‘Dear Entrepreneur’ – Letter to an entrepreneur
Published on: 06.04.2016
Dear Young Entrepreneur,
How are you and your business today?
Having stepped out to start your own business, let me first say a big congratulations to you!
Your life is about to change (that’s it, if it has not started changing already). I am writing this letter to let you know why I think so.
I know you’re very busy (and if you’re not, you’ll soon be), so let me cut to the chase. Now an entrepreneur, time means a whole lot to you. As a matter of fact, it’s your most vital currency; unfortunately though, you don’t and will never have so much of it.
When I first heard that you have decided to become an entrepreneur, to chart your own course in the crazy world of business, a part of me was really excited and then the other half was a bit ‘worried’.
Let me tell you about both halves, so you know.
I was excited because you have decided to walk a path in life that many people are so scared of taking. Too many people out there have dreamt of launching out and be an entrepreneur, of turning their idea into physical reality and build a real business from it, of giving their dream a chance to happen in the marketplace, but only a few have had the guts to take that bold step. For the rest, they simply continue to sit quietly in their couch of rationalisations or pretexts and stare at the screen of their business idea – with the hope that one day everything will turn out perfect and then they would get up and do something about it.
I have seen many of such folks and I suspect you know some of them. I call such people the Dreamers United FC and nothing more. They prefer to just dream and dream about being an entrepreneur than to take steps to become one. They have a business idea, sometimes even more than one, but they hold themselves back from taking action. In their minds, their ideas are running on full production scale, but in reality, nothing is happening! They just stay put in their comfort zones and watch the caravan of time and opportunities drive past them. Well, I really don’t blame them. Truth be told, being an entrepreneur is not breeze. It comes with its own level of stress, unknowns, and fears. And who likes stress, unknowns, and fears, anyway?
Yet, you looked past those factors and still chose to do this; to put yourself on the line; to defy the odds and enrol yourself in this new profession – the profession of starting an enterprise and seeing it grow and add real value to the lives of people and create sustainable wealth in the process. For this, I salute you.
Think of the number of lives your business will transform. The capacity you will develop. The jobs you will create. The mouths your business will feed. The innovations it will birth. The culture it will influence. The revenues it will generate. And the great contributions it will make to national and, yes, global development. Actually, your taking this step to start is the beginning of something monumental – the birthing of a great future, more like it.
So you can now see why I am excited for you, right?
Having said that, let me talk to you about why I am a bit ‘worried’.
Actually, I am not here to scare you off, but neither am I here to hide the stark realities from you.
So I will say this to you, straight up. If I push your buttons in the process, please don’t mind me.
I am only doing this for your own good.
Being an entrepreneur is not child’s play. This is not bread and beans I am talking about here. I am talking about real involvement and commitment on your part. Starting and building a successful enterprise requires real work and sacrifices – lots of it.
For your information, there will be long and lonely nights.
There will be days when you question your sanity for taking this step. There will be days when customers, employees, suppliers, family members, or government won’t be there to encourage you and you just have to encourage yourself. There will be days when it seems like the world is spinning so fast and you just can’t seem to get a hold of things or connect the dots. Days when you don’t feel the usual juice to hit the street and make a sale. Days when the eyes of your rising costs and falling profits just refuse to blink. What would you do?
Yes, I agree with you. Being an entrepreneurs makes you free. You are free because you are now your own boss, but, mind you, you are not free from the responsibilities that such title places on you. You can choose to wake up and go to bed anytime you like, nobody will question you, but then remember you’re an entrepreneur and it’s your duty to stay responsible. Responsible entrepreneurs stay true to their commitments and they operate with a certain sense of urgency in the way they approach life and their goals. As an entrepreneur, your daily habits will have to change and you must be willing to give up short-term pleasures to achieve long-term gains.
This is not the time to play around. So snap out of your wet dream and smell the coffee. Nobody is going to take you by the hand and lead you all the way to your destiny, toll free! The world is too busy to pamper you to success. You must learn to paddle your own boat and tell your own story. But as you do so with focus and diligence, here’s the good news, help will begin to meet you along the way.
To build a successful business, you must stay discipline – discipline in the way you manage your time and priorities, manage relationships, deal with money, take care of your health, serve your customers, and how you deal with the issues of leadership. Don’t let your small beginning make you small-minded. The size of your vision really matters and must be taken seriously. And then always know why you do what you; let your purpose guide and compel you to be the best version of yourself.
Trust me, being an entrepreneur is a different kettle of fish.
As an entrepreneur, you will not only be expected to change the way you think, but also to change the way you think about the things you think about. Remember you are not the only one in the market. There are many others like you out there. In business, they are called competitors. And they are there to compete with you and win over your customers. So you must sit up and constantly look for better ways to have your customers fall and stay in love with you. Learn from your competitors. Of course, they have a lot to teach you; but in doing so, remember that you mustn’t lose that very thing that makes you unique. Your uniqueness is your trump card, so guard it and never lose it.
And that reminds me. Having good products is good but please don’t assume that because you have good products, it will always sell itself in the market. Well, that era has come and gone. In this era, your product must not only be good but you must also learn how to sell it well.
This is the mistake most young entrepreneurs make and I really don’t want you to make the same mistake. So if you don’t know how to sell, then go learn it. As a matter of fact, if you don’t know anything, go out there and learn it. There are countless of quality resources and good people out there who will be willing to teach you the right stuffs. But then when they teach you, please endeavour to take consistent actions and fine-tune your process because only then will you improve and produce the results you seek.
Certainly, I can’t tell you everything you need to know in this letter but I promise to always stay in touch and write to you every so often. But I hope you can find meaning in what I have told you so far and get proactive. Please don’t be scared. But even if you are, not to worry. Every great entrepreneur you have heard of had once experienced fears. When I started out as an entrepreneur years ago, I had my own fears too – so you are not alone in this. It is normal. It shows you are human. But what I can say to you is that you shouldn’t let your fears stop you. Use them to your advantage.
Approach your business with boldness and grit. Let your fears open you up for quality learning and gratitude. You can pull this off and I believe so much in you. Just stay focused and positive. Stay honest with yourself, do the work involved, and never, ever lose sight of your big picture.
I got your back on this!
This letter was written by Chinonso Ogbogu is the CEO of The SM Group.
It was first published at Bella Naija blog