In this blessed country of ours, not many people set out to create something of their own, especially if they have had the advantage of going to school. For most young people, bigger dreams are made and sometimes hope to be realized in multinational companies where we dream to take over with time as top management.
Therefore if you ever found yourself on the other side of trying to be an entrepreneur, you shall get a cocktail of feelings and comments, most of them not necessarily encouraging. A lot of people find it hard to understand why a young man or woman who has had the advantage of a university education should choose to be ‘lazy’ and instead of looking for a good job, settles for a small business. In effect, they are implying you need to have your head checked.
It will be harder therefore if they are the same people you have gone to for business. On top of doubting your ambition, not many people trust people who don’t fit their picture. Say, we are both 28 years of age, life demands that we should be at the same level, so if you claim to be the Executive Director of some non- heard- of -business, while the other is in the proper big business structure, one of you must have a problem, and most probably, it is the self proclaimed entrepreneur.
The outstanding challenge therefore is to get the benefit of trust form age mates and older people alike. It is not in our culture to do small business if you can find a job.
Other than being the only one who shares your ’vision’ of business and better times ahead, it will be made harder by the process of raising funds.
Every business has a funny way of needing more money than you budgeted for in the beginning. Therefore sooner or later you shall find yourself in need of more cash to keep afloat.
Yet the average young entrepreneur has no machinery, no plants, no land and a lot of times, no car…and yet the above is exactly what is needed as security, or for positive appraisal even before a friend will trust you with their money.
Ever tried moving a flat- tyred trailer up hill? It can be harder for a young person in business for themselves to raise finances.
A lot of business thrives on credit, form either suppliers or clients. This is not the easiest to do when you are young and have decided to fly on your own. Young people in our society don’t get trusted that much especially if they have a particular sparkle in their eye. To them, you could either be a very bright young man, or a very bright con-man (not necessarily in that order though). I mean, what do you have to show?
The picture changes though as time passes and success finds you. More people now believe you and some even foretell your future success.
In all this, the hardest part is sticking to your belief that you are doing the right thing, despite negative circumstances and opinions.
My biggest challenge so far, when I chose to set out on my own (as a farmer, of all businesses) was to convince myself that I was on the right track. On a given Monday when every one has either gone to work or to school and the neighborhood is as quiet as a graveyard, and you are the only one still at home because you have no work that day, you pinch yourself to determine if you are actually doing the right thing not to move with the rest of the world.
All said and done, I have never found better freedom, than setting out on my own in business (or is it farming! I am a farmer, you know)
When you stick you what you see, with your eyes closed, the rest of the world follows. There is respect for having stuck on, and more now comes much easier that at the start and as time goes by, you have more time and peace of mind.
Still as time goes by, you get some employees too and then you can designate yourself as the ‘official brain’ of the company, and get paid for just thinking while the rest do what you did earlier to make you rich.
And who wouldn’t want to be there?
Copyright: Emmanuel Njuki 2008
Published in ZETA Business Magazine October 2008.