Plan ahead with wisdom and vision.

A few days ago, one of you here wrote a message to another member on this platform who had fallen on tough times but was working to rise again: “At every turn on the road, a new stretch of the road begins. Don’t stop at the bend. Go round the bend (the problems and issues). On turning, you will see a new stretch of the highway (openings, opportunities and new vistas). May God perfect your healing and sharpen your focus. Happy New Year 2019.”

I love it when I see you supporting each other on this platform. This is an important message for everyone! Thank you to Jonathan from Nigeria.

Now during the last week, you saw how easily a crisis or challenge can emerge in a business or even your personal life. Quite often it is not of your own making, and it just comes and “boom!” You are in a dispute with someone, or another organization. In business, disputes occur mostly with business partners, suppliers, or even customers.

There are also times when something controversial occurs involving you, the business, or one of your products or services. Sometimes as often happens these days, it is an article in a newspaper, or even something someone says on social media.

There is no “one size fits all” response I can advise you on. I can just give you some guiding principles, again based on my own personal experiences, and not that of others:

#1. Keep a cool head.
#2. Think fast.
#3. Don’t be rash.
#4. Assess the situation constantly, with professional advisors.
#5. Act appropriately.
#6. Stay truthful and ethical at all times.
#7. Never be driven by anger or the need for vengeance.
#8. Do what is in the best interests of the business.
#9. Act lawfully.
#10. Have humility at all times. Clothe yourself in it.

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I believe most items are self-explanatory. You can use this and checklist from other experienced entrepreneurs.

Today I want to talk about #9. If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur, you will likely have disputes at one time or other.

In any crisis whatsoever, you must always talk to the lawyers first. Big companies like ours have armies of in-house lawyers (we could have as many as 25 across the group, which is nothing compared to the global giants). We also work with lawyers who are specialists in litigation, because our own lawyers deal primarily with business matters.

In your case, it is important to have access to a lawyer that you call “my lawyer.” (Ideally, it should be someone who is a specialist in corporate rather than criminal law).

# A good lawyer keeps you out of court, and not in court.

# The best lawyers are those who say, “Let’s try and talk to them.”

# A good lawyer must give you the right counsel, including things you don’t want to hear, such as: “We are going to be given a lashing if it gets to court. Allow me to try and settle this.”

# A good lawyer is a winner! If the fight heads to court, he or she will be ready. You never, ever want to mess with our own Beatrice Mtetwa or Adrian de Bourbon. Our Nigerian lawyer Prof Alfred Kasunmu in Nigeria is one of the best in the world.

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As I wrote last week: “The road to success is always under construction…” When your business idea becomes a business, then grows, or when disputes arise, you must be sure to have a credible lawyer to advise you. Choose carefully! (By the way I used “lawyer” here as a general term for legal counsel. Depending on your situation, it may be an “advocate” you need. Senior class can help explain the difference if you don’t know).

Now the New Year is nearly a week old, and it is time for we entrepreneurs to keep our eyes on the road…!

In last week’s post, I talked about #decision, #dedication, #discipline, and also #goal-setting.

__Is your written list of goals somewhere safe so next New Year you can share your progress? If not, get moving!

I will close by reposting a favorite quote by Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr that I have shared here before:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Selah.

May we recommit ourselves, whatever country we are in, and whatever our differences may be, to the greater vision of how we can work together to do what must be done to help improve the lives and livelihoods of people across our continent…

Now let us sharpen our focus and get back to business!

To be continued. . .

Image caption: African fish eagle looking across the Zambezi.

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