We have previously discussed validating your business idea and creating a business model using the Business Model Canvas. This article is a transcript from our Facebook live on facebook.com/redahliaworkspaces where we discussed the silent things about entrepreneurship that we hardly hear including the risk associated with startup success.
Popular culture makes entrepreneurship look appealing. Social media makes entrepreneurship fancy, you have lots of ‘experts’ blabbing about entrepreneurship and they make it seem that if you are not pursuing your own business, then you are a failure. There is a lot of packaging, especially in Lagos. The fancy clothes and business cards make entrepreneurship look all glamorous.
I am of the opinion that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. We are not all called to be entrepreneurs. The most important thing in life is that you are fulfilled doing what you are doing. If you find that fulfillment in your 9-5, perfect, but if you find it in pursuing your passion, good for you too.
When you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, it’s important to know what you are getting into before embarking on the journey. Another piece of advice, there is no shame in going back to your 9-5 when the entrepreneurial path is not working for you.
Key Points To Note Before You Begin The Entrepreneurship Journey
There is no 9 am – 5 pm day or 8hour/day week in the journey of entrepreneurship
There is always a new deal to close or an email to send. For example; at ReDahlia, we officially close at 6 pm but some clients stay beyond the closing time and my staff are always itching to go even before it is 6 pm so I have to stay back when the clients stay longer. Starting your business with the mindset of working 8 hours/day is a recipe for failure. Entrepreneurship will encroach on your personal time in your startup days, so prepare ahead.
Getting the right staff and getting the right people to work with
The sad reality is that most Nigerian graduates are not ready to work. They just want to come to your company, use your internet, and “press phone” without adding value to the organization and still expect to be paid a salary. It is important to hire people with an entrepreneurial spirit for your startup. Also, you will do a lot of training.
However, where you hire and have trained but the employee is still not adding value to your startup, you need to have the courage to fire the employee and count your losses. If you do not, then your business will go down.
Talent is important. If you have a staff with rare talent but poor attitude and are teachable, then teach them organizational culture. If they are unwilling to learn, count your losses, and do the needful. Therefore, know when to hire, train, and fire.
Every single penny counts
As your startup grows and your income grows, it is not time to increase your standard of living but rather maximize every single penny you make. Of course, there will come a time when you will treat yourself for all the labour, but in the meantime, be on top of your expenses and keep track of your income as well.
Access to capital
Many entrepreneurs think that once you start a business that it will be easy to have access to capital. On the contrary, the capital raising environment is very volatile. The key to surviving is finding the quickest path to profitability. If you do not, then getting external funding may ruin your business as investors are only concerned about growth and your ability to scale the business fast.
You need two core professionals – Lawyers and Accountants
For every contract you sign, you need to understand the legal implications and you need to know how to keep your books. So start making friends with Lawyers and Accountants if you don’t have any. If you do not have such professionals in your network, the good news is that there are lawyers and accountants that are tailored to SMEs with affordable charges. It is important that you lead your company with Integrity, Honesty, and Trust. You will never steer your company wrong with these values.
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey
Startups with two founders have better chances of survival. If you are a solo entrepreneur, it is important to build a very strong support system – family and friends. There will be times when you feel like giving up and there will be times when you feel like “I am not doing this anymore”. At such times, you need people who can push you and encourage you. The loneliness and stress of the entrepreneurial journey can lead you to clinical depression. You need people you can always talk to and people that will always give you the push.
- The journey will change you
- It will make you strong
- The journey will humble you
- It will make your street-wise
Sometimes, if you are not careful the journey may make you lose your humanity because in this journey people will cheat you, hurt you and you may be hardened up. Thus, it is important to ensure you separate your personal life from your business life so you do not lose your personal sweetness.
That is the reality of the entrepreneur! Having foreknowledge helps you avoid surprises and tackle challenges as they come.
You will definitely succeed when you:
- Believe in your dreams
- Are focused and determined
- Build a strong team
- Do not give up
If your business idea has been validated and you have a good business module like we already discussed, then keep pushing. The struggle is worth it in the end.
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