Should Nigerian entrepreneurs share ideas more often?

June 10, 2016
3 min read

“An idea is only as good as its execution.” That quote has been passed around so many times I don’t even know who said it first. But the statement is as true as Nigerian party jollof rice is awesome.

During the 2016 edition of the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum, Biyi Oladipo said something and Techpoint tweeted it:

But it’s the internet, so you never know what’s coming next.

She followed up with some good points:

I love that last one. “If [anyone] can replicate your idea more successfully than you can, all the passion in the world won't save you.” And that is the truth. In business, execution is everything. It doesn’t matter how unique or badass you think your idea is, if you cannot make something of it, your idea is worth nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

Look around you. There are so many companies that have what may seem like similar ideas but with different levels of success. It’s not as much about the idea as it is about execution.

However, we’ve been in Nigeria long enough to know that we are in a secretive society; one where people would rather keep things to themselves than share. This can serve as an explanation of sorts for the scarcity of business literature borne out of the experiences of the already established entrepreneurs in Nigeria. So, with that in mind, I understand what Mr. Biyi Oladipo was driving at. It’s not uncommon that you’ll ask a successful Nigerian to share some ideas with you, to help you better yourself, and you will get a response like this: “It’s God blah blah…”.

Sharing ideas is one way to encourage growth in the ecosystem. When people are learning from each other, everyone benefits. Of course there are trade secrets that should be kept secret, but the ideas that can be shared should be shared.

It’s possible that the superstitious nature of the country is contributing to the ‘secrecy’ and scarcity of data and information. A lot of people live in fear that someone (even the government) might harm them if they know how well they are doing or how they got to where they are. Then again, it could also be that they fear that people will find out the truth about how they got what they got. (Shrugs).


Mentorship and entrepreneurship

Mentorship is very important to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out, will do well with the help of more experienced advisers, people who have already gone far ahead of them, who know how bumpy the road can be, and where the road bumps are. The truth is, if you play your cards right, chances are you will find a mentor that is willing to spill his ‘business secrets’  and tell you all that you need to know.

Finding a good mentor, on the other hand, is a topic for another day. I’d have said you should go and read books, but maybe you’re already doing that; maybe you’re already reading books written by American and European entrepreneurs who have no idea what it is like to do business in Nigeria. And sadly, not many Nigerian entrepreneurs write books or grant people permission to write books and make documentaries about them - or maybe no one has asked.

Whichever way, sharing ideas is a good thing, a good way to learn from each other. We shouldn’t shy away from it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below

I'm always open to feedback and new ideas.
I'm always open to feedback and new ideas.
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I'm always open to feedback and new ideas.

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