To start off, what is the BBB Challenge?
The MEST Class of 2020 had just arrived in Ghana when they got to know about a BBB challenge? MESTers (as Entrepreneurs-in-Training are fondly called) were finishing a tour around Accra and up next, it was the kick-off for the challenge.
The BBB Challenge simply means “Buy, Bet, Barter Challenge”. This was the challenge that was going to be the first major task for MESTers to get to know their environment while they also get to make some cool cash.
There was a starting capital of 20 GHC which MEST invested in each team that was to participate in the challenge. Fifty-six MESTers were grouped into 14 teams each containing 4 individuals. The challenge kicked off and it was time to display the entrepreneurial spirit.
On my team, I had myself and three gentlemen who were ready to go storm the world with whatever skills we brought from our different countries. As a matter of fact, the team had 2 Nigerians, 1 Kenyan and 1 Ugandan.
We met to outline our strategy for this challenge that was going to last for the next three days. We had a lot of ideas, some of which you will get to find out as you continue to read.
Lest I forget, I was the one in charge of the money bag for the team (wink).
Follow me and I will be engaging you with the 10 business lessons I learnt during the course of this challenge. In these lessons, I will show you the things we did and how we made five times our investment capital by the end of the challenge.
The 10 Business Lessons
Lesson 1: Think double and grow.
One of the first things we had to do, which was like a must-do order given by the team lead was to double our capital. We had an initial capital of 20 GHC but team lead kept asking for how we could double the capital by the end of the first day. Guess what? We hit the target! We doubled the capital.
Lesson 2: Strangers also smile.
After the kickoff, I and one of the team members practically stormed the streets of East Legon trying to get a client for our website services. This was part of the things we had decided to do after the initial team meeting. We went to a restaurant, a spa, a hair salon, a barbers shop, trying to pitch our services and convince strangers to do business with us. I must say that there were receptive (at least they gave us audience). We got business cards and even had to come the next day to submit business proposals. I couldn’t believe we were doing this. Our brains were thinking 360 degrees.
Do you want to know the most interesting part of the street roaming? We approached a random man who was talking with a security guard and told him about what we could offer him. This man was interested and was willing to pay for our service. The sad thing was that the deal didn’t go as we thought it would but at the end, I had learnt a great lesson which was: strangers don’t bite; strangers also smile.
Lesson 3: Be proactive, jump in and swim.
A reasonable amount of our revenue came from things that were not part of our original plan. We bumped into a staff that had been looking for someone to help with the deliveries of certain items. We said we can do it and that was how we got the deal. The initial price was pretty ridiculous but the tenacity at which we delivered made her paid us more than she intended to pay at first.
We ran errands for people and we also rendered massage services. All these were not part of the things we planned to do to make more money. We just flowed with the tides and did these things as the opportunity came.
Lesson 4: Even contracts can be strange.
Our client who needed help with the delivery of items requested for a contract. It sounded so strange because we were charging so little and we never thought someone could demand that a contract be sent for such a task. This really sounded strange but we understood that this kind of client was peculiar. In the end, we thought it was good to start imbibing the culture of documentation for transactions even if it seems irrelevant.
Lesson 5: When Stealing a Client is Legal.
Our item delivery client had given the same task to two teams. My team was able to communicate and deliver on time and she was impressed. For that reason, we got the deal for the other team transferred to us and we also executed it beautifully well including another contract. Our client loves contracts as you can see. The legal way to steal a client is to offer a beautiful service. I can tell you this works all the time!
Lesson 6: Give your convictions a trial.
Part of our plan was to sell food to bricklayers around our area. The first day went well as we got a good reception from them. By the second day, we had slight issues and it was evident that we would not be able to provide them with the food service. But I had a strong feeling that something was still possible. We had made a promise to the bricklayers and they were expecting us. I didn’t want to disappoint at all.
With this, I went on my own without the knowledge of my team and I found another way which was not as profitable as the previous day but was far better than nothing. I wanted us to make extra cash no matter how little and deliver on our promise to our clients. I later told my team about what I did and how much I made for us from the little transaction. Sincerely, it was better than nothing and we were happy.
Lesson 7: Look out! There’s a business there!
During the sales of food, we identified a potential business which was selling food to bricklayers. We could see that they were seriously in need of food and were ready to pay for it. They are usually working and have no time to go look for lunch. It was a pity that the BBB challenge was for three days but it opened our eyes to a need and a business that was staring right in front us which we wouldn’t have found out ordinarily.
Another business opportunity we identified was a games service for restaurants and bars. This only required that we partnered with the restaurant/bar owner to strike a deal and share profits according to certain agreed percentages.
We didn’t pursue any of these business opportunities but it was great to have found out ways to make money in a city we had only lived in for just 7 days. Incredible!
Lesson 8: The fear of Chale Wote means not taking risks.
The BBB challenge was around the same time that the Chale Wote Festival was happening in Ghana. It is usually a busy festival but it presented opportunities to hone one’s entrepreneurial skills and make money from those that come to enjoy the festival. We had a lot of teams who made money from this festival but for my team, we were scared of going due to analysis paralysis.
We were scared of not getting the right conditions to get people to play our video games. We also feared that our devices could be stolen or broken if eventually, we got a large crowd. We didn’t want to risk this. With these analyses, we didn’t explore the festival and we regretted not doing so. Reports had it that we would have made a lot of money if we had gone.
The major lesson for me here is this: Nothing risked, nothing gained; nothing risked, nothing lost.
Lesson 9: The bar and the wire.
There are some risks that are not worth it at all. Ethics is important in business. We shouldn’t jeopardize the lives of others all in the name of trying to make money.
We got a bar where we wanted to try out the video games. We couldn’t get a long extension to plug our devices but the only available wire to be used was a risky wire (almost a naked wire).
We thought it wasn’t wise to do this. We left with our game and forget about the money because the risk wasn’t worth it at all. Human lives are more precious and we won’t sacrifice precious lives on the basis of BBB Challenge. That was not going to happen! As far as I am concerned, we did the right thing.
Lesson 10: Chasing the “unchaseable” client.
The BBB challenge was only for three days. Some deals take time to materialize. It takes time to build trust, especially when you are dealing with total strangers. Some clients never got back to us even with all our efforts to get a business deal with them. We know these things take time.
What do we even know? For all we knew, we were just Entrepreneurs-In-Training who had come to Ghana and didn’t mind exploring any means to multiply an investment capital of 20 GHC within three days in a challenge called the BBB Challenge.
We win some, we lose some!
In the end, we made five times our capital and that in itself was a success for us, coupled with the invaluable lessons we learnt along the way.
I hope you gleaned one or two lessons from this. Feel free to share, clap and give your comments.