After reading a title like that, you may be wondering who is the author and why should I pay attention? Well, I am Pride Bih Angu. A health professional and entrepreneur from Cameroon who is passionate about nutrition and youth development. I have shared my knowledge and experiences on different seminar and workshop platforms and higher institutions. I have been on an entrepreneurial journey for 5 years now. I have had successes with multiple awards and woeful failures; some of which I am still paying for. I have learned and keep on learning. Many people today desire to be entrepreneurs or are talking about it. But it seems many have misconception of the whole thing. The ideas I put forward here are some of the lessons I have learned on my journey.
LESSON 1: Money is not your limitation or what is holding you back.
Usually, we are tempted to think that what we need to start a business is money. We have pictures in our minds of what we will do if we hit a jackpot or just get some huge amount of money. I used to think so too. But I couldn’t be more wrong.
Money follows a plan. Without a plan, all you will experience is confusion. Every step or action will look like the right one and since money is available, you will just spend it. Soon, you will be out of money and discover, you haven’t gone far or accomplished the dream in your head.
When it comes to establishing a business that is meant to serve your legacy not lifestyle, there are a lot of things to put in place before thinking of money.
First you need a well-structured and written out plan. This is was makes the dream in your head come alive. Write your business ideas down and strategize how to implement it.
Second, you need a team. Your business will only be as good as the team. I am not talking of your family members and friends. I mean experienced professionals who can serve at least as consultants or business partners. If your staff must be unskilled labour, at least have consultants and associates who have the knowledge and experience and can provide training or guidance. I use to think getting people like that was expensive. But it’s not. You just have to find what is of value to them and offer it (that’s a whole other topic).
Third, you need resources. This is more than just money. If you did your plan right, you may find that you have some basic materials around you already which you can use to begin and may need less money than you thought.
LESSON 2: Nothing of value is free
There is no such thing as something for nothing. This has held me back and made me miss so many opportunities. Like our local people say “na money di find money”. They are so right.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no talking about just money as in cash here. Valuable things are more than just money. It can be skill, time, equity, materials or cash.
Let me give a clear scenario. I recently moved to Douala to set up a new business. Honestly, I had no idea where to begin. I accepted an invitation to a seminar for startups organized by Yes Cameroon. There I met a business consultant who normally takes hundreds of thousands just to consult clients. We got talking and realized we both had passion for training youths in entrepreneurship. And boom! I had my ticket. I saw a way to exchange value. My skills in public speaking and teaching for his consulting services. Smooth right?
LESSON 3: Without a system of operation, downfall is eminent
This one got me good. This was the hardest lesson I learned. Most often, because we have an idea and some resources available, we think we can just do anything anyhow and chance will take care of the rest.
Many motivational speakers will tell you just start. Start! Start! But I think this needs balance. How do you start without a plan? It’s like you get into a car or bus heading anywhere. That will mean everywhere will seem like where you are going.
I realized just sitting down to write out your plan and strategize is you already starting. That is even the most difficult part of the work. And if you do it right, implementing will be easy. Resources follow a good well thought-out and written plan. Trust me, I know because I have been there. It may seem like boring work, but if you want your business to last and out-last most, then PLAN. Set a system in place and know you are just a worker in that system. So, design it such that it can operate with or without you. That is what will lead to time freedom for you.
LESSON 4: Your business is only as good as your team
No one can function like an island or at least a business meant for legacy doesn’t. You need people in your business; staff, customers and associates or consultants. Working alone is risky because you can’t see yourself in the picture frame. You need associates and consultants guiding you. You staff doing the day-to-day tasks. You need customers or clients buying your goods or services. All these people are important and you must pay attention to them.
Many people like myself, have made the mistake of hiring family members or friends. Most often, they feel entitled and will not be committed to your business growth as a new person may be. What you need to look for is passion and willingness to learn and some basic skill. You can train someone like that to be a great worker. I can’t even start to recount the marketing campaigns that failed woefully because I depended on friends who told me they were willing to sell. Not to talk of mismanagement because I hired a friend as manager who ended up treating company funds as personal funds.
Take time to hire the right team of people and you won’t regret it. That is a guarantee. If you must involve close people because they are competent, then put in a hiring system so everyone must go through it. As rule of thumb, don’t hire someone you can’t fire.
LESSON 5: Entrepreneurship is a journey of becoming
People will buy you before buying your business. Who are you really? What do you stand for? What are your values? Do you really care? Do you show up when you say you will show up?
You must become the person your business needs. Believe me when I tell you this, entrepreneurs work harder than employees especially at the startup phase. The picture most of us have of entrepreneurs is someone sitting on a beach while some others are working for them somewhere else. This is possible and most entrepreneurs that have achieved a certain degree of stability live like that. But they have balance. When its work time, they work like crazy. And when its play time, they play as hard too. They do work that traditional persons won’t see as work. They return calls, follow-up partnerships, build or revise company profiles, design new programs or products, supervise work, read financial statements, read and respond to reports and the list goes on. And I can tell you that is hard work 100%. So, you must be willing to do the work. If you are lacking in some skill, you must learn it; ON THE JOB. You learn as you go and improve every day. An entrepreneur never stops learning and growing and adjusting. That’s how they get ahead and stay ahead. That is why it’s important to follow your PASSION. Doing all the work will be easy if you are doing what you love.
At the end, you will be proud of who you become in the process. But you must accept to go on the journey of becoming. BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF. The version of you your business needs.
Finally, understand there is no overnight success. Even Aliko Dangote took 30 years to build his empire. Be patient in the process and keep building.
These are the things I have learned in my journey in entrepreneurship. Hope they guide you to do better and be better.
Pride BIH ANGU
PRYDE GLOBAL LLC.
also follow Angu Pride Bih’s entreprenurial journey on facebook at https://web.facebook.com/pridebihangu