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Connect Nigeria marked this year’s World MSME Day with two webinar sessions for small businesses. The seminars took place over two days, the 26th and 27th of June. Day one featured three speakers, who shared useful advice about funding, planning and resource management, and finding a route to market.
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The second webinar session was a masterclass, with Toluiwnimi Osinowo, Founding Partner at CANTAB Associates, as the instructor. He set out to unveil ‘A Different Way of Doing Business’, a theme that’s grown relevant given the struggles that entrepreneurs have faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But there was more in his talk than just tips and strategies.

Lesson One: Crisis Calls for a Response, Not a Reaction

Dr. Osinowo began his session by recognizing the backdrop to the program– economic turbulence. He noted that it was a transition period for businesses, which could make or mar them. The key to surviving was having the right response to the situation. “The transition provides an opportunity for people to shift radically,” he said. “You can either be like someone caught in a hurricane that loses out, or you could rise with the winds of the storm”. He explained that this was different from merely reacting. The reactionary turns to old ways to solve new problems. The visionary devices solutions suited for each peculiar challenge. The first is done in panic mode; the second is tactical and detail-oriented.
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Lesson Two: Understanding Comes First  

For most of the webinar, he laid out what he believes is the main obstacle to growth for many businesses: a deficiency in their understanding of the world in which they operate. “If you traced most business problems to their root, you will find that the problem starts with understanding,” he said. “Your understanding sets the guardrails of your thinking. It’s the board of your imagination.” He pointed out that many entrepreneurs were fixated on things like planning and strategy. But doing these things on the foundation of limited understanding of their operating environment will not produce the best possible results. Strategy is only as good as the mind of the person who designs and implements it.

Lesson Three: Your Business Can Change if Your Mindset Does

Dr. Osinowo urges business owners to begin thinking more clearly about their operating environments, solutions, and executions. According to him, the first step in this process is to be deliberate about fixing the process of thinking itself. “Many people want to change their business but don’t want to change,” Dr. Osinowo said. “But your business is not separate from you.” To drive home his point, he turned to the analogy of a tree and its roots. “Your business is like a tree rooted in your mind,” he explained. “Its roots are embedded in your mind. In order to build a business in a time of turbulence, you must address your mind’s state.”    
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This article was first published on 4th July 2020


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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