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What if the profit don’t come as planned?

By Okechukwu Onwuka
Enterprise is fun. Can be fun. A whole lot of fun. Enterprise is an adventure. And may also be the only means of survival in some cases. It is not uncommon for people to develop business ideas on the platform of excitement, passion or enthusiasm.

The excitement may be based on a need to solve a particular problem or it may come from the desire to express oneself on another level. It may also be the result of using one’s talent to meet a need or simply doing what you love. Except in the cases where one frustration or another such as job loss or a natural disaster forces out the entrepreneurial spirit, almost all the other cases of business start up is based on excitement and passion.

And I’ll say that this positive feeling is very important for businesses. It is this passion and enthusiasm that enables one to overlook the detracting voices of those who do not share in your vision.

The same passion provides the much needed initial propulsion to start. The stimulus to overcome the inertia of idleness and start something! The zeal to overlook the failure of others and take the bold step of putting reality to your dreams. For those who have been there, you can’t beat the excitement. Like you have just found the man or woman of your dreams and suddenly, you can’t wait to get married.

To hell with those who have failed in the past. Yours will be different. You cannot feel the way you do and be wrong. No one has made you feel this way before. You have surely found him. Or her. The feel of enterprise is very much the same. At least at the beginning. At this time, the future is always bright.

Not the distant future. The very near future. You have it all planned out. And thought out too. Afterall, Harry Truman, a past US president as quoted above said “I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work.

Why should you fail? How can you fail! Impossible! You are hard working, energetic and deeply committed to your vision. You have always worked hard at everything you do.

This will be no different. You have completed training at the Business school and studied further on the enterprise area. With the office apartment paid for, office furnishing completed, and using the best methods taught in business school, you have hired the best hands into your sales and management team. You have friends in the top positions around town.

You are well primed for success. With this set-up, you should generate enough revenue in 6 months to cover your overheads and start making profit. A hummer jeep in view!

Reality Check- One day you wake up, 9 months into the venture and you find yourself way off your anticipated target. The bills are piling high and the sales are below your expectations. In fact, your top employees have resigned due to owed salaries. New ones hired barely last a month before leaving. Cash is exhausted and your account is the red.

The banks will not advance you credit or overdraft facility because you don’t have adequate collateral to cover it. Maybe you have enough collateral but the banks are simply not lending. You have also reached the limit that your friends can lend to you.

You still believe in the business vision but do not sound as convincing anymore. Your friends don’t pick your calls because they fear you’ll ask for money. Employees begin to feel the heat of the new targets without a history to provide support. At night you stay awake wondering what new strategy to adopt.

The last three strategies failed. The motivational speakers appear to say the same thing. You’ve tried all the lines, yet the breakthrough is nowhere in sight. Where did you go wrong? You still work more than 12 hours daily. May be you are working hard and not smart. But what exactly is smart in your case? May be you have made a mistake. Maybe you should just pack it up and look for a job, but where are the good paying jobs! Even if you take a job, how do you offset the huge debts?

Rejoice- If you find yourself at this point, rejoice. Cheer up and be glad because you have come to face the first real test for your enterprise and passion. Every business gets tested. Sooner or later! The real measure of your conviction, passion, resilience and competence can only be revealed by how you handle this litmus test. Such experiences will teach lessons that business schools will never teach you.

You’ll learn firsthand the follies of several assumptions you made at the beginning. In my research, I find that many entrepreneurs are stubborn people. It is this stubbornness that propels the enterprise spirit. They have deep convictions and are ready to test the waters. It is the same stubbornness that makes it difficult for a number of entrepreneurs to learn from people who teach them formally. Inevitably, these entrepreneurs learn the true lessons the very hard way. When they hit troubled waters, they are compelled to learn what they could easily have learnt from other more experienced people through heavy losses, emotional trauma and betrayals.

The good news is that when they learn these lessons, their determination, stubbornness and drive takes on an educated dimension that reflects in new, successful ventures. It is for this reason that many famous entrepreneurs are known to have hit success after a devastating failure. True entrepreneurs never quit after a failure.

Entrepreneurs evolve through the process and become champions. So if you are in the midst of a turbulent situation right now, calm down and look through the situation. You’ll observe your mistakes and also note some very good lessons.

In the midst of that crisis lies a diamond waiting for your discovery. My entrepreneurship did not take off until I passed through this period. It was not interesting or funny at the time but I’m so very grateful it happened. Business Risk Solutions was born out of such a period. Non-entrepreneurs quit at the first sign of trouble. Entrepreneurs never quit. Never!


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.