Win it like Buhari: 5 startup lessons to take away from Nigerian elections

Nigerian president-elect Muhammadu Buhari.

(CNN)March 28 was a historic date in Nigeria's history as it marked the first time the opposition defeated the ruling party in democratic elections in Africa's most populous country and biggest economy.

Muhammadu Buhari, a former military leader who had ruled Nigeria for a 20-month period in the early 1980s, campaigned as a born-again democrat and saw the tide of public opinion turn in his favor.
Here, CNN's African Start-Up examines Buhari's campaign strategy and reveals the key business lessons entrepreneurs can adapt for startup success.

    If at first you don't succeed... keep going

      This wasn't the first time Buhari had run for the highest political office in Nigeria -- in fact, it was his fourth attempt. He could have quit on several occasions, but didn't, and his persistence was rewarded at last month's polls.
      Buhari's endurance and perseverance in the face of setbacks is a key lesson young entrepreneurs can take heed of, says Femi Longe, co-founder and programs director at CcHub, a tech innovation space in Lagos.
      "The reality is that starting a business is everyday slog," explains Longe, who is an expert in social entrepreneurship. "A huge chunk of startups is just surviving to see the next day. You don't know when the big break will come."

      Learn from mistakes and don't be afraid to re-brand

      Another area for entrepreneurs to take into consideration is Buhari's readiness to learn from the previous unsuccessful bids and make changes to the way he communicated his message.
      "He was willing to smile a bit more, was willing to dress in the outfits of the different tribes, he was willing this time to actually campaign extensively across the country to change the image that people had of him," says Longe. "There was a lot of work to make him more presentable."
      Similarly, startups need to be flexible and be able to adapt their campaigns to meed the needs of their target markets. Longe explains: "At the end of the day it's about your customers, it's about your users. And you need to think about how does my business appeal to each of their individual needs and concerns while not losing my core essence."