Goalsetting masterclass: a keynote address from a street beggar

Attracting buyers with compelling cover and in-text designs
Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” –Les Brown

Yaw and I were famished after a long day’s activity. We had closed from Church. I visited his church, not as a guest minister and they were not running a ‘special service’. I was delighted to honor his invitation to worship with him at the head office of his Church in Kasoa.

After the service, we used the opportunity to say hi to a friend and client whose church was nearby-we missed the route a few times. The lady on Google maps had obviously not had a good day. Perhaps she was a Pastor whose choir had ‘shii’ the song. Possibly the reason she kept re-rerouting us making us move in circles as if to give us the nostalgic sentiment of revolving or rather rotating on ‘Mary go round’ during our childhood.

We made a stop at a khebab vendor, just when we specified we will do two sticks of goat meat, we observed a neat restaurant close to him. Respectfully, we asked that he suspends grilling the four chopped pieces of goat meat on his grill. It certainly would not have sufficed us! We moved to the vendor; Yaw quickly noticed that the price of a plate of rice was twice as much as what we paid at our ‘base’. We decided to buy anyway. We thought that it should be worth its price. I observed that the owner had situated the business at a strategic location; only a road and several coconut sellers separated it from the Westhills mall.

Not long into our rice dish, a gentleman approached our table and asked that we will be kind to him. I could not assist so asked that he speaks with my friend Yaw. The man requested that Yaw gives him an amount of 10 cedis to buy lunch. Yaw agreed but said he could only do 3 cedis. The man negotiated; it was probably at this point I got intrigued. Yaw raised his voice gently and asked the woman to serve him kenkey or rice for 3gh, the man was not happy about this.

He equally raised his voice and countered the order by instructing the woman to add fish. Eish! All other persons seated and enjoying their meal were now catching a delightful glimpse of the drama. It went on for some time as the man kept exchanging words with Yaw and asking him to make the money 10 cedis or just buy fish in addition to the meal.

I extracted five critical goalsetting strategies from the keynote address delivered by this street beggar.

  1. Definition

Knowing exactly what you want is the first step to achieving it. The beggar was specific in his request. He had defined the amount he wanted. It was unambiguous; it was clear to him. He wanted GH¢10. Imagine this beggar as a businessperson who is clear on his goals or dreams and approaches an investor. The clarity with which you will share your ideas with them makes them appreciate that you have placed some thinking into your project. As a businessperson, your market should not struggle to understand what product or service you make available for them. Your publicity materials should not be confusing. We can learn from this beggar to bring clarity to our marketing posts, our pitches and presentations.

Define clearly who your target audience are; you are not selling to everyone. Not everyone buys a Ferrari, many drive Matiz. Define what niche services you provide; don’t say you do everything when you do not. Some media houses do radio, others, television yet some specialize in print or social media. Be clear on what you do, makes it easy for everyone to relate with and patronize your business.

  1. Scan

I am not certain for which reason the beggar selected our table and settled on us. Perhaps when he calculated his expenses needed to achieve his business goal, he noticed that it was almost impossible for him to attain it alone; he needed partners. I could imagine that he scanned the geography and concluded that persons within the environs of the mall could have some extras to spend. Is it possible that when he entered the restaurant, he carefully looked at all the people and was comfortable with our posturing and countenance as such decided to present his pitch to us?

It is important to appreciate the role of people and partners in achieving your goal. The one-man show has proven not to deliver the best of results. People may hurt you, deceive you and be disloyal at times, yes. But a good hire can guide you to have the right set of talents to work with. Scan through your contact list for prospects to who you can sell your products. Scan for opportunities within your industry. Like the beggar, you need to partner with others to achieve your goal.

  1. Dot product

In my book ‘It is up to you’. I used the phrase ‘dot product’ to highlight the importance of small beginnings. Little drops are said to make mighty oceans. For the home I grew up in, each time it rains it was not uncommon to see buckets decorating the entrances and porches of neighbors. The buckets were used to collect drops of water being distilled from the roofs or ceilings of the buildings. Sometimes depending on the heaviness of the rain, the droplets are just slightly bigger than a dot or a full stop. After a while, we empty the buckets as the several drops fill them to the brim.

If this beggar was willing to start small, perhaps he could have had many people to achieve his goal. That is the usual strategy adopted by beggars on the road, so I was a little startled to observe that this man was fixated on his price. ‘Ketowaa bia nswa’, to wit, no amount is too small. This brand tagline or promise has been adopted, used and proven to be effective by several beggars. Their willingness to accept small amounts encourages many to freely give to them.

When you break your goal into chunks, what you do is to make it possible to achieve them gradually. You as well allow others to support you in their capacity. It is important that as millennial entrepreneurs we appreciate the beauty of small beginnings. We should not be swayed by the lavish lifestyles of some businesspersons who have paid their dues for many years. Start small, start with what you have. Start with what you get; not everyone will give you 10 cedis, some will give you GH¢1 others GH¢3. The value is in the sum or product of the dots.

  1. Odds

One exciting observation I made on this beggar is his resolve not to give up. He was unmoved by onlookers and gave a tough time to the waiters who attempted to drive him out. He will not lower his voice in making his request, despite the number of times he was asked to. He interpreted ‘no’ as keep on, try one more time, and or make another attempt.

In business pursuit, not many will agree with your ideas. You will find some persons that will make a mockery of your business. The important thing is to keep innovating. Each day reignite yourself. You will find many who will desert you, not think your idea is good enough. Many will not perceive the future you see for yourself.

When such happens just know that you are in the company of Jack Ma, Prince Kofi Amoabeng, Ellen Hagan, Henry Ford, JK Rowling and you name it ! Who knew that a porridge business could dominate Ghana and become a household brand? Business and leadership could be lonely, but maintain your focus and keep pushing through.

About a decade ago, Mr. Albert Osei took it upon himself to revolutionize the traditional food beverage industry. He introduced amazing packaging among others to the regular cereal breakfast Ghanaians will purchase and consume in the mornings especially. In his rendition, he expresses how family and friends could not come to terms with him as he shunned all mouth-watering offers from banks and other companies across the country after he graduated from school.

One could only imagine how Mr. Osei felt alone many times. Nevertheless, he kept at his goal of making it easy for professionals especially to purchase the same ‘koko’ that everyone drinks but this time, in more auspicious packaging. Today Koko king serves several regions in Ghana, he provides meals for airlines and catering services for small and large events. He studied the market, identified a need, designed a product to be a solution and kept at it defying all odds.

  1. Hibernate

The beggar did not get the 10 cedis as he wanted despite his persistence. Sometimes amidst your pursuance, you will be encumbered with many challenges and find yourself frustrated in achieving your goals. Arguably the king of dancehall in Africa, Shatta Wale emerged on the music scene with the stage name ‘Bandana’ for many years he persisted through but could not see himself topping the charts back-to-back as he could envision in his dream. He carved a strategy; he gave up music.

For many years, Ghanaians did not see the man born in the ‘Shatta City’ on the music scene. Then hitmaker for ‘Ice cream’ went on hibernation to study and perfect himself to be the ‘my level’ hitmaker. To position your dream to a deserving level, it is important to invest in yourself. Study; go to school if you can. Take on a new course. Sign up for some programs online. Learn a new local or foreign language where necessary. It is okay to take a break to train and prepare for the next level. Bandana did not give up, he studied more Jamaican patois, dancehall and bounced back as Shatta Wale to dominate the market.

>>>the writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghostwriter assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via: [email protected]


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