Startup Principles for an African Business.

In last week’s article, we touched on several startup actions and the principle of Lean Startup. Be sure to read the piece so as to get the flow.

So how has been January? We are almost done with the planning and strategizing for the year. Talk to me about the experiences so far.

How about today we continue with the other six Startup Principles. Deal? Okay let’s get done with this.

Market Validation

It is important to identify a market demand before embarking on building a solution. No matter how inventive a product is; it cannot sell if it is more of nice-to-have rather than a must-have. Conducting a good market validation helps an entrepreneur avoid the overconfidence bias.

Design Thinking

A customer or consumer is the main target for any production process. Design thinking is understanding a customer’s need in an engaged manner. It involves actively involving different customers in the production process to ensure they agree and accept the end product fully. In making a decision, a founder should consider the opposite reaction to every decision made. Will the decision flip-side lose customers completely? What is the worst that can happen?

Decision making under uncertainty

A founder is likely to encounter incidences that force him or her to make a decision without prior knowledge. New businesses operate under intense uncertainty and owners should accept that more uncertainties mean more opportunities. Therefore, the owner should possess agility and flexibility as core qualities in order to make it.


The positive impact partnering has on new businesses is immense and is a thought to ponder on for new businesses. Why so? An already established partner has a pool of customers who are willing to check into your product just by being a partner. It also enhances the visibility of a new brand. Partnering enables a startup to align internal features with market. It is true that partnerships can fail but checking into the following areas can be remedy for a dwindling relationship.

  • Change of business concept for a startup.
  • Change of collaboration constellation.
  • Change of business relationship from transactional to collaborative type.

Entrepreneurial Learning

This should be done at high speed before running out of resources and should involve intentional actions like experimentation and searching. This principle enhances a founder’s learning to start-up a company. Activities like drafting a falsifiable hypothesis, building a minimum viable product and conducting an A/B testing take place here.

Business Model Design

This principle comes in last after learning from market validation, design thinking and lean startup. This is because it is important to first build something that people want.

A business model design is a blueprint of what the business ought to look like. Though complex, it is a total of all the small actions undertaken daily to ensure the business runs smoothly.

Principles of startup apply in all kinds of businesses and are here to help us remain on track and avoid unfortunate occurrences of collapse of business. It has been noted that a high percentage of startups close down before completing the first year of their existence. This is because they fall out greatly from the limits of the principles we looked into above. In an African perspective, startups fail to thrive because of absence of several traits of a startup founder.

Qualities of a Serious Startup Founder.

My best friend sent me a message with the following information,’ A personal brand is a promise of performance that creates expectations in its audience. Done well, it clearly communicates the values, personality, and abilities of the person behind it.’

Startup companies are just reflections of the diligence, thinking and patience of their founder. As much as startups highlight talents and genius of their founders, they, in equal measure, expose the shortcomings of their founders. Here are some qualities that are paramount for any startup to thrive. My approach will target Africa, as we need more of startups in Africa this year.

  1. Focus

Imagine being a startup founder. You have a million and one tasks every day. They demand every bit of your attention but still at the end of the day not all are attempted. It is frustrating but we have the gift of focus. For a startup founder three things should count; revenue, unaffiliated customers and product market fit as put across by David Cummings founder of Pardot and Atlanta Tech Village.



2. Patience

Startups aim to bring a change to the way of thinking of a people for them to accept a new product. Change is difficult and it takes time. Since it takes a while before getting prospects to adopt a new way of life, be prepared to wear an amour of patience proudly. The good thing is that patience pays.

  1. Grit

With little resources, a founder finds himself doing things that an intern, a virtual assistant or an automated system can do. Grit allows you to fold your sleeves and gets your hands dirty. Literary it’s getting shit done.

  1. Energy

The strength to communicate day in day out to prospective investors, customers, partners and employees. The mental strength to keep on course even after rejection by all the above stakeholders.  Energy is important as you try to acquire the first customers and raise capital.

  1. Vision

I have watched many soccer penalty kick takers watch the ball until it hits the back of the net before whirling away in celebration. The reason is simple, to watch the technique and to affirm that truly a goal has been scored. Similarly, a founder must have a strong and long vision for the future.


  1. Communication

It is in the founders’ ability to communicate the problem, the solution and why they are the right person to solve the problem that a business empire is built. A start-up founder should be willing to get constant and honest feedback from objective and brutal third parties on how they communicate their ideas.


We can keep the list going but one thing is common; the virtues in a person overflow into business. These is why most founders and entrepreneurs find themselves working diligently on their personal development and emotional intelligence. Personality attributes are considered an asset in startup. This explains why most entrepreneurs end up becoming authors of development books, motivational speakers and coaches.

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