Hebrews 12:11 NIV – No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
There is practically no one that is reading this piece today that does not understand what abortion means. It is a taboo in most societies, and some people have described it as the greatest sin of humanity. Likewise, in business, what appears as abortion exists. It is the fastest killer of business, and it has destroyed the dreams of many young entrepreneurs with accompanying the loss of start-up capital. Business abortion is committed right from the very beginning when we invest in a wrong business. This has caused much havoc and consequently discouraged many potential entrepreneurs from setting up their own business. I have two typical extreme cases of a bad choice of business to share with you as we start up this discussion. The cases are true life stories of people with wonderful dreams and a strong determination to attain financial freedom. Unfortunately, their dreams of achieving economic freedom were aborted simply because they invested in a wrong business.
The first case was an account of one Mr John who was a storekeeper in one of the blue-chip companies in Nigeria. He retired some years ago at the age of forty-five to set up his own business after his retirement. He took almost seven months to ponder about the type of business he could set up and be able to manage profitably. Mr John wanted a business with a high margin turnover and short gestation period, although he has no prior idea of how to nurse a business, he was confident that he would be able to deal with the challenges. Eventually, he was advised to invest in GSM accessories and probably become a dealer to one of the industry’s operators. Mr John invested about Five Million Naira into the business and employed three other employees who were also greenhorns in the field to work with him. His problem started two years after the commencement of the marketing firm when sales dropped and he was compelled to sell his goods on credit. Consequently, he found it difficult to replenish the stocks, as he owed his suppliers a lot of money. There were also a lot of unsettled debts by his customers. During this period, John battled with a lot of defective accessories supplied to him but which he could not return as the supplies lacked guarantees. The defective accessories soured his relationship with some major suppliers as many of them exploited his ineptitude to defraud him. Mr John resigned to fate and backed out of the business. He recently confided in me that he was wrongly advised to believe that the business was straightforward when in fact, it was not.
The second case is about a man who was advised by his spouse to invest in poultry business because there was cheap money in it. The aspiring poultry farmer invested his savings into poultry business without getting the proper training. Instead of recruiting a knowledgeable person to handle the business he invited his younger brother who was just a 200 level Agric-Economics student in one of the universities to support the business with technical advice. Unfortunately, the first set of chicks he bought which was worth about Two Million Naira were infected by pallurom disease which claimed the lives of nearly all the chicks. As a fallout of his inexperience, it was discovered that the type of incubator system purchased and used by him was not properly installed and as such he was advised to install another set of incubators thereby incurring another huge capital expenses. Imagine what a waste and a wrong way to start a business in this terrible economy!
These are just two of the many cases of a wrong choice of business that people experience as they delve into business. Unfortunately, so many people get this beginning wrong. This, however, does not mean that there is no way out.
Looking at the pages of dailies nowadays, one will see several adverts and products inviting people for seminars and workshops on how to attain financial independence. In fact, this has become a buzzword, and truly millions of people have become more educated than before on issues about freedom in finances. There is a general awareness of why it is wrong to trade of one’s potential and talent to serve other people forever, especially those that endow to create wealth through their talent by planting a business of their own. Unfortunately, there is little awareness on how to get people to select the right business that stands a greater chance of success. There is no doubt that running a business is the surest way to achieve true financial freedom. But the process of selecting the right business can go beyond choosing the type we feel that fits our personality or the type we think is the most profitable. The process of choosing the right business is tasking and as such, many people are troubled as to what kind of business they should go into that will make them achieve the goal on time. Just as good foundation is critical to a house, choosing the right business is important to any entrepreneur; it is the first step that must be accomplished to achieve success.
As at today, many people have burnt their fingers for investing in the wrong business. A lot of individuals simply invest in a business because they want to become their boss or out of the desire to achieve financial independence without considering the chances of whether they are knowledgeable enough to manage the business to success. In fact, there are growing numbers of people in the country today who believe that business cannot be operated successfully in Nigeria anymore, just because they have chosen a wrong business and it has collapsed. Just as selecting a wrong spouse in marriage could result in tragedy and misfortune, choosing the wrong business by entrepreneurs too often leads to failure and abortion of good dreams.
Very often people ask me to counsel them on the right type of business they can invest in. As a matter of policy, I don’t like giving answers to these questions in haste because it is a delicate terrain which many of us usually take for granted. For instance, one day in the mid of a session when I was discussing start-up strategy with some aspiring entrepreneurs, it occurred to me that I should ask them why some of them had chosen that type of business they were pursuing. I was unsatisfied with the response given by many of them. The rate at which many businesses are collapsing depicts that many entrepreneurs just invest in any business not because they are sure the business is the right one that can make them achieve their desired goals but because they are out of a job and want to start something that would make money for them quickly.
Obviously, the task of choosing what business is right or wrong in this kind of economy is difficult because our society is complicated to understand, and nobody is willing to fail or lose his or her capital. The kind of business that is doing well now may become unsafe and problematic in the face of the changes in government policy. Many people have learned a lot of lessons while some that are interested in setting up businesses are becoming more confused about the kind of business they should engage in, in the first place. Whenever I am privileged to speak to people that are starting a business for the first them, I usually sound a note of warning that nursing a business in Nigeria goes beyond having adequate capital. Right from the beginning, some businesses are as good as dead because of wrong choices and inadequate preparation. Many of us rush to invest in a business only because our friends or spouses think that the business is profitable or maybe we see that so many people are in the business and as such we conclude that the business must be profitable.