One Piece of Advice Nobody Gave Me About Business
Business is not for the faint-hearted, neither is entrepreneurship for those who care only about money. If money is all that motivates you to start your business or become a co-founder, you should have a rethink.
I recently started a bike delivery business, with high expectations that capacity will increase in a very short while.
I had envisaged that at the end of the first year, I should have at least 12 bikes, with the hope of moving into a full logistics company at the end of the second year. But I was wrong because I only read the success stories of Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote, and Jeff Bezos.
The first month was great as a lot of friends patronized the service. I was able to pay salaries which was about $2,500 while I saved another $400. This went well, until the sixth month. Two riders resigned, while I let a third rider go for a misdemeanor.
The business struggled for another 3 months, the cash flow was barely a trickle and paying salaries was becoming increasingly difficult. It was quite a hard time for me, as I had to support the business with my full-time pay.
Until I started making losses, I never knew some people failed in business. Successful businesses are an accumulation of strategies and lessons learned from previous failures. It was after this episode that I learned how a lot of people had failed in business.
Jeff Bezos failed, Elon Musk failed, Aliko Dangote had his share of failure and even you may fail somewhere along the line as an entrepreneur. It is not a bad luck prophecy, it’s just the order of things.
Failure is good for the business, as it helps you develop new strategies, ideas, and a backup plan. Failure helps you get very far, and it is what separates dreamers from doers — Steve Jobs.
Nobody told me of failure, not even my housemate who has a five-year business.
There isn’t any specific area where all businesses fail, so that we can prepare in advance. Businesses fail in a variety of ways — it could be salaries, cash flow problems, improper pricing, bad product, new government policies or even poor market research.
Steve Jobs struggled because someone stole his idea.
Bezos failed with fire phones, which birthed Alexa.
Nokia refused to innovate. They felt too big to be unseated but just like the “Titanic” ship, they sank even when everyone thought sinking was impossible.
Blackberry crashed because they did not improve on their market leading “chat” service and because of new buyer demands.
Until you start a business, you don’t know where you will fail. Failure gives you a better insight into your business and helps you come back stronger.
If you want to get very far you have to fail, because that is where you get strength for the journey — Jeff Bezos.