The decision to start a business was not so difficult to reach. This was something I had always known I would do, and for which I had received validation from colleagues, friends and family that I could do. However, starting was a different ball game, because for a long time, my heels remained dug in the ground, afraid to take that first step.
It reminds me a lot of my struggles with driving. My first car was a gift from my employer and after several weeks of paid driving lessons and some free coaching from friends and colleagues, I still shied away from taking the wheel. Whenever I was asked when I would start driving, I had an excuse ready, the most popular been that my car operated a manual gear box and it was not that easy to drive. Crap! I was just scared! Scared of hitting someone, been hit and several other grim images I conjured up. I liked that it was a manual transmission car (I liked the idea of been able to drive a car which most people around could not handle), yet it was my favorite excuse. Having drivers didn’t help either and so for a year, I let the drivers ‘enjoy’ my brand new car.
After several long months of battering to my car and spats with my numerous drivers, I had about had enough.
My turning point however came when a female colleague got her car which also used a manual transmission and; just like me, she had no previous driving experience, nonetheless she was driving on the streets of Lagos within weeks. What further added to my humiliation was that her car was not brand new like mine was and her route to the office was much longer and busier. These put paid to all my numerous excuses.
So, with no more excuses to throw around, I was forced to brush up my driving skills and face my fears. Now I confidently drive myself effortlessly on the ever busy streets of Lagos. The risks of accidents are still there, but they never stop me from grabbing my car keys and taking the wheels. It comes so effortlessly, that it has become my getaway so much so that I frequently just take drives to relax. And guess what? I still drive a manual transmission car and I do it on the same crazy, busy Lagos streets.
Starting up a business is no different from my driving experience. All your fears (both real and imaginary) will only control you because you let them. Like me, you may have that one business idea or several of them that you have played with over the years, but you are scared of taking that first step towards starting. We will assume that you have some conviction that your business idea is realizable, however, you also have so many reasons why you just can’t start now.
- Issues with funding
- Lack of experience
- Acceptability of your business idea
- Doubts about your abilities
- The perfect time to start
- Bad economy
- Fear of the unknown. The ‘What Ifs’
These are just a few of the fears I was plagued with, and I know several people can relate with these. For some of us, our lists of excuses are longer than the average housewife’s grocery list. There will always be a reason not to start.
But you know what? I now know that there is no such thing as the perfect time, no perfect approach, you cannot second -guess yourself and you do not need to raise millions of Naira to start. You’ve just got to start, put yourself to the test, and if you fail, you get up and try again.
Let’s take a pause here and take a deep breath. Do you know of anyone who has ever achieved anything by not trying? Think hard about this. Please note that I used the word ‘achieve’, because you can only achieve something when some effort has been put in. I am not referring to bounties that just fall in your laps or some windfall from somewhere. Rather, I am referring to steps (small or large) taken towards reaching a specific goal. If your answer is no, then why are you still procrastinating?
Having said this, how do you achieve the actualization of your ideas? How do you start up?
Start small. Partner with someone. You don’t have to do it alone. You can partner with people that have the requisite skills and resources which you also need but are lacking.
Knowledge is power. Do some research, read, probe, ask questions. The internet is a warehouse of information with loads of free resources. Use it.
Don’t have capital or enough of it? Again, my advice is to partner with those who have the money. It is better to have a small percentage of a business than nothing at all.
Never give up. Try, try, try and try again and again and again. It never gets old.
Whilst I am not even close to my destination yet, and I am still struggling with some of my fears and with daily issues associated with running a business which can sometimes be daunting, I am more fulfilled than I ever was.
I look for inspiration and I am inspired by a lot of people around me. My good friend and associate, Wale Adisa’s many stories of his previous entrepreneurial struggles are inspiration to me, and so is my former employer’s can-do spirit, and the way my brother’s eyes light up and his tone changes when he talks about his ventures.
Recently, while scouting for a good social media marketer, I crossed path with a young chap and I must say that I was very impressed with his entrepreneurial drive and his achievement. When I was his age, all I aspired to was getting a highly paid job in an oil company or multi- national organization.
Please don’t get me wrong, we all cannot be entrepreneurs, but if you so much as have a little interest in starting your own business, then there is no better time to start than now. That I am now in charge of the wheels of my car, doesn’t mean it has not suffered a few knocks and some bashes here and there, but it has endured, and it gets me to my destination every day.
This write -up reflects my thoughts and experiences. It is my view point but I am very interested in hearing your views. Let’s generate a healthy discuss on this.
BY MULIKAT BUHARI