Think Big, Start Small and ACT NOW!
Firstly, I just want to thank you for taking the time to read this article. My name's Ephraim and I'm a young entrepreneur. I got my first taste of business in Form 1 (Grade 8), but I opened my first company in 2011, 5 months shy of my 18th birthday. It was a company that dealt in ICT solutions for SMEs, corporations and parastatals. It showed promise but all four of my partners and I lacked the basic fundamental I'm going to address in this piece, something most young entrepreneurs in Africa lack. We all want to become the next Mark Zuckerburg, setting up a global social networking site that is responsible for a large fraction of the communication done today or the next Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who've made the internet seem smaller than it actually is. We all want to do something revolutionary but we lack one crucial trait needed to succeed in anything; PATIENCE. As the future leaders of tomorrow we're too impatient to wait for tomorrow. We want everything to happen overnight. We've been made to believe the hype associated with starting big. And sadly we've been also deluded by the actual time it takes for company growth to kick in after the breakeven stage of operations. I partly blame lack of financial literacy as well as the image being put out by the developed world on African young entrepreneurs. I, too am a victim of such myself, but over the past couple of months my perspective has changed. A couple factors can be sited for causing the change; firstly my mother. My mother ran her own salon and beauty parlour and boutique for close to 10 years, and in those 10 years I witnessed her business grow immensely. But just like any lifestyle entrepreneur she was content with the level it had reached and didn't see the need for further growth. So as an entrepreneur who had successfully grown a company, she mentioned in an email she sent me, and I quote, "business is like a baby, you have to nurture it and be patient. It starts small and eventually grows to a point where it gives birth to others. It's not easy though, it takes time, dedication and patience." It made sense but it didn't quite sink in, not until I read Og Mandino's 'The Greatest Salesman in the World'. Mr. Mandino gives an analogy of an olive and and onion, he compares the two; time and significance or quality wise. At the end of it all he was emphasizing the fact that nothing worthwhile comes or happens overnight, it's a process. That's when the grave truth hit me and I started seeing it all around me, staring me right in the face. The power of growth and its effects on sustainability. What most young entrepreneurs don't understand is starting small allows us to make as many mistakes as possible, mistakes which mould us into the millionaires and billionaires of tomorrow. Mistakes which help build character and teach us what not to do and what to do, so that when we are in charge of the large corporations and conglomerates we founded we can handle the challenges that come our way everyday if not every hour. Even if you look at your Facebook, Zygna, Groupon or LinkedIn, it took years not just a couple months. I don't know about you but I want to build an empire that outlives me, like Mr. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie, and such aren't built in a couple months or even a couple of years. It takes many years, lifetimes even, keep the vision but start somewhere and don't wait for tomorrow, start today. Think big, start small and ACT NOW!