When asked what his advice would be to a 20-year-old who's fresh out of school and wants to become a journalist and maybe build a media company in the future, Nicolas highlighted thirteen important points.
1. Understand you too can create a business
First, you need to understand that you too can create a business and that journalism is one of the most advantageous professions for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit. Because you can ask questions to everybody and they will answer to you.
2. Travel and meet people
Whenever you get the opportunity to travel or meet new people, you need to take it. You might gain different perspectives, learn new skills or meet somebody that can help with your development.
3. Work harder than your competition
You need to work harder than the rest and be ready to sacrifice a few years of your life. That means working at least 12 hours a day, including weekends, having a healthy lifestyle and committing yourself to your goals.
4. Learn both English and French
You need to go big or go home. Africa is 54 countries, but with just two languages (English and French) you can cover most of the markets. Do not hesitate to take on bigger, well-established companies. 1% of the African toilet paper market is good enough for you to make a lot of money.
5. If you can, do it alone
If you can do it alone, then do it alone. Avoid creating with co-founders, investors and so on. Why would you allow anybody to get involved who might slow you down, contest, or even block your decisions?
6. Learn to reinvest your money
Reinvest all the money you earn in the early years. Your objective is not to buy a Ferrari the moment you can afford it, and then see your company slowly disappear because of a lack of investment. You are building something for the long run. Focus all your efforts on increasing the value of your company. That requires investment and time.
7. Hire talent, not friends or family
Never recruit friends or family. Hire talents. Surround yourself with people who are better than you are at what they do.
8. Learn to pass on knowledge and delegate
Learn to pass on your knowledge and to delegate. A good entrepreneur is the one who can die today without jeopardizing the future of his company. You need to work very hard on making yourself obsolete.
9. Treat your employees right
Understand that the true wealth of your company is your employees. Without them you are nothing. Always pay your employees on time, even if there is nothing left for you.
10. Be flexible
Be flexible, do not hesitate to change the model of your company along the way.
11. Focus on what works
Do not disperse. Focus on what works - even if it’s not exactly what you planned at the beginning.
12. Build a support system
Create an ecosystem of partners and suppliers around your company that will help to reinforce your culture and your message.
13. Know when to launch
Do not fall in love with your service or product. Even if it is not perfectly ready to go to market, launch it now, before a competitor does. You will have the time to refine later. Don’t forget you are here to sell, make money, and change the world.