Meet Emmanuella Aboa, founder of Transolution Services Africa Limited – a Pan African company with presence in 14 African countries. Emmanuella is a published author, serial entrepreneur, motivational speaker, thought-leader and holds an MBA and BBA from the Maryland California University.
In this article, she shares some of her past challenges and tips on how to become a successful businesswoman.
“What do you want to become when you grow up?” she asked in a gentle voice accompanied by a timid smile. She was my Grade 7 teacher: an intelligent, wise and petite woman, encapsulated in beauty.
I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to become and dreaded the idea of being asked that question. “A politician!” exclaimed one. “The president,” said another. “Doctor!” vociferated someone else.
“Nothing enthralled me!”
Finally, the word ‘journalist’ cascaded and echoed throughout the classroom and immediately, I was beguiled.
It was something I could easily picture myself doing. I wanted to be seen and to be heard, and television encompassed my vision. From journalism, my passion evolved to law. Yet, I am neither a journalist nor a lawyer. Like the French say, “C’est la vie!”
As the firstborn in a family of four, I was zealous to succeed and help my family. I never envisioned myself venturing into business. However, I was appetent to learn, to obtain the experience and the income I knew I deserved.
I found myself in business out of necessity. The company I was working for then was transitioning and I did not want to be passive and wait for the inevitable. I had to create more opportunities to survive and that led me to business.
I have been an entrepreneur since 2007. I have failed more than I have succeeded. I have inaugurated and abated several businesses because I did not know what it meant to be an entrepreneur. I did not have the patience to embrace different business lifecycles. Every failure, however, was confirmation of what could have been my intuition that kept pushing me to persevere each time I faced adversity and, I am glad I did!
I would like to share some of the insights that I have acquired throughout my entrepreneurial journey:
Appreciate the woman you are: being a woman means, being viewed differently. You will encounter unfair expectations, harsh judgement and your value will be undermined. You will have to work harder to be seen, heard and valued. The world is not fair; however, always stand for something. Do not try to manage others. You can only manage yourself and, learn to influence others.
Elevate your track record: attractive women, specifically, will experience greater adversaries in business for obvious reasons. People will see you before they see your business. You will need to work assiduously on improving your track record to be considered a thought leader in your industry.
Do not quit your job: one of the gravest mistakes people make when starting a business is getting carried away and quitting their job. The entrepreneurial journey is laborious and cumbersome. You will need all the financial resources possible to support your business. Even if you do not need money to start a business, you need money to maintain your business. So, do not be hasty in quitting your job. Discipline is pivotal. For many years, I would go to the office from 08:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m., go home and start working on my business from 11:00 p.m. to 03:00 a.m. My weekends were reserved for my business. This meant that I did not have a social life, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make to achieve my dreams.
Trust your ideas and do not overthink it: the longer you wait, the more ambivalent you become. Take the plunge and make every mistake you possibly can. Learn as you go. I started Transolution Services as a translation company. Never would I have envisioned that we would provide translation services in more than 20 international languages or that we would expand our services into project management and training. Better yet, that we would become a Pan African company. My vision became clearer as we went along. There is never a perfect time in business. Things become clearer as you progress.
Forget about passion: a prevaricate, which people tend to tell others when starting a business, is to follow their passion. Most successful entrepreneurs become ardent about what they do and not the other way around. Passion alone is not enough to sustain your business. Hard work and determination, along with passion sustains a business.
There are three traits that define success in work:
Creativity – does your business provide a faster and most effective way of doing things?
Impact – does your business respond to the needs of people and does it inspire people to improve their work ethic and skills?
Control – is your business a monopoly or does it control a high percentage of the market?
Your business must fall into one of these categories in order to be successful:
Start slowly: do not be too ambitious and start thinking about having an office. I started Transolution in 2010 by offering online services with just a computer and Wi-Fi. In 2015, we got our first office space, which was not an office but rather a cubicle. The office was shared with other entrepreneurs. It was in 2018 that we finally had our own office and more often than not, I tear when I think about the journey. Do not be afraid to start small.
Learn to delegate: when starting your company, there will be an expectation for you to be a polymath. However, if you want to grow, you must learn to establish the right structure, systems and delegation. Be clear and precise about your vision and appreciate your limitation. Delegate and share responsibilities.
Be consistent: even when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, be consistent. Consistency brings visibility and visibility, credibility.
Have a mentor: it is essential to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, who have already achieved the level you are aiming for. These mentors can be found in books or people you admire. Social media has made it easily accessible, to engage with business people, and trust me, they are willing to assist. Do not be afraid to reach out.
Review your strategy often: the world is evolving frequently and your current skills may become obsolete within two months. Covid-19 has battened the doors of many businesses. The rise of Artificial Intelligence will cause more calamities in the near future. In business, you must build your strategy around behavioural habits. Money is the representation of the value created in an economy. The value you create determines the income you will earn. Review and revise your strategy often to remain competitive.
Manage your cash flow: budget and plan your finances. Provide an invoice as soon as a job is completed. Be clear about payment terms with your customers and manage suppliers’ payment. Cash flow is paramount to SME’s survival.
Be your biggest cheerleader: celebrate every milestone, every small victory and every obstacle that you have overcome.
Most importantly, pray. I love this Bible verse:
“Psalm 127:1 (JUB) unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain that build it; unless the LORD keeps the city, the watchmen watch in vain.”
Centre and align prayer in everything that you do. Prayer gives hope, peace of mind and unlocks doors you would have never cogitated.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emmanuella Aboa is a published author, serial entrepreneur, motivational speaker, thought-leader and a counselling & social psychologist. She is a strategist and visionary with global experience in the private sector and non-governmental organizations.
With 14 years of experience spanning corporate governance, business development, marketing and content development, she has helped individuals and businesses thrive within their ecosystems.
She is the founder of Transolution Services Africa Limited, a Pan African company with presence in 14 African countries, which oversees the development of future and current leaders through a variety of training and coaching programmes.
Recipient of 2019 Best in Education and Training award in recognition of her outstanding performance and exemplary performance in the sector, she is passionate about challenging and developing people and businesses to achieve their full potential.
Emmanuella holds an MBA and BBA from the Maryland California University and Edith Cowan University, respectively and is currently pursuing a second Masters in Psychology.
For more information about her work, feel free to visit:
Edited by Amy Raynard