By Rabison Shumba
Starting and running your own business has never been an easy road. It is a leap of faith, hope and believing in your dream that it will one day blossom. Building a company is similar to what a farmer goes through. He has time to Prepare the land, Plan the appropriate seed, Plant, Pluck out weeds and hope for big harvest. This is something that keeps the farmer going. Year in year out he/she risks all the seed and finance available because they are convinced that a good harvest is coming someday. As I said implementing your dream is usually riddled with many excuses. Many fail to even start rolling out their dreams because they can intellectually articulate how impossible it is not to implement it.They talk themselves out of the dream long enough to believe that is not possible. If ever they get to begin implementing the dream, they are so eager to harvest to the point that discouragement gets the better of them as the dream seems to need a lot of incubation and further effort and taking more risks. It is for that reason that most people would rather work for others for the rest of their lives even though pregnant with possibility, full of ideas and passionate about the dream they carry. I have made every one of the excuses below so I am talking from the point of view of someone who faced the same challenges any dreamer will come across.
Your dream needs you. It needs your time, your thought processes and intellectual capacity, your money or capital investment, you passion and drive and your resilience when it seems to suffer from stunted growth, malnutrition and possible extinction. It requires your faith and hope which is unwavering where no one can ever talk you out of what you carry. Partner with your own dream. You conceived it, you saw it possible at one point, the dream grew in you, now therefore, let no one separate you and your aspirations by telling you 101 reasons why it wont happen.
Some common excuses dreamers make.
I am too young or too old to dream – I am amazed and young boys who started dreaming in their teenage and early adulthood and became millionaire and billionaires in US$ terms. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg became billionaire at age 23, Bill gates started his now billion dollar business at age 20. Many examples come to mind. You are never too young or too old to dream. It is never too late. There are successful companies that were birthed by pensioners. Why not? You have a legacy to leave behind. The fact that you consider you not fit to work normal shifts does not disqualify you from birthing ideas, using your mind that now has 60+ years of experiencing different waves and tides in economies.
Document that dream so that those that are able bodied will run with it. Your own children can pick up from where you left and create a generational legacy. After all, age ain’t nothing but a number, the old song went. I was in my twenties when I felt the urge to start my own business. My own father felt I was too young to handle risks. That did not stop the dream from growing inside me. It was not rebellion, it was simply realizing that my dream was past its gestation period. I didn’t want a Cesarean operation and neither did I desire an abortion but a normal delivery. The baby, Infotech Solutions (Pvt) Ltd is now 9 years old, going strong.
2. I don’t have the money to get off the ground – Money should never be used as an excuse why the dream remains dormant or the absence of the dream totally. Your role is to dream and have vision. Provision attaches it self to Vision just as Cream is always attracted by dreams. If you are bold enough about your dream, if you ave the conviction, if you passionate and sold-out enough then money will come you way. Bankers will not support your half baked dream which seeks to just en-rich you with no sustainability in it. Even a donor is always concerned about dreams which seek to empower the owner and his clan only.
The truth is you will surely benefit from your dream but your desperation for the start-up capital should not be riddled with the loudness of your personal needs. Start small. A prototype will give birth to more and so on. I know of people who started off with $20. Baked a few doughnuts and sold them. They were disciplined with the little and now have chains of bakeries. I started my company after my insurance company re-imbursed me $250 for my car that had been written off by accident. I was “under insured” the fine print said hence all I got was less than 10% of a car. With that I bought used computers and refurbished and sold them from my apartment. I didn’t need thousands. I started somewhere with me being the only employee.
3. I am not that educated and experienced enough – Education is important. I am one person who loves to see people empowered in their areas of passion for full potential to manifest. However, lack of a degree did not stop Bill Gates from birthing the billions he speaks of today. He actually dropped out of school. I have a cousin here in Zimbabwebabwe who quit his degree, came to me and said “Rabison, I am leaving varsity, I want to go start a tuck-shop”. My reaction was not at all amusing to this young man as I told him all the reasons I could to stop him. He didn’t stop nevertheless, now he as a chain of ten supermarkets in Bulawayo, all networked and doing well. He is in his late twenties and employees 90 people.
Imagine that I was about to stop him from all that because I exalted education and degrees. I am not advocating that people should abort their university education, no. You do not necessarily need a degree to dream. Some actors, sports persons, graphics designers etc are wealthy today and were never academically gifted. Your dream can well be your university because you will learn more as you roll it out. You can not condemn yourself as you compare with your classmates. We have different privileges, and destiny blue prints. Take on yours and run.
4. Someone else out there has the same dream – You may not be the one who invented light bulbs but surely you can ride on that dream and produce a light bulb that is so economic that it can be lit using the smallest battery. You may not have a unique fresh, out of the box kind of dream but certainly you have the right to be different. The more flavors there are, the better. Just because there are non alcoholic beverages that people have enjoyed for years does not stop you from creating a new one. It will grant mankind more options, more choices, more value coming out of competition in pricing. If your dream breaks monopolies then it is the right kind of dream. Bring it on. It is your kind of dream manifestation that mankind and generations are waiting for.
5. My country’s economy is not viable and conducive for my dream – This is a very common excuse that many people make. Yes the issues of viability are important to take into consideration but many hide behind this veil. The fact that Zimbabwebabwe was in economic turmoil and is still grappling from the effects of 10 years of decay did not stop dreamers from implementing their dreams. In fact at one point almost everyone had to trade in something, you had to be selling a few things on the side to generate the much needed cash. Was the economy viable? Not at all. Did people die for lack of cash? Not even.
Many made thousand upon thousands simply by adapting their dreams to the environment. They diversified into other cash generating businesses to sustain the big dreams. With every obstacle, there is a way of escape. There is something you still can do to keep the dream momentum going. You do not have to flee your country. Make the best out of the seemingly dry economy. You have the right to expand your business to other nations, globalization. Start in your own space, your own country where it takes a shorter time to register and operate than in foreign lands you are made to feel unwelcome even with the correct paperwork, permits etc.
6. It is risky, There is no job security in my own dream – Starting a business is a major risk that you must do with intentionality and with a clear view of what you are engaging with. Risks are the breakfast of champions and dreamers. Yes, you may actually go for some time without the much needed salary but your dream will live to fulfill your desires and those of generations after you. Leaving formal employment almost sounds silly. I had to leave Anglo American PLC, one of the best employers of all time to start a business.
Many laughed it off as I was leaving “comfort” to enter into unknown territory. After all, this boy didn’t look ready to run a business. The reason I could not be negotiated into staying was because my dream was priceless and was now suffering from my double mindedness. No salary or offer of new vehicle could stop me. My own CEO called me several times to show me my new perks. With due respect I still left much to his disappointment because I had become a household name in my area of endeavor, IT Support.
7. I fear that someone else will steal the idea from me – fear is a spirit and when you operate out of fear, you will achieve less. Fearless does not mean you shut your mind from realities around. Fearless means you know all those possibilities but they are not as big as your dream. Your dream is too big to drop. Many friends have come to me crying over how they had an idea documented, gave it to a potential “financiers” who immediately realized the viability and renamed the project and started doing the same.
I do not doubt that of the 6 billion people in the world, there could be a chunk that lacks integrity to the point of stealing ideas. You will always have many who desire to reap where they did not sow. Because it is your dream, no thief can roll it out like you so continue on the path and your new competitor (the thief) will wonder how you are doing it. You can not put your dream on ice or in park mode because of elements of fear. You are bigger than that. Walk tall and claim what is yours. Copy cats can stay in their world but they will only get enough for bread not create lasting wealth.
8. People seem to think it is not practical including my own family – Sometimes the dream only makes sense to the one who carries the dream. I always wondered when I see pregnant women having all sorts of cravings saying “this child has changed my diet needs, I eat weird things now”. Because I have no idea what it feels, I can only observe as I do not have the capacity to carry a child, certain things remain a mystery to me. They don’t seem practical except to the one who has first had opportunity to carry the baby or dream. Your own family being the source of all support and encouragement can also be a source of major upsets when they “feel” your dream is not the “right” kind of dream for the sake of the “family’s name”.
Excuse me, my dream can actually change what my family is known for. My dad always believed in the teaching profession as the most secure, sound and stable hence I also had to enroll in a teacher training institute like all the other sons and daughters he had encouraged ahead of me. To his disappointment I never taught from the day I finished college on 6 November 1995. I joined private sector which unsettled him. It didn’t sound practical. 6 years later I came to him with a brilliant idea to leave employment and be jobless, but start my company. “What!!!!”, I can even remember his exclamation “You are going mad my son, think again” he would say. I did not stop at all. He had to get used to a son who did not enjoy limitations and boundaries. To date my business endeavors remain the only businesses there are in the history of my clan.
9. No one is willing to help me off the ground, I am all alone – It can be a lonely walk but the fruits bring in all kinds of “helpers” and “friends” to assist in carefully harvesting. One it tempted to ask where the people were when you agonized over where to get salary for your 3 employees. They had “free comedy” back then over how “this guy seems to think he can do all things and now see who is mourning the most”. It is sad sometimes as you go for months without giving yourself a salary. People sympathize with you and take all you are doing for granted.
If ever you help a butterfly when it is trying to fly then you kill its learning processes, whenever you try hatch eggs ahead of the time, those chickens will be sickly and without determination to live another day. sometimes you do not need to rest on the help of others. You have a clearer understanding and projections of where you are going with your idea hence do not feel lonely when you have to walk alone. You have your dream to affirm, grow and pamper. Speak to your dream, dress your dream, dine with it and roll a carpet for it as you roll the dream out. You are never alone.
10 What if it fails? Will I not become the laughing stock – I will ask you the opposite, What if it succeeds? Will you still complain. Not every dream will give you instant gratification and satisfaction. If Thomas Edison feared that people would keep laughing at him we would not be enjoying the light bulb in every home today. He had to fail hundreds and thousands of times and learn from each failure. So what if it fails once? Keep trying? The fact that it failed once or twice does not qualify you to start handling and carrying yourself like a failure. Each failure should be a learning point of how not to do it the next time. Personally I restarted my IT business three times. I never closed doors totally but I got to points where it seemed meaningless to continue but the dream was so compelling for me to keep it alive. It would cry like a baby in my heart I couldn’t afford to abort it.
“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person who is doing it”
-ancient Chinese proverb
“The most important thing is to love what you do. Never do it to please someone else-it has to be yours. That is all that will justify the hard work needed to achieve success. Compete against yourself, not others for that is what your best competition is truly”-Peggy Fleming- Olympic Gold Medalist-
Rabison Shumba is a young African entrepreneur who has interests in Information and Communication Technology, Agriculture and Mining. He is also a motivational speaker, trainer and author. His book, The Greatness Manual and various online articles are tools for personal and professional development. Together with 100 other Career Experts, Rabison co-authored the 101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career. Rabison has a personal vision of impacting the lives of children in marginalized communities by creating platforms for career counsel and guidance, information empowerment and capacity building through the Greatness Factory Trust, where he currently holds the position of Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Acting Executive Director. He is actively involved in the organization of career enhancement and guidance colloquiums to propel and inspire both young and mature professionals to greatness. His areas of expertise include strategy, leadership, personal and professional development. Rabison is married to Jackie, and they have two daughters. They reside in Harare, Zimbabwebabwe. http://www.greatnessmanual.com or http://www.rabisonshumba.com