The 5 most useful things I learnt during my time at university, that I use running my own business.

That beautiful lady you see in the picture there is me. I like to toot my own horn, because if I don’t know how to show myself love, no one will know to follow suite haha.. I digress..

My name is Tanaka Adeyemo and I am the founder of Rudorwaishe Ltd which is named after my beautiful little girl (also in the picture). We provide tools to help families of the African diaspora teach the languages of their heritage to the younger generation. We currently have flashcards available in six African languages which you can check out on our site here, and I am working on adding more languages this year.

The business has a charitable side to it and donates 10% to a charity I will be involved in. My hope is that this will increase to 50% over time as we grow. The Charity I am currently working on building with two other women will focus on supporting orphaned and/or abandoned children in Zimbabwe particularly because of the AIDS pandemic. We have acquired 20 acres of land and we are gearing up to launch a massive fundraising campaign to build a large-scale orphanage on that land. It’s massive, it’s scary as anything but it’s all very important work.

My time at university seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. There are a few seeds that were planted while I was there that I now spend a lot of time nurturing and building into the work I do, and I wanted to share those with you all. There are 5 super useful things I learnt in university that I now make use in my day to day when it comes to my business and life in general. Of course, this is not everything I learnt but it’s what sticks out for me and I’m just going to run through them in no particular order…

1.Planning

As you can imagine this one is pretty important. I am a mother now so planning is something I do in my sleep but when it comes to business there needs to be a deeper level of planning that happens even prior to initiation. A business plan (although not always necessary) is something that I found can be useful in planning your business. I’m going to keep it real with you, I didn’t put a business plan together when it came to my business (and I still haven’t) but I planned ahead as much as I possibly could. I completed the research I needed in order to know whether or not my business was even viable. I then went ahead and looked at all aspects of my business in as much detail as I could at the time and put pen to paper, wrote down as much as I could about the marketing strategy, pricing model, start-up costs, design work etc – you get the drift. There will always be a lot you learn from just doing but planning is key to having a successful start to any business. You cannot jump in blind and expect to make a million pounds in your first year. Similarly, with the charity a lot of planning has been going on even prior to us setting up officially and has been so key in understanding exactly what we are about to dive into. It’s the reason I can say it’s a massive and also extremely scary project we are taking on!

2. Networking

Ever heard that saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” or even “your network is your net worth”? Yeah! That all starts in university (or way before for some people). There are so many people that I met in my time at university that I now work with, am close friends with and one that is Godfather to my daughter. Learning to network is so key and using university as your learning ground is something I would highly recommend. Build that networking muscle from early and regularly work on it because that will serve you so well when you leave university. I always saw myself as someone who was shy when I was at university. Talking to people wasn’t always something I found easy (still don’t), but I did and do push myself. Honestly speaking, if I were to redo my time in university this is definitely something I would do more of, so I 1000% encourage you to get out there (virtually for most at the moment of course) and get to ‘met’ a whole lot of different people however that may be.

3. Authenticity

There is no one that will ever be better at being you than you are! It is so important to remember to be yourself and do what feels right to you even in business. I have really learnt the importance of this during the time I have been running Rudorwaishe. People will do things differently and may seem to be more successful than you, but you have to ‘stay in your lane’ and remember what makes you, you. That will shine through in your business and in life. You will thrive a lot more because things will come naturally. Of course you can gain inspiration from a variety of sources but that does not mean you should copy and paste.

I always describe myself as someone who is HOT… Honest, Open, Transparent… and I constantly try to remind myself of this in all that I do. University can be very confusing and can be a place where you are still trying to find your feet and so it’s difficult to always be open and transparent (or at least I found it was). All I would say is, as long as you are being honest with yourself and those around you then that’s a good start. My advice? Learn about yourself and all the amazing (and not so amazing) things that make up who you are. This will serve you well in life after university, whether you decide to start your own business or not.

4. A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, simply put, is the belief that you can develop and improve your basic abilities through hard work, discipline, and dedication. Without it you do not put in the work you need to in order to progress and you remain stuck. Having a growth mindset means you are more likely to take risks and you welcome challenges as they are an opportunity to learn and develop. As a result, you are always trying new things, building new skills and experiencing a lot more due to not having that ‘fear of making mistakes’ that occurs when you have a fixed mindset.

I have not always had a growth mindset although it always ‘called out to me’ so to speak. Getting to where I am today in relation to my mindset has required (and still does require) me putting in a lot of work to change my thinking and be more ‘can do’ rather than ‘it’s not possible’. I used to be the one who would find every excuse not to do something all because of fear and it stopped me from going for the things I wanted. I decided to spend time developing myself because I wanted more. This all started for me in university when I met some amazing people who really showed me what a growth mindset was – without knowing they were doing so may I add – and how it can be a great benefit.

Your mindset is the difference between success and failure in anything. If you want to do better, then you must be better, and it all starts with your mind. Be Positive.


5. Mental Health Awareness

This is something that not a lot of people know about, but when I was in university I really struggled with my mental health. A lot of past trauma came back up while I was in university and I went through some really difficult moments for one reason or another. I went through so many emotions and drank a little bit too much (here’s me being honest, maybe a little too much) and so I turned to the services that Uni offered and saw a counsellor. I will tell you now, that was the most painful and annoying first experience of therapy but, it was there that I realised I suffered from depression and anxiety and there was a lot of mental health work I needed to do to get myself better.

Now being of African heritage, talking about mental health is not something that is common and used to be something of a taboo subject (still is in some communities), so there was a lot of learning I had to do around mental health.

I started my business during a pandemic, my husband was shot four months after I officially launched in a freak incident (he’s doing okay now thankfully), I had a mental breakdown, got myself back together and somehow still managed to keep the business going. Those seeds that were planted during my time at university with that counsellor, the relationships I cultivated through networking, the planning ahead that I did for my business which I learnt about in university, the mindset I have been working on since university, all of it served me so well in one of my most challenging moments in life and in business to date.

There is a lot that goes into starting up and running your own business. There is the theory that you get taught in your course which is what helps you get started and there is also the lived experience you get from your time at university that helps strengthen who you are as a person. All of it is part of your success story. So I guess what I am trying to say in a long winded way is, make the absolute most of your university experience however it may look at this moment and take every opportunity given to you! Utilise the university resources (heck, max them out if you have to) and get to know the people that can help you be great.

Putting that work in while you are at university will only serve you well in the future and it may not even be in the ways that you think.

One last thing from me.. I know the business name can be a bit of a tongue twister but it’s important to me that people learn it, it is my daughter’s Zimbabwean name after all. So check out the image and let that R in the middle just rrrroll off your tongue 😊!

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