The market woman is more successful than most entrepreneurs out there. This is the painful but ironic truth.
Don’t try to solve all the world’s problems, just identify a problem around you and solve it in a highly creative way. That’s how to be an entrepreneur.
Some months ago, my business partner and I had an appointment with an investor. We were to meet him at his office. When we walked in, he welcomed us and offered us drinks. I was anticipating the outcome of the meeting. I didn’t really believe that people could just dip their hands into their pockets and dole out cash to you because you have a brilliant idea. I was excited because this was a whole new world for me, and maybe such quick transactions actually do happen. As we kept talking about the whole idea, I realized that the investor didn’t talk in the direction of money. He just talked generally about our marketing strategy and gave us some advice pointing out the loopholes in our strategy. His advice was concrete, but I was still very much misplaced. We had talked about everything else, but what about the money, the actual investment? I mean, I watch movies where investors write big cheques for young entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but this meeting didn’t seem any close to the money.
Although I was still surprised that he didn’t talk money, I cherish his advice because there was truly an obvious loophole in our marketing strategy. We had done our research, but we missed something, and this guy pointed out what we missed to us from his archive of experience. We were truly very surprised as to how we could have missed that piece of information, but still, I couldn’t help thinking about the money. The whole point of the meeting was meant to revolve around the money. Well, there was no money, there was just advice.
Young entrepreneurs like me are making the same mistake right now. You have a brilliant idea, and you believe so much in your idea, and you believe the whole world should support your idea, but then you meet an investor and the investor ends up giving you, not money, but advice. Then you’re lost because it is not advice that you need.
A young entrepreneur feeling smart about himself or herself isn’t going to ask for advice, naturally because of pride. He’d be like, ‘I researched my idea, I’ve done everything… these are just elderly guys trying to tell me how I cannot do it and blah blah blah.’ Instead, the young entrepreneur is going to expect money, you know, financial investment, startup capital. But this is the Common Mistake just as the title of this post reads. Young entrepreneurs, instead of seeking advice, they seek money.
I made a post a while back titled Your Guardian Angel. Your guardian angel is in other words your mentor, someone to guide you through the path of business, someone you look up to, someone with some experience. This person will give you advice as you move up in your pursuit. Your mentor will make sure that you commit fewer mistakes. I emphasized in that post the importance of building trust.
You’re meeting an investor for the first time. Hey! Common! You cannot ask him/her for money! Just imagine that a thousand other young entrepreneurs approach the same investor for money. It’s insane, right? Because you just come in with your idea saying, ‘I have a very brilliant idea, I believe 100% in my idea, my idea is the best, I’m going to push competitors off the market. Just give me the cash.” No! A million entrepreneurs can come in that way too, so does the investor keep on doling out cash like that just by word of mouth? Capital NO.
You have to build trust. I know you believe so much in your idea, I know you believe your idea is going to revolutionize the market and whatnot, but you have to build trust. No matter how fantastic your idea is, you have to build trust with a potential investor.
This is a common mistake young entrepreneurs make, we want the money so fast because we want to start. We don’t want somebody telling us what we are missing, we don’t want someone giving us advice. We want the money, you know, just give us the money, believe in my idea right now, believe in it, believe in it, can’t you see it’s so brilliant? Believe in my idea right now, give me your money, give me your money. But it is never going to work that way because money is HARD to come by, money is freaking hard to come by, and no investor in their right senses is going to give you money on the first day.
What you need to do as a budding entrepreneur is to learn. Don’t try to move too fast. What you need to do is learn from these people with more experience, let them feed you with their advice, and as you implement their advice you’re building trust with these investors. Instead of looking for an investor, look first for a mentor.
A mentor is an investor. Yes, because when you’re talking about investment, you’re not just talking about money. Parents ‘invest’ in their children by sending them to school. Investment is such a broad term. A mentor could also invest in you by giving you advice. It’s the same investment. It’s all about understanding the term investment. You have to know what you’re looking for exactly, because an investor could invest in you in so many ways. So don’t get sad and depressed when the money doesn’t come by the way you think it should. Money is hard to make, this is why you should give the investor a valid reason to put his hands in his pocket and dole out that freaking hard-earned cash. Give him the best reason in the world. You have to impress the investor. But I’d advice that you seek mentorship first before cash. Because to tell you the truth, mentorship is cash waiting to happen. If you can build enough trust with your mentor then it’s all a matter of time, because one day that mentor is going to call you and say, ‘Look, I think you’re ready, come take some cash.’ It’s all about trust. In the world of money, trust is everything.
In what way are you trying to build trust with a potential investor? Let us know, comment below.
Yesterday, I was browsing through Punch online newspaper, and I read that the Nigerian Naira has fallen even deeper against the dollar and now stands at ₦500 to $1. To say I was saddened is an understatement. I felt helpless, and at the same time, angry. How long will things keep getting worse? This is what every Nigerian is asking right now. No one knows the future of the country if things continue this way.
My country, Nigeria, is in recession. For some months now, up to a year, prices of commodities have been sky-high. People can’t afford the most basic of foodstuffs anymore. Inflation has flooded the Nigerian market. To say conditions within the country are impossible is barely shedding light on the actual crisis. I mean, people are actually dying!
I’m not a politician or an aspiring politician (well, no one knows the future), but I am a budding entrepreneur that’s learning at the speed of light. And one thing I know is that even the darkest cloud has a silver lining. Nigerians can choose to sit and watch as things get worse, or we can choose to make the best out of the current situation. How we go about this? By digging out the root of the problem. And what is the problem? The problem is that Nigerians don’t patronize homemade products. 99% of what we consume are foreign made. Even the oil we are so richly blessed with is shipped abroad for refinement. The problem is a fundamental one.
This is why my partners and I are starting up our business, because we want to redefine the state of the Nigerian market. We are social entrepreneurs who not only want to make profit, but also want to change the consumer behavior of the average Nigerian. Why do Nigerian prefer foreign goods to homemade good? I’d tell you why, Quality. Nigerians don’t trust the quality of what they produce, it sounds crazy but it’s the truth. The problem isn’t that Nigerians are not productive (there are over 1.2 million registered business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), I’ve done my research). Therefore, anyone who’s bringing a solution to the table at these trying times first has to tackle the issue of diversity in productivity, quality, and then awareness, because the reason why Nigerians are overdependent on foreign products is that they have more appeal compared to their local counterparts. These giant global companies know how to brandish their products in people’s faces by force.
I don’t know how many Nigerians are going to read this, but there is a loud wake-up call disturbing Nigerians to unite and solve this pitiful crisis. More entrepreneurs need to spring up. Every Nigerian must ask himself/herself what he/she can produce. In what way can you as a Nigerian add value to the Nigerian economy? In what innovative way can you influence the Nigerian market?
Please comment your ideas below, let’s all be productive together.
Victor Enesi is an entrepreneur and a blogger with a belief that anyone with the right push can become a successful entrepreneur. Like and follow the Facebook page ‘Life of a Budding Entrepreneur’ for instant updates. Stay tuned as we learn together. Cheers.
When I was in school I had a DJ friend whom I always admired. When it came to weekend parties, DJ Java was the man. Anyone who wanted to organize a party soon had to come to him. He had the tools, and he made cool money week in week out. I admired his passion and most times questioned myself about it. How can somebody already know what he wants and pursue it with so much zeal? It beat my imagination. Maybe I thought this way because I’m somewhat of a traveler. But this guy knew what he wanted to do and be in life, and he was already doing it while in school and making money as well.
Sometimes I’d think real deep about DJ Java. Did he choose what he wanted to be in life? Or did he just know it? It puzzled me because life has so many options, and I catch myself wondering, how will people just choose one thing out of so many things? How does a Doctor choose his profession and stick to it? How does an Engineer choose his profession? Doesn’t an Engineer imagine himself a Doctor sometimes?
Choosing what business to go into can be a Pandora’s box. Most times life chooses for you, or you just get tired of traveling. The truth is there are so many things you can be in life, but you obviously can’t be everything. So, choose something you’re really passionate about, something that relates with you on a deep level. Maybe you’ve always wanted to open a bar, maybe you’ve always wanted to be a music producer, maybe you’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, or a shopping mall. Think of something you love and build a business around it.
What is your passion, and how do you plan to build a business on it?