Starting a business is tough. It is even tougher when you are looking at creating a business that operates at an international level.
In a recent interview with Chris Folayan, founder and CEO of MallforAfrica, a global e-commerce platform that enables Africans to purchase goods from the US and UK, I asked Chris how he overcame obstacles in his company.
Without missing a beat, Chris replied, "I don't know any entrepreneur who hasn't failed at something at one point or another. The problems I incurred early on not only provided the momentum for crafting solutions, but were necessary in that it paved the way for my future successes and made me truly appreciate it all the more."
Understanding that obstacles are something that people face no matter what business they start, Chris shared 4 of his deepest insights on how to overcome them and get ahead:
1. Brainstorm, then solve problems
Finding a solution to a problem is the first step in building a successful business. First you become aware that something went wrong and then you begin to figure out why.
Chris Folayan started his company MallforAfrica on that premise. For years, Chris traveled from the US to Nigeria with suitcases filled with merchandise his family wanted, as they were unable to purchase the items online.
US retailers refused to ship to Africa.
During one of his last trips to Nigeria, Chris tried to bring 10 suitcases with him and was refused by the airlines for exceeding the limit. Recognizing the enormity of the problem and the need for a solution, Chris built a system that now allows Africans to purchase merchandise from over 150 retail stores in the US and UK.
2. Critique yourself and your team
Although an uncomfortable situation to be in, don't shy away from critiquing yourself and your team as it is an integral step in building and sustaining a successful business.
Understanding what could have been done better will:
a.) Help to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
b.) Provide insight into how to improve.
c.) Enable you to be better equipped next time.
The more you think about and/or experience problems and how to resolve them, the more you train yourself and the people around you to be the powerhouse of lightning quick solutions.
3. Develop emotional rollercoaster resilience
With all problems come disappointment. An emotional roller-coaster effect built on the repetitive concept of should have, would have, could have will never get you anywhere. The rollercoaster will keep moving whether you are on it or not. Instead of being disappointed, focus, regroup, then execute better the next time around.
Most successful people have always found ways to turn their failures into successes. Their background stories reflect resilience, as you never know what your failure today will lead to in a few years. But one thing is for certain, taking a problem, creating a plan that fixes it and then using it to your benefit can only make you stronger.
4. Stories of failures opens up the doors to success
Sharing the challenges and failures you have incurred will show others that you are human, resilient, ready for change, and display a level of maturity that is beyond complementary to any business. Investments are made in people who have learned from their mistakes because they made them stronger. The main reason recent graduates are not hired immediately into top management is because experience hasn't taught them yet. So take those failures and stories and use them to improve yourself and build that path to eminent success.
Have you had to overcome challenges when growing your business? What kind? How did you overcome them and what did you learn? I'd love to learn more. Comment below!