Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My parents are my heroes both in life and in business. My mom not only gave me life and nurtured me into the man I am today, but she has been a genuine friend to me all my life.
My dad has played the most significant role in my career choices and principles as a man. When I was 3 years old, he started his first IT company and operated it in our 3-bedroom apartment. We slept in one room and the rest of the apartment (sans the kitchen) was used as his office, so I got to play with computers, answer customer calls, and become familiar with entrepreneurship at an early age.
Seeing him grow from a startup to the leading utility software company in Nigeria has been amazing, educational and inspirational for me. My dad has also played a big role in my faith and spiritual development, which has helped shape my personal values.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Start with empathy. Empathy, to me, is the most important life skill. From customers to employees to business partners to friends, the ability to gain a clear understanding of other people’s needs, aspirations and goals is the most important skill you can possess as an entrepreneur; it’s how you determine how you can be of value right now and in the future.
At Moving Analytics, our mantra is “empathy guiding expertise.” We start every interaction both internally and externally with listening and learning before talking and recommending ideas.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Not being freely open and transparent with my friends and colleagues. I’m naturally a private person, and I tend to communicate in an “executive summary” style rather than elaborate. I also used to feel like I had all the solutions, so when people asked me about a problem or difficulty, I answered with my solution rather than giving them the opportunity to contribute.
This was pretty detrimental, because most times, people in my personal and professional lives didn’t have the ability to give me another perspective. I recently learned the value of transparency and how sharing my experiences openly has empowered my friends and colleagues to play a more significant role. This has led to groundbreaking ideas in my business.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I start my day by reviewing my priorities. Then I say a prayer for wisdom to make the right decisions, goodwill for everyone I interact with, and inspiration to find new opportunities to grow and improve.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Be frugal and save. It so important to live below your means and have significant savings because you never know what will happen. When I started Moving Analytics, we didn’t make any money in the first year, and fundraising was difficult. Luckily, I had saved most of my earnings from the past year and shared an apartment with my younger brother to cut costs. This allowed me to live a whole year financially stress-free so I could focus on building the business. One of the reasons we’ve been successful as a company is because our founding team shares the same mentality. It’s helped us wither long cash flow droughts.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Read “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Many times, success in business comes at the detriment of our health and personal relationships. For me, success is having the freedom to choose what I work on, who I work with and where I work from, so I can have a close and meaningful relationship with my family. It’s also about building lasting relationships that help me achieve my full potential and use my resources to make the world a better place in a way that outlives me.
Today, 80 percent of people with heart disease don’t have access to life-saving cardiac rehab, and our company is trying to solve that. I’ll consider us successful when we can reverse that trend globally and empower everyone with heart disease to recover from the comfort of their home through our technology. Long term, I want to create 1 million middle-class jobs in Africa through entrepreneurship, education and venture capital.