Entrepreneurship not for Sissies

So you are at the top of your game  – an executive or an influential person in your organisation or department. You are in everybody’s phonebook. You are invited to functions. You might be nominated for awards. Proposals are flowing into your inbox with everyone wanting a positive decision from you to change their lives for the better. You are IT. And you truly believe you are loved and respected as a professional with Expertise to share because you are YOU. You are surrounded by other influential people who make decisions everyday, as far as you know. Then you get to a point when you want to be your own Boss because no matter how prestigious your position may be and how fat the paycheque is, behind the scenes, you don’t always get to decide the strategy and you can get tired of working for someone else when you could be creating wealth for yourself. Then you decide to start your own company. SHOCK to your system. You might get the first assignment or two easily, then the names in your phonebook start being difficult to get hold of. You can have meetings with some, nothing ever materialises. You are numb to note the reality of your life. Who were all these people that used to fill my life? What happened to the POWER to make decisions?  Why are they avoiding me? Is this why people become tenderpreneurs? Is that why people, even black people “FRONT” politicians, their family members or other connected people in their businesses to stand out and to easily get tenders or private projects?

Many entrepreneurs experience these emotions. Whether they were senior and influential or were inspired when young and inexperienced to start their own businesses. As a Strategist and having been an entrepreneur for 7 years now, I have heard much and observed much. Businesses that fail do not always do so because they were not good enough or their products and services were not needed in the textbook sense. Just like the companies that succeed do not always succeed because they offer a superior product or service. Access to markets (clients and customers) remains one of the biggest obstacles to success for businesses whether they produce knowledge like a strategic advisory and consulting firm like Busara Leadership Partners  or make widgets. Most of entrepreneurs find a different “HOW” to build their business on – to innovate or differentiate themselves from the competition. Very few companies come out with completely new, never before seen or experienced products or services. Most times you build that capability overtime when you are profitable through Research & Development (R&D). So from Day 1, in order to succeed, they require someone to try them out and give them the opportunity or else the business will fail.

The lesson for me has been that many people who are close to you or you think are close to you. Those that you know. Those you spend lots of time and energy with. Those you believe are decision makers. Are not necessarily going to be the ones that help you build your business. Start a non-profit, somehow it sanctifies everything and you have more people willing to give you finance and support for the greater good. Add “Social” Entrepreneur, that also increases your chances too. But a purely commercial venture in the textbook sense, even if you intend to or you do a lot of positive things within your business for the greater good, you may still not be that lucky. Somehow you are more risky. You have no track record. What other projects have you done like this? Did someone hear “I am Entrepreneur”. I started a new business!

So prepare yourself for this reality before jumping ship. Don’t necessarily count the network you have now as the potential clients or customer base. If your business cannot stand on its own feet with the Unique Value Proposition  (UVP) that you can sell to a totally new market or country where you don’t know anyone, it will not last. Ensure you have enough capital or other sources of income to keep you going whilst you sell your venture into new markets and gain experience and track record under your new Brand name (company) rather than your former  employer’s company name, there is a huge difference. And you will have some awesome ANGELS in your network that will help you, promote your company, give you business and prove to you who was always real in your life. But you will have more who don’t support you. Who don’t even know what you do despite you telling them or sending them information on your company. We focus more on the negative than the positive in life generally. Resist the urge. It will drain your energy. Focus on the Guardian Angels that help you and keep you going. Whether it is one person or five. Their contribution in quantum in comparison to your goals, expenses and desires may not be much. But 7 years on, I know for sure that these are the people that have kept me going, energised me and helped me believe in the Goodness of Humans at their core. Thank you my Guardian Angels. You know who you are. Thank you for every idea, project, referral, support of my seminars and Masterclasses through attendance and sponsorship & helping me as a resource, Speaker, advisor and Inspirator when the going is tough. Without you, 7 Years would not have been possible. Nangomso

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