So you have found your Ikigai; that sweet spot, and a business is already calling your wonderful name. Finally you have found that something you do so well and the world is ready to pay you in different currencies over and over again for it. Finally, you are set to launch! Yippee!!! This could be cooking, baking, fashion, story writing or content development or shoe making. It could be you have found a solution to our perennial energy problems, you could be starting the next billion dollar tech company, may be you have invented a medical device and can’t wait to sell it to the world. Something that you know you are very good at and do it better than everyone around is finally conceptualized and you are ready to shoot for the moon. Congratulations my sister.
But please, wait… at this point there is need for some soul searching, there is need to dig deep into self; you need to ask yourself some more fundamental questions. “Am I a thinker or a doer?” Research has shown that there are two types of people; the thinking one – the innovator, someone that has original ideas, wants to change things and make life better. The innovator wants to solve problems that we may not even acknowledge as problems but are problems nonetheless. The innovator wants to change the status quo, contribute something tangible to humanity and solve nagging problems.
Then there is the entrepreneur, the doer. Entrepreneurs are the people who get their hands dirty and build the business around the innovator’s product or service and take it to the market. While some very few people combine the two attributes, more often than not we are either a thinker or a doer; an innovator or an entrepreneur. It is rare combining the two personalities. So whether you call yourself a staterpreneur, founderpreneur, mompreneur, kidpreneur, mummypreneur, mrspreneur, fashionpreneur, femalepreneur whatever the preneur; you may be mistaken and need to identify yourselves properly. Ask yourself, “Am I an innovator or an entrepreneur?”
Running a successful business requires being true to you. It is at this initial stage that you ask yourself whether you can go it alone or you need a partner; a good, decent partner. If you are the thinking person, you need the doer and vice versa. I will do a full post on what to look out for in a partner. Know that a partner can make or mar your business and if not careful even your life so the need for a lot of care in choosing a business partner. We Nigerians believe in doing it alone, but let me say there is a lot of crash, burn, loneliness and ‘brokeness’ in starting and sustaining a business and hence the need for a co-founder or partner; someone that has some abilities and capabilities other than yours, someone that can complement you effectively, the shoulder to keep you going and to cry on when need be. There will be several needs like this trust me.
Let me also say that I believe most businesses do not last in Nigeria because we believe in doing things solo. Using only one mind, one person’s network and resources for everything is not the best in my opinion. Your partner could be your co-worker that you’ve worked well together and have similar mindsets, or a sibling or best friend or even your spouse. Even though it is not compulsory to have a partner assuming you can do all the thinking, multi task, have a lot of energy, personality and possess multiple skills. But how many things can only one person be? I honestly believe businesses such as GTBank are still existing today and doing well because several great minds came together to form something formidable. What one founder lacked, the co-founder should have or know someone that could help. You need these in business.
A lot of things stand in the way of succeeding in business and you will encounter these challenges every day. When you are on the floor and down to your last kobo, some people will decide to still kick you in. Workers will steal from you, you will constantly get unnecessary, crushing bills, when you are struggling to pay your staff, a basic work tool, machine or instrument could become spoilt, power remains an issue and people will still want free things from you. The society we live in overwhelms businesses, so there is need for a lot of determination and perseverance to succeed. Even in the best of climes, several things stand in the way of success in business and in life.
Someone once said ‘It takes a carpenter to build a shed but any donkey can kick one down.’ Be aware, the world is full of donkeys who revel in why something can’t be done; an entrepreneur is constantly, without tire, looking to prove them wrong. You will encounter staff that are there for the salary and peps only, salary that they didn’t work to generate. They will make sure nothing works and be filled with excuses day in day out. No other feature is going to be more fundamental in determining the success, or otherwise, of your business than your attitude and basket of personal values, capabilities, prior experiences and motivations and most of all knowing when to cut some elements off. So you need to be positive, you need to persevere and need a whole world of grit.
Yes, grit, that golden word. You will not get through the tough times without grit. And there are always tough times running any business. Grit is passion and perseverance to achieve your goals over a very long time. Grit is what will make you go out and get the job done even when there is no light and no money to buy fuel. Grit is stamina. Grit is living life like it is a marathon and not a sprint. Grit is what will make you stay when your biggest customers are not paying up and not even picking your calls any longer. Grit is getting back up every time you are knocked down. Every. Single. Time.
While it is not all doom and gloom, I just had to paint a picture of what it is like running a business, being a mompreneur and knowing that you can’t give up or give in. We all celebrate all the genuine billionaires but the picture I just painted is one percent of what they actually go through. There is much more I tell you. So dear moms, can you go through all of these and still manage to succeed? Can you go through these with baby still screaming beside you? Can you go through all of these and still make profit, grow and scale your business? Can you go through these and much more and be triumphant in business and life? Ask yourself these well before starting out. Wish you all the best in your entrepreneurial journey.