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The Price to pay for business success

By Okechukwu Onwuka
There is a tide in the affairs of menWhich, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;Omitted, all the voyage of their lifeIs bound in shallows and in miseries.On such a full sea are now afloat;And we must take the current when it serves,Or lose the ventures before us William Shakespeare,

“If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t! If you want to win, but think you can’t, It’s almost a cinch you won’t. If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost; For out in the world we find Success begins with a fellow’s will; It’s all in the state of the mind. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger and faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.” Walter D. Wintle

Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory Mahatma Gandhi

The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place – Jim Rohn

If you tell a poor man what it takes to become wealthy, he chooses to remain poor. Ibo Proverb

Quite often I feel like writing on day-to-day insights on running a business or on standard procedures required to progress from one activity level to another. But I find myself driven to write more on the fundamental and pivotal issues that I have found through experience, studies and keen observation to be crucial. The accomplished people quoted above have at one time or another made reference to some of these issues. The Ibo proverb also underscores the significance of paying a price for success. In whatever effort we are involved in, we all want to be successful. Of course success does not mean amassing financial wealth but can go a lot deeper than that. Peace, well groomed children, loving and caring spouse, stable society, security and sound health are some benefits of true success.

But beyond the definitions of all categories of success, our focus today is on enterprise or business success. At the basic level, a successful business is one that is able to profitably achieve the goals for starting the company, corporation or enterprise. To be profitable, revenue generated must exceed the costs of setting up and running the business. Sustainable profitability, which is what we all desire, does not happen overnight. Nor does it happen by chance.

On the spot profits may occur by luck or serendipity. Although the media often portray some companies as overnight successes, the truth is these companies have been paying the price long before they came to prominence. It is also common to have seminars where successful business men and motivational speakers speak to youths and aspiring entrepreneurs on the secrets of success. I have made presentations in a number of such sessions in the past and I have not felt really good afterwards.

One major reason for these is the common type of question that is asked by the attendees or participants. The majority are interested in knowing the one single most important thing that the speaker did that resulted in the eventual success. The objective is to find that simple act that they can replicate and be assured of success. This inclination is so painful when I consider the many opportunities and resources that are wasting away in Nigeria.

The North has enough land and sunshine for building viable Solar Power Stations like the Nevada Solar One which is the third largest concentrated solar power plant in the world with a nominal capacity of 64 MW and maximum capacity of 75 MW, as of June 2007. The project required an investment of about $270m USD. Compare this to the funds wasted on the many failed power projects in the country. The huge natural resources for building Mini-Hydro power plants in the country go untapped. Every day we burn associated gases in our oil production fields, thus wasting billions of dollars in direct and indirect revenue. Is it impossible for the Groundnut Pyramids to return? At all levels, there is a scarcity of genuine entrepreneurs. Scarcity of investors and leaders who truly desire to change the society for good through innovative and dedicated entrepreneurial efforts!. But we have in abundance many ‘entrepreneurs’ who want to do just the very minimum and get maximum profits. Adokie Amasiemeka, the retired Nigerian International footballer, in his regular column in SUNDAY PUNCH constantly warns Nigerian football authorities that unless there is a plan to discover talented footballers in their formative years (primary and secondary school level), there is little hope for the country’s football to develop. I agree completely with him. But my worry is that such plans are useless without the will and determination to work the plans to success.

Such plans will require multi-disciplinary teams working through a coordinated strategy over several years. Initial plans will be fine-tuned as field progress is made and the refinement will continue even after initial elements of success are realized. All leaders and motivational speakers I know recognize that there is no circumventing the process on the way to success. There is always a price to pay.

There are many ways to pay the price. You can choose the negative; enter into unholy allegiances and alliances, cult groups and the like to propel your business. You will also pay a price. Most times, the price you pay is much bigger, deeper and painful than you’ll normally accommodate or be comfortable with. On the other hand, you can choose the healthier and better option.

Commit to pay the price through hard work, research, education, diligence, analysis, multi-layer planning, determination, concern for society and continuous learning while putting your trust in the Almighty God and not on any man. The wise one, King Solomon wrote, “it is for man to prepare the horse for battle, but victory is of the Lord”. The preparation cannot be bypassed. This (preparation) is the part that most Nigerians deliberately ignore or sidestep. The latter approach is the only path to true success and happiness that I know.


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