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How to become an entrepreneur

Are you bored with your work or have just been furloughed? Do you wish to control your own time? Do you have a dream to start a business, employ people, deliver services, and make a positive impact on society, particularly in these unprecedented times?
But do you also feel intimidated and your thoughts shrouded by these fears:
• The fear of rejection: “Your idea is too small, leave business for the geniuses.”
• The fear of inadequacy: “Who are you; you can’t do it; business is not for people with low capital and limited connections.”
• The fear of being judged: “Business is not in your family blood, don’t even start dreaming.”
• The fear of failure: “What if I run out of capital and fail?”

Well, let me assure you that entrepreneurship is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. You don’t have to be a superstar to become a businessperson.

The Journey to Becoming an Entrepreneur
The journey to entrepreneurship starts with YOU. No one is going to fight your fears for you. You must confidently confront them and be decisive as you declare: Now is the time to start my business journey. If you can, I will advise that you save up a year’s worth of your living expense and set aside some investment. This would come handy on the proverbial rainy day. Waste no time anymore. Wake up, stand up, and let your business ideas start taking a practical, tangible form. This article gives you five factors you must consider if you want to become an entrepreneur and succeed at it.

The Idea
Have you ever wondered whether the ideas that you are passionate about are too small and can’t be developed into a thriving business? Based on my personal experience, please allow me to mention that there is nothing in entrepreneurship or politics or any other field for that matter called “small idea”. Former Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, once said: “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time, a steady eye.” You need a steady eye to get your evolving idea on the path to a successful business. For example, one of the world’s renowned businessman, Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines after he was stuck at an airport in Puerto Rico on his way to the Virgin Islands.

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With fewer passengers going to that destination, the flight was cancelled. This inconvenience birthed a business idea in Richard Branson’s mind. He saw an opportunity to start an airline that would also fly to the Virgin Islands. Thus the birth of Virgin Airlines. So, never underestimate the power of your ideas, especially when inspired by life experiences/problems. Any well-thought-out business idea that addresses societal issues, fine-tuned value proposition, clearly stated unique selling points and spiced up with focus and determination could produce impressive results.

The Starting Point
Just imagine: after she gives birth, a new mother has no parenting manual. How does she begin taking care of her child? She starts by trying, fumbling, and learning along the way. The same goes for starting a business. The best way is not to shun the emerging idea but to start, fall, rise, and from the lessons learned, become better. Your aim should be to establish a venture even when you don’t have all the components at a go. The best way to start is by selling your idea to people that you trust to support you. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, had no cash and no clients when he established Apple. What he did next is a beautiful example you can learn from:

a) He persuaded a local computer shop with payment on delivery to order his non-existent Apple computers.
b) Using the order he just got as evidence that he could pay, Steve jobs persuaded a dealer in computer parts to sell him the components he required to start his work.
c) Jobs and a small team worked on building the first Apple PCs in their garage, delivering them on time and making a smooth profit.
d) Apple had been born out of nothing.

One could contend that the complex, volatile, and ambiguous socioeconomic environment in Nigeria may make it almost impossible for a Steve Job to succeed in Nigeria. Nevertheless, there are still many Femis, Ngozis and Razaqs today who are doing well in their business in the nation.

Scale the Heights
Keep in mind that no business can develop on an indefinite basis. Most companies are more effective in different sizes and stages of the firm. For example, if you desire to establish a big food business, you may realize that starting a four-person restaurant is relatively easier. However, building a large-scale catering business may be more difficult. If your long-term goal is to be big, your strategy could be to start small, then expand later.

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Seek help
Build a team even if it means having freelance accountant, human resource advisors, sales personnel and IT consultants, some of whom may come free from peers, friends and family. Get an advisory board-This would be a group of experienced non-competing professionals who can help with; ideas, challenging assumptions and make you accountable, shape strategy, motivate and share contacts.

… And Finally
Skill and tenacity are significant factors that will help you drive safely on the journey of entrepreneurship. To build the requisite skills, you need to come up with a continuous personal development plan. This personal development plan would entail an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses as well as how to leverage your strengths to address your limitations. A development plan of how to improve, for example, your conceptual, digital, communication or networking skills should have a timeline, say six months, and a to-do list. For instance, in the next six months, you may need to read more, watch more relevant videos, attend some training and look for a mentor. Here are eleven areas that you could consider setting up a business: 1. Telemedicine 2. IT 3. Health care, 4. Education 5. Renewable energy 6. Supply chain 7. Arts & Entertainment 8. Security 9. Fashion 10. Agricultural value chain 11.Fin Tech. Good luck!

Abubakre (PhD) is a British-based entrepreneur with an unparalleled passion for Africa, Academic, and Director with active links and engagement with Africa. He is on the advisory board of the London Business School Africa Society, lectures in a top 15 UK university and founded TEXEM, UK a consultancy firm ten years ago which has trained over 4,000 executives in the UK and Africa. In 2010, Alim was selected as one of the top 100 Virgin Media emerging entrepreneurs in the UK and accompanied London’s Lord Mayor on his entourage to Nigeria in 2015.

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