Downsize your dreams to fit your reality – Sahara Energy CEO


Nigerian billionaire and Sahara Energy CEO Tonye Cole has inspired wanna-be entrepreneurs noting that although it is important to dream big, it is even more crucial to start small.

“Bring it [idea] down to size”, advised the CEO who has racked up 19 years in an oil and gas business that exists in 20 countries and employs 656 people.

Relating this advice to his beginnings, Tonye said he used the things around him to start his business along with two other friends.

Start small
A further reason why, you should downsize your dreams to fit your reality, he said, was that no bank will be willing to finance big ideas – only proven ones.

“Once you have proved it….then they will be able to give you a bit more money”, he said revealing the mentality of financing institutions.

His advice on the Friday’s edition of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, formed part of three principles for making a business idea, a reality.

According to him, any entrepreneur must understand that nobody can be more passionate about his idea more than himself.

“You can only really really be confident about what you know. It is your idea. They cannot really know about your idea more than you do”, he explained.

Self-confidence is key, the simple man with a shrewd mind insisted.

An interesting point he made was that “any [investor] will judge your confidence before they judge your idea”.

The final guest on Joy FM’s week-long series on entrepreneurship also pointed out the value of relationships in building strong businesses.

“For goodness sake be careful about your relationships”, he pleaded.

This notwithstanding, a business he said can still fail. Despite managing a conglomerate along with two other partners, Tonye noted “we have our scars”.

“There are certain businesses that we have gone into that was abject failures”, he recalled a venture into ball bearings that went bad.

But they moved on and so should anyone else who wants to make it big.

There is no need to “cry” and “hold pity parties”, he said.

Sahara Energy now has a business subsidiary in oil-producing Ghana. “We are here to stay”, revealed the man who flew a private jet into the country purposely for Joy FM’s Super Morning Show.

He has noticed a change in the thinking fabric of Ghanaians and it is exciting, he observed.

14 years ago while he was in Ghana, he noted that Ghanaians were a “process-driven” people who “take everything easy” – unlike Nigerians. There is now some aggression to be entrepreneurial.

Some tribes and cultures are naturally entrepreneurial, he joined an age-old debate on whether the money-making skill was acquired or natural.

Nonetheless, people could still learn the trait by observing the gifted, he believed, noting this is what he sees happening in Ghana.

It isn’t really surprising, he noted because in the end, whether a Nigerian man, a Ghanaian and African, we all posses the same mind that creates and thinks.

“We are all cut from the same cloth”, he baritoned.

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Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]

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