When I first decided to move to Ghana, I knew I would have to become an entrepreneur to make a living. After 23 jobs in various industries, I have learned that I don’t have the temperament or patience to be an employee. The only challenge was figuring out what I was going to do. Understanding your market is the main element to any successful business and admittedly, I knew nothing about the Ghanaian market. Fortunately for me though, I received a cheat sheet that profiled various sectors of the Ghanaian economy, the growth in each sector and opportunities already isolated by the government of Ghana.
After some reading, I came up with my golden idea— sell phone rentals to tourists. Although it may sound funny to some, it makes perfect sense.
Telecommunication agencies have not brokered deals with West African telecommunication agencies; therefore, the cost of making and receiving a call in Africa costs more than you bargained for. Not to mention, there is no competition in the market and, hey, that is a good thing.
Now as a child, my father always told my sisters and me, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” As a result, I knew a good business plan was essential to my success. For six months, I planned, conducted marketing research and developed a feasible business model. I spent time crafting a user-friendly website: ghanacellphonerentals.com, and built strategic partnerships that would help enhance the business.
So when my business launched last week, I had no choice but to be excited. The launch of the company started like most small companies, with just one sale. However, it was still enough for me to be optimistic about the potential of my future cell phone rental empire. Unfortunately, it didn’t go off as smoothly as I expected.
In life, I have learned that sometimes we take the small things for granted.
Oftentimes, we feel that if something is not as grand as expected, the same
effort is not necessary to make it successful. I must admit, although I was excited about this one sale, I didn’t put in the same effort as I would have for a big sale. I failed to implement the checks and balances that were crucial to the success of the business, and as a result, my first client ended up not being a client at all.
I was a little nervous that I had missed the young lady when I arrived at the airport. Accra traffic is brutal and her plane had landed early so I was unsure if she had already passed through customs and out the airport door. But after waiting patiently for 20 minutes, she finally emerged from the customs corridor. We quickly located each other; I gave her a tutorial of the phone, collected my money and left the airport feeling like a champion.
Imagine my shock when she called a few minutes later to tell me the phone didn’t work. I rushed to meet her and soon realized that I had been misinformed about the registration of the chip. Contrary to what I was told, the chip did in fact have to be registered in order for it to work. A step in the original business plan, I had failed to follow. So I handed her back her money and walked dejectedly back to the airport to wait on my driver. The lesson learned— although it may be okay to stray from the plan you have for life, it is crucial to follow the plan you have for business.
Cordie Aziz is a former congressional staffer who moved to Ghana after losing her job in January 2011. Follow her daily adventures at goneiighana.blogspot.com.