VENTURES AFRICA – Entrepreneurship is great; it gives you the freedom to create something you truly care about instead of working sheepishly for a company you care nothing for, it gives you the ability to create a part of history and affect the world the way you desire to; it gives you control over your time and your financial future. All these are admirable and great but despite all the obvious benefits of starting your business, some people will never do it even if they can and should.
You are waiting for a great idea
This is the most common excuse people have for not starting a business; they are waiting for the next big thing. You have thought about doing other things but someone else is already doing it and you definitely don’t want to be a part of the general stuff and status quo (and you totally shouldn’t). It would amaze you to know that most of the great businesses we see now have had an evolution of ideas; most of them have either had to change, modify or add to their original ideas. A few companies started without ideas all they wanted to do was take charge of their lives and make something worth using. Bill Hewlett and David Packard became friends in 1934, started work in 1938 with no specific idea just $538 and a used drill press, they didn’t invent their first product till 1939 and it was a resistance-capacity audio oscillator and not the great laptops they are known for now. Nigeria is one of the best places to start a business for many reasons of which the most important is our population; we are 173.6 million people in this country, do you really think no one wants what you have to offer even if it is an innovation of an already existing product? Entrepreneurs learn to be optimistic, get rid of scarcity mentalities, conduct research and act. If only 10 percent of Nigerians bought your product or service which costs N10 per month, do you know how much that will make?
Innovate! It doesn’t matter if your idea is a variation of what someone is already doing. It makes for healthy competition and the market is large enough to contain you too, you just have to be really good and willing to work hard.
An idea is just 10 percent of what is involved in starting up a successful business.
You are waiting for the right time
Timing is Key; especially in business. Launching a Christmas company in January might not be the wisest thing to do (except you have some out of this world strategy). Yes, it good for us to wait for the right time but for how long are you going to wait? You waited till you finished from the university (we wouldn’t want you to be a drop out now would we?), now you are waiting till you get enough work experience (and we should agree that 1 years isn’t enough), you would soon get married and then wait till the children grow up (you need a stable income to build a home) and then what? It is never the right time to do anything that is of any value, you just have to make the decision, make plans after carrying out adequate research and jump in; that’s what entrepreneurship is all about- taking an idea you have and working on it with limited resources available to you with the hope of making some form of return.
Stop waiting today, decide and start planning. You don’t have to quit your job immediately but let there be a gradual shift in your mind set, start saving for when you finally quit, and begin working immediately on developing your idea.
Today is always the best time to start!
You are waiting for the economy and the general situation of the country to improve
Yes, the naira is devalued and this is and can substantially affect our economy. Some of us feel this more heavily than others while some of us just hide behind the fact that people will not be as eager to part with their money at this time. True as it is that a large majority of us like the freemuim model a.k.a Awoof, if you build a product that’s worth it people will willingly give you their money irrespective of the economic situation. No one can guarantee the naira increasing in value anytime soon, while this is sad, it shouldn’t push us to sit on our hands doing nothing. Microsoft, FedEx, General Electric, Revlon Cosmetics and some others started during a recession; Sony started in the wake of World War II. A country’s economy is beefed up many factors including the value of its industries; there is no better time to start than now. Yes you will have to put in place really solid strategies to maximize your product and drive in sales but it definitely can be done, don’t let it delay or stop you.
You are just lazy
Yes, I said it! You just might be lazy and if you are, I advise you not to go into entrepreneurship because it is hard work from the get go as you would need to juggle a lot of responsibilities, work in and on your business and manage your social and family life as well. While some personality types are prone to be more active than others, everyone can find the strength needed to do something they have set their mind too. You need to get serious about starting your business and controlling your time and financial future and then you can put structures in place to better manage your work. With automated systems, freelancers and outsourcing, you can start a business and do as little work as possible.
You are waiting for someone to give you money to start
Money is essential to starting a business as to other things in life. So yes, you need money to start but the amount of money is variable. However, putting the timeline for starting your business at the mercy of someone or an investor to give you money before you start may not be the wisest thing to do. You can employ the lean start-up methodology, build a minimum viable product (MVP) and start testing your idea in real life. There are many resources available for free or for a test period online, you can design a website, set-up social media channels free of charge and start marketing. Any money you make during the first months can be used to improve on the business and set-up a proper system as you move forward. This way, you get to start building a brand and acquiring mind share; when you finally get the money you are expecting, you can easily expand.
Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! Go!
You are not sure you can be an entrepreneur
I must be honest with you, not everyone is supposed to be an entrepreneur. Most people don’t have the needed discipline and emotional strength to handle entrepreneurship; besides if everyone becomes an entrepreneur who will work in the companies that are being setup and help it grow. However, there is a school of thought that entrepreneurship can be learnt and I agree; entrepreneurship can be learnt as an attitude and a skill. The truth is anyone can be an entrepreneur; but if you feel it’s not for you and you genuinely prefer to work for someone and help grow their companies, it’s an honourable thing to do and many people have indeed found success and relevance going down that path. But before you make up your mind, why don’t you explore other paths such as freelancing or investing which allow you pursue your career and still gives you enough time to build a promising financial future.
You are afraid
Fear is good; it is a force that can push you in either direction depending on how you channel it. Everyone is afraid to go in an unchartered direction for the first time and that’s alright. The catch is to Do It Afraid. Recognize your fear and what is causing it, face it and try to limit the risks but move forward, let nothing stop you.
There are many resources widely available to us at this time and there are great start-up and SME consultants to help you through the process of starting and growing your business.
Entrepreneurship is a career, a lifestyle and an attitude. Don’t be afraid!
By Omotayo B. Adeoye.
Omotayo is the founder of The Wumbb, a Start-up and SME consulting firm that specializes in building ideas and growing businesses.