I wrote about “The Fallacy of the Narrative.” To everything in life, there is always a narrative. Being an entrepreneur has its narrative. With the advent of books like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, it seems the only way to make it in life, was to be an entrepreneur. Hoping to find a paid job was frowned upon. It seems to suggest you do not want to retire young and retire rich. In as much as Robert Kiyosaki’s books opened our eyes to an entire new world, the admonitions were to be tempered with local realities.
In the following verses, I have outlined myths about entrepreneurship. I do not have the solutions, but I have a thing or two to say. It is the two cent that I do not have but have decided to give to you. Let’s go on the ride together.
Entrepreneurs Can Control Their Time/Schedule
This has been sold to many, and unfortunately, we found out it was not true. “You can decide when or when not to work.” Well, well, well, that works until when your bills start finding your address. Actually, the truth is the reverse — as an entrepreneur you can almost control nothing. You are like a mother with a new baby. You have sleepless nights because the baby does not have a sleep pattern and cannot say what he/she wants. You are always figuring out things.
Even when your company matures, you still have things to do. As someone most famously said, the CEO’s job is most taxing because it is undefined. You are the janitor (clearing the way for your employees to execute), gatekeeper (ensuring what comes in and goes out), motivator (keeping the troops focused on the job), public figure (ensuring that your act true to your brand and keep the pace with competitors, regulators et al) etc. With this type of job description, how do you have control over your time?
“What is not started will never get finished” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You Don’t Need an Education
They flash it in your face that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Matt Damon did not all graduate from college. What you are not told is the sample of the population they represent. Also, most people do not know what it means not to complete college in the Western world. It is a different ball game from what obtains in other climes. Another fact you are not told is that these guys kept working on the dreams and it got to a point when they realised that they will do better by giving most of their time to what they were pursuing. They did not leave college because they were dummies. They left because they were busy with the work at hand and it was yielding an almost instant result.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn
Education is not about getting grades. It is about the expansion of the mind and the social skills you acquire handling the many issues that come with academic pursuits, eg handling a terrible team member, an overbearing professor, handling lean seasons etc.
Entrepreneurship Is One Big Idea
It is also believed that when you have this one big idea and execute it properly, that is what is required to be successful. A business is never about one big idea. First mover advantage does not guarantee success. It is what it is — First Mover — nothing much. Others can improve on your product and chase you out of the market. It is a free world.
Again, to lunch successful means that everything must line up. You need a syzygy to occur. Planning, distribution, resources etc. must all be in place. Minimal error allowed because most time you have limited resources.
In fact, from what I have learned from businesses, their first product/idea or the product they thought will shift the market in their favour almost does not do it. They reiterate and reiterate until they find the sweet spot, which becomes a cash cow. That cash cow then funds other ventures. Look at Google for example. We all knew them as a search company, and today they are a behemoth of many things. Same for Amazon. Let’s look back home. GSM companies thrived by selling their expensive SIM cards, airtime and phones. Today the business has matured into different things — VAS, Data, Adverts etc.
Employee = Lazy / Coward
It seems most people who are successful in their personal ventures seem to look down on paid employees. As such some employees always wish to be like the other guys out there. They think if they invest the insane number of hours they give to their parent company to their side hustle, they can make it. Well, I do not doubt it, but there is a big “but.”
If everyone was an entrepreneur, where will the entrepreneurs get the staff to get the job done? So, asking everyone to become one is like asking every bird in the sky to be an eagle and every animal a lion. That’s bland.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” — Henry Ford.
It is good to know thyself, and your emotional makeup before venturing. Talk with the average employee and hear their stories. It is not always the fairy tale being portrayed. With that being said, nothing stops you from venturing but do not venture out of self-pity or with the grandeur that it is better to be an employer than an employee. Check your cojones before you venture.
You need emotions and the handling of it to be a good entrepreneur. One day you are up and the other you are down. Your best staff can be a turncoat all of a sudden. Especially when you are starting, you oversee finance, HR, Project Management, etc. Again, check your cojones before you venture.
Entrepreneurs Are Born
This is one of those things that seem to suggest that if you do not have the entrepreneurial streak in you, then you cannot make it in that calling. It seems to suggest that being an entrepreneur is a calling. Well, there are too many examples to suggest otherwise. They are people that started their companies as a side hustle and then they realised it was taking all their waking hours. Afterwards, they decided to give it their all. A good example is Hobby Lobby in the US. David Green told this story in his book More Than a Hobby. There are those who accidentally bumped into a solution of a problem that bothered them for years. Again, Shark Tank, the American Business Reality Show has many examples.
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau
Side Hustle = Route to Entrepreneurship
Some people do, and some don’t, and it does not define you. Some have been able to cope with their daytime jobs and their side hustle. Some cannot, and some don’t have a side hustle. Some people keep one job until they retire. Hey! Life does not come in one mould.
Your side hustle can be a hobby, and it is ok. But when you think that it is going to be your exit path to paid employment then, you might be in a for a big jolt. Your side hustle has no guarantees, but if I were you, I will tend to it and see what comes out of it.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” — Wayne Gretzky
Entrepreneurs Never Ever Work for Others.
Some do, and some don’t but the bulk of them that I know and have read about started out working for others. It is not degrading to work for others. It is a phase of life. For some, it is a permanent feature, and for others, it is not. I believe (please don’t believe this with me) that it is better to learn from other before you launch out. Look at paid employment as being paid to learn.
I read the works of the Heath brothers (Dan & Chip), The Myth of the Garage and Other Minor Surprises. It’s a collection of their columns for Fast Company magazine. They postulated from research and observation that founders of great companies are what they termed as “organisation products” — People who emerged from a system. In effect what they tried to say is that companies are groomed and grown from other companies and not from the garage as it is mythically stated. The garage is the melting pot; the cauldron but not the birthplace.
Jobs and Wozniak came from HP to build Apple. Aig & Wigwe came from GTB to build Access Bank. Fola and Tayo worked somewhere else before starting GTB. Same for the WhatsApp guys. Chad & Steve came from PayPal to create YouTube.
You can find their seminal work at http://heathbrothers.com/member-content/the-myth-of-the-garage-free-ebook/
I have said so much. I think you need to hear other people speak.
The route to entrepreneurship is numerous. Some stumble into it. Some came out of an industry and decided to take it on. Some just found a new way to solving a problem. Some took an old idea and revived it. So, don’t be too bothered if you have not figured out your path. Keep working at what you have in your hands now. If you ever get to be an entrepreneur; great and if you never don’t; nothing spoil.
Go enjoy your life.