As we witness the growth of African creatives gaining notoriety with major brands and peers alike, it is something to appreciate while also being inspired by these individuals’ achievements. Strictly living off your craft, being your own boss and becoming an entrepreneur, is a train that everyone is jumping on. It’s a difficult train to ride but it can lead you to fulfillment. The first and somewhat insurmountable task can be telling your African parents that you have chosen to do something non-traditional and travel down a path less traveled, with few examples to comfort your parent’s hearts with.
While much of being an entrepreneur is simply figuring things out and asking for help, there are some base level steps that can easily be missed by many Africans aspiring to enter into these creative fields.
The question is, how do I do business better? While there are classes, books, tutorials, videos, and more, everything varies based on your unique situation. At the core, there are some foundational ways that Africans can do business for us to grow despite our fears and reservations. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Get Organized
Make sure that you have your ish together when you decide to make that jump. This doesn’t mean you have to have everything together, but you should have things in order to make your process more efficient. This may look like having all your files organized in the right sizes on a hard drive, or having a business plan/pitch deck in order for that one day when someone asks to see it. This is simply having your “assets” together so that you’re able to easily find your work and get it out when needed.
It’s very important to know and be up to date on whats going on in your industry. This is also knowing the different levels of players in your industry or lane. While often overlooked, it’s good to understand the terminology/lingo for your industry. Knowing the difference can set you apart and set you up as a knowledgable and trusted person for others to recommend you.
This is key because unfortunately, we all judge a book by its cover. While the game had changed with the use of social media, it’s important to make sure you look good online and offline. This is really as simple as making sure you have the same profile info on your website as your Instagram and Twitter accounts. No one is asking for perfection but, people do want to feel like you care about your craft.
Communication is key and is major for any business to survive. Communication is about the voice you use online, how you talk to people in real life and how you talk and connect with people online. I get that it’s 2020, and people are hopping in and out of DMs trying to connect and get their work featured. Now if you want to do better business, don’t reduce your work to a DM. Respect yourself and find people’s emails. 9/10 times it’s somewhere on people’s social media profiles or on their websites. Business is really about relationships, so how are you connecting with people offline and finding the people behind these brands?
Now, this may be the most difficult part, but it is the most crucial part of any business. WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT? While you may not have the funds to afford a lawyer, you can use your resources and ask someone to read over contracts for you. If you are working with your friends and peers, create contracts no matter how small because it sets a tone for everyone to step up to another level. Simple forms that each party signs, create clarity around your business and lets everyone have clear expectations, which is the key to doing good business.
While we all want to grow in our craft and our wallets, it’s important to remember that mistakes happen. People tend to bend the rules when there are no rules. We are human and sometimes need parameters to work effectively with each other. Going down the road of business is scary but I hope these tips shine some light on how we can do business together and build as we go forward!