On Tuesday we attended the Bongohive Insaka and the guest speaker was Monica Musonda, founder and CEO of Java Foods, a Zambian based food processing company known for it’s highly affordable ‘eeZee’ brand of noodles.
Inspiration is all she oozed as she spoke about her transition from being a lawyer to being an independent entrepreneur. She mentioned that most times people pursue further studies based on what everybody is doing and also because parents require you to pursue a white collar career. Even after being named one of Forbes 20 Young Power Women of 2013, she believes she hasn’t yet reached her personal goals and achievements yet and plans to go further with her food brand.
Having worked for and mentored by Aliko Dangote, one of Africa’s richest men and CEO of the highly successful Dangote Cement, she learned a lot about how to handle business with enough aggression to make sure it succeeds.
Monica shared some of the best ways for any start-up business to progress and stressed the need for one to have passion in whatever business you want to start, seeing as jobs in Zambia are scarce.
She taught us a few lessons about business too;
Lesson 1 -Love what you do: It is the only thing that will keep you going in your new business venture. If you don’t, you might give up at the very first failure encountered if things don’t go your way.
Lesson 2 – Start small: It’s always good to take baby steps and grow with time. There is no rushed success that lasts.
Lesson 3 – Plan. With any new business, we need to know what exactly we want to do, and how we want to do it, and where you want it to go. However, she said you should not overthink too much but you should be thorough and also watch the competition.
Lesson 4 – Network: It can get you through all the right doors. Monica stated the need to learn to make new connections all the time. They can help a new business in one way or the other. Be careful of people coming into your inner circle just trying to bring you down. Know who your friends are. Take advice from the right people too.
Lesson 5 – Be innovative: There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no substitute for hard work. Be open to new ideas, especially with marketing tools. Choose the best way to sell your business effectively and efficiently. Take advantage of social media as well.
Lesson 6 – Watch your Pennies (or Ngwees): Carefully that is. Learn to manage your finances properly. Account for EVERYTHING. It’s the only way to assess expenditure versus your profit. Plan your cash flows. Get money smart. Always.
*raises imaginary glass* here’s a toast, to future successes!