Evidence shows that more than 60,000 years BC, Africans had trade routes all over the world reaching as far as the Americas. The Olmecs of Mexico, along with their great monuments depict what experts believe to be Africans with shared religious similarities that help solidify evidence that suggests Africans were prolific traders and travelers in the ancient world. * As business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders there is a lot we can learn from the wisdom of African Civilization. Here are five African Proverbs you can apply to your own business.
- You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
One of the major errors people make when considering starting a business is overthinking. Many who want to start businesses suffer from a paralysis of analysis, seeking as much information as they can before taking the plunge. While being informed is certainly important, sometimes an over reliance on data and facts is just a stalling tactic for an individual afraid to make mistakes. To be honest, a lot of business owners, entrepreneurs and executives suffer the same fate. If you want to do something you’ve never done before, sometimes, you have to just to do it.
- Do not forget what is to be a sailor because of being a captain yourself. ~ Tanzanian proverb
Many business suffer because they do not remember what it is to be the employee. When companies forget to honor their employees, and treat them well, they put the stability of their company in jeopardy. The famous CBS reality TV program, “Undercover Boss” is a great example of how CEOs, managers, and executives often become disconnected from the day to day work of their employees. Treating your employees with respect, providing proper benefits and rewards as well as feedback and a positive environment will help your sales as much as a new product line.
- In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~Nigerian
Possibly one of the more difficult aspects of business, is the concept of connection. If you want a successful business you will want to create as many connections as you can. The art of networking or creating connections can help you to build your business. Don’t just collect business cards, but keep in contact with the people whose names are on the card. You can have the best product or service offering; you may have the greatest supply chain or even the best innovation in your industry.; but it will not matter if you are not making meaningful connections. It’s going to take work, but its worth it. Learn your market and build as many bridges as you can. Those connections will serve your business good times and in times of crisis.
- What you give you get, ten times over. ~ Yoruba
Many business miss new prosperity and opportunity because they are too busy trying to turn a profit rather than solve a problem. Solving problems and giving back to the community can be the avenue into your next most lucrative market. Good business not only creates profit, it also supports the community. As a business leader, entrepreneur, or owner you need to always support the community from which you came and the community where you conduct business. It is very possible and very necessary to do well in business by doing good.
- When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful. ~Ashanti proverb
Many businesses often try to cut corners; and there is nothing wrong with trying to save money or maximize the funds which you must reinvest into your business. However, there are some areas in which you should not cut corners. It pays to have experts and get expert advice. Yes, if you can afford it, go ahead and pay for it. If you cannot pay for it, try to work out a trade or barter agreement. Either way you want to get good advice and don’t skimp where you really can afford it. You can find safety for your business and investments by getting experts in the field to help you grow.
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* History of the African Olmecs: Black Civilizations of America from Prehistoric Times to the Present Era, Paul Alfred Barton, 2001.
* They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (Journal of African Civilizations), Ivan Van Sertima, 2003.