Banke Alawaye: “If Your Business Doesn’t Pay the Bills, It’s Just A Hobby”

Banke Alawaye is dedicated to helping small business owners find a path to ‘business freedom’ by showing them how to work smarter. For her, the path to business freedom is paved with processes, templates and deliberate strategies to make it so. She explains, “My job is to show you how to create systems that can help you run a business that is both profitable and a joy to live with.”

This business leader and author of “Get Your Business Online” has gathered enormous experience working across various business fields over two decades and has discovered the main factor that is mitigating against the success of many young businesses in Africa. It is for this reason, she dedicates her career life to consulting for SME owners to help them create systems that make their businesses more profitable with a special interest in female entrepreneurs.

Banke Alawaye is passionate about the growth of your startup and already helping many put the right organizational systems in place. Enjoy this short interview.

Why do you, Banke Alawaye, consider yourself an ‘immensely’ successful person?

Success is in the mind. You make up your mind on what is important to you and hold on to your values. I consider myself immensely successful because everyday I wake up with gratitude for another day. The people I impact make me successful. There is an immense sense of satisfaction that comes from helping someone reach a goal.

These are the things that define success to me.

Can you enlighten us more on you being a “successful failure”?

I think that the fear of failure holds a lot of people back from reaching for their dreams. I have found that success only comes through failure. If you don’t try something out then you’ll never arrive at your desired end result.

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While it’s good to research and plan, too much analysis leads to paralysis. A majority of people have ideas that they haven’t taken further because they are afraid it will fail.

But the great thing about failing at something is that you learn powerful lessons in the experience. Those lessons are what set you up for success in the end.

From your rich background of serving in various enviable capacities across the world, what is your topmost rule of business success you always want to share with young African entrepreneurs?

My number one lesson would be to harness the power of having systems in your organisation. Taking the time to create systems and processes will save you a lot of time and energy later on. You’ll be able to deliver consistently and customers know exactly what to expect from you. Having systems also mean that you can easily track resources and optimise for efficiency quickly.

Why did you finally decide to become a business consultant and do women find it more challenging to start-out in business than their male counterparts?

I’ve always loved the challenge of working on different things. Consulting allows me to learn about different industries as I’ve worked on very diverse projects.

I think running your own business has its challenges whether you’re male or female. Women have their unique challenges because women are predominantly the caregivers – in a family situation. So the woman then has to balance the demands of her business with other family commitments.

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What strategies should aspiring entrepreneurs employ entering saturated markets?

Start from the premise that you have to be different. Whatever industry you’re in, you have to identify a segment that is underserved and carve out your niche.

What are some recurring challenges you’ve had to tackle when consulting for small business owners?

The one recurring challenge small business owners will tell you they face is lack of capital. But I find that when you dig deep the real challenges are a lack of planning and systems in their business.

Small business owners get caught up in the multiple roles they have to play in their business. They spend each day dealing with problems that crop up and not enough time creating the systems that will prevent the problems in the first place.

It’s a hard discipline and it may feel like things are spinning out of control. But the time spent creating solid systems for a small business is an investment that keeps paying back.

The client/customer is the lifeline of the business. How in particular will you suggest entrepreneurs take care of them?

Great customer service never goes out of style. In any industry, a business must create systems designed to make it easy for their customers to do business with them.

Are you an advocate of entrepreneurs gaining experience in the workplace before starting-out with their ideas and at what point should they make that bold decision?

Experience in the workplace can be a really good foundation but it is not essential. Each situation is unique and there isn’t a one-size prescription for all.

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What are some marketing disasters small businesses do get themselves into?

I think all brands make mistakes in marketing sometimes. The most obvious one that comes to mind is, not clearly defining their target market beforehand. A brand that is not clear on its ideal customer profile will end up creating marketing collateral that won’t attract anyone.

What is your ultimate description of a successful small business owner?

Like I said before, success is very much an individual thing. In my opinion success includes having time for myself and family, running a business that I’m excited about and happy to work in ever day.  And of course a business that provides a financial reward that can support you. If your business doesn’t pay the bills, it’s just a hobby.

Read more about Banke Alawaye

Banke Alawaye is a Chartered Management Consultant with a B.Sc in Computer Science, a Masters in Business Administration from Edinburgh Business School, Scotland and a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from Pan African Universityʼs Enterprise Development Centre and also a Member, British Computer Society.

She has worked in the technology space for over 20 years who started out as a programmer but had since combined her love for technology with her business skills gained as an investment banker and business consultant to create simple effective solutions for small businesses.

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