Zambian Super Businesswoman ‘Monica Musonda’ Shares Five Lessons She Learnt In Business.
Zambian ‘Super Businesswoman’ Monica Musonda is the founder of Java Foods, and producer of the eeZee instant noodles brand. In a recent webcast, organized by The Tony Elumelu Foundation, she shared some of the lessons she has learnt in business. Below are the main takeaways.
- Give consumers what they want
It is important to have a clear understanding of what consumers want and how much they are willing to pay for a product. Introducing completely new concepts can be risky business. “Ultimately we could have great innovations, but if no one is willing to pay for it, it is not really a great idea,” said Musonda.
- Start small – business is a marathon, not a sprint.
It is highly unlikely any business will make money from the get-go. Entrepreneurs therefore need to ensure they have enough cash reserves to keep going through the initial stages.
- Learn by doing.
Many African countries suffer from the lack of reliable market data. And in cases where data is available it is often expensive.
“I think you have got to learn by doing. You may not have all the answers, you may not know the size of the market, and you may not know how much the competition is selling. But if you get into the business, do your initial groundwork as much as you can – but get in there and then start gathering your own data,” said Musonda.
- First focus on the domestic market
Before targeting international markets, Musonda said entrepreneurs should first focus on establishing the business in their home country.
“Let people know your product in your home market – it has to have a home, it has to be from somewhere – before you start spreading yourself too thin [by] exporting.
- The right time to start a business? The earlier the better
Before starting Java Foods in 2011, Musonda had a long corporate career. She worked with one of Africa’s richest men, Aliko Dangote, as director of legal corporate affairs at Dangote Group.
But she believes aspiring entrepreneurs should take the plunge sooner rather than later. “I would have loved to have been younger and have fewer commitments… At this stage to fail is a lot more painful than if I failed at 20 or 25 or 30, for instance. I think it is a lot harder when you’re older, you have more commitments… I think there is never a perfect scenario for you to start a business – but I think if you are going to take the leap, the earlier the better.”