In my Centonomy journey, I have met a lot of people in the same boat and we have conversed a lot. I am also in the habit of reading what successful entrepreneurs do so that I can ape some ethics, you know to fly high, learn to fly like with the eagle. It’s a struggle I must say and I have learned that many successful entrepreneurs have respected the process and this message constantly is coming across in all my discussions with those I have considered successfully. In the past, I did equate entrepreneurship with ideas, those that can run the world, so I spent a lot of time looking for that one idea that will see me off to from my current status. I also set myself to reach out to at least one person a month to discuss my entrepreneurial ideas so as I can sense check if I am on the right path. I must say this journey is revealing that entrepreneurship happens internally.
In my quest to learn more I have met a number of people but would want to categorize them in two sets; middle and old age people working as businessmen in the western region. The first set is the microwave ones. These are moved by instant success. When your conversations are on successes a lot and not setbacks as learning curves, know that the generation is microwave. So we meet with these people and I pitch the ideas I have with them and they are not fancied by the little returns or when it hits equilibrium. Some even ask “can you make this thing global, restricting it to Kakamega denies you, instant subscribers!. Get our companies to write you referral letters and go bid with them, it will earn you the contract, and if successful 30% of the profits, we will come to pick it.” So I get home and review the business these guys are doing plus their lifestyles, one is struggling with a mortgage the other had his car auctioned. I rest my case on following shadows.
The following weeks are a sequence of meetings with this other men “the old guards”, are mostly aged and on several occasions, we are doing porridge or playing pool while listening to some of the great hits from Madilu. So I pitch my thoughts and the first one asks, “so John how are you planning to finance this, it seems like a huge investment you would want to prove you can do it” I am taken aback, I never thought such a question would be asked, so I explain in details before the second one interjected, and he was candid “Build a customer base before scale-up, find low budget clients and work with them if they buy your idea, they will sell this to others”. At this point my thought of pitching them as my investors were squashed, I mumbled on a number of answers to close up the discussion, it was clear to me that I needed to do more with the idea. Mzee Taalib later sat me down and said “John, you are a good boy, I see your leadership skills and see the potential in you, but then you are in a hurry to start making money with no formidable network. Start right by doing right, yours is a service industry, people will need to trust you before giving you business. Learn to do more with less, it might be uncomfortable now but trust me in 20 years, it will be where you want it now”
We talked on and on about businesses and I must say my take home that day was that just as there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for becoming an entrepreneur, there also is no one-size-fits-all strategy for learning to act outside your comfort zone. The real entrepreneurship happens internally, as I said it’s the conviction coupled up with the process of stepping up, having courage, and doing things that you never thought you’d be able to do.