Have you ever come across such maxims like a tree grows from a tiny seed, a tall building arises from a mound of earth, a journey of 1000 miles starts with a step, and so on? These sayings are as old as the earth itself, but their reality is unquestionable. They awake us to the reality that any overwhelming project is more manageable if it is broken up into a smaller task. Sometimes, it tells us that a long journey can seem enormous until we start it. So, if a destination is 1000 leagues away, it might be impossible to imagine ever arriving but taking the first step is easy.
Many of us have worked all our lives helping others to build their businesses. We have supported our employers using our talents, professional skills and competence to grow their businesses so big that we feel extremely comfortable and reluctant to leave. Because we are used to working around big things, we live with the illusion that every other thing we do in life must start big. There are times when we have an opportunity to start paddling our own canoe but because we like to start things in a grand style, we allow the opportunity to waste away. However, in real life, can anyone grow without having to start small? This question was my response to a question somebody put to me the last time appeared as a guest on a live radio programme tagged “Business on Radio” on the slot of Fate Foundation.
At the end of the programme, a middle-aged man called my mobile phone, seeking my advice on how could start the business he had in mind for the past three years with the little resources he had. He went further to give reasons why he had been unable to start the business for the past three years and just like many of us, he was waiting to raise so much money so that he could start in a grand style. Unfortunately, the big money had been waiting for was not forthcoming and he had remained confused, not knowing how to start and where to start with obtaining the valuable resources. His discussion with me lasted for 30 minutes, as he gave one excuse or the other for his inability to start with little capital. While the story lasted, I mirrored my mind down to several people I had met or read about who started their business with very little capital but ended up became big entrepreneurs today. While listening to him, I saw a big picture of someone who had passion and concern for success but lacked the push to start small. He booked an appointment to see me and we met a few days after we had discussed how he could start his business. During our meeting, he undertook to implement all of my advice and recommendations. From that day, he called me to discuss the milestones he achieved after he has started the business. A few months later, we met to review his achievement and surprisingly he had made impressive sales, signifying that all of us can achieve what we desire if we begin with as little as we have.
For the five years that I have been supporting people to start and grow their business. One thing that has always impressed me and gives me hope about our tomorrow is the fact that many of us, including myself, have what it takes to succeed irrespective of the size of the resources we start with. Also, very inspirational is the fact that we are all blessed with one form of talent or the other. But despite this, something still holds many of us back from translating our talent and various ideas into viable business. That thing that holds us back is the illusion that we cannot succeed upset with start big. Just like the man I spoke about earlier, every one of us has more than 1000 reasons why we cannot start now. The excuse that some of us give is that we do not have enough capital. Some people’s excuse is time to start. Some do not even believe that any business can succeed in Nigeria of today were government’s support and infrastructure are near zero availability. Very often too, we hear people complaining that they cannot start except they are ready to stay with the business 24 hours because there is a problem of who to entrust the business to chart their course.
A lot of us underrate what we have. The little time you have can grow the business big if you start with that today. That person you do not trust can support your business to grow big if given the chance. The little money you have can start something and become big tomorrow if you manage it well. God is always delighted at someone who is willing to take small steps to accomplish something big. I see that in Zachariah 4: 10. Few people understand that only one seed of corn has every chance to go to produce millions of corns tomorrow. Some of us have profitable business ideas but we all wait until we have all the resources needed to start. I recall my mentor once told me that he started his business with a little capital but with courage worth millions of naira. I also recall reading how Mrs Kehinde Kamson started her Sweet Sensation business some time ago in a small apartment in Ilupeju, Lagos. I also recall how the likes of GTB and Zenith Banks of today started some years back before becoming the big elephants we talk about today. Starting a business with all required resources does not guarantee success. I have seen many people who started big and failed big while those that started, grew big.
There is always an advantage in starting small. There is a saying that the cost of starting is less than the cost of holding back. In fact, God does not expect us always to start big. He advised us to start small in Ecclesiastes 11:4 which admonishes that if you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. One big lesson that I took long ago from my mentor is to believe that the first step to overcoming procrastination is to eliminate all the reasons and excuses that will not make you start to live your dream. Whatever may be your desire, aspiration and business idea, whatever course of action you intend to take to achieve financial independence, do not wait for tomorrow to come before you start. As an employee, today, do not wait for your gratuity or pension before you start the business of your own. Start with what you have today. Stop counting the chicken you have not hatched. John Newman writes in his book, “calculation cannot make a hero.” Don’t worry about how much money or equipment you are starting with. Just start with the million-naira determination and bear it in mind that it is not what you have that matters but it is what you do with what God has already given you. I recall a friend came to me two years ago immediately after he was retrenched. He had less than 300,000 Naira as savings when he lost his job. After paying the outstanding rent due in respect of his apartment, he was left with less than 100,000 Naira. He started his consultancy business with this, a computer and converted his guest room to an office. Today, he is not only a successful consultant, but he even wishes that he was retrenched earlier at work.
You too can start to deal with whatever you have and grow big tomorrow. Robert Schuller says, “winning starts with the beginning.”