As an entrepreneur for 8 years now, there have been ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad.
However, there is so much about entrepreneurship as a whole that was hidden from me. Truths that have been kept secret. Truths I have had to uncover on my own. Let’s go over a few;
It is hard!
It may be the entrepreneurs I follow or speak to, but most of them have made entrepreneurship look like a walk in the park. Frequent announcements of awards won, new platforms, funding rounds and so much more!
The truth is, that’s the result from years of hard work. Years of planting is what has led to that harvest. They did not wake up and end up where they are. I think as a community of founders, we have failed to show up and coming entrepreneurs the sacrifices that go into entrepreneurship. We sing of the wins and we are silent on the losses. We speak of the times we got it right and fail to mention the thousands of times we got it wrong.
We have made entrepreneurship glamorous and the truth is that it is anything but! Now, if you know me, I complain yes but when I identify a problem I am also quick to find a solution.
Diaries of an African Entrepreneur is a platform created by African Entrepreneurship Initiative and Arielle for Africa. It creates a safe space for entrepreneurs to share their challenges around entrepreneurship and the reality that most days it is HARD! We invite successful entrepreneurs to share these realities with up and coming entrepreneurs in Africa on our Facebook Group. If you want to join us click here.
It is Lonely
Let’s keep it real!
When your venture/company is starting out and for quite a few years, you spend 98% of your energy and time on it. Family, friends, hobbies and other priorities can fall to the back burner. It’s not that you don’t love the people around you, it’s just that in that moment, your vision has blurred your immediate environment.
It is okay!
I think the one thing I wish I knew was that there are times when you have so much to do that you almost end up living on autopilot. However, you can make time! Time for the things and people you love. You just need to be intentional about it.
Having a circle of fellow founders has been a great comfort to me. I have spent my days venting with other founders over coffee and laughing while crying. IT HAS BEEN THERAPEUTIC!
Most of the times, when I have been ready to resign, when I have sat and thought, “wait I have 2 master degrees and two undergraduate degrees! I can get a really good job!”, those are the times the major breakthrough has been around the corner!
When I have questioned my decision to be an entrepreneur, when I have regretted the decision, when I have considered other alternatives, those are the times I was about to hit gold!
Being an entrepreneur is the most expensive but the most rewarding career. You just have to pay the costs to hit the reward.
Trust me when I say, IT COMES!
TEAM TEAM TEAM
Through my journey with 3 companies, one thing that has rung true is that the right team is everything. Not just a skilled, hard working or smart team but a RIDE OR DIE TEAM!
I don’t have all of the teams I would want but I am much more selective now. I know that what makes a vision is not the person who sees it but the hands that persistently work for it.
Keep your team small but strong and thank me later.
Get strong hobbies!
The fastest way to end up in a mental institution as an entrepreneur (trust me I would know), is to not have anything to look forward to on a day to day.
In the last 6 months I have been training for a marathon, lifting weights, boxing and securing my Yoga certification.
Because sometimes I need to breathe, sometimes I need endorphins, sometimes I need an outlet and fitness has been just that for me. Looks like entrepreneurship will kill me and help me live longer all at the same time – Hahahaha I think that’s what people mean by balance.
I have also been reading – A LOT! Each month the minimum number of books I read is 10. For the year I am about to hit 100 books. Now I am not doing that to learn or hit a goal. I am doing it for my sanity.
Rather than live my one stressful life, I would rather enjoy living 1000 lives in different pages. Thus, I have dived into thrillers, fiction, non-fiction, poetry and name it! I read almost anything and everything at this point.
Sometimes, all you need is Faith
There have been days where all that kept me holding on was my faith. Faith that there had to be light at the end of tunnel, a rainbow after the storm and a beam of hope after the madness.
I have held fast not in my abilities, but to the belief that my purpose is greater than my fear or struggles.
Planted not buried
Entrepreneurship has more to do with farming than I ever imagined. When you take a seed and put it deep into the ground, it looks like it is buried when in reality it is planted.
Preparation for greatness and growth often looks a lot like death.
The beautiful part is that as you are planted, the only way out is up! That encourages me because I know that in the tough days and months, I am there to get stronger roots, more water, more minerals and become an even stronger end product.
YOU WILL FAIL
This is not to discourage you, it is a fact of entrepreneurship.
Most times, you will fail, you will be broke, you will be let down, you will fall and you will be at your end.
What separates the successful entrepreneurs from the rest is their ability to get up. To say no to staying down.
BUT FALL FORWARD!
What do I mean? Well it’s simple, when I start a venture or choose a path, I have no plan B. My only plan is to give it my best and if I fall, I fall forwards.
I fall, but as I fall it is still part of my progress.
I dust myself off and get back up.
Falling forwards is what has made me look at failure as progress and another way of not doing something.
It is worth it…
I don’t think there is a more fulfilling career for me than waking up knowing I exist to support young talent and especially young talent in Africa.
Till my heart stops beating.. that is worth more than money or fame.
It is worth that gives me true satisfaction.
Until later friends!