Building a business or brand has always been a constant sermon preached, especially in a world where securing a “normal” job that rhymes with courses young people read in school is gradually becoming an illusion.
Narrowing the conversation down to agriculture because that’s my field, many at times agricultural science students are often confronted with justifying their choice as to why they chose that above all others and what they intend to do after school. And that’s before gender begins to play a role as to the numerous limitations seen in the mind’s eye of people,
While people preach about entrepreneurship and how great the opportunities are, there are some things we are never told; things that can psychologically, physically and emotionally prepare us for the rocky and stormy road ahead.
1. Business is real “business”
I have come to learn that all the smiley pictures we see of people during interviews is a great camouflage of happenings behind the scene. The countless fights and emotional surges with investment partners, the many reports that have to be turned in or the legal requirements and terminologies one has to wrap their head around are not clearly pronounced during their beautiful speeches and the great stories they share.
2. You don’t have to get it all figured out
Running a business is like full term pregnancy with all its complications. You can never be too prepared for the twists and turns, the unanswered questions, the funny expressions when your brilliant idea is rubbished by people who clearly know better or think they do not forgetting the sleepless nights. But good part is, help is out there. It’s just a question or networking event away.
3. There’s no free money out there
Every brilliant idea is valuable. Investors know that and will leach on to it. Giving out shares comes with the terrain. Can get scary and quite confusing but it’s not all so bad. Investors push you and keep you on your toes. They guard their treasure and force you too.
4. You may lose your social life
Sleeping late, working odd hours, overthinking, crying, being irritable, losing friends who don’t share your dream or understand the sudden turn of events or are overwhelmed by the sudden change is highly possible. Thing is not to let it.
Reason: when stress levels get so high, you need to calm the nerves to allow you think clearly. Take breaks, spend time with people that matter or radiate positive energy, people who understand your hustle and are supportive. Build long lasting relationships that are deeply entrenched because when all is said and done, they are the ones you’ll fall back on for the emotional support and validation you’ll need. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s a twisted road and all the uncertainties and misgivings will definitely make your story unique.
5. You may fail
Unless you have someone looking over your shoulders and protecting you from the real scares of the world, failure comes with the terrain. Even when they are constantly looking over your shoulders, your business is your business so in the end it boils down to you and it’s pretty normal to constantly make mistakes plus it hurts pretty bad to have a great fall but most important thing is not to stay there.
6. Don’t expect everyone to believe in your dream
Reason it’s regarded your dream is probably because you’re the only person seeing it the way it is. It’s very normal to expect close family and friends to believe and support your dream but 70–80% of the time they won’t. Not because they don’t believe in your potential but probably because they still view you as their little baby if it’s your parents or you being regarded as over ambitious in the case of friends.
Parents dream of waking up to their kids being fulfilled and successful. The manuscript doesn’t usually have the part where they have to see you suffer or not earn the 6-figure salary. It’s therefore up to you to keep the resilience and keep the vision alive. A vision they’ll get to see over time and be supportive of.
7. Have an alternative source of income
Nobody dreams of starting a business and running at a loss. But reality check: not only may you run at a loss, you may be in debts. Times may come when money to run operations may be non-existent and the ability to pre-finance activities may just not be possible. Having another source of income to bail you out or fuel your business when fumes are low is your safest bet.
8. If you have to borrow, stick to family and friends
Borrowing is usually the last alternative but if you have to, lean on family and friends. Their loans are usually interest free and the repayment terms are relatively flexible not to forget when they suddenly become free.
9. You need people to survive but create your brand
People make or unmake businesses. Good reviews, referrals or comments help boost or push businesses but don’t be compelled to fit into their standards. Carve your own niche and culture. Make an effort to look the part because you dress how you want to be addressed. Make a classy and smooth effort to sell your business wherever you go.
10. Enjoy the ride whiles it lasts
Take a day at a time. It’s fine to have a strategic plan and great to see the big picture but take it a day at a time and leave room for change while starting small.