As someone who is very passionate about entrepreneurship and what it can do for the entrepreneur and the society at large, I never pass up on any opportunity to talk about it to others. And when I start, I could go on and on. One of the most common responses I have encountered is that of no capital or finance to start one’s own business. The lack of start-up finance is a very major obstacle, but is it enough to prevent entrepreneurship?
One thing I have noticed, both from my experiences and observations is that you rarely ever have enough capital to get that your ass-kicking idea off the ground. This is especially so in Nigeria where there are barely any venture financiers willing to take risks with a new venture, where the banks are also sceptical about lending to small businesses, and have cut-throat interest rates. In other words, to start a business here, you must have enough personal funds or have family to support you.
I remember my first business idea when I was 18, an internet music start up for which I needed a modest few hundreds of thousands of naira. It wasn’t the fact that I had the capital that spurred me to create that idea, because I didn’t have the money. What I believed in was the power of the idea and its immense potential. I knocked on doors with my business plan and travelled to meet people whom I could pitch my idea to. Even though the idea never took off eventually, I learned an invaluable lot from that experience, especially in trying to raise venture financing. I learned that in looking for a breakthrough, God doesn’t give you one. Rather, He shows you where to break through. It is your persistence at that point that does the work for you.
Most people I have met who are quick to use their lack the capital to start businesses as their main excuse for not being entrepreneurs do not even have in the first place any ideas to work with. Instead, they are waiting for the capital to land before they then start looking for ideas. I have had people come up to me and say, ‘I have N1m, what business do you think I should go into?’ to which I always lack what to tell them. As far as I am concerned, that isn’t entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship starts with idea generation, not finance. You have an idea that you are so passionate about, and then you persist in trying to see it get off the ground. The hustle in getting it to work, leveraging contacts, making the most of what you have and the constant refining of the idea is a large part of the fun of being an entrepreneur. If all entrepreneurs were to wait until they had enough capital before setting out to change their world with their ideas, only a fraction of today’s enterprises would exist.
It reminds me of the Bible verse in Ecclesiastes 11:4: “Farmers who wait for the perfect weather never plant; if they should watch every cloud, they will never harvest”. Waiting for the perfect conditions before you set out on that road of entrepreneurship is as good as never setting out on that road: the conditions will never be perfect.
Create that idea and believe in its power. Start wherever you are.
“Start weaving. God will provide the thread” – German Proverb.