On Starting a Business: Ideas, Partners, Capital, Luck and Hardwork.

opportunity

Today I booked a Bolt ride and was picked up by an elderly Man.

He was friendly and professional, and he was driving a Rav4 Jeep.

As we drove to my destination, I pondered what led him into the transportation business.

He looked well-educated, and from my deduction, he was most likely one of those elderly people who picked up a business later in life to remain active.

This category of people doesn’t work or trade because they need to feed.

They always have wealthy children who can cater to their every need, but they choose to work or trade because it means coming out daily to exercise their bodies.

As he drove, my thoughts veered away from his history to business.

I began to ponder.

What was the differentiating factor between the different forms of career or work that we have?

Now, if I ask why you are involved or want to be involved in a particular business.

You might talk about how lucrative it is.

But one thing that I have come to understand is that there are hundreds of things that you can do to make money.

And any business that brings a return of one naira can make you a million and a billion naira.

It all depends on your knowledge of how to scale a business.

So money is out of the equation.

This does not mean that it is not Important.

But making money is the easiest thing.

The hard things are finding capital, the right idea, and partners.

You also need to work hard; that’s how you generate luck.

There are a lot of directions that this article can go, but I will work hard to keep it focused on these points:

Ideas

Partners

Capital

Luck and Hardwork.

You need to deploy these things in the right proportion to build a successful business.

Let’s dive in.

 

Ideas

One of the earliest lessons I learned about ideas is that they are cheap.

Everyone has ideas.

There are 1001 articles online about business ideas.

Like the Bible said: There is nothing new under the Sun.

When it comes to ideas, the most important thing is execution.

You need to focus more on building your idea than telling people about it.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t build in public.

But it pays to actively work on something as you talk about it.

That way, you make it easier for people to help and patronize you.

Also you need to understand that the fact an idea is fully formed in your head doesn’t mean that you can build on it.

You may not have the requisite knowledge or skills to get it off the ground.

Know when to take a break to learn or where a partnership is needed.

I will share more of that in the next point.

Also, people have a particular fear when sharing their ideas with others.

You are well-versed with the concept of stolen ideas

But the truth is that no one can steal your idea.

Even if they try, they can never build it as you would.

The origin of that idea is your mind; if you stick to building it, you will build something remarkable.

I added this part for people who give up on their ideas because someone is building something similar.

Or found out that someone they discussed the idea with took it up and kicked them aside.

They just stole your version one; so many versions will come.

The phone or device you are reading this article on didn’t exist some years ago.

Phones had buttons and very small screen sizes.

Look at where we are today.

Partners

I was having a conversation with someone two weeks ago about physical businesses.

And I gave the person a case study on how I can build a successful dry cleaning business that can be scaled nationally with time.

You see, there are a lot of boring businesses that are waiting to be digitized.

Dry cleaning, Restaurants, Car shops, etc.

Businesses like these are ripe for disruption in a world where everyone is jumping into tech and building the next fintech app for online payments.

All that is needed is a partnership between an operator and a techie.

In the case of dry cleaning,

The operator must be very good at washing clothes and understand the dry cleaning business well.

A techie can build/design an app and handle online marketing and business development.

In this form of partnership, the role of everyone is clear, and when both partners excel in their duties, they will build a highly profitable business.

At this point, they are no longer selling dry cleaning; they are selling ease.

With their App, people can place an order and get their clothes picked up for washing and delivered back to them.

One of the partners can choose to handle pickup and delivery (highly recommended in the early days) or choose to delegate that to staff.

Also, if you understand business models deeper, you will understand that this is no longer a dry cleaning business.

Their business model is logistics based because that’s how they can provide and capture the most significant value.

Any average dry cleaner can get your clothes washed adequately.

How many can relieve you of the stress of washing and delivery?

 

Capital

A lack of capital is one of the most significant issues many prospective entrepreneurs face.

But most times, this can be solved with patience if there is no sponsor.

Let me explain.

Continuing with my dry cleaner analogy.

The operator can first choose to work for someone and save the necessary funds to start his own business.

Most people don’t build a saving culture because they have no vision.

That’s why you are finding it hard to save even if it is as little as 5-15% of your income.

When there is no understanding of the future, people cast away self-discipline – Myles Monroe.

In the words of the renowned Nigerian Philosopher Erigga, problem no dey finish.

So learn to pay yourself first for any money you earn before solving other problems.

That money you save (use cowrywise) is the only thing that is yours.

You will distribute the rest to others for different reasons.

If you are among the people who don’t work due to Ego, you are in for the long haul.

In my early years of trying to build a personal income, I worked as a laborer in the market, helping people offload goods from trucks and carrying them into their stalls.

My next gig was working a night shift as a fuel station attendant, and when I got the opportunity, I started washing cars at a Car wash during the day.

These all happened between 2011 and 2015.

I didn’t save much during those years because I invested all my earnings into my personal development.

But those years were what laid the foundation for who I am today.

If you don’t have money, look for opportunities around you and seize them.

Don’t be broke and proud.

And if your focus is what people would think or say, ask yourself this question.

If you have a life-threatening sickness that needs expensive surgery, write down the names of people you are confident will bail you out.

If you realize how quickly dead people are forgotten, you won’t live your life to please anybody.

The same goes for the techie.

The skills that help you build a successful business can help others build one too.

Find out those people, work for them and save.

 

Luck and  Hardwork

These two walk hand in hand.

As a Nigerian, you are most likely familiar with that famous phrase that people say when you ask they the secret to their success.

“Na God o “

It’s an annoying statement, but it is true.

You see, many people are very familiar with the person of Jesus but know very little about his principles.

The person of Jesus brings you peace.

The principles of Jesus bring you prosperity.

Here are some of those principles.

  1. Whatever you sow, you shall reap.
  2. Do to others what you would have them do to you.
  3. He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.

Jesus was also a big advocate of serving others.

I have studied a lot of successful businesses globally, and a recurring factor is serving people.

The thing about principles like consistency and hard work is that they have come to look dull.

But you need to understand that they hold the key to success.

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

 

Conclusion

There are a lot of things that go into starting a business.

But you need to understand that it combines working on the right idea, finding the right people and capital, and then working as hard as possible.

Every single one of these variables is essential and should be taken seriously.

I know that you would have unique questions based on what you are building.

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below; I will answer all questions.

 

Further Study

  1. The Wolf of Franchise writes fantastic case studies on physical businesses. A great way to know winning business models to adopt and even scale with tech. WOF Newsletter.
  2. These articles on FEAR and EGO would help you a lot. I wrote them some months back.
  3. Watch this movie about the origins of MacDonalds. (scroll down for the download link)The best business movie I have ever watched.

 

Thank you for reading

Looking forward to your comment and questions in the comment section below.

67 Responses

      1. I am blessed to come across this write up, I was into distribution of washing powder products and Toiletries, but I run into huge amounts of debt, since I was a young business guy, something inside push me to start again but I also fear if it doesn’t work. I don’t know what to do

  1. First off, the fact that you wrote this article as a prompt from WhatsApp proves that you are well versed in this topic.

    This enabled you to deliver concrete lessons that everyone need to actually pay attention to in their entrepreneurship journey.

    Thank you Ajulu

    1. True! I was expecting a write up on his WhatsApp status but he was able to get this much done in such a short and so well. That’s commendable

  2. I absolutely love your perspectives on this topic and how it was well articulated.

    Thank you for also highlighting the need to engage yourself to work and leave pride aside.

    Besides savings, are there other ways to raise capital or are there businesses that can literally start without capital?

    Also, for a new business i.e. just starting e.g a food business…what’s the strategy to get people to patronise your business with zero clientele base?

    1. A level of capital is always needed.

      The type or stage of business determines this.

      You can get a loan or business grant which is a bit harder. This is why I talked about going the work and earn route.

      Working gives you more experience in that field and your earnings can be saved up as capital.

      For the food business, location matters a lot and your food has to be good.

      Also things like keeping your restaurant clean and how you related with customers matters a lot.

  3. Goodevening sir pls I have a question regarding to the article you just shared with us

    1st I’m a fashion designer, I’m very good at what I do but my problem is how to attract the right customers? I sew and wear beautifully designed clothes as a means of putting myself out there but it’s still the same old story.. I need your advise on what to do pls

  4. Good evening sir, I have a disturbing question. You said it is important to save right? What of cases where you are trying to develop yourself and you spend most or even all of your savings on self development… is it good or bad?

    1. If your earnings are very minimal, then invest more in your personal development. There is nothing wrong with that.

      The most important thing is taking action as your learn so that you can increase your income with time.

  5. I started reading even though I didn’t have the time and even saved the article to come back and read up when I have time but I couldn’t bring myself to stop. This is a very good read and being in this beginning stage myself, I’ve taken important points from this and you’ve reassured me again to keep pushing. Thanks

  6. This piece you shared is so detailed sir and the fact that you weren’t ashamed to tell your story inspires one.

  7. Hello Sir, I am blessed by the type of example you used for the illustration today. I own a dry-cleaning business and have been finding a way to implement this but haven’t gotten a solution yet. I will like it if you can shed more light on this for me. I like to have permission to dm on this if possible.

  8. The ordering system will have to come with a payment method. Is it okay when they make an order and get referred to WhatsApp for payment or it should be included in the site made?

    Because dry cleaning is not a fixed rate like foods. The prices differ in terms of clothing.

    1. And how also what marketing strategy do you recommend?

      Just started few months and sales have not been coming in that’s what brought about the idea of adding a web. The business is located close to an institution (university)

      1. One of the things that you can do is to go to Hostels and do pickups.

        This would involve going from Room to Room in the beginning.

        Let people become aware of your business and make it a routine to come constantly at defined days

  9. This is an awesome read as usual.

    Thanks very kindly for taking your time to share this.

    I got enlightenments and clarity on certain things. Thanks

  10. Thank you so much sir it was a great read. But I have a question, I gave myself to service to someone for years and when an opportunity came for that person to carry me along I was set aside as one that is not useful anymore to this person. Should I still continue to serve or should I look elsewhere.

  11. Thank you so much!
    I’m so glad I won the round on your WhatsApp status for the topic to be written on.
    I’ve had questions in mind concerning this, it’s why I didn’t think twice before picking this topic.
    I had to take my time to read this.
    I got the clarity I wanted and I’ll come back if any question comes on.
    This is a lot.
    Thank you so much!

  12. Thank you sir, will have to read SELL YOUR SAW DUST to articulate my questions.

    “But, is it right to fake it till you make it?”

  13. Thanks brother for such helpful inspiring insight once again and again. Your words gives me courage, and the reminding of they principles of Jesus clears the wave. May heaven reward you for your service.

      1. Boss, I always look forward to your write ups, I wish you can be writing more often, thanks for this great piece. I learnt to execute my ideas, to be consistent, build relationships, build network and partner with them. God bless you for the clarity

  14. This is very insightful sir as I’ve gained important ways to navigate around my business.
    Thanks very much sir

  15. Thanks a lot….Read this and it opened my eyes to why am struggling in my business….Am ready to put these into practice and let you know how far it helped me in no distant time.

  16. This article was and will keep being very insightful,I have a question tho,i am doing well as a shoemaker,I felt like adding ux designing to my skills but atimes it feels like both skills don’t go hand in hand,I don’t know if that’s a lazy mindset crawling in or a Focus mindset

  17. Thank you Ajulu for this write-up. The exact examples you used (scalable dry cleaning business) have been on my mind for more than a year now. This article validates much for me. Thank you for the “Capital” part of the article, it is worth reading over and over again. You’re the best!

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