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Entrepreneurship shouldn't be a lonely affair

By King Kaka | January 15th 2020

I hope you have had an exciting first two weeks of 2020. Just the other day, I was reading a magazine feature on transitioning to a new year and why ancient monks put too much weight on spirit rejuvenation as part of new beginnings. A look into Psychology studies also suggests the same in daily practice; whether beginning a new day or even a relationship.

So why is it important to look at things anew when embarking on a new chapter? A few days ago, my friends and I, uncharacteristically, were talking about fear. Fear of failure. Of realising right in the middle of accomplishing your dreams that it was the wrong dream or that you had veered off course. How one could ditch the horse and search for the right path with the least amount of upset.

Society has instilled a lot of pressure on us about failure that when you see yourself failing, shame and depression stalks you closely.

I challenged my friends to share their failure stories and how they overcame them, so that people can realise that failures happen. That we just have to be brave enough to face and recover from them. One of my friends shared how when smack in the middle of his university education, he realised that he had a passion for business.

So one evening he called up his parents and asked to meet. At the dinner table, he broke the news that he was quitting his education to pursue entrepreneurship. He beseeched his parents to give him some money to use as capital for his business.

My friend, being a really good planner, had all the numbers at hand, answers to any ‘what ifs’ his parents threw his way and had prepared some convincing PowerPoint presentations to support his bid. While his parents were skeptical at first, they eventually agreed to support him.

Every entrepreneurs story

Two months after quitting school, he opened a fast food restaurant. It seemed the obvious choice to him. He rationalised that Kenyans love their chips and chicken and so this would be the ideal business.

The business was soon up and running, and seemingly doing well. A few months into it though, he noticed that the math was not adding up as he kept digging into his pocket to finance the running of business.

He realised that the accountant was playing fast and loose with the numbers.  One year in, he knew that he had two options; to close shop or go full steam ahead at a loss. He was too ashamed to seek help as he didn’t want people to know that he was failing.

Most entrepreneurs, at one time or other, have found themselves in that zone. But I say, if you are in trouble, always ask for help. And don’t limit yourself to how many people you can talk to. Get at least three mentors and troubleshoot with them. My friend was stressed out but suffered in silence because he couldn’t even talk to his parents.  

So I asked him what his turning point was. How he dealt with the situation. “I had to start all over again,” he said.  One morning he woke up and sought out the landlord and asked for a three-month grace period. He then called his shop’s manager and told her to communicate to the staff that he was closing down.

He then turned off his phone and travelled to some lodge at the Kenyan border to have some ‘alone’ time to reflect on where he went wrong.  Today, he owns a successful business. How did he bounce back?

He says the break helped.  It cleared his mind and by the time he was back on the horse he had a new mindset and a skillset. What I really wanted to know from him though was the mistakes he had made on his journey that everyone can learn from.

“Two things,” he said.

1. Avoid irrational decisions. Take your time when executing your plan. Rushing means many mistakes.

2. When starting a business you’ve never done before, take your time doing research. “I feel I skipped this step.  I had the financials, the moral support from family and friends but the experience was wanting. I ended up employing people who would later on manipulate me for their own selfish gain.”

Before he opened his shop for the second time, he interned in a fast food restaurant for two months. This, he says, was the best decision he ever made.

 Now that we are in a new year. That translates to me as new energy and mindset. Take your time and execute your plans. Your destiny awaits. Enjoy the rest of 2020.  

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