“For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight hours of sleep and eight of work” – Doug Larson

 By Ola’ Jacob Ajayi

VENTURES AFRICA – According to a Chinese proverb, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now. In life, we give ourselves the negative reasons not to get started. We believe so much in the “Why I cannot start now, and Why I should start in the next 10 Years”. Sad! The more we grow, the more challenges we face.

Airtel’s ongoing  “Fast is an Attitude” campaign caught my attention last week and two of the copies wowed me;

1. Tomorrow is 24 hours late

2. Millionaire at 29? You are 5 years late.

Though a typical African child finds it difficult to achieve some feats at an early stage, hence we resolve to make fantasies of the kind of life we want. According to a friend, the following are reasons why a 24-year old businessman might not be a millionaire in this part of the world;

  1. He is probably battling with a 3 credit unit course in school
  2. If he is out of school, the dude is busy looking for employment in multinational corporations.
  3. He wants to make money without any impact on the world.
  4. He believes he needs to work for like 10 years to garner capital for his business.
  5. Lack of electricity, manpower dearth and bad economic system are turn offs.
  6. Nobody to motivate him. Friends, Parents, Siblings believe he should get a job, and not “start a job.”
  7. Lack of focus for ones’ life.
  8. He is turning God to a magician by expecting miracles without sowing seeds (Faith without work).

I was part of a team that interviewed some fresh graduates for a contract job in a company last year. I took interest in one of the applicants and I asked him what kind of job he is interested in. He said, “Do I have a choice? There is no job in this country . . . . if you are lucky to get one, just hold on to it. I have submitted CVs to Oil and Gas, Telecoms, FMCG companies, Schools, Financial institutions etc. All I want is to keep my head some where and earn a living.”

When you don’t have a plan for yourself, then you need to squat on other people’s plan. Why should you get just any job? Why should you pity yourself that life is gruesome in this part of the world and you can’t make it until you hit a jackpot? The scare never gets away, so you either end up settling for less or you make it big.

One thing that interests me about the employed folks is that they use the active 30 years of their lives in building an empire for a smart man. On retirement, they suddenly take interest in having their own business so that they can continue to earn a monthly living. Gratuity paid, no more monthly salary . . . . . life seems miserable at this point.

According to a research we carried out during business training for prospective retirees last year, over 78% of retirees lose their gratuity to starting a new business. Yes, they’ve got the experience but you don’t walk miles to the river without having a clue of how to cross to the other side.

At 65 years, they suddenly become desperate to change their world.  Every business looks promising to them, thus they invest without any major feasibility study. Few of them would be lucky to end up as consultants, secure another job with a meager pay, run a successful business, or just retire home and become a dependent on the family. What happens to those that are not lucky?

Waiting for the right time to start your own business is tough. The time is never right . . . . .expenses on expenses – You need to take care of your family, push your social status higher, do personal development, cater for the known and the unknown, spend some money on wants and needs. The capital will never be enough to start!

No matter where you are and what you are presently; a student, job seeker, uneducated, employed . . . the best time to build the next 10 -20 years of your life is now. Whatever is planted now will be a giant with many fruits in decades if properly managed.

Mark Zuckerberg had many reasons not to start Facebook in 2004. Yeah! No capital, dearth of technical ability, he was still in school and his GP could suffer, some friends didn’t support him, no idea of how to monetize the startup …but despite that he got started and I’m happy to tell you he made the Forbes list of world billionaires, and very soon FaceBook would be available for you to trade on wall street. His tree is just 8 years old.

There are many success stories that tell us to start, stand the storm and win the game. Business is not an automatic success and requires lot of planning to get on board.

Let’s share a few points together:


  1. Understand what you want for your life
  2. What is your present background – Passion and Qualification
  3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  4. What are your competencies?

PART B (Sketch it down on a notepad)

  1. Write out 5 business ideas you have
  2. In front of each idea, write the estimated capital and how many months needed to set up
  3. Write out different ways you can use to raise minimum capital
  4. Do your research
  5. Pick one of the ideas
  6. Write out your implementation plan
  7. Gradually start implementation

Starting now doesn’t mean having everything set. It takes time to conceptualize and execute, so don’t rush yourself, just make sure you start the first step of putting your ideas together and move to the next step.

Go get started, and remember to share your thoughts in the comment box below!

Image via jacekgrebski.com


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