I’m a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship. I encourage people to, after a good season in paid employment, switch over to self-employment for many sensible reasons.
Based on these few reasons and many more, I encourage people to first get employed, be committed, hardworking and involved so as to gain basic experience to run a business of their own eventually. Paid employment is not just there as an opportunity to earn steady regular income for survival, it also serves as a school – a training ground for good experience on business processes, business administration and business management. That’s why I encourage employees to seek for jobs with organizations in the business type they’ll also like to own in future.
If you want to be a fashion designer in future for example, you don’t need a bank job, join the fashion industry now and start learning all you need to know especially the secret of the business. Prioritizing money in paid employment decisions is the number one detractor from a life of purpose, destiny and greatness.
As a business coach I often encourage individuals who want to venture into business ownership to develop capacity first. Don’t just venture into a business because you like it or because you’ve been told it’s lucrative. Don’t jump into a business because you know a friend making a lot of money from the business. Every business type has got it’s success secret. If you don’t venture deep into learning and apprenticeship in the business, you’ll never discover the secret.
It really amuses me when I interact with individuals still in paid employment who tell me the kind of business they’ll like to eventually venture into once they leave paid employment. They speak of the business as though succeeding at it is a piece of cake. They sound like the required skills and attributes needed to perform in paid employment is same as such required for success in self-employment. How untrue.
Many even assume business is just a matter of buying and selling, production for sales or just offering services in exchange for money. How simple it all sounds, yet, so untrue.
To my folks in paid employment hoping to one day own their own establishments, I suggest it’s time you begin to learn what it takes to succeed in self-employment.
I’ll illustrate. To watch a nine year old child ride a bicycle so easily with confidence, ease and style is to assume it’s very easy to ride a bicycle. Until you mount one, you’ll then realize how difficult it is to balance a bicycle much less pedal successfully and straighten your hands in the direction you want to head.
You wouldn’t know how, and can’t imagine how much capacity the nine year old had to build to become so good at riding the bicycle. Similarly, to watch a swimmer dive into a swimming pool, stay afloat and carry our different strokes in the water with ease and confidence is to assume swimming is a matter of just jumping into the water. Until you jump into one and start sinking like a stone, you’ll keep assuming swimming is easy.
So is the case with managing a business of your own, This faulty assumption that it is very easy to succeed in self-employment has led to the failure of so many startups by so many fantastic employees who transited with the assumption, required skills for self-employment was same as that of paid employment.
I decide to share this because of a mentee in his early fifties who contacted me, wanting my advice and guidance in his transition from paid employment to self-employment. He was to come into a lot of money as retirement benefit and he had put together a business plan.
He shared the plans with me with all the figures. The cost of acquiring a business premises, office equipment, furniture and the likes. A beautiful website and standard business communication platforms and applications. He also had in it the number of personnel required for that start up, their salaries and other benefits. He also shared with me the communication and advertising strategies, projected sales and other details.
But the most critical aspects of any startup was left out in his strategy. These are the cost of buying customers and the customer conversion rate strategy.
In my experience and going by new businesses that started quite well and are growing in today’s Nigeria, as much as 40% of initial investment should go into the purchase and conversion of customers.
The only reason any business will start and grow is if there are customers. Without customers, the best of businesses is destined to die. The growth of any business is directly linked to the growth of the customer base. If the customer base is not growing, the business can never grow. How then would anyone suppose provision should not be made at all and a strategy for customer conversion should not be a major part of a business plan?
When I told the man this, he became confused. He assumed like many startup owners that once they start their business, customers will just begin to flood into their business premises on their own accord. They also assume once they put sales people on the road, sales become automatic.
Ladies and gentlemen, what are you learning? Weather you’re in paid employment or self-employment today, ultimately you will still own a business of your own. Your employers will of course not keep you employed until you die of old age. There’s an age for retirement and the ability to generate more income then is very critical.
When you retire, you need good money to take care of your health and socialize, otherwise boredom and loneliness will lead you to an early grave. You need good money to travel round the world, attend interesting events, weddings and occasions. Go for medical checkup in the best hospitals around the world and buy the best medication for your deteriorating health. You need money when you’re older.
You could Perhaps be hoping your kids will take care of you at old age, well if you’re lucky they would, but don’t forget they’ll have their own responsibilities too and if you carefully think of how much you’ve sent to your parents this year, it’ll give you a fair idea of how much your kids would send to you when you become old.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time you reprioritize. What exactly are you learning today? As one in paid employment, are you learning the required skills, capacity, competence and trade secrets for success in your chosen field of business when you eventually retire?
Come on, go and volunteer, use your weekends to learn the business. Stop sleeping too much, stop partying too much; stop resting too much. Entertainment is not a part of life, entertainment is a break from life. You don’t need excess and prolonged breaks from life, it will consequently backfire.
Are you already in self-employment and you’re struggling? Learn what is necessary, learn how to buy your customers, put in place an effective customer conversion strategy, value it and cost it well, let it fall within what the business can accommodate in a business year, track it and ensure you’re achieving the required return on customer conversion investment.
As a business owner, you need to also have contemporary knowledge. Build your ability and capacity, you don’t grow a business based on guesses, you grow a business based on market intelligence, facts and figures. The priorities and thinking of a prospective customer in Abuja is different from that of a Lagosian or a Port-Harcourt based buyer. Learn business, know business.
Ladies and gentlemen, paid employment is good but self-employment is the master key to great manifestations. The whole creation is waiting for your manifestation! When shall you provide for your own household? A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, what are you handing over to the next generation of Nigerians? Assets or liabilities? Or you want to blame it on leadership as usual? Aren’t you tired of that excuse, aren’t you a leader in your own right? Perhaps you should do something too, the ball is in your court. What are you learning?