Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia Shares The Traps, Tricks & Insights Of Being A Successful Legal Entrepreneur With Derek Laryea

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Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia is an entrepreneur, legal and business advisor who is focused on foreign direct investment into Africa. He is a lawyer, chairman and partner at new generation law firm, Keystone Solicitors. He has over 15 years advising on investment in Africa and has collected several accolades along the way. He is professor of practice to Buckingham’s faculty of Business, Humanities and Social Science.

In partnership with the 360 marketing communications agency, EchoHouse Ghana Limited and Dotcom Design Studio, Derek Laryea hosted another edition of his talk series with the Professor; Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia serving as his guest. Prof Kuenyehia wrote the first Ghanaian book on entrepreneurship where he explored many things including how employees can exhibit entrepreneurial abilities at their place of work. These are some of the insights that the professor shared during the interview.

Talking About The Arts

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia had a mental breakdown at a point in his adult life and he spent a lot of time at home recovering. He felt that the art at home helped him in his healing. That’s when he developed an affinity for art. Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia also became a patron of the arts. There’s one artist whose work he bought 15 of, but that artist stopped painting because he couldn’t survive off of one customer. That’s one of the reasons for the founding of the Kuenyehia Prize. The prize picks an artist from entrants and they get a monetary reward. However, the prize also tries to help artists stand on their own feet. The artists are sent to the Joberg Art Fair.

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia works to ensure that artists can still continue to paint and dedicate themselves to their craft. Ghanaians are artistically talented but we don’t patronize art. That’s why there’s also a foundation to support African artists. According to Elikem, the main goal is to affect policy around art but of course, the best way to eat an elephant is one piece at a time. The programs that they’ve currently started with are the Kuenyehia Prize and a creative accelerator that teaches everything from how to build a gallery, to legal and accounting for artists among others.

How Does One Go About Quitting A Full Time Job

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia is a marketer at heart. He was in business school and did marketing there and then continued to work in that same field. He liked the job but he felt that he was the wrong fit for the culture so he eventually had to quit the job because he knew that he wasn’t going to make the progress that he wanted there.

According to him, passion doesn’t pay the bills but it’s still relevant because you have to wake up and be excited about what you’re going to be doing everyday. He also thinks an important concept for any career professional is FU money; which is basically 6 months to 1 year of savings in the bank so that at any point in time you can just get up and quit your job. When Elikem left his own job, he didn’t have the FU money but he still walked away. “It was almost foolhardy”.

Talent Is The Lifeblood Of Any Business

Talent is the lifeblood of a business. It’s really about talent; whether it’s a restaurant or any other type of business. What he does at Oxford & Beaumont Solicitors he believes he could never do by himself. Elikem believes in leadership by debate. He gathers the smartest people and then listens to them in order to from strategy. According to him, when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a vision bearer and you’re a salesman, you have to sell your vision to your new hires to get them on board.

Entrepreneurship Is A Talent That Some People Inherently Have

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia used to sell cards in Achimota SHS. He has always been an entrepreneur. In fact, even in the university he started a business show. In his own words, he has always been someone who looks for the opportunities wherever they present themselves.

Learn What Your Blind Spots Are If You Want To Survive As An Entrepreneur

First of all, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur then you need to be aware of what your blind spots are. You need to do a lot of introspection. At every point, you need to be aware of what your blind spots and your strengths are. In Elikem’s case, when he started he didn’t know the law landscape in Ghana and so he hired someone who could fill that gap for him (someone who knew the system here). He was also very impatient and intolerant so he selected someone who had a personality that could complement his. He also used peer mentors (mentors of the same age), senior mentors and reverse mentors (mentors who are younger than he is).

The Future Of Legal Practice In Ghana

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia thinks that the future of legal practice is going to become automation. He has worked in a firm that invested in AI and that’s shaped this opinion. According to him, lawyers will be producing less documents, and will need to start working to provide more value to the clients that they represent. Lawyers will need to start thinking about a future where AI is leading the conversation.

Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia Believes That You Can Make Money Anywhere

You can make money pretty much anywhere as long as you understand the dynamics of the industry and you have a value proposition. People are making money selling needles to recycling and hospitality companies. Beyond following the money, which most people already are, you should start a business because you’re obsessed about solving a problem. Identify people’s needs and you’re on the path to making some money.

Exercise Caution When It Comes To Securing Funds

If you’re a start-up trying to secure funds, that’s fantastic. However some caution is required. Investors are not charities. Make sure you have good lawyers and good accountants to ensure that someone you trust is looking at the valuation and making sure that you’re getting the best deal possible. In addition, it’s important to put some work into building structures and systems to give a sense of credibility to investors.

Managing Your Side Hustle

If you have a side gig in the same industry as your full-time job then that’s unethical. However, if it’s a completely different industry then it’s just a matter of time management. You will have to burn the candle at both ends. Otherwise having partners for side gigs helps. And you have to make sure that you give your employer their due. After all, the bible says give what’s Caesar’s to Caesar.

Source: EchoHouse Ghana Limited


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