Are you an Entrepreneur? Her Story will shock you!

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“Bandwagons roll through our lives. It’s up to you whether you jump on them unquestioningly or jump on them to overturn them and subvert them”.

–  Riz Ahmed

Beyond a shadow of doubt, deciding to stick to my entrepreneurship course every other new day is the drive that makes me carry on. For me, being an entrepreneur is the conduit through which I feel empowered to cause impact and achieve my highest potential. Whereas it may look beautiful on the outside, there are many stories that may frighten you too.

In my field as a serial entrepreneur and consultant, I have had horrifying experiences that have left me on the edge of collapse alongside the unrivalled bliss. When the stressful experiences show up, it is often easier to consider giving up as the first alternative. However, keeping on and holding on to the rope has helped me to re-spark off again. Whereas I calculate my moves and work on my messes quick and strike back like any other SHAP entrepreneur, there are stories of other people I meet that surpass my understanding. The stories of businesses, ideas, resources and dreams that got sharked never to be seen again.

Just because people are making it huge in a given business does not mean if you start the same you will make it too. The truth is, if you follow the bandwagon effect to start a business, you are likely going to run at a loss and the business may fold.

When the business closes, usually your life too is affected. You need to do your homework before launching a business and this homework starts with you. Very many people don’t do a self-consciousness analysis to know who they are in relation to the business they want while others just fall for the bandwagon effect.

Some time back, I spoke at a conference in Entebbe alongside other prominent industry thought leaders including Mr. Chapman, one of my greatest business heroes. It was a humbling moment where everyone was excited to learn and network from one another. As a guest speaker, I shared tens of mistakes I have made as a young serial entrepreneur and how I bounced back from the effects. As a consultant, I highlighted some non-conventional hacks to a successful business. And as realist, I shared breath taking stories of my whole journey; people, failures and lost opportunities along my journey.

To the conclusion of my talk, a young lady burst into tears and a wail that shook the audience.  The wail got her off her seat to the podium and straight into my arms resulting into a tight gripping hug with her tears flowing over on my shoulders. Everyone wondered what had happened. For a moment I was stuck in awe. Had I hurt her? I somehow wondered. Well, you are guessing it wrong, she was not hurt; they were tears of relief after a long time of holding on to a loss she had made.   “I wish I had known about this before I made that decision, Nicholas.” She tearfully repeated the words.

Her Story

She had a dream like any other person while she was working with an international NGO. She saved and invested her earnings in treasury bills for a number of years.  She dreamed of starting up her own business.

She had saved and accumulated more than 100,000 USD (more than UGX 380,000,000). Yes, over Uganda shillings 380  million.

She had never considered seeking professional help on business and money matters as she thought she would handle it all. She wanted to play her game like a catholic prayer (in isolation, humbleness and silence). So she took un-informed approaches and started a business backed by hope and a conventional wish of prayer. She had learnt of a growing need for organic cosmetics, shampoos and perfumes (which was true – there was a great gap at the time).

She believed that before making thorough technical research and consultancy on how to structure the business, the distribution channels, sales and all that involves breaking through. She assumed people would buy once stock arrived given the demand without really knowing the dynamics.

Long story short, she shipped cosmetics from Dubai only to be blown away by the high taxes and the never ending clearing processes she never knew about. To recover from the deep investment with a profit, she needed to have a better recovery plan. Unfortunately, she did not have a well-organized team that would be in position to effect a timely sale & distribution at a profit.

Many items were still in store by the third month. On purchasing, she had not factored in the element of sales time against the longevity of the products. By the fifth month, some of the products had started expiring and yet not even half of the stock was sold. She tried some kind of “all must Go” discount sale with big wholesalers but there was also another flood of other cosmetics from senior distributors, so no one bought in bulk.

By the 7th month, she found herself stuck with some expired products that were not needed anywhere on the market. The authorities came in and the products had to be laid to pit and burnt.  She lost her long-term savings due to making uninformed decisions. The experience left her drowned in an ocean of stress that she could not pay attention to her husband and son and her life as well. She was in a big slump.

There are hundreds of similar stories around us every day. Sole, egoistic, emotional decision making is one of the biggest risk factors bringing such stories of deep rooted pain in the business world. Without a self-consciousness test, research, consultancy, market study and testing, we end up hurting ourselves. It takes good time, consultations, and meetings to launch a great business that makes you seen, heard and paid. This is not to say that doing all this guarantees success but then you need a road map for the foreseeable future.

The biggest challenge I find is that aspiring and existing business owners opine that investing in analysis personal growth, research and consultancy is a waste of resources and time only for them to make irreversible and expensive mistakes at the end. This is not to say that you have to know everything but the basics should be at hand if your objective is to be seen, heard and paid.  If you are thinking of doing business, make sure you have an informed roadmap that can help you make informed decisions. Always take the necessary steps, know yourself and what position you hold in relation to your big dream. Sometimes, a third perspective can make a difference.

Few days later after the seminar, I sat with her to establish a new footing. We spent 26 days working together every day in my businesses and our clients’ businesses allowing her to run work in different positions.

I un-coached and coached her of many soft and hard skills sharing with her what we did wrong and what we did right. I also shared with her what our weaknesses are and I took her on a personal journey of healing, I cautioned her to take every small word, act or process seriously, analyze it and pick lessons.  She then embarked on a new journey to re-start her business and luckily, her husband agreed to lend her $1500 & $1000 more from her friends. This time round, she went in for a vegetable and fruit packaging supply business.

The first emphasis was on growth and systems. We designed and documented safety plans, packaging and storage systems, delivery processes, payment policies, etc. We ensured she got the standard certifications gradually as she got more money.  She was skeptical why we had to over document and systemize things, she got nervous at the start but we kept holding and stretching her beyond mind limits, each three days I had to report to her work place so that we can analyze what she was doing and strategize what next for her to land her first client.

Three months after the start, she recorded her first supply client; an uptown restaurant that would consume quite a variety of fruits and vegetables.  We had documented all her processes and safety policies and she had secured standard packaging materials.  She got her first supply from her farmer and market partners and we ensured she delivered successfully.  She was surprised at how designing processes and systems could make high end clients trust with ease.  She did that well and by the fifth month she had three more high-end clients and recorded her first net profit. Little ‘net profit’ of UGX 276,550 (around $70) and this was a very exciting moment for her however small. It was a signal of a health business as she had kept cash flow positive all the months.

She mastered the discipline and with time her business picked course. Today, three years later, she runs an eight figure (UGX) net profit business supplying over a dozen restaurants and hotels on a daily and supporting tens of farmers. Her life has changed and is no longer the woman that broke into a wail of tears at a seminar. She now employs 5 drivers and 9 other support workers and other dozens of people part-timely. She has established a packaging and storage facility too and  she is on a better footing and recently got a high end supply contract with some IOC (International Oil Company). This all happened when she decided to be deliberate about her business journey.

Taking the hard way has seen her climb to the highest peaks of business.  “I was so foolish, Nicholas, I would not have lost that 100k in cosmetics,” She often tells as she reminisces on the past.  As I quoted Riz Ahmed at the beginning of this chapter; “Bandwagons roll through our lives. It’s up to us whether to jump on them unquestioningly or jump on them to overturn them and subvert them.”..

This is an extract from my book dubbed:  GET SHAP: The Modus Operandi for Radical Entrepreneurs!  

You an as well make local print orders in EAST AFRICA via +256704597816

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Nicholas K. Quest

I am a Ugandan born transformational Author, social commentator, publisher, consultant, serial entrepreneur and an optimistic peak performance trainer. From economic-social issues, citizenry & human transcendence, I radically create strategies, publish books & programs, initiate projects, concepts and ventures that elevate key systems for shaping humanity’s future, productivity and outstanding corporate and individual legacies. With a transcendent approach, I identify opportunities from the crowd & proactively put them forward into ideas & solutions for people, organizations, and projects. Let's work together to elevate key systems for humanity's extraordinariness and productivity >>>>

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