Growing up in a household where he could pull everything apart – from doorknobs to electronics – Robert Stephens was a troubleshooter early on. In college he earned extra cash by fixing professors’ PCs, founding GeekSquad in his dorm room at the University of Minnesota. At the time Robert was a squad of one, but eight years later he had created a global brand and sold to Best Buy. In this How They Did It interview, Robert shares his entrepreneur success story and secrets for building a service business from scratch.

1. Create a Brand that Gives You Room to Grow. From the start, Robert wanted a generic name that left room for change and growth. If you have your identity tied up in one service, it’s hard to expand without confusing your customers and public.

2. Build a Team of Real Life Superheroes. Robert realized that consumers would always need help dealing with technology. It was a problem that wasn’t going away. He also knew there were fellow geeks – other experts like him – who would relish a career being real life superheroes to average folks needing to have technology problems fixed.

3. Date a Company Before You Sell Out. Many entrepreneurs jump too soon into selling and the result is lots of acquisitions fizzle out. For two years GeekSquad licensed to Best Buy before the ultimate sale. By taking the time to walk down the road together, Robert made sure Geek Squad had found a good home in Best Buy and a place to grow fast and keep the distinctive Geek Squad identity.

4. Play to the Theater of the Mundane. Robert loves boring businesses. Why? They are easier to differentiate. How many traditional businesses still have not come up to speed with today’s technology? From car washes to a simple doorbell – there’s opportunity for entrepreneurs to reach success.

5. Make Your Employees Happy. Customer experience is directly related to employee experience. Put time into tools and apps for your employees to help them be productive. Happy employees = happy customers.

SOURCE: Huffington Post

BBETTERDAILY: A Success Story- Aliko Dangote


Aliko Dangote

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, MFR, GCON (born 10 April 1957, Kano, Nigeria) is a business magnate in Nigeria. who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. The company operates in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia. As of March 2014, he had an estimated net worth of $25 billion USD .

Dangote is ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 23rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa. He surpassed Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi in 2013 by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest black man.

Early life
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a northerner from Kano State, Nigeria, was born on 10 April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. From the time he was young Dangote had an eye on business. He said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [sugar boxes] and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.” He studied business at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt and thereafter returned to Nigeria to borrow from his uncle Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata, who provided him a loan of ₦500,000 (Naira, NGN) when Aliko was 21 years old, in order to start a business.

Business career
The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. At present, Dangote has enlarged his line of businesses to also cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and is a major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. The Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and these include: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Flour, just to mention a few.

In July 2012, Dangote approached the Nigerian Ports Authority with the idea of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was welcomed and approved. He later built facilities for his flour company there. In the 1990s he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses, a proposal which was also approved.

In Nigeria today, Dangote Group with its dominance in the sugar market and refinery business is the main supplier (70% of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Apart from these, Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertiliser. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas. The company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole of West Africa.

Dangote has diversified into telecommunications and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria. As a result, Dangote was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.

He said, “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.”

As far as politics are concerned, Dangote played a very prominent role in the funding of Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election bid in 2003, to which he gave over N200 million (US$2M). He also contributed N50 million (US$0.5M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”. He also contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These highly controversial gifts to members of the ruling Party [PDP] have generated significant concerns despite highly publicised anti-corruption drives during Obasanjo’s second term.

On 23 May 2010, Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that Dangote was interested in buying a 16 percent stake in Premiership side Arsenal belonging to Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith Dangote later denied these rumours.

On 14 November 2011, Dangote was awarded Nigeria’s second highest honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan.

Dangote reportedly added $9.2 billion to his personal wealth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg Index, now making him the 30th richest person in the world in their ranking, in addition to being the richest person in Africa.

In 2014, the Nigerian government said Dangote had donated 150 million Naira (921376.50 US Dollar) to halt the spread of ebola.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia