If you ask 10 aspiring entrepreneurs why they’re not yet running the business of their dreams, 9/10 will cite a lack of or insufficient funds as their main reason. They are aware of the challenges that start-up businesses face and will not embark on one until they are sure they have sufficient capital. They also know that in a country like Nigeria, it’s easier getting the proverbial camel through the eye of the needle than there is for finding loans and overdrafts in the banks. Here are three insights I got from a business buff, Segun Adio which will help young entrepreneurs get out of this tight corner.
(1) Be willing to start small
While drawing up our business plans we often dream big; and rightly so. But if we don’t have the resources to set up the massive or multi-layered businesses we want, we can roll out in phases. A rich man who wants a forest can buy a thousand tree cuttings and plant them all in one day but a less-moneyed man can also have his forest even though he can’t afford more than a few cuttings; all he has to do is nurture the few he has to maturity and get more cuttings from them until he can populate all his field with the trees. There are several entrepreneurs who have groups of schools but humbly began as after-school, home lessons. Some car dealerships out there began as a garage for servicing cars. Remember, success is a journey not a destination.
(2) Be willing to deviate
Uche wanted to go into real estate but he didn’t have the required capital. Where his wife worked, he got access to supply them with trucks of gravel for the stadium they were building for a university. Using the funds he had, he leased a truck and employed a driver to deliver the gravel. One year on, as the stadium construction was nearing completion, he had made so much money from turning over his initial capital. Now, you would have thought Uche had abandoned his first dream and was now established as a building contractor only for him to later register his real estate business. It’s not only delay that isn’t denial; detours are not denials either, so long as you keep your eye on your goals.
(3) Money isn’t your only capital
This is the most important point. Before the advent of money, some African tribes determined a man’s net worth by the size of his family. Of course, he isn’t going to exchange his children or wife for a bag of rice in the market; the value of his worth laid in the potential of his family when let loose on his farmland. More wives meant more children, to work on the farmhands, resulting in a bountiful harvest. There is one currency that most people have but which we do not value. There is a net worth we neglect, yet its potential can provide the much-needed capital for starting and running our businesses. It is called relationships.
Solid relationships can open doors for you that money sometimes cannot dare to knock; the problem is we don’t know how to maximize our relationships. If you go back to the Uche’s story above, he got the gravel-delivery contract by relationship. His wife spoke to her boss on his behalf and the boss asked for a meeting with him. During discussions with the Uche, the boss was so impressed with the man’s track-record and professionalism that he gave him the contract without asking for the usual bank guarantee. If he didn’t get that waiver, he couldn’t have executed the contract either. Uche had invested in his relationship with his wife, who had invested in the relationship with her boss and the organization and it landed him the contract.
At this point, some readers will be wondering how on earth they can use these kinds of connections they require for their business like Uche. Fear not, all things are possible.
You must have heard of the theory called Six degrees of separation. The theory was postulated by one Frigyes Karinthy in 1929. The theory states that: everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Think about it. If you are willing to look hard enough and exert yourself diligently, you can connect the dots that lead you from where you are to the relationships that you need to kick-start your business. Raising funds is not the only way to get capital, developing connections is another way for less-moneyed people.