.

Tip for Africa: Africans invented both patience and perseverance! It will come very handy setting up your business. But don’t slow down when obstacles occur. Continue with the same ambition and focus.

4) Flexibility


Your ability to be flexible is an important character trait to all successful entrepreneurs and this probably is in particularly the case when you work in Africa. Having a goal does not mean to work ambitiously along the same track or to do it only your way. Instead, there are many avenues to get to your goal and circumstances will ask you many times to change path and take new approaches.

Tip for Africa: I believe there is overall a great rate of flexibility out there among African entrepreneurs, but learning and accepting new approaches towards how to do business will increase your success rate.

5) Confidence


This is hugely important and sometimes you can use not only great confidence, but a healthy amount of courage to step out of your comfort zone. Being an entrepreneur means to put yourself out into the world, it means to become a leader, to do things the first time or to do them differently than they have been done before. You also will need to constantly interact with a wide range of people. You need to believe in your product or plan and above all believe in yourself. Only then can others do the same for you.

Don’t go the safe route, don’t let others limit or discourage you, instead go the route that is right for yourself. Be scared, that’s fine and normal at times, but go the right route anyway.

Tip for Africa: Confidence is not something most of us learned to cultivate in Africa…authoritarian colonialists, authoritarian governments, authoritarian teachers and parents…say it all. But to gain more confidence is something everyone can learn, the more you put yourself out there conquering your fears, the more confident will you become. Africa is now on the rise and we see many wonderfully capable Africans and young entrepreneurs who lead the continent towards a very hopeful feature. We can all join.

I wrote this article to increase awareness among African entrepreneurs that there are clear techniques one can learn and follow to increase your very own ability to succeed. Most of us did not have parents who taught us those trades so we could become great achievers. And most of us don’t train our children either. Why? Because we are simply not aware of them and so we go with the flow and lead our lives as the majority of people do.

The highly successful people are in the minority, but they share those distinct and unique traits, and moreover – you may be surprised to know – many of them have started reading and learning about success from others before consciously working on their success-habits and thought patterns until they became second nature.

After all, success is a journey. Enjoy starting and walking it.

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Dr. Harnet
Dr. Harnet Bokrezion is the Founder of and co-author of the book '101 Ways to Make Money in Africa'. She coaches individuals and consults existing companies assisting them to make smart and strategic business decisions in Africa’s new emerging markets faster and more confidently. Dr. Harnet also regularly writes for the renowned DHL powered publication Get in touch to inquire how she can be of assistance to your own Africa business endeavors:

User Comments ( 3 )

  • We have many beautiful garments and magnificent clothing that are crafted with the historical beautiful of our past and present; why should we not show them for the world to behold?

    Appreciate your work ,


  • Dr. Harnet

    True, Yusef, and you will be glad to hear that – maybe unexpected for many- the African fashion industry is developing fast and is increasingly being noticed. Young African fashion designers who combine traditional cloth and style of their respective countries with modern cuts. I think we will see much of this to come in future!

    • My sister, yes I am aware of that progression. I would suggest we illustrate these idea in our advertising and promotion in order to support our objectives. As we know the images of Africa is flawed, negative and oppressive. When do we want that image to change and how can we improve the world’s view of us? I would suggest it will occur when we Africans show the world our crafts by wearing them, by taking photographs dressed as only African can. We must take every opportunity we can and continue to create more opportunity to show them off.

      Your brother,