King Kaka: The dark side to the growth story

King Kaka, an entrepreneur and award-winning artiste.  
I saw a tweet the other day by US actor Wesley Snipes that said: “Don’t let social media rush you, no one is posting their failures.” It spoke to me on a really personal level.

I was on my way to pitch to a company that I’d devised an idea for. I made a stop to buy take-away food since I hadn’t eaten, and while I was in the queue, a young guy approached me and he looked really wowed.

He mentioned how just meeting me was a dream come true for him, as he’d been sending messages on social media but in vain.

I’m highlighting him in this story because he glorified Kaka Empire and the steps I’ve made in the industry.

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And then he straight up asked me if there’s any dark side to entrepreneurship. And for some reason, it brought back memories of all the mountains I’ve had to climb to get to being King Kaka.

The struggle

Very few people highlight the dark side of entrepreneurship, very few know about the struggles. My uncle once called me right after I quit my job to become an entrepreneur and asked me if I was ready for what my decision meant.

Last week I talked about depression among entrepreneurs. You must have a heart that’s ready to withstand all the pressure that no one talks about.

How do you deal with anxiety, hopelessness, worthlessness, suicidal thoughts and self-doubt? We’ve been taught to idolise the King Kakas, Mark Zuckerbergs, Chris Kirubis – but is it really what we should be doing? How detailed are their stories? You can definitely gather footnotes, but no one can prepare you enough for the steep hill ahead once you choose to go into business.

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Enduring pain

And I just discovered the other real meaning of entrepreneurship – “the ability to endure pain for a long period of time”.

And this goes both ways. Most of us would jump ship and say this only applies to those who have businesses that haven’t yet sprouted.

That’s a very narrow mindset because with more money comes more problems. In this field, always keep in mind that one problem solved will always be replaced by another one.

Even though it’s not guaranteed, remember that being an entrepreneur means you’re there to solve problems, and problems don’t just go away.

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And when you solve one, you’ll be tempted to solve a bigger one. It’s like a game – you win one level and can’t wait to get to the next level. This is what translates to growth.

Getting stuck

Everyone wishes for growth, and at no time do you think you’ll get stuck, especially when things on the outside really look glossy.

When I was home and facing all these personal issues that started the Kaka Empire brand, as much as I presented a really pretty picture to the public, I knew I couldn’t fool the man in the mirror. And it was official; I was stuck. Things weren’t working out, and I honestly just wanted to give up.

My employees didn’t notice, but I’d taken an advance trip and seen the writing on the wall.

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The question was, how would I go back and report to this amazing team that believes in me that we were stuck?

Those were some dark days, and the rejuvenation that got us unstuck can only come from within.

Keep in mind that the people around you also play a really huge role in how your story plays out. There was a time this whole entrepreneurial journey was not making sense, and literally everyone was convincing me to close shop and get a job.

My mum even went ahead and got me a job. I turned her down for I had seen the vision, and even though sometimes it was blurry, I still wanted to keep my eyes on the prize.

We might lose focus, but the thing that’s going to hold you is how strong our vision is and what your weaknesses are.

I can’t say I’m 100 per cent strong – I’d be lying – but I work on my weaknesses while pumping up my strengths.

Finding light

The first time you come up with an idea and you do all the calculations and see all the projections on how you’ll make money, you get excited.

And then reality doesn’t quite match up to the dream and you feel like the darkness is closing in on you.

What you don’t know is that where there’s darkness there is room for light, and when you look at your purpose from a different perspective, then you’ll see your way out.

Initially, I thought about all the money I’d make from signing artistes, but now I see young, fresh talent making an impact not only in their careers or personal lives, but also in the industry. Find the light; don’t turn a blind eye to it. And all the best.

The writer is an entrepreneur and award-winning artiste.  

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