Early years of some of the world’s richest men and what they teach us

Posted by News Express | 25 June 2020 | 1,637 times

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 This is a continuation of my last week’s edition titled “The importance of starting early •How to spot the passions and potentials of your child”. In that edition, I talked about the importance of starting early. In fact, I stated that any career that one is going into and does not begin to manifest the potential at the age of ten is too late.

I even narrated a story of a 26 years old Nigerian basketball player in the national basketball camp – one of the best in the country – whose father took to America with the intention of putting him in the National Basketball Association (NBA) League.

But on getting there, a basketball coach, after watching the young man practise for a while, told the father that what his 26 years old son was doing with the ball was what every eight-year-old American does with the ball.

Let us now examine the early years of some of the world’s richest men to see if their lives lend credence to the view of starting early.

Since they say that charity begins at home, let us begin with our own Aliko Dangote, the President of Dangote Group.

Aliko Dangote is the first son of Alhaji Mohammed Dangote, a Kano-based politician and businessman, while his mother came from the wealthy Dantata family, also of Kano.

According to custom, as the first son of his parents, when Aliko became six months old, he was taken to the house of his grandparents-in-law to live. At the age of six years, young Aliko began to sell sweets on the streets of Kano. (For more on the authentic life story of Aliko Dangote and how he became one of the world`s richest men, read my book, Dangote’s Ten Commandments on Money (Lessons on How to Make Money from One of the World’s Richest Men).

That Aliko was living in Alhaji Dantata’s house, who was then one of the richest men in Nigeria, and began to sell sweet at the age of six simply showed that it was passion for enterprise rather than hunger that pushed him to the street.

Recently, I met an entrepreneurial studies lecturer in one of the Nigerian universities and in the course of our discussion, he told me that they don’t use Aliko Dangote as an example when they are teaching their students about entrepreneurs because he came from a wealthy background and also has government support. I was shocked to hear that. I told him pointblank that it was petty jealousy and that they are deceiving their students.

The lecturer was like a lot of other Nigerians who thrive in ignorance and even believe in their own lies.

The most important thing in starting a business and doing well in it is not money but passion. After that comes ideas, that is sound business decisions. Money comes a distant third.

Now, how does an entrepreneur make money? By identifying a need and filling it.

Let us juxtapose the above with the life of Aliko Dangote. Even though he was living in the house of his rich grandparents-in-law, he began to sell sweets at the tender age of six. By doing that, he did not only start early (six years), he demonstrated an in-born entrepreneurial spirit. He did not want to rely on the comfort and wealth of his grandparents. He wanted to struggle and make his own money.

When he wanted to start business as an adult, he did not start like somebody from a rich family. He started from the scratch as a small scale trader and from there climbed to the top through hard work, passion and focus. On his way up, he never mixed business with pleasure.

Then, there was scarcity of cement in the country. He saw the vacuum, the need, and decided to go into importation of cement in order to fill the need.

Furthermore, Nigeria being a developing country, he knew that there would always be demand for cement for construction and other purposes, so he decided to go into cement manufacturing to make it cheaper and readily available for those in need of it (sound entrepreneurial decision). The rest, as they say, is history.

Again, the four biggest companies in the world today are known with the acronym FANG, meaning Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Goggle.

Why are they the biggest?

They are into daily needs.

What are the three basic needs of man?

They are food, clothing and shelter. If they are to be four, the fourth would no doubt be transportation

What businesses are Dangote into? Food (rice, sugar, salt, noodles, flour, etc), Shelter (cement), Transportation (petroleum) – all daily needs.

How else do we define an entrepreneur or any wonder why he is one of the world`s richest men?

Even though there is a saying that a prophet is not honoured in his own country, we should learn how to honour our own. Somebody’s achievement must not be undermined just because we know his village or know his brothers and sisters.

Even if the person was your former tenant or once lived in your neighbourhood, you should give him his respect.


Peter Anosike is a well-known journalist and development economist.

His book, Dangote’s Ten Commandments on Money (Lessons on How to Make Money from One of the World’s Richest Men), was rated as one of the best development books in the world by Wall Street Journal and FORBES. The book has been adopted as a workbook for grooming entrepreneurs by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Anosike’s other of his books include, How To Be The Best You Can Be and Look Forward and Lean Less On Your Past – all trending in Smashwords along with Dangote’s Ten Commandment on Money and How To Be The Best You Can Be. You can follow him on Facebook and Linkedin.


Source: News Express

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