Where would we be without globalization? What if media was restricted to reporting within its own national boundaries? What if we all lived in isolation? It’s a scary picture and one where humanity would have not progressed as broadly as it has.
To fellow African entrepreneurs, I want to say one thing: the more you are exposed to, the bigger you can dream.
Industrialization progressed by further developing what had been done before. Only after working with renowned inventor Thomas Edison, could Nikola Tesla go on to create his own inventions.
Andrew Carnegie worked under the leading businessman, Thomas A. Scott. This mentorship allowed Carnegie to define an era by starting a generation of industrialists, pioneering the philanthropic movement, and becoming an epitome of self-development.
The key word here is exposure.
There are countless occasions where entrepreneurs only discovered their flair by observing other entrepreneurs or studying companies that transformed industries. Some even became competitors of their former employers.
Adrian Gore, the Founder of Discovery Holdings, was exposed to the dealings of the insurance sector early in his career. He worked for Liberty Life but resigned to build his own insurance company. Today, Discovery is the leading medical insurance company in South Africa.
Isn’t it surprising that many companies were started by entrepreneurs who thought they could do it better? Deciding to improve something can shape your destiny. Decisions like these act as the force that pushes us on in our lives.
Look at the former employees of PayPal – today known as the PayPal Mafia. After leaving the famous tech company, these individuals went on to found and fund other mammoth companies like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Tesla, SpaceX and they are not finished. At the moment, they are investing in Artificial Intelligence.
These gentlemen were exposed to a revolutionary business and they now all share a drive to change the world as we know it to a better world, one that they see in their minds.
Exposure can give you something other than experience, it can also get you through certain doors that were previously shut. Let’s look at two entrepreneurs; both are looking to seal separate deals. Entrepreneur X closes a $1.8 billion deal, while entrepreneur Y gets a $274,000 deal.
Both worked tirelessly to get these deals but the rewards are not the same. It is likely that entrepreneur X has been exposed to certain levels, while entrepreneur Y was operating independently. They might have both known about the $1.8 billion deal, but knowing about it does not mean you have access to it. You need to run in certain circles to get exposed to deals that involve other entrepreneurs in those circles.
What led Aliko Dangote to manufacturing? While trading commodities, he took note of the huge market in Nigeria and decided it was better to manufacture what he was importing.
Before founding Apple, a 12-year-old Steve Jobs landed a summer job at HP and the rest is history. It is this type of exposure that allows entrepreneurs to gravitate towards their destinies.
If you look at the rain, you will never plant. Get out there; attend conferences, travel to various countries, network with successful business leaders and read as much as you can. Whatever you are exposed to can only broaden your current view on the world around you.
By exposing yourself, you also expose your company to other markets and greater opportunities.
You can’t afford to stand idly by and wait for everything to fall in place. Business, and life, is a fight for territory – the moment you stop fighting for what you want, is the moment you will have lost.