Today let`s look into the life of the richest man in our great continent, Aliko Dangote and see few things we can learn about success and business.
I know, some people are of the opinion that Dangote is “lucky” that`s why he became rich. Some say he uses political influence while some people are even of the opinion that the richest black man is fraudulent.
I`m not here to defend him, but let me tell you three things.
First, luck is part of life`s journey.
To deny luck is to deny life entirely. Luck do exists. And you know something, YOU too are lucky.
Most people simply don`t look at the areas of their own luck, instead, busy seeing other peoples` luck.
The fact that you`re reading this tutorial shows that you`re lucky. Millions of people all over the world are blind. To these people, you`re very lucky, isn`t it?
A lot of people in the world are cripples, armless, deaf etc. so many people never seen their parents, not even for a day. So many people are mad and rejected.
To all of these people, you are very lucky (because you have the grace they don`t have). That`s why I don`t listen to people who claim that someone is lucky.
When some people ridicule Aliko Dangote because he was “lucky” to be able to secure #500,000 loan, what they don`t understand is that they too are lucky.
Yes, God and nature doesn`t distribute “luck” equally. But if you look around you very well, you will see some “luck” many other people don`t have.
What about The Political Influence of Dangote?
Every rich man has influence. However, that doesn`t mean that influence is bad or must be used for evil things.
Take for instance if Nigerian government decide to be strict about importation of some goods and let`s say cement is part of those goods, what will you say?
Many people will say, “That selfish man, Aliko Dangote has influenced our president to stop cement importation so that he will be able to sell more of his own cement”.
That`s a lay man thinking.
Though it may be Dangote who influenced the federal government decision in this area, the decision is not a bad one to make life difficult for people.
Importation kills us as a nation, every economics student knows this.
And if you say he`s a thief and a fraud, you will need evidence to make me believe that.
I have told you before, I don`t have time for any argument. Let`s learn one thing or two from the richest black man.
Aliko Deingote has been business minded from his childhood.
Even as a little boy, his mind has always been in the business world. He said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time”.
What can we learn from this?
First, interest leads to passion. Passion leads to action. Though actions leads to mistakes and failures, it eventually leads to greatness (if we don`t give up).
That short man (please don`t tell him) did not just become the richest African. He has been business minded, even as a little child.
The other thing we can all learn is, the earlier the better.
If you truly want to be a successful business owner, now, today is the right time to start. Start something, no matter how stupid that thing is.
Where you start doesn`t matter.
Many at times what is keeping us from starting out in business is, “what is a good business I can start?”
Most people never find such good business because it really doesn`t exist.
It doesn`t exist because nature demands that we get out before we know the road.
I started business with nonsense. I mean a stupid thing I hate to think of (now, years after). Aliko Dangote started by selling sweets. Sweets.
It doesn`t really matter how you start. The only thing that matters is your willingness to pay the price, fight hard and stay focus.
Today, you know of Dangote Cement, Dangote sugar, Dangote salt, Dangote everything. Remember that guy started by selling sweets.
Aliko Dangote knew the kind of education he needed to achieve his vision
If Dangote had spent his first 32 years in school, he may not be the richest African today. That`s not to downgrade those who spend that much in school, but to point out a lesson… don`t be deceived by what the society and people around you think is right for you.
The education you need depends on what you want to achieve with your life.
Mr. Dangote later attended a university to study business, but you can be sure it`s not a “normal” school as you and I went.
Education is very important, but school is not. You cannot achieve anything worthwhile without education, but you can achieve anything in the world without school.
If you are confused by my above statements or you don`t know the different between school and education, then, you`re new to the ABC. You will have to read, 7 reasons why I hate school to understand what I am saying here.
What do you want to achieve with your life? What education do you need to achieve it?
Dangote knew he needed to be a business student. He started reading about business, listen to people talking about business and learn business, practically from his uncle.
Aliko Dangote passed through “on-job-training”
He was working with his uncle. The pay was not really his major goal (as other stories about his life show us), but the business experience.
Working with his uncle was like an “on-the-job-training” for the little Aliko.
What can you learn for this? If you wish to be a business owner tomorrow, but today you`re an employee, start watching the way business is being done, by the way your boss does it.
If you`re unemployed, you can be an apprentice with someone running a good business. Look. Watch. Ask questions. You will build your business skills and have a good foundation for your business venture.
He is a great negotiator
I have heard many people claiming that Aliko Dangote was simply lucky, to have had a rich uncle who could loan him some amount to start business.
Was Aliko the only son of that family? Are other sons now as rich as he is? Couldn`t they have used the same “luck’?
Did you ever approach a rich brother or uncle for help? How easy is it to secure such help? Haven`t you heard many people saying, “My brother/uncle is very rich. He has money, but he can never give you money to start business”?
The truth is, no matter how rich your brothers, uncles or relatives are, getting resources to start your own business is not that cheap. There are certain things you have to meet up with.
One of those things is, you must be a good negotiator. You have to know how to convince, persuade and sell your business vision before anybody will be willing to give you their hard-earned money or resources.
Dangote is credit-worthy
You also have to be credit worthy. Your life must be worthy of people`s trust. If Aliko Dangote`s uncle knew him as one unserious boy who spend money anyhow, would he have ever borrowed him a penny?
If the uncle knew him as a liar, would he have borrowed him a kobo?
How trustworthy are you? How credit worthy are you?
I once heard a friend telling me, “Stephen, I am borrowing you this money because I trust you”.
The business life of Dangote shows us that he cares about what people think and say about him and his business.
The next point will emphasize that.
Aliko Deingote sells brand, not just products
He said, “To succeed in business, you must build a brand and never destroy it. One competitive advantage I had when I ventured into manufacturing was my brand, which I diligently built in the course of my trading”
Don`t sell products or services. Sell brand. Sell trust. That`s how to make money from your business.
In whatever you`re selling or producing today, consider a brand that can last and make you rich.
How do I mean?
When you start a business (even a little one), your primary goal is to “buy” loyal customers, loyal creditors and loyal employees and partners.
You can do this only through the quality of your products or services, your honesty and consistence.
What then happens is that, if tomorrow comes and you are going into a bigger business or industry, people who have trusted your name automatically trust your new product.
That`s why Dangote could start selling sugar, salt, spaghetti, etc. and people buy them. that`s the reason why companies like Coca Cola could start selling any new product today and people will say, “Coca cola makes it, so it will be good”
Dangote works like slave
To many people, the idea of being extremely rich is the idea of waking up each day to spend many hours before television, in parties or golf courts.
That`s not true. Richest people in the world are working like mad. The only difference is that, most rich people are not working because they must work, this is unlike most poor people. For most rich people, their work is their hobby.
I have heard a story about someone who boarded plane with Aliko Dangote sometimes ago (maybe before he got a jet). According to this story, most people on plane had slept off (it was night), yet, Mr. Dan was busy checking this file, reading that thing, signing some other things, almost all night.
Another story has it that Dangote usually sleeps by 2am and wake up by 5am.
This attribute is common to every rich person you can name in our world today, hard work.
Aliko Deingote makes his hobby his job
I will explain this in two ways. First, one of the reasons why most people become rich in the first place is because they choose to concentrate their energy on profession or business they are passionate about. This helps them to work extremely hard and still feel that they have not done so much.
In this way, their work is nothing but hobby. In another way, most rich people, when you ask them what their hobby is, they might tell you something related to their business or something helping their business.
Take for instance if you ask Messi or Ronaldo what their hobby is, they may tell you, watching football. In that way, their hobby is still their business.
The other day I read an interview where Dangote said, “I love watching television”. Naturally, that statement sounded strange.
See, I have read about so many rich and successful people and I am yet to see anyone who loves T.V becoming great, except Oprah Winfrey, Larry Kings, Funmi Iyanda and the rest whose business is T.V itself (if you spend too much time on T.V, you actually have to repent).
However, when I continued with that interview, I heard something again from Dangote, “I love watching BUSINESS T.V such as Bloomberg T.V”
Though Aliko Dangote loves spending hours before T.V, they are never stations that waste your time with some useless movies, pornographic music or valueless “entertainment”.
Learn something from that!
Aliko Deingote is a politician, but he won`t tell you
Yes, he is. He is a politician, but he will never tell you that. Actually in some way, most business people in the world get involve with politics, but usually silently (except you`re Donald Trump or Jimon Ibrahim, you know).
Why do they do this? Because political leaders make policy that could affect their businesses, so they try and get involve, so they could have some influence on the policy of their country or territory.
I am not sure their hands are really pure in this angle, yet, I am not here to judge them.
The key thing you can learn about Aliko Dangote is that, you mustn`t declare yourself for any party. If you do and the opposition win in an election. You may be one of their targets, I mean your business.
Dangote gave a whole lot of money to PDP and Obasanjo`s projects (i.e library), but since he never declared in public that he belongs to PDP, when PDP lost power in the 2015 general election, he could easily draw near the ruling party.
Aliko Dangote loves Nigeria.
“Nothing can help Nigeria than for Nigerians to bring their money back here”. That`s Dangote talking. He has option of investing much of his money in Nigeria, but he loves Nigeria so he stays here.
Though he has many other investments in other countries of the world, Nigeria is still his favourite. “Give me $5 billion and I will invest everything here in Nigeria”, he said.
Yes, some people are saying he dominates Nigeria economy, he produces everything, he does this and he does that, anyone who has business understanding will not say most of those things.
Instead, he/she will appreciate Dangote for helping Nigeria`s economy by giving jobs to tens of thousands of Nigerians and by helping us to have more export or less import.
Importation is bad for us as a nation. If we don`t produce things here, we will import them, so killing ourselves. Exportation is good for us, so if we have companies exporting stuff out of here, we`ll have better economy (maybe I will explain this in a post soon)
He loves himself more than Nigeria.
No matter how much you love your country or another person, you still have to love yourself. When some people were criticizing Dangote for his interest in buying Arsenal football club, thinking that he should have invested his money in one of the numerous crawling Nigerian football clubs, what these people don`t know is that, you sometimes have to go for what you love, at the expense of your love for your nation.
He loves Arsenal and he wishes to buy the club one of this days. It doesn`t really matter how much he loves Nigeria, now we`re talking about what he loves to do with his money.
Dangote gives out.
Before you make much money, having money is your goal. What happens after you have all of the money you ever could spend all your life?
Having money doesn`t make much sense again. Though you may still be working hard to acquire more and more, your goal might have changed.
So many billionaires are still working not because they need more money, but sometimes because they want more power, fame (i.e. the richest African) or simply to be able to give more and more money out.
If you don`t know all others, you will know that Aliko Dangote donated about #150 million to tackle Ebola when the disease broke out in Nigeria.
Here is my last word.
The above opinion about Aliko Dangote is mine and it`s by no means “all truth”. He is human. He makes mistakes and does wrong.
I only wish you could learn one or two things from him.