All the money (capital) in the world is worthless if you have no idea what to do with it.
Google defined capital as that which is wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person, organization – or available for a purpose such as starting a company and investing.
Fine. We all know, or can argue and postulate that money is absolutely necessary to start a business; and I agree.
But only up to a certain point.
Before Facebook became what it is today, before Twitter or WhatsApp or any of those other social media giants – or any other products, became what they are today, there was a thought. Someone asked a question. Someone saw a problem – and in trying to solve that problem saw a huge opportunity.
Everything starts with an idea.
What does the world – or people – need? Think about the innovations into easier living that needs to be created? What do we as a people need more or less of? In the middle of asking all these questions – a gem of an idea is born.
What happens next? Once there exists a ‘what’, it’s somewhat easier to find a ‘how’.
Or maybe not.
The point is – sometimes the only thing standing between an individual and the actualization of his goals, dreams, and aspirations is the inability to look past what he or she doesn’t have and see the things they have.
Someone – I think Henry Ford – said “Start where you are with what you have”. Those are words to live by; words that every startup person needs to remind themselves of day in day out.
So say you have an idea. What next?
“He who fails to plan plans to fail.” I cannot remember where that quote came from – but I do know it makes all sorts of sense. Everything hinges on a plan. Once you know where you’re headed, it only makes sense to know how to get there.
Another of my favorite personal quotes is “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” In other words, putting together a business plan in the privacy of your bedroom when you’re all by yourself is entirely different from presenting the same business plan to two hundred heads of multinationals.
Imagine a football match.
Opposing teams don’t train together; they train individually. No matter how prepared either team is/feels, they know training for hours on end is completely different from the reality that will confront them on the field of play. They know their opponents have their own strategy too – so true victory comes; not only in the level of preparedness but how willing players are to adapt to changing circumstances – right there on the playing field.
One principle I learned from working on websites is the work is never done. Of course, you arrange several test runs with several different people – but it’s different when your target audience starts interacting with the site/product directly. You have to take feedback, look through and adjust and tweak as the feedback strongly suggests.
But you’ll never know till you try.
I cannot help but wonder – exactly how much it cost Mark Zuckerberg to build Facebook. That is not my area of interest for now. I couldn’t care less. Because at the end of the day, that’s not what really matters.
It is what it can do.
I remember a time – I think it was five to seven years ago – when a certain ‘social media activist’ took to Twitter to attack a particular airline over the loss of his smart device on one of their planes. Within hours, the issue was trending on Twitter with reactions that made the airline, previously silent on the matter, respond in an effort to quell the noise. While I am not quite clear how the matter got resolved, the activist had enough social media capital to bring attention to a case of possible negligence by an airline.
Again, capital is not always money.
Imagine two men given the same amount of money.
Or better still, imagine two men given varying amounts of money. One is given a lot more than the other. The man given more does not have a plan; the man given a lot less does.
Who do you think is more likely to make anything of the money they were given?
While it’s cool, fancy and ‘attractive’ to run around wearing suits and flashing business cards that bear names and ‘entrepreneur’, it’s a lot better to actually have a vision – a goal; a reason to wake up and try harder each day.
Even if your idea is worth a billion naira, no investor will give you a thousand naira if there’s no clear way to make his money back.
For that, you need a plan.
In entrepreneur language, that plan is called capital.
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