What successful entrepreneurs do every day

What do you picture when you think about a day in the life of an entrepreneur? Meetings with investors? Strategy sessions with the executive team? Going over financial statements and analytics reports? While these items all might appear on a business owner’s schedule, there are some things that entrepreneurs may never have expected to do on a regular basis. Nine startup founders shared the one task they were surprised to add to their everyday to-do lists.

“We have always been told that you need to dress for success. We did not realize how tedious that task would be on a daily basis. We knew that this venture would include hard work with long, sleepless nights, but we also thought it was going to be balanced with relaxed, poolside conference calls. While there are definitely calm moments where you feel like a zen master, the fact is, being an entrepreneur also requires discipline. You always have to make sure your shoes are shined, your shirt is pressed and that you are ready for anything, because you never know who you are going to meet or where you are going to be. We are constantly networking and meeting amazing, new people and consequently, we always put our best feet forward, literally.” – David Czinn and Josh Kahn, co-founders of Fruigees Organic Fruit Snacks

“Coming from the corporate world, I didn’t realize as an entrepreneur that you have to strike the right balance between aspiration, ideation and execution every single day. It’s like you’re an improv performer in a one-man show, where you write, direct, produce and perform. When the day ends, you prepare yourself to start over and do it all again tomorrow — and then you listen for the applause.” – Andrea Simon, CEO and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants

When the day ends, you prepare yourself to start over and do it all again tomorrow — and then you listen for the applause.” – Andrea Simon, CEO and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants

The daily task I didn’t expect to do as an entrepreneur is constantly having to be prepared. I never know what’s going to pop up as the day’s emergency, and it can range from the mundane to the truly bizarre. Therefore I have to wear many hats and sometimes it feels like part of my day is being a professional firewoman/trouble shooter/problem solver!” – Alix Astir, CEO of Trellis Fine Florals

“Wash the dishes. An entrepreneur means you are pro-active. At the beginning you are CEO, sales representative, operations and dishwasher. Every task is an important task and I learned to love washing the dishes as the rest of my team as much as I love making strategic decisions or brainstorming ideas for new product. Everything you do has value.” – Mariquel Waingarten, co-founder of HICKIES

“As an entrepreneur, I didn’t think about doing all the daily tasks I would be doing to keep the company going. I still make my own coffee. I was still cleaning the bathrooms here at work (this year I have given up that job, thankfully), taking our company recycling to the recycling center, taking out the garbage, etc. A few things have changed in the last few years, but I’m still very much involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.” – Holly Bartman, founder of SuperflyKids

“As someone who only worked at large companies prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I didn’t expect to be as deeply immersed in all of the minutia involved in operating a business — as many as 20 different daily tasks. In particular, I didn’t anticipate watching our marketing budget every single day, measuring how each channel is performing and adjusting funds accordingly.” – Joe Noonan, founder of HomespunDesign

“The daily task I didn’t expect to do as an entrepreneur has changed as we have grown and evolved as an organization. In the beginning I would have answered, ‘daily book keeping.’  Then I hired someone full time to manage our books, allowing me more time to focus on producing revenue. As the years have gone by and we have added staff, my answer has become, ‘employee management and problem solving.’  I did not envision I would spend the better part of each day meeting with my co-workers and solving problems.  Surprisingly, this is what I do best and really enjoy.  – Damian Rodriguez, president and COO of CDR Global

“Cleaning everything! As an independent business owner, you end up not having much time. However, you are in charge of everything with your business. I prefer to get my hands dirty and stay involved with every aspect of our business. Nothing is off-limits.” – Kenny Vayda, managing member of Eliminate’Em Pest Control

“The very act of dealing with the unexpected is often what separates successful entrepreneurs from those who fail.  I spend a lot of time navigating the finance world in order to raise funds for our company, including pitching private investors, meeting potential strategic investors, working with our attorneys, etc. What’s surprising, almost shocking actually, is how difficult and cumbersome that process is for most entrepreneurs. I spend time with my team and other experts following the new regulatory changes driven by the market and technology that could change the landscape for capital raising. Such changes could truly unlock the potential for entrepreneurship and innovation to solve problems and create social and economic opportunities for all of stakeholders.” – Amro Albanna, founder and CEO of ieCrowd.


Opportunities for small business arising from the new Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy

Last week, a new policy on the cotton, textile and garment industry was launched by the Minister of Industry, trade and investment- Mr OlusegunAganga. The thrust of the policy is to ensure that this critical sector of the economy gets the required boost in order to create jobs and save foreign exchange for the country. In the 1960s and 70s, the textile industry was the highest employer of labour in the country after the civil service. But over the years this industry has suffered a slow down due to unfavourable policies, dumping of products, lack of skills, unfavourable operating environment amongst others. The new policy seeks to address all these issues across the entire value chain. It doesn’t just focus on one aspect of the chain, say cotton growers, ginners or retailers, but it addresses every aspect of the chain, that’s why it’s christened “From farm to fashion”. The policy was reached after extensive and prolonged consultations involving Government, the private sector, research institutions, the academia, international development agencies and the media.

Read also: BoI reiterates support for SMEs, to induct successful TEF entrepreneurs

Specific items which the policy intends to achieve include

• A rise in direct and indirect employment in the sector from 24,000 people and 650,000 people respectively to 100,000 and 1,300,000 people by 2017.

• Significant foreign exchange savings by reducing the estimated USD 2 billion currently spent importing the bulk of our textile and garment needs.

• Increased export earnings of a t least USD 3 billion annually

• Increased foreign Direct investment (FDI) into the sector by about USD 1.5 billion over the next 5 years.

• Increase in seed cotton production from 200,000 MT in 2013 to 500,000 MT by 2015

So what are the aspects of the policy and what opportunities exist for businesses?

1. The creation of Industrial Textile and garment parks.The policy seeks the creation of specific industrial parks for use in the textile and garment industry. These parks will be located in strategic areas across the country that is close to the key raw materials’ and markets as the case may be. These parks shall either be fully private sector led or on a Public, Private Partnership (PPP) basis. The creation of these parks presents opportunities for developers and those in the construction industry. There will be common infrastructure like water, roads and captive power. Again this presents opportunities for those that will provide these services to the parks.

2. Tax waivers and holidays. The new policy advocates that all investors who invest In the sector from 2015- 2019 will be able to import plant and machinery, spares, dyes, chemicals and packaging material duty and VAT free. There is also a 3 year tax holiday for major textile manufacturers. This is a sort of upfront financial benefit meant to encourage foreign and local investments into the sector. This should ensure that operators are able to set up, start production and become competitive from the outset. 

3. Investment incentive. Investors who invest a minimum of USD 10 million or N 1.8 billion in the sector and employ a minimum of 500 direct Nigerian staff can import fabrics equivalent to 50 % of their output from their Nigerian operations levy free for a five year period, after which they will have to commence the local manufacture of such fabrics. While the amount needed to benefit from this incentive is fairly large, but companies can come together, partner and form a single entity that enjoys this benefit which will increase their competitiveness. This also allows companies to employ direct Nigerians in their operations.

4. Financing. The President approved the conversion of the existing Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) industry intervention fund set up in 2010 and administered by the Bank of Industry (BOI) from a loan to equity. In essence BOI is able to give longer tenured loans and low interest rates to operators in this industry. Furthermore, it is recommended that all levies/supplementary taxes collected on textile imports in Nigeria should automatically be transferred to the BOI for use in developing the CTG industry in areas like creation of integrated textile parks and provision of long term loans to textile operators. This portends opportunities for companies involved in the entire CTG value chain to obtain long term credit to fund expansion and growth

5. Export promotion and trade strategy. The GTG sector is a major area to increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earning potential and businesses can pick this area and focus on exports of finished products. Nigerai has existing favourable trade deals with a number of countries- the chief being with the United States under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).  Under this new policy, the Nigeria, Export Promotion Council (NEPC) will prioritize ready-made garments (RMG) as a key export driver for Nigeria. The NEPC is already in the process of securing orders in the United States and Europe for potential local textile manufacturers.

6. Local Patronage. The policy specifies that all military and para military agencies and Government schools are to patronise ONLY Nigerian made textiles and garments for their uniforms once the requisite standards are met. In addition, private schools and private organisations will be encouraged to source their materials locally. This portends massive opportunity for those involved in this sector as they have a ready market for their products. These institutions possess huge purchasing power and are repeat buyers.

Other areas in the policy include improvement in overall skill level, maintenance of standards and measures to check smuggling.

Overall, huge opportunities exist for those in the CTG value chain. However, current operators and potential operators need to organise themselves to tap into these benefits. This will involve entering into partnerships, putting their business plans in place, intensifying their technical capacities, improving product quality and human resource base in order to be positioned to take advantage of the explosion that we believe this policy measure will bring for this critical sector.

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