nature is tough. Taking a path less trodden and building sustainable businesses that previously were non-existent exposes the inexperienced entrepreneur to an unknown fate, loneliness and doubt. Many entrepreneurs who took bold leaps into uncharted courses for their lives have ended stuck in debt, regretting their actions and wondering if they did the right thing in the first place not taking the employment offer relatives secured for them or resigning their fat paying jobs. Truth is many of them have been victims of ignorance as reports have shown that serial entrepreneurs got better and survived with every successive business they built.
For any employee truly thinking of being a successful full-time entrepreneur, here are five must-keep laws to escalate your chances of survival and success.
Get a Financial Cushion
The relevance of having a savings culture cannot be over emphasized though due to the expensive cost of living in major cities across Africa, you find that most employees have barely enough to pay bills not to talk of saving enough funds to venture into a business with. However, it is very important for an aspiring entrepreneur to having enough saving that can fund his/her cost of living for as long as it would take for the intended startup to become sustainable. In a harsh yet lucrative business climate like Africa’s, a one year span would be fine. If you cannot determine how to and eventually capture value or start making profit from your business within twelve months then something is fundamentally wrong with your understanding of the business or you have poor startup know-how.
There is no overnight success in entrepreneurship so save ahead to have a financial cushion when your small business isn’t bringing in any money; except of course you have no job in the first place and have nothing to lose. Otherwise, your girlfriend might just be leaving you for the C-suite exec who was your junior in secondary school.
Don’t Burn Your Bridges Just Yet
At times business ideas are only ideal and not practicable in the market. That’s why businesses do testing and beta phases. It is dangerous and unadvisable to take blind leaps or resign without first proving your business idea in the market. This is a primary reason many entrepreneurs end up burnt, exhausted and frustrated. Don’t resign your job just yet. Don’t take that major life decision just yet. Keep your job while you test-run your business. Let is keep growing, amassing customers, market share, brand value, connections and government recognition. The time will come when it’s all grown, buzzing with promise and profit and would require undivided attention. iROKO tv boss Jason Njoku suffered and battled poverty and depression for years because he did not keep a job while nine startups he founded failed. Fortunately, the tenth one has succeeded. Tara Durotoye also did not quit Law school just because her make up business was waxing.
Now, Burn Your Boats
One of my favorite stories on Napoleon Bonaparte is his famed Russian invasion in which he crossed an ocean and on arriving ashore he saw that his army was largely outnumbered by the enemy and his soldiers were beginning to show signs of fear. He gave an order to his generals to “burn the boats”. “No retreat, no surrender. We either fight to win or die”.
Same rule can be applied on entrepreneurship. One cannot be preparing on go into entrepreneurship and still retain part-time jobs and expect ones startup to function at optimum levels or grow to its full potential. You need to burn the bridge. Cut all job ties.
Everyone Won’t Support You
On my flight back to Lagos from Abuja recently, I sat next to the founder of a major transnational transportation company. He told me of how he started his transportation business. He said he first consulted a respected cousin of his to seek his opinion on venturing into the transportation business. He spoke of how his cousin discouraged him and told him that it’s too risky a business, and that competitors are usually bitter and could even go fetish and all that. And some people even told him that he has only recently returned to the country and may not know how businesses are run in this clime. He however persevered and believed in his dream. Today his transport coy can be easily be described as one of the fastest growing brands in the road transport business.
The truth is, love makes sincere relatives and friends worry and dissuade entrepreneurs from their pursuit. Haters too would take the opportunity to spite.
Find a Company of Kindred Spirit
When the going gets tough, nothing can be more exhilarating and thrilling for entrepreneurs as meeting fellow entrepreneurs, especially intelligent and highly successful ones. The time shared with these fellow risktakers can quench depression caused by the toll of a lonely business pursuit, and re-enforce ones believe in the original purpose of building a company. During the younger days of House of Tara, Founder Tara Durotoye was frustrated due to lack of capital but a fateful encounter with a respected Nigerian entrepreneur Chair Centre CEO Ibukun Awosika revived her spirit and even helped her secure a N500,000 loan from GT Bank.
Spend Quality Time Drafting Your Business Plan
A business plan is an entrepreneur’s road map. It shows you where you’re coming from, where you are, and where you’re headed. It is the most important pillar of an entrepreneur. More important than even funding. In fact, it is so important that the entire eighteen months earlier stated as the period or duration of saving, should also be used to build a business plan. No duration used in building and redefining a business plan can be too much because once you get it right in the planning stage, it solves a lot of problems and saves time at the implementation stage.
Starting an enterprise is like giving birth to a child. And just as a child needs all the attention she can get from her mother, so does an enterprise needs all the attention and nurture from its entrepreneur. A real entrepreneur is at it full-time–and much more than 45 hours per week.