There are a lot of blogs out there encouraging young people in Africa to become entrepreneurs! From my experience, entrepreneurship is not for everybody! I’ve taken the trouble to compile a few things you need to think about to know whether you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur in Africa!
Do you have enough money to survive as you wait for your business to pick up?
When it comes to raising capital for your business, you need to have enough money to survive and meet your basic needs until your business breaks even. When will your business break even? The time it takes for your business to break even is double the time indicated in your business plan and revenue projections! Yes that’s right, 2x the time indicated in your projections! Only the lucky few manage to get their business to break even on time.
You can ask any entrepreneur out there. They will tell you that your business plan doesn’t take into account some of the things that are beyond your control, like inconsistent electricity supply, flash floods, a death in the family just to mention a few. So it is safe to work with 2x the time indicated in the best-case-scenario business plan.
Is your business idea solving a real problem?
As an entrepreneur, I have tried my hand at a lot of things. From hawking groceries to selling second-hand clothes. The one thing I have discovered in my journey is that your business idea needs to solve a real problem. When I first started out I used to hawk groceries in Bugado, Uganda. What I quickly discovered is that the same groceries I was hawking were easily available and the people in the village were all growing the same thing. This made is extremely difficult to make real money! But when I started selling cooking oil to the shops at the market, it was to serve the need that everyone needed to cook the food that they were all growing!
Working for my uncle as a driver taught me a lot about distribution and today one of my businesses supplies basic goods to the villages around the Bugado area and some parts of the DRC. Using trucks and motorcycles, I managed to build a distribution network that I can use to deliver what the people need. Doesn’t matter whether its cooking oil, salt, toothpaste, clothes or even electronics, My business is solving a problem!
Are you ready to give it your all?
Don’t be fooled by the get-rich-quick illusion promised by the “entrepreneur” blogs and pyramid schemes out there. Starting a business is the most time-intensive endavour you will ever undertake. You will have some missteps that will paint you as the joke of society, you will lose friends, you will have conflicts with family members and relatives, you will have to work 5 times harder than your employees, all in the name of building a business.
When it comes to risk, you will put your credit score and reputation on the line and may never recover from the damage caused should things not work out. You must be prepared to have a few falls along the way and have a skin that’s thick enough to pick yourself up and move on whenever things don’t work out!
Long Story Short
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. If you have a healthy appetite for risk and have an idea that can make society a better place, all you need is the conviction to fold up your sleeves and roll with the punches as you build it into a business. In the end, the reward is not having to work for money but having money work for you!