The name Wole Soyinka commands respect. Chimamanda Adiche, Oprah Winfrey, Lanre De Silva are a few black women who are respected in their fields. Why? Because they all have proven to be an authority in his field. Regardless of their backgrounds, their education. It is what they have accomplished despite all odds that make people admire and respect them.
What is an authority?
An authority is a person who is knowledgeable and has in-depth skills in his/her chosen field. Notice that I didn’t say that the person has in-depth education; I said in-depth skills. Granted education can help you become an authority or expert in a field but many entrepreneurs did not start businesses centered on what they studied in the University.
A remarkable example is Tera Odukoya, Founder of House of Tara. Tara is an educated Lawyer (or an Learned as they call themselves). But today, she is the proprietor of a successful brand that empowers makeup artistes. She has spoken as an ‘authority’ in many shows and has come to be recognised as an Authority in the Make-up Industry. This is because of what she has accomplished in this field, not what she studied in the University.
Taofick Okoya with a HND in Ceramics is the hugely successful founder of Queen of Africa, a Nigerian-based company that produces beautiful African dolls. It has been reported that these dolls are outselling Barbie dolls in some areas of the country. As st the time of this writing, Okoya had a distribution network for his dolls in US and South Africa and is planning expanding to other countries in trhe world. But he doesn’t have a degree in Business Administration, or even Plastics, yet he is building a company that is charting new grounds.
So it not about your degree! Its about knowing what you do. After all, I have been a victim of a quack pharmacist who had the degree but didn’t know the skills of his trade.
So how do you become an authority in any field you choose? By enacting the methods outlined below:
The mistake many entrepreneurs make is focusing on traffic, sales and profit. This might have short term gains but in the end, it will damage your reputation. Instead focus on establishing yourself as an authority in your business. When Tara wanted to become known as an authority in her business, what did she do? She started a make-up training course. She started a blog that inspires and motivates people.
In other words, the fastest and easiest way to become an authority in your field is to teach, to educate, to help people with the information you have. The cheapest way to do this is to start a blog and post articles. Example if you are a fashion designer, write articles about the right way to mix and match fabrics. If you are a health and fitness guru, write articles about how to live healthy, how to lose weight without stress. If you are an event and decoration expert, write articles about perfect wedding decoration colours, 5 unexpected expenses to look out for when planning an event. Etc. If you have pictures of real life jobs you have done, put it in your articles. This builds great confidence and trust in what you do.
Another way to establish your expertise is to write a book. Once you are an author, people immediately respect and reverence you.
Start with a niche:
The mistake many entrepreneurs make is to start with a huge field, in a bid to make as much profit as possible. Imagine this: an entrepreneur starts a new beverage company and makes beverages that look and taste almost like Coca Cola’s Coke, Fanta and Sprite. His ambition is that people who love Coke will patronise his beverage.
This entrepreneur will be lucky to recover his capital! Why? Because he is completing with a giant who has the resources to advertise, has the best prices for its products and has a loyal market-share that trust every single product Coca Cola makes. At best, the entrepreneur will be seen as a counterfeit or copycat.
How should he have gone about it?
He should have tried to provide something different from what Coca Cola has to offer. When La Casera started, they started with an apple drink in a disposable plastic bottle. This was during a time when Coca Cola products predominantly came in glass bottles which had to be returned after consuming the liquid contents. They then developed a remarkable marketing strategy: to target travelers who will want to take something liquid during their journey but didn’t carry empty Coca Cola bottles with them. The result? They became an instant hit and predominated a market they created for a very long time. How did they become an instant hit?
- They started with a niche of beverage refreshment: just one flavour of apple drink.
- Their taste was different
- Their provided a solution to the pain of carrying replacement glass bottles
- They had a unique marketing angle and quickly established themselves as the traveler drink.
Understand that people don’t care how smart you are
If you can’t deliver, you are worse than the dumbest kid. It’s that simple. A doctor that can’t cure his patients is a failure regardless of how many accolades and degrees he has. An entrepreneur that can’t deliver her goods and services will be seen the same way.
But once you have the relevant skills and deliver, nobody cares what you studied. They will be rushing to you because they know you can solve their problems.
If you have a business idea and have the skills necessary to start, then START. Even if its just baby steps. This way you will learn along the way and grow stronger. This way you will improve your skills and experience.
I often hear this excuse: “I want to know everything before I start”
I have got news for you: You can never know everything. Everyday new discoveries are made, every day the market-scene changes. So if you are waiting till you know it all before you start, yo will never start a thing.
Also don’t waste money on unrelated products.
I have seen people rush to buy products that promise them instant success in 5 days with no work involved. I have been in the business scene long enough to know that business is just like Rome; it is not built in a day. So if you are really willing to be successful, then you should be ready to do the necessary work required to get there.
Don’t be ashamed of your humble beginnings:
People empathise and relate more with entrepreneurs who are open and reveal to us how they made it. Till tomorrow Oprah Winfrey will be respected, not just because she single-handedly started a multi-billionaire dollar company, but because she was open about her challenges and the rough childhood she had.
Even in Nigeria, people tend to trust people who are open about their past and current struggles. President GoodLuck Jonathan won his first presidential election on the strength of a single story, “I grew up without shoes…”
Tara also used this method on her way to the top. She exposed how passionate she was about make-up and how she started with just N15,000. And how she grew N15,000 to a multi-millionaire naira company.
One of the reasons Linda Ikeji’s blog is successful is because we all know how she started and the challenges she faced, even the failures she faced. We know how despite all these challenges, she has risen from the ashes of poverty to the grandeur of being a self-made millionaire. And that has endeared her to us! So don’t be ashamed to share your story.