How To Overcome Difficulties Nigerian Professionals Face

 

Let’s face it, working 9-5, running a business, following your creative passion, hustling, even just breathing, almost everything you’re doing in Nigeria is more difficult here than it is anywhere else in the world. It is easy to fall into that trap of, “Oh! My village people are after me”, and literally give up, then start waiting on a phantom helper to send dollars from above, but that’s not happening anytime soon. I believe in God, however the honest truth is prayer and fasting cannot replace putting in work to achieve tangible results.

Pro tip: Stop working hard, start working smart!

Focus on doing one thing at a time and assess your results. Ensure you stay on track, so your work doesn’t slack because of things that may be going on around you. Everyone you see is trying to figure out this maze called life and hacking it out day by day, so don’t let the people stunting on social media get you down, a lot of young people are struggling to get ahead. There are a thousand and one tips I can share to help with dealing with the realities of working and balancing life, here are a few major ones.

 

Maintain a Positive Mindset

People are continuously faced with challenges, difficulties and setbacks, they are inevitable and part of life, how you handle these challenges determine your ability to succeed. You grow as a person by learning to manage stress and maintaining a positive attitude when faced with challenges. Successful people do everything possible to stay problem-free, when challenges arise, they respond with a positive attitude, learn their lesson and keep moving forward towards their vision.

You have to resolve in advance to not let your situation get you down, respond to difficulties in a positive and constructive way. Neutralise all negative thoughts, speak to yourself in a positive way, whatever is expressed is impressed, what you say to others will be impressed on your subconscious, so actively make positivity a part of your personality. Focus on your vision and goals and never forget it is impossible to grow without difficulty, challenges are preparation for the next level, so level up!

 

Build a Network of Positive Minded People

Surrounding yourself with positive minded people will help you focus more on achieving your dreams even when your situation seems tough. Keeping the company of negative minded people would corrupt your mind and without realising it, you lose your focus and drive. Build a network of people that share similar goals and visions, it is easy to focus on yourself and keep working, however you would arrive at your goal faster if you are surrounded by people that are motivating you.

Resolving issues on your own may be overwhelming, admitting that you need help is not a sign of weakness, but an indication of strength, maturity and wisdom. Start building your trusted network with the people around you, your friends, family, co-workers and connect with people outside your network that are on a similar track as you are.

Talking about things going on with you is important for several reasons. If you have issues bothering you, it would be relieving to have an outside source to give some advice or at least be a good listener.

 

Avoid Burnout

Any career path you choose – paid employment or entrepreneurship – would exert a lot of your energy, if you are truly committed to your work. Hence, you need to pace yourself to avoid breaking down, because you cannot afford to. We all know that we need to exercise more, eat better, and sleep better. The key is how to do this with the time demands on our schedule.

Safeguard yourself from a burnout by scheduling regular social activities, working out, find a hobby you can commit to, volunteer for charity causes you believe in. Having a good sense of humour helps with gloomy situations, I think this is a collective trait with Nigerians, we find the joke in every situation and honestly it helps with dealing with the difficulties we face.

 

Stay Resilient

As a young professional, you often meet people that do not take you seriously. This may be because you are at the start of your career or your business, hence they think you have it all wrong. Do not let the opinion of others deter you, challenges are not a personal affront, see it as a stepping stone to your promotion.

 

The biggest tip I have for overcoming difficulties is having self-belief. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? There is nothing you can’t achieve if you put your mind to it.

Stay hungry, stay focused, stay resilient. The world would be worse off if people like Angela Merkel, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had given up on their dreams. Be persistent. Keep trying and with time, you’d experience that breakthrough you’ve always wanted. We are all learning. No one gets it right every time.  A more compassionate attitude toward ourselves only helps us to stay in the game.

10 Business Goals You Need For The New Year

If you are setting goals for the new year in the second week of December, then you, my darling, are not proactive enough. For brands and businesses, the month of December should be for reviewing the past activities of the year, re-strategising for the next year, balancing your books, creating a budget for next year and so much more. What the next year holds is at the top of every entrepreneur’s mind, given that Nigeria is still recovering from a recession. I’m sharing ten goals to bear in mind to push both entrepreneurs and career folk to the next level next year.

  1. Improve your understanding of which market strategies yield the most profit for your company.
  2. Analyse your market to better evaluate the expectations of your customers and how to satisfy them.
  3. Develop strategy that will convert more leads to sales by breaking the barriers between sales and marketing.
  4. Network and get more involved in your industry.
  5. Stay informed about new technology that will keep you connected to clients.
  6. Launch an important, valuable project for your company.
  7. Identify and understand trends that would affect and change  your industry in the next few years and plan ahead for it.
  8. Incorporate lessons learned from the past year into next year.
  9. Learn to delegate, stop micro-managing.
  10. Give something back to your community.

I’m trying to keep the articles shorter and more straightforward, so there you have it. You can focus on all or just a few of these goals, as it applies to you. If you want to talk about your business or career, or even how to go about incorporating these goals into your strategy, email me at: tolani@tolanithomas.com.

 

 

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Business

Recently, I have been speaking with several entrepreneurs and noting the issues that are common to new entrepreneurs. These issues revolve around keeping their finances in order, social media management and are as simple as just having someone to consult with on how to run their business more efficiently. I compiled a list of five ways entrepreneurs can improve their businesses.

 

Hootsuite

Social media management can be a hassle, even for those who are social media mavens, its almost a full time job running your social media alongside your business. Publishing individual social media content in real time is a massive time drain and a recipe for low engagement. By signing up for Hootsuite, you can manage multiple social profiles from a single dashboard. Schedule posts, track mentions, engage with followers, and measure the effectiveness of your social media content, at zero cost. It’s the ultimate tool for keeping your social media accounts in harmony.

I recommend Hootsuite to clients, especially those that are not conversant with social media, it puts all your social media on one page, making it easier to run.

 

Wave App

This free accounting software is a good solution for small businesses with a small budget. I use this app to create and send invoices and keep track of my transactions for my business. Wave offers customised and branded online invoicing templates and tools to provide a fast, accurate and convenient way to send and receive bills, all you have to do is upload your logo and details, and voila! Professional looking invoices at your fingertips.

By providing access to capital (Lending), improving cash flow (Payments), delivering money to employees (Payroll), helping businesses get paid (Invoicing), preparing for tax time and providing business insights (Accounting, Receipts), Wave covers the spectrum of a small business owner’s financial life, and helps businesses grow and thrive.

 

Canva

Canva is one of the best things I ever discovered, it’s the best graphic designing tool for people who are clueless about design like me. There are tons of design templates for logos, quotes and social media posts on the app, it almost completely eliminates the need for me to pay a graphic designer (apologies to all my graphic designer friends).

If you want the look of professionally designed graphics for your social media pages without the cost or the expertise? Canva will be your new best friend. Most of the templates are free and idiot proof, so anyone can use it, its super user friendly.

 

A Tribe

I’m always preaching about networking all the time, but it’s important to have a form of advisory board. This advisory board should comprise of business people that are ahead of you, on your level and upcoming, simply put, your advisory board should have someone you respect and admire, someone you consider your peer and someone that looks up to you. These three people would give you a well-rounded perspective, being that they would give different views because they are at different points in life which would be solid advice for you when you need it.

 

Tolani Thomas

Cheeky, but, I am here for all your business consulting needs. I write business, strategy and marketing plans. My strength is business development, so I analyse businesses from all angles with the aim of making sales and profit for businesses. It is imperative as a business to have a solid strategy for your business to thrive and surpass expectations. Shoot me an email at tolani@tolanithomas.com for consultations today.

A Guide To Help You Invest In Yourself

I am an ardent advocate of constant personal development. It stems from the realisation that having goals and ambition is one thing, achieving them is another.

How do you ensure you’re making progress? What checks do you have in place to check yourself? The worst way to measure progress or success is by comparing yourself to people around, because people in your circle are most likely doing the exact thing you’re doing, it’s called a circle for a reason! In what way are you constantly bettering yourself?

The major pointers to bear in mind when developing yourself are to find a mentor, find what works for you, network, find people you can talk about your business or career with, make time for yourself, exude confidence, and most importantly get your own money! I elaborated on a few of the points below.

 

Find A Mentor

A mentor does not necessary have to be someone older than you, but someone that takes out time to listen to your ideas, give you honest feedback and holds you accountable to achieving your set goals. A mentor could be your colleague or friend (P.S. one that you’re not romantically involved with), that checks that you are getting closer to your goals. For me, I recently set up weekly check-ins with my colleague, Kemi that we call “strategy sessions” where she tells me her ideas and I tell her mine, then we both go over steps that need to be taken during the week to achieve our goals. Basically, someone that holds you accountable and calls you out when you are slacking.

However, a mentor in the traditional sense of the word, is someone with more experience, who can help you build your career, climb up the corporate ladder, put together a business plan or write a proposal. For example, Arese Ugwu, the Smart Money woman always credits Tara Fela-Durotoye as one of her mentors who helped her craft and launch her brand. To be honest, it all comes down to your drive and passion, a mentor would not baby you all through your career, but would offer advice and guidance when necessary.

 

Network!

A great network is the fastest way to build a solid foundation for your business or career. I am always open to networking opportunities, because that “your network is your net worth” cliché is a tried, tested and effective principle. Who you know can be instrumental in getting you closer to your goals, especially in this part of the world. I know some people may not socially active like I am, but you just have to figure out how to meet the right people, maybe try networking online. Nigerians may not be eager to respond, but when networking, don’t focus on what the other person can do for you, focus on building a relationship with that person.

I read somewhere that 70% of jobs are gotten through networking, certainly, walking into a room full of strangers can be daunting, however it can lead to great friendships and fruitful business opportunities.

Prepare your networking strategy before you do any anything. Invest time into perfecting your elevator pitch and do a little research on the career of the person you want to connect with. If you are always on your networking game like I am, you would most likely make connections in the most unexpected places, like in a restaurant or at the airport. Be open, you never know who you’ll meet and how they’ll impact on your life.

 

Keep Learning Constantly

Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn something new. Learn a new language – Halo, Duolingo! Learn how to code – Codeacademy! Take online courses on management or branding or any subject area related to your field – Coursera.

Also staying aware of current events and reading as much as possible is vital to your constant learning process. Sign up for a book club – I am subscribed to the @TheReadClub on Twitter, where I get sent four free books monthly :). Signup for newsletters like @naijastartups, @thestarta to keep yourself updated. If your career isn’t going as planned, read a book about it, Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton and Richard Branson have all written books to help you with your career and business.