Perhaps it is because I am generally frank about my own weaknesses and failings. Perhaps it is something else. But people are able to come to me with things they keep away from others or from the public.
Two days ago, a fellow entrepreneur buzzed me up for a chat. He talked about his struggles as an entrepreneur in Nigeria, and I think that he did a good job in describing certain aspects of it. We are both agreed on the need to share these things, so here are some excerpts from his reflections:
== Start of reflections ==
You know one starts out feeling going entrepreneurial was a superior endeavour. You start out pumped up and spend virtually your life at it, and sometimes you wonder where the years have gone. It feels like a room with an entrance and no exist, you either create the exit or give in to it as your tomb.
My debt profile is approaching a million naira mark….. mostly incurred for the business to survive. And it keeps looking like breakthrough is just one step away. Then you take that one step, and nada. Another hundreds of thousands disappeared.
Hard but true lessons of life. To grow, it seems that we have to change.
== End of reflections ==
I could identify with most of that, as I have had similar experiences. The first thing I say to people who are struggling – be it in their relationships, marriages or businesses – is that what is happening to them is not some strange thing. It is more common than they may realise. Everyone in business in Nigeria is fighting a battle. People do seem to have a natural disposition to keep a mask on in these parts. As such, some may think that some oddity has befallen them. So, accepting that the hard realities are a normal thing is the first step.
Next is to face those realities. I decided long ago that there is no shame in facing the hard realities and trying out different moral and legal options available. Make the best of things.
Change to Grow
He was spot on about the need to change in order to grow. As an entrepreneur, don’t make the mistake of closing your door to any options and possibilities. Keep exploring. It may or may not exactly require a fresh start. What is needed might just be a modification of what you are already doing. Fresh start, bold modification or minor modification, Whatever the change you need to make, own it and refuse to be ashamed of it.
When a soldier is out on the battlefield, he has to make tough calls that the rule books didn’t envisage. Make yours. I cannot promise that it will be easier. But I can tell you that you have nothing to lose by trying new options and possibilities. For example, I know that many times, people start out with naive dispositions and dreams. The hard realities can help bring us to our senses. Embracing a more down-to-earth solution when we hit the hard realities might just be the way to go.
I am convinced of one thing though: Nigeria needs entrepreneurs that go on to succeed. How else shall we put jobs and income in the hands of the hundreds of thousands of graduates that hit the streets every year? How else shall we give our children a stable future? We must succeed.