2019 TEF application is already on. I feel it necessary to share with you my TEF story, how I failed and succeeded and why.
I learnt about TEF in 2015 through an alumnus so I decided to apply in 2016. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. 2017, I couldn’t finish my application because I was too busy on my business as at then. Tonight I will be sharing with us why I failed in 2016 and how I won in 2018.
Why I failed
1. Lack of Understanding.
As of 2016, I didn’t have a good understanding of my business idea. I knew what I wanted to do and what I want to achieve but I didn’t know how I should go about it so answering TEF questions
The first thing you should do as a rule of thumb before applying for TEF is to make sure you have a good understanding of your business or idea and most importantly How. Many people know what to do but only a few know the how. That’s one of the things that will stand your application out.
You want your brand to become the biggest brand in 5 years, How? You want to solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition, How? I cannot overemphasize the place of understanding you’re ‘How’.
Another thing you should understand is what industry do you belong? What are the current trends in the industry? What is the missing gap and what are you doing to fill that gap.
No business idea is an island; it is part of a system. Identify what system you belong and know what is happening there.
For the sake of TEF application, you should at least be able to answer the following questions
- What problem are you solving?
- How do you want to solve the problem?
- How are you going to get paid for solving the problem?
- How are they solving the problem currently?
- What are you doing differently from the other people that are solving the problem?
The Major things that TEF looks at are the scalability and sustainability of the business idea and if it is solving a real problem. Note that, not all ideas are business ideas and not all business ideas can be executed effectively by everybody.
You may want to be specific and be realistically less ambitious with your estimates.
2. Ill preparation
Another major reason I failed in 2016 was that of my lack of preparation. Actually, I never knew the process was going to be that demanding and hectic so I put little energy, time and resources into it.
A friend just told me this evening that you can never over prepare except you are preparing wrongly. Last year over 150,000 people applied for TEF out of which 1200 were selected.
That means if you must scale through you have to have not just a quality application but an exceptional one. The only way is to take out quality time, energy and resources to prepare very well.
It will pay you to build your business vocabulary. If you come across any terminology you don’t understand, make use of the internet to search it out, look for examples and related materials.
One of the major mistakes I made was to wait until when it was close to the deadline before I started answering my questions. Try as much as possible to overcome that temptation. Avoid the last minutes rush.
3. Little or No Coaching
I can’t overemphasize the place of coaching and mentoring in TEF application. Try and locate someone you trust to help you go through the answers to your questions.
4. No valid business Presence
So many people do not have any existing business or business ideas; they just decided to look for something to apply with because there is “free” money available.
The truth is, if you have not been running your business before now or been actively working on your business idea before now, the chances of getting TEF funds is very slim.
As of 2016, our business idea was still at an infant state, so there were a lot of things we didn’t know.
But just like the founder of Facebook, Mark will say, Ideas don’t come fully formed, you tend to understand and improve as you work on them.
What if I don’t have an existing business now; you can decide to do the following to help you boost your application – Get a website, register your business name with CAC, build a strong online presence with your complete branding etc.
5. Poor Understanding of My Business Financials.
Oh my God. This was my greatest undoing. I knew nothing about break-even revenue, operation and fixed expenses. I didn’t even know how much I needed to start up.
One of the ways to show that you have a Good understanding of your business is the understanding of the financials. As a matter of fact, business is not about storied but about the figures because that is what keeps your business floating.
So depending on the kind of business you are doing, I will strongly advise that you take your time to learn the basic financial analysis. If you cannot do it, you can always ask for help.