Entrepreneurship: Top 10 Rules That Have Worked For Aliko Dangote


“The youth of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It is not going to work,” Aliko Dangote cautions.

Every high ranking entrepreneur has a list of things that have enabled them acquire so much wealth and be able to retain it. These successful men are a source of inspiration and motivation to upcoming entrepreneurs as well as those on the journey to success.

Success is never complete. It a continuous journey. Every milestone marks the beginning of another.

It is because of this continuous advancement of goals after the achievement of previous ones that has made Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote the African billionaire. He owns the Dangote Group which is interested in commodities.

Dangote sums his successful journey in this quote: “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. The youth of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It is not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, the tenacity of purpose is supreme.”

In the February issue of Forbes Africa, Dangote had an estimated net worth of $16.4 billion, with companies in Nigeria and in other countries in Africa.






Founded in 1981, the group has managed to keep up the pace in competition to emerge as the largest conglomerate in Nigeria and one of the largest in the African region.

So, what is the secret behind Dangote’s success and how has he managed to keep on top of the game for over three decades?

Here are ten rules that he says have helped him in the entrepreneurship journey.

(i) Be a Listener

For one to be a good leader, Dangote says having good listening skills is a great value. One has to be ready to listen to people and the advice they offer.

He notes that success is not entirely about what you tell people to do, but also what you allow them to tell you and work as a team. “There is no way you can make it as a person, without a good team,” he adds.

Larry King said: “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

(ii) Be consistent

Every successful man will tell you that they had to do something over and over again until they succeeded. Dangote notes that every business has its own challenges. These hiccups he says should not deter one from pursuing their goals.

“There must be challenges. In fact, what I keep saying is that life without challenges is very boring.” He advises entrepreneurs to find ways to work around the challenges.

“What business doesn’t like is for you to try something and then once you have one or two problems, you change and move to another business. That does not work in business at all.”

(iii) Have a vison

A vision directs an entrepreneur’s direction. It helps them lay out strategies and set aside the required resources to achieve the set goals.

“If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive,” he says.

Over the years, Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills. Additionally, it has become a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertilizer. The company provides employment to over 11,000 people.





(iv) Possess the right information

Information is wealth. People who have succeeded in life have exploited information and developed it into a venture that solves people’s needs in the society.

According to the African billionaire, an entrepreneur needs to have a lot of information at the fingertips in order to make sound decisions.

“What I was doing five years ago, if I try to do them without the automation that we have today, it just not going to happen at all,” Dangote notes.

(v) Be focused and dedicated

“The problem with some of our younger generation today, they just want to jump and see themselves up there overnight. It doesn’t really happen,” cautions Dangote adding that as a person engaging in a venture, one needs to be focused and dedicated to pursuing their goals without ceasing.

He adds that a businessperson needs to take a job or a business as a hobby as this will push them to do it better.

Today, Dangote Group specializes in the sugar market with the refinery business being the main supplier- about 70% of the market- to the country’s soft drinks companies, confectioners, and breweries.

(vi) Think ahead

The business world is dynamic and one has to be up to date with the latest information and technologies to drive the venture.

What was good yesterday, might not be so today. Ideas should be changed to fit the dynamism in the market.

He calls on entrepreneurs to diversify their businesses in order to meet the demands of the modern customer.

Dangote is quick to point that even with diversification, one needs to be cautious so that they do not over-expand which then becomes a crisis rather than an opportunity.

(vii) Do only the things you understand

When you engage in things that you understand, you are more likely to succeed in them.

John Rupert, a South African businessman and chairman of the Swiss-based luxury-goods company Richemont as well as of the South Africa-based company Remgro says: “as you start out in life, it is important that you know at least something about everything, but as you get older it is important that you know everything about something.”






Endeavor to learn something about the venture you are pursuing. If it calls for enrolling for a short course, by all means do that to drive your business forward.

“Any business that I don’t understand it well, I don’t do it at all,” says Dangote attributing this to their success.

(viii) Think big

Boldness is an attribute that every entrepreneur should have.

Boldness comes with taking calculated risks in order to grow the business.

“And you have to think big. If you think small, you will always remain small in life,” Dangote says.

(ix) Be strategic

At no single point should you make a decision without strategizing on how it is going to affect the company.

An entrepreneur should draw up a plan for the future. A strategic plan gives an individual and the business a sense of direction.

(x) Your name is your most valuable asset

“If you want to be the next Dangote, you have to have a very big heart, take a lot of calculated risks and make sure you are honest,” the African billionaire advices adding that a good name is the most valuable asset that one can have.

A good name according to Dangote helps one get access to finance from banks and other institutions. He calls for entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and seek to achieve what they put their hearts into.

These are just a few tips on how to succeed as an entrepreneur.

What are some of the rules that have worked for you or your contacts? Please share them with us.


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