So you decided to brave the waters of entrepreneurship. It all happened before you were quite ready to take the leap but sometimes a push or a shove is just what you need anyway. Times are never ideal. Maybe you were just being opportunistic. Doesn’t matter. You started a small business instead of re-entering the job market. You can taste, smell, see and feel that this is a million dollar idea/innovation/model.
Your savings will almost never be enough no matter how tight you planned it, how frugal you are or how creative you get. There’s economic inflation, stagnation, recession and depression going on in Nigeria. And the unexpected will surely happen, the one thing you didn’t foresee. Like a death or prolonged illness. You will pay cash. Do not feel complacent because you have a few thousand quid in your account.
While you’re building your client/customer base remember you will have a high default rate especially if your in a service industry (like law). Don’t depend on the account books that say you’ve got NGN1 million in receivables for the month. Customers and clients will not pay for a variety of reasons.
Even tough you’re still building your professional brand and reputation resist the urge to under value yourself. Set your price and stick to it or offer standard discounts. Identify your target market. I will be tough breaking into it. Have a strategy. Your strategy will fail Re tool it often.
Do not panic when the digits in your bank balance start to shrink and your statement turns red. Do not panic when your landlord serves you quit notice and you’re about to become homeless. Do not panic when they throw your lovingly acquired art deco belongings into the street. Do not panic when they ring the auction bell and you lose the family heirlooms. Do not panic when they repossess your car.
Don’t ask your family or friends for money. They’ll resent not being able to help. You’ve put them on the spot. Exposed their own weaknesses. They’ll retaliate by lecturing you on your chosen lifestyle which their risk averse nature envied but could not emulate. There’ll be lots of I told you so’s. They’ll insist on a post mortem. You don’t need that. Its not a funeral.
Don’t dump on family and friends for the same reason. They got their own shit going on even if they’ve been pretending its all honky dorey. They don’t want to hear you whine about yours. Forget what the Bible says no one wants Misery for company. We all want Joy. All the time. And your Misery does not need company either. That would be Misery squared. Kill yourself already!
Buckle up and face the music. You made the choices. Face the consequences like a Man. With courage. With determination. With steely resolve. With a stiff upper lip. You will power through this challenge like all the others. There’s no other choice. Is there? Focus on the course until successful. You’ll be reaping the rewards soon enough. Focus on that.
I read stories of successful entrepreneurs. They all speak of the early challenges building their business. The reduced income. The relinquishing of their financial privileges. Losing homes, country club membership, cars and material possessions while they pursue the Dream. Some lost families. I know every entrepreneur that went through it didn’t succeed but all the successful ones went through it.
Some of course were privileged to have a safety net. A trust fund, a rich family or husband or boyfriend or sugar daddy or big TV network that paid their bills while they struggled. Others had a cheer leader at least. Someone who believed in them and egged them on. A mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a mistress.
Yeah. I did that deliberately. We expect men to pay the bills and women to be cheerleaders. Right? Even I’m caught in the tired cliche. Where are the male cheerleaders? And the women that pay the bills? (They all seem to be gay! Or not quite straight. Talk about gender bending.)
Don’t lose focus of your objective. The storms of life may happen all around you but you must keep your eye on the prize and keep on walking towards it. Think of it as a quest. An adventure. You’re the hero (read heroine as a appropriate). You must slay the dragon. Overcome you fears. Because maybe that’s all it is really. A fear of failing. Or maybe a fear of flying.
While the hurricane rages enter the eye of the storm and ignore it. You must be single minded in pursuing your purpose. Don’t let anything distract you. Avoid all people that only have advice on how you should live your life. You only need people that can offer advice and encouragement on how to build your business right now. The others just mess with your mind. Don’t get sucked into a pity party.
Ignore the well meaning but mean minded third cousin that tells you its time to move back to the ghetto. No good will come of it. Downsizing maybe on the cards but don’t downgrade. Big difference. If you downgrade you’ll feel so sorry for yourself you’ll be paralysed or suicidal or even homicidal. Remember this is Naija. Even the ghetto here is more ghetto. It aint nothing like Soweto.
Do not move in with family or friends under any circumstances. Go stay in a hotel if you have to. If you can’t afford a room park in their lot. Sleep in the car. Use the gym or pool in the morning then groom and shower there. Squatting with family or friends is a sure fire way of discovering that even family or friends are only so friendly and accommodating. Guests like fish start to smell after 3 days.
Do not desperately hound the few paying clients you do have. We all have the capacity to sniff out desperation and we are all wired to either take advantage of it or to secretly gloat at others misfortune. Don’t make the mistake of telling anyone your hard luck story. Guaranteed to kill you. Outsource debt recovery. You need your energy to drum up new business. Don’t let debtors frustrate you.
Stay the course. You’ve done the planning, the mapping, the execution. Go with the flow. Plans rarely proceed exactly as drawn up and maps don’t always take you exactly the route you drew. Sometimes you detour, out of necessity, sometimes because something new caught your eye. You’re an explorer and opportunist, so of course you must explore it. Go and explore!
Resist the urging of your well meaning friend that says he can get a couple hundred million from that governor or that minister if only you can write a proposal and lend your registered company to launder the loot. Resist the urging of family that tell you to chase that appointment as PA or SA or SSA. Government money is government money. Making returns is par for the government course. You’ll be able to boast in your successful old age that your fortune is not tainted.
As a matter of fact the less family and friends know about what’s going on with you the better. Get a mentor. Otherwise seek and follow your own counsel. Go where your business instincts lead you. Remain independent and free to make your own choices. Make your own mistakes. There is no right or wrong. Just what works and what doesn’t and the same thing doesn’t work for different people. Know yourself and to thine own self be true.
Remember to eat well and to have regular good sex. When you’re hungry you get cranky if you don’t feed your hunger. Same thing when you’re horny you get cranky. Feed your hunger. You don’t need additional avoidable crankiness. Now is also a good time to start yoga if you’re into that sort of thing. You could also start something else. Like horse back riding. Or bowling.
Do not stop hanging out. People is where you get your energy, your inspiration and your motivation. Just stop hanging out with the wrong people. The ones that don’t energize, inspire or motivate you, The jaded pessimistic malcontents that only see an oncoming train, whose response to life is ‘deep cover’ paranoia. Or worse. Resignation!
Also avoid the overly cautious ones that look at you with pity sure you’re about to fail because they can’t envisage themselves coping with the uncertainty or even succeeding. They’ll poison your mind with their doubts and fears and ifs, buts and maybe’s.
Count your blessings and your social capital everyday. Remember what you do have. Use it wisely. If prayer helps you, pray but don’t expect manna from heaven so to speak. Miracles happen naturally, not super-naturally. You can’t reap a harvest if you don’t plant and tend the seeds.
I guess since I’m a woman and my target audience are women I should also add you resist the friends that advice you to find a rich powerful man to support you and all your projects. Power, sex and money make for a mine field. Some women have the talent and the aptitude for it. Some don’t. Know yourself no be crime.
Last but not least always always remember, this too shall pass. Its only for a season. Keep walking. And keep smiling. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Don’t ever give up!
Posted by MzAgams with WordPress for BlackBerry.