Growing up,I wanted to be rich and famous,travel the world,live in a palace of a house...the works.When I graduated,the dream lived on,but now I had to take stock and choose the route to live the dream(like there was a route then). Sadly, I didn't see many routes.
When I got my first job,the dream was still alive,but how to move towards it,not many encouraging paths. I mean how do you travel the world on my salary then! Madness just. By the first month,I had already calculated how much I would earn in a lifetime,ceteris paribus.....If I keep the job till retirement and if prices kept the same(he he he..funny that one).
Sadly,my lifetime(forecast) earnings would not even buy me a decent house at market rates then, yet the dream tagged along...remember,the works,travel the world,drive a cool car.
Then I stumbled upon Kiyosaki.Yes.Robert Kiyosaki of the Rich Dad Poor Dad fame. I must have re-read that book about five times.That book spoke to me. I have met people who have blessed the person who pointed them in the direction of the book.I have also met people who said that was the best selling rubbish they ever came across(of course not read).Totally useless ,they say.
By the time I put down the book,I had a new problem. So how does one work on starting a business?
My problem was made more interesting because I was working for a not-for-profit-organization then. During the last quarter of the year,we always struggled to spend our allocated budget.We always underspent. I don't know why.Some say, a few of us were incompetent. But shift the slide and my real life did not have the same challenges. Those would be lovely challenges.Imagine struggling to spend on a personal budget.Too much money too little time! On the contrary, I never did have enough money...and the book said business would be the same..a lot to spend on and not enough money.
How do I marry these two? Congratulate me, I had a second problem.
Over and over again,I thought and thought.
My answer was not far off.
On a random Monday night,sometime in April 2005, I woke up. Not rich and famous,not even to lights, cameras and music,but to painful grunts. I was in hospital. I had just had an accident and I had blacked out for about three hours ,they told me. A few moments later,my worst fears were confirmed. I had a broken arm,a broken leg and a concussed head.
This is the point at which you say,I am sorry and shed a tear or two.
I always knew we were close friends.
That episode above started my four months thought process.I was hospitalized that long,well,till I was able to walk with just a limp.During which time my self confidence suffered a real blow,what with being helped to do just anything.
During that time,I was idle and I read a lot.Yes I have that addiction. Every time I would get a call from work,my thoughts would race in my head,and I would always think;
'These guys are firing me!'
I mean ,I caused an accident.Was most likely over-speeding.Was my insurance renewed?
One time, I even received a voluminous envelope marked 'Private and Confidential'.I prayed from my hospital bed for this not to be my termination letter. God works. It wasn't. It was just a staff survey questionnaire. HR stuff. You should have seen my relief. The reality is, while you are at your weakest point,you tend to expect the worst to happen. You just feel it.
However,one thought that never left my mind,and which troubled me greatly was ; what happens if at my next review the doctor looks at me straight in the eye and tells me 'I am sorry son ,you will never be able to walk again'. I had no answer........and what if I could never use my left hand again? Would I get back my job? That answer I had...and so I hoped and prayed.
This was a full year before I ever went into business.But the need was felt and my first business was birthed.
I set my self a modest target. If only I were able to earn just a quarter of my salary from my business,I was ready to roll.
I left before I reached the target,but I was determined to succeed on that route.
Sometimes you will be lucky along the road of entrepreneurship,sometimes not so lucky. In my second year of self employment(I was still the only employee of my business),I actually woke up rich and famous.Well ,sort of. I won a business plan competition. There were lights,music,cocktails and gladly business training too from Enterprise Uganda.
I wish you win too,sometime,but I will also tell you ..... It may never happen. So don't go into business to win money.Rather to create your own,by supplying a good or service that only you or just a few of you can give. You get competitive that way.
I will warn you though,there will be no barriers. In a week you may come from a one industry player to having attracted competition in thousands,from as far away as China,and you haven't even left Luwum street. So you need to keep innovating and upping your game,and you learn as you go. You must have heard of globalization,right? With globalization,the opportunities are immense, but so are the challenges.You now compete with the whole world as if it were next door.
On a lighter note. I was able to walk again, and my hand healed.But the motivation stayed.Call it what you want,negative motivation,but it got me off.
Looking back,I can only marvel. I have gone places I never knew existed and I have grown too.My prayer for every entrepreneur,is to go into your passion and push yourself to the limit.
By 2006,we did not have as many or as big supermarkets as we have today. Interestingly,when we went to pitch to supply their new branches with goods,(on credit of course)supplier numbers were evenly comparable to employment seekers. What tugged at my heart was seeing elder men and women,probably in their retirement years building a a young business, with a weekly order value of about 30,000 shillings,and deep inside I thanked God I started early. At least I had time to make mistakes,correct them and get back on,but at fifty five or sixty,the odds are not quite the same. What do I say? Start early. Now is the earliest you have,so you have time to perfect your art,even a hobby,while you have the energy to run around chasing payments and seeking credit to fly higher.
Had I not had the accident,would I be 'me' now?
I don't know.
Do I wish you the same?
But I do earnestly hope my circumstances propel you on.
You will never regret your decision .Like they say,there is always room at the top. Aim high. and like Nelson Mandela said :
"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission
to do the same.As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."