Success has many suitors. Markets tend to celebrate only the podium finishes.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the expected geopolitical dances, and posturing, last year saw African startups from across different industries raise more than $4.2 billion.
This, a reported 2.5 multiple of what closed in 2020, as curated by venture builder Maxime Bayen and Max Cuvellier.
It does take sheer hard work, good storytelling, and some traction to raise funds on the continent and kudos to the teams that have broken through.
For a host of others on either the sidelines watching, commentating or operating businesses, these stories, whether of capital raises, acquisitions or markets expanded into makes for inspiring banter, most looking forward to their time to shine.
Use cases citing the journeys of successful entrepreneurs and their teams dot the internet. It is ‘a thing’ to make it into whitepapers, casebooks, and recommended course reads at leading varsities. Several founders and executives find themselves headlining workshops with audiences eager to distill the essence of their success.
The default setting is to try and replicate what those seen as successful have done. The truth is that many others have come along the same path with similar recipes and achieved very different outcomes. As a general community, we frown on failures and setbacks. We make those who suffer this fate feel like pariahs, hiding away and seeking some other safer well-trodden paths as their stories and inherent lessons are relegated to distant memory.
When building an enterprise, base strategy on as much information and data as you can get. With survivorship bias, the focus is on what we think will make us win, but we are blind to the factors that may cause us not to. As we look up to those who seem to have nailed it in the quest for customers, market share, IPO, exit, or any other metric that is revered, spare a moment and seek to get a balanced perspective from what is hidden, buried under failure or sometimes in plain sight.
Invisible moats, networks, alma maters, various pedigrees and advantages, even luck and timing may surface as true differentiators and most conditions may not be replicable in the same way, sequence or intensity.
It will at the very least enable you to look at any opportunity from a more informed position allowing for a better strategy to chart an individualised path to much-coveted success.
Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia