Status vs Growth: A piece inspired by a ride
Some days ago, on an evening when much of the business of the day had been concluded I sat out with three of my office neighbors to exchange banters. It is almost a tradition for those of us who are traders. As for my line of hustle, no surprises considering the part of the country I come from.
So we went on bantering. I am relatively new in the area so for the most part of the conversation I did more of listening and laughing than talking. It was going on good till a car; a relatively current Toyota Sienna parked right in front of us. Sadly so, I am not an automobile buff, so those specifics like; year of production etc. skip me like almost all the time. Now, cars come and go every now and then so this particular one did not rouse any special attention from me. Well, not for long.
The bantering went on, This guy (the owner of the car) is a disappointment. I cant believe with all the money he has, this is the kind of car he can get for himself". I turned to my neighbor who has just said this in shock. Sensing my disbelief, he repeated himself in case I did not hear him the first time. And just as I was about to take him up on it my second neighbor chipped in. "Yes! Me too, I’m disappointed. This car does not fit him at all. But then this is an upgrade considering he had a Carina E he rode for years and refused to change. I guess he will hand that one over to his wife now…" I tried to make them understand that a man uses either what he can afford or what suits him and not necessarily to define his status, but they wouldn’t listen to any crap lecture from me. So I continued my listening.
This is a common situation with those of us who are entrepreneurs; either chilling in a cozy office space, crammed along with our wares in a tiny shop or sweating it out under the sun. Some of us see setting up businesses as that lubricant the lever of our sometimes outrageous lifestyles needs to roll smoothly.
You have successfully set up one business and the money is trickling in. Now you are feeling on top of the world. I imagine you will be thinking “now dem go know say I don arrive, their Father!!”. Every Naira that comes in, presents an opportunity to splurge when you should be thinking of upgrading your business.
It becomes more worrisome when this happens because our standard or status in the society is defined by other people. Worse is, those who do not know what it means to set up and run a business. Those who do not share same ambition as you (assuming there’s a hint of ambition in you) will never see the need to live within your means. To them you are rich especially by their own standard and so you are expected to act the part.
On Twitter, someone observed quite correctly the dearth of businesses that can be considered family owned. These are companies that have gotten bigger as it passes through generations of the same family.
Tunji Andrews, a person I respect his opinion on financial matters pointed out in his reply that Nigerian entrepreneurs do not think on the long term when starting a business. According to him, to them (Nigerian entrepreneurs) setting up businesses were more of a means to an end. They see it as the opportunity to "live the life".
There is no denying that entrepreneurs need strong tutoring on financial management to overcome the pitfalls of the business environment especially in a place like Nigeria that stifles businesses more than it helps build them. Entrepreneurs need to get a grip of themselves too when dealing with perception and expectations. A whole lot of discipline is required if you have dreams beyond being in business just to meet your daily needs.
There are a host of resources available on the internet that can be accessed either freely or at a cost. Social media interestingly could provide more resource in terms of Education etc. Also, in our generation today social media has its dangers on budding businessmen and their businesses. You must be careful the kind of information to internalize.
Anyways, going back it turns out that the businessman who's choice of car sparked the argument that inspired this piece is rich, at least by our Nigerian standard and so can afford any car he so chooses but hey!, we are not in the position to define class and status to a man who has a perfect idea of what pleasure should be for him.
How do you define your status?