Category: Enterprise

Business or Busyness II

The last article attempted to put business and entrepreneurship side by side, relating them as synonyms and as words used interchangeably in different parlance. Although one seemed more informal, they essentially describe same concepts or vocation. The concept of ‘doing business’ or entrepreneuring is an art, you learn to do it by doing it and continuosly improving on it. No matter how many books or articles on entrepreneurship you have read; no matter how many seminars you attend until you start pushing an idea, you might not have a firsthand and vivid description of what it takes to build an enterprise. You simply have not started by thinking or imagining!  You are only in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur! The best you can be referred to is an enthusiast. 

I have seen high levels of beliefs, hope and energy in anticipation of starting a business. I have listened to many ideas been churned out awaiting realization. I have also heard many people express with all seriousness and sincerity how they will dabble into a particular business when they have money, usually a sum of the amount that is not familiar in their bank statements or transactions and all they are ‘praying’ and ‘wishing’ for is a ‘miraculous’ provision. In response to such, many questions fly out of my mind and I attempt to temper it depending on my familiarity with such a person. The real question is “what will such a person be doing till that miraculous provision drops”? “Does it really take a miracle to raise money to start somewhere?” While I cannot undermine the critical role of substantive capital in running an enterprise neither do I intend to minimize application of faith in personal lives including the marketplace, at the same time, I’m more comfortable with these two principles of- “using the rod in the hand to part the Red Sea” and “faith without works is dead. . .”

The real albatross for starting a business is self leadership gauge, it pops itself up a while after you have been charged up at a seminar, after reading a book or by someone’s success story. Self leadership gauge attempts to measure reality with enormity of the ideas; define abilities in terms of inabilities and shortcomings; determine how far this idea can scale through in intensity. It’s all subconscious but cognitive assessment. By the time the assessment on this self-leadership gauge is done, it’s either the dream fizzles away, ideas buried, plans forgotten or energized to set out despite inadequacies.

Starting a business doesn’t start by renting a space – office, shop, warehouse. Businesses start by imagining and creating circumstances around a product, a service or a concept and gradually building sets of activities to create value chains. The whole exercise of starting a business is a milestone comparable to cutting the first tooth in children. You do it one step at a time, systematically and consistently also. From idealization, to value definitions, packaging of products or service, value delivery either by driving a product or a service and then taking the lead in other peripheral activities of real management (optimizing on limited humans and financial resources). It’s all a roller coaster, not necessarily for amusement alone but of highs, lows, excitement, anxiety, fear, thrill all in one trip.

There is never a convenient time for starting out on a laudable idea. I have these thoughts that I encourage myself with at all times and it goes thus ~
“The best time is actually NOW! 
The best point to begin is WHERE you are
The best resources to use is WHAT you have”

Comments, contributions, questions and queries are welcomed on the article. Twitter: @Bankysanya

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‘Business’ or ‘Busyness’ series I

“Karakata” is a Yoruba word that literally means ‘to buy and to sell’ all in one breath. It describes the vocation of buying and selling. The two concepts joined together in one word describe industry, economic activity, the world of been busy and a vocation called business. The word ‘business’ /’biz-nes/according to Meriam-Webster dictionary describes the activity of making, buying or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money. The word “business” a few years ago was a vocation or job of some people describing their livelihood and source of income. When people are asked what they do, it was not out of place to says stuffs like “I’m a business man or business woman”, vocation or jobs involving some degree of activities and economic interaction but scope, scale and terms of such business activities might not be clearly cut out and might not readily come up for discussion. It sometimes sound like an evasive profession having wide range of activities hidden under the same umbrella terminology called – business. 

As a little girl in those days, I knew older relatives and acquaintances in different fields of endeavor – a teacher would outrightly be referred to as such, tutor or lecturer; a medical practitioner also would be referred to based on what they did, ie. a doctor, nurse, pharmacist. At that time employment was streamlined, you  either work with government or a big private organization and employment was highly predictable after the higher institution. Most people were teachers, agriculture officers, secretaries, few doctors, engineers and lawyers. There was this group of people who just referred to themselves as business man/woman, they were a small percentage of the populace and scope of their job are usually not clearly defined, we had to prod them to know exactly what they do for a living.

Modern day has brought with it so much evolution in the employment and job space, while government jobs and private organizations are gradually whittling away, the other group that used to be minority and not having clear definition have filled the space. Fortunately, nomenclature has changed from businessman/woman to entrepreneur with so much hype and more importantly, they are a lot more defined and structured than the latter. The concept of entrepreneurship has become a globally acceptable source of job/work and means of livelihood for many and a significant part of a nation’s economy. 

Entrepreneurship describes an active self employment and engagement for reward which can vary from profit, fame, gain, fulfillment and etc. Entrepreneurship involves starting a business, company, enterprise or organization and managing same for reward. Entrepreneurial activities include crafting business idea(s), developing a business plan, acquiring human and other (financial & physical) resources required, operating and implementing the business plan, managing all aspects of business. This is one subject that many folks would show interest in especially in this era where multiple streams of income is encouraged.

There are different levels of entrepreneurship; some start businesses building from the scratch, some build on existing business structure, some revamp and restructure an existing business structure, some diversify from an already existing business, some embark on the ‘sustainability drive’ of an existing business while some expand the scale of business. Whatever level or scale a business is, be it macro, small, medium and large enterprise, it can become a life buoy in the sea of economic uncertainties. It definitely requires consistent drive and energy for survival as it is a whole continuous cycle of activities and busyness, it’s not a joke!

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A Mexican adage says “Poco a poco les andan lejos”. This means little by little, we travel far. The journey of a thousand miles will always begin with a first stride and a first attempt. Any venture whatsoever starts with a trial, a testing of ground or a pilot trial. The first step of any project and venture involves a degree of trial and error, this gives room for discovery of error in projections, calculations, design. The errors discovered becomes the platform for continuous improvement in the project or the design. It is important to be bold enough to face this reality of imperfection and marry it with desire. 

Ideas that will work or thrive don’t usually look all finished and well cut out, sometimes with bleak future, sometimes crazy and illogical! The 21st century has witnessed inflow of phenomenal ideas and innovations that at their inception seemed like an impossible miracle but today, they are ideas that have outlived the pioneer and has been continuously improved with newest designs been very far from the initial concept. 

This mantra ~ “ideas rule the world” can look like a fluke. One should ask this mind-boggling question, how will an idea rule the world and how will one know the type of ideas that will stand out? Truthfully, every idea looks brilliant to the author but until it is tested, proven and applied on its own merit and relevance. Ideas in the 21st century is beyond a thought or product of imagination, it’s not a brain wave neither is it a mind tour! It is a translation of thoughts and imaginations into tangible measurable value. It is a pictorial expression of a compelling creation, a logical and practical description of abstract value.

Every item of value – product or service that we see is the by-product of an idea. Creating an idea can be to innovate or to imitate; creation of products and services can be to create from scratch what did not exist, to recreate what exists and join the bandwagon of competition or recreate, improve or disrupt what exists and give room for a new invention.

Many brilliant ideas and views have been clouded with prevailing negativity, unpalatable vibes and sad stories littering the whole clime, the fear of competition threatens new ideas. The tales of failed businesses, ventures, projects and designs solicited and unsolicited are far too many! Some fail almost as they start, some others fail after a few years from inception while many more fail due to disaster or demise of the owner. Despite all these, a few ideas and enterprises strive to survive maintaining their purpose of existence with resilience and survival. While we can celebrate the present day ideas, many more resulting in new products and services will still spring up. If your ideas can’t serve today’s purpose, they can be targeted at tomorrow’s purpose. Idea has character, dimensions, emotions, value and it has it’s seasons. It is a tangible currency for success. 
You never know which idea will break the springboard and catapult to limelight, fulfillment and profit, so keep churning it out, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up!

Comments, contributions, questions and queries are welcomed on this write up. Twitter: @Bankysanya

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Strutting the runway of entrepreneurship

Being an accomplished entrepreneur can only be judged in retrospect. Many ideas and inventions fill the airspace looking for runways to trot on before taking flight. While some struggle at the stage of formation and structuring of the business ideas and plans, many strut the runway but cease to spread their wings and fly. Walking the runway usually starts with stuttering and failing steps, shyness, fear of the unknown that characterize the teething period of starting a business with the myriads of challenges from funding, staffing, production, selling, advertising, competition, having a structure and etc. Gradually comes the boldness and confidence to walk with spine straight, straight gaze, swaying hips even with a stiletto so it is with the smoothening stage of an enterprise’ process.  Starting an enterprise, beginning production or offering of service is a gradual process, with concerted effort, it progressively gains momentum, builds competitive edge, gains profit and ultimately achieves sustainability.
The path of an entrepreneur is laden with so much potentials, opportunities, learning and lessons. It’s never a series of events with a predictable end but a mixed grill of ups and downs, twists and turns, profit and loss, boom and recession. It is important to understand that the period of boom is not the time for sharing the largesse and also embrace the fact that failure or losses is not a sign to call it quit. Having it all under control whichever end of the pendulum it swings and never giving up on one’s idea is not only a sign of maturity but the art of making an enterprise a life.

Having a business idea is the foundation of every enterprise but in reality, having a business idea is never enough! The grave remains the most fertile ground as many ideas die not seeing the light of the day! Business ideas remain the cove through which great enterprises are built. Many times, ideas and businesses go through different stages and different cycles which can involve ideation, starting up, structuring, growth, failure, remodeling, relaunching, it can even involve diversifying, divesting, partnership, collaboration etc. For further reading on life cycle of an enterprise, check Global Community for Advancing Studies in Entrepreneurship

One fact is certain, the whole world is ruled by ideas and enterprises that become success stories today are those whose ideas become known and desirable to replicate.

Comments, contributions, questions and queries are welcomed on the subject matter. Twitter: @Bankysanya

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The desperate entrepreneur

The drive to earn a living and the craze to survive in the midst of acute uncertainties has led many to desperately take a step in the business world, sometimes after graduating from college, loss of job or retirement. The outcome of acute response to survival has given birth to businesses, conglomerates and enterprises of varying scales. From the hustles and bustles, commercial transactions in traffic “hold ups” to shops in the major markets and the offices at the various commercial business centers. All are opened to earn a living, for profit and more importantly to conquer the all time enemy of existence – hunger and poverty. The zeal and energy of many entrepreneurs and small scale business owners including roadside sellers and hawkers are unparalleled. They oftentimes live with stark reality of an un-encouraging society that attaches hype to white collar and “job-with-suits”; forced to manage what they do in the face of nothingness and to be proud of the golden effort attached to the dignity of labour, of having a vocation and means of livelihood.
The undoing of the last generation was the unnecessarily high premium placed on paper qualifications as prerequisites to white collar employment at the expense of building innovative, technical and enterprise-based economy. A cross sectional view of our industries and medium scale enterprises accross the nation shows many businesses owned and managed by non-Nigerians and then I marvel at the irony that non-citizens find commerce profitable despite the infrastructural deficiencies and state of the economy. What we refer to as the “white-collar jobs” are the job descriptions offered by the non-Nigerian citizens who built their ideas into an enterprise. There is virtually no industry that you don’t find them- construction, hospitality, manufacturing, confectioneries, medicine etc. I don’t deny that Nigerians thrive when they are outside the country too in virtually every sphere of endeavor but I bet not at the same rate that these non-citizens come and they start out on their idea and it looks desirable to us sometimes with employment terms that violate human rights and international labour standards. 
The question then is what is wrong with us? And how do we right the wrong?
Every economy needs more businesses and small to medium scale enterprises remain a vibrant and veritable aspect to focus on to boost and improve their economy and Nigeria is not left out. This nation needs many more homemade products, cottage businesses, small to medium scale enterprises (SMEs) than we have at the moment. Not just for GDP index measurement but for improved livelihood and empowered life.
This is a clarion call to every household and every young soul to generate ideas and birth enterprises. Our slogan therefore is “Go start something” – Reminds me of MTN CLAP Ad shot in 2007. And so the drive is, let the people who are already doing do more, let those doing help those who are yet to do!
For comments, contributions, questions and queries on the subject matter, contact ~ 
Twitter: @Bankysanya

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