Starting a Business? Pause, Learn, Succeed – Practical Way

So, you've been diving into a sea of information about starting a business, particularly if you're stepping into the entrepreneurial realm for the first time. 

And if you've experienced the bumpy ride of a business failure or two, chances are you've realized that something was amiss right from the beginning.

But let's talk about what might still be eluding those in the latter category – the ones who've stumbled before. Reading articles on "21 Things to Consider Before Starting a Business," "11 Factors to Consider When Starting a Business," or even "31 Steps to Start a Business" might not be the most effective starting point, my friend.

Trust me on this, I've walked the entrepreneurial path myself and managed a handful of businesses for others as well. With over 17 years of hands-on experience in running various businesses, I've come to realize that there's a crucial aspect missing from those trending articles and best-selling books.

In this post, I'm going to unpack this missing piece and strongly advise you to put aside all the other advice for a moment and focus solely on what I'm about to share. This is especially relevant if you're gearing up for the adventure of launching a small or medium-scale business, or even going the self-employment route.

Let's Get Real: Business Is All About Practice

Why am I so confident about this? Because what I'm about to reveal is my personal approach, and it worked wonders for me. It taught me more than all those articles and books combined. 

So, if you're on the cusp of venturing into the world of self-employment, keep reading – this one's for you.

Alright, let's cut to the chase. Business is not something you merely read about and magically master. It's not a bedtime story; it's more like tackling a tough math problem. You don't truly grasp math until you've rolled up your sleeves and crunched the numbers. 

And trust me, if all you do is read through your math textbook without practicing, you'll end up stumbling during exams when things get tricky.

The same logic applies to business. You can't expect to succeed by just reading about it. In fact, if you attempt to run a business solely based on theoretical knowledge, you might find yourself stuck in a messy equation.

Remember those math exams? If you had practiced solving equations beforehand, you'd likely breeze through them. Similarly, in the business realm, success comes to those who embrace a practical approach right from the start.

Getting Your Hands Dirty: A Must for Aspiring Business Owners

This advice is particularly pertinent if your aim is to be your own boss. If you're diving into a business that demands your personal involvement and perhaps a small team, such as a computer business, marketing agency, or logistics venture, then you need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

Take it from me – I've been there. I've managed marketing businesses and ventured into computer and education consulting before finally landing in education consultancy, where I currently thrive. 

My success in education consulting was greatly fueled by the practical knowledge I gained from my previous experiences in marketing and computer consulting.

The kicker? I didn't stumble upon this approach in any business manual or blog post. It was my gut feeling that told me reading about a business wasn't enough to kickstart and sustain it triumphantly.

Now, I understand that this approach might seem challenging, especially if you're financially ready to dive in. You might be tempted to delegate tasks and send your money on a mission. But beware – it might backfire if you haven't built a strong foundation from the get-go.

For instance, I had technical knowledge in computers and marketing, but it was during my stint with a former employer that I truly absorbed the ins and outs of running a business. Many folks out there also have the necessary resources – office space, furniture, equipment, and capital. Yet, they stumble because they lack that fundamental business know-how.

Let Me Share a Story: Learning from Others' Mistakes

Here's a tale to drive this point home. I knew a guy – let's call him Alex – who admired a successful business and thought he could ace it too. He launched his own venture, but within a year, he lost a substantial amount of money – a whopping 3 million naira.

It took him just 12 months to realize that he should have shadowed an established organization in the same industry. That way, he'd have gained insights beyond the surface.

Then there are those who do consider learning the ropes, but they're reluctant to put in the effort without a hefty paycheck. Here's where they go wrong. 

I'm here to tell you, taking a lower-paying or even unpaid gig for a few years can be a smart move before embarking on your long-term entrepreneurial journey.

Personal Example: From Commission to Confidence

Let me share my journey as an example. My first gig in the industry paid me through commissions. As a part of a marketing company, my earnings were directly tied to my sales. I stuck around for a year before moving on after my commissions began to take off. Yes, I was happy with the experience, but the commission didn't quite cut it.

My next job, though, paid me a mere N6000, which was a far cry from the cushy paychecks my well-employed friends were cashing elsewhere. I remember my wife's disbelief when I spilled the beans about my wage. 

But here's the thing – I didn't see that as a salary. It was more like a stipend to support myself while I climbed the ladder of expertise.

And guess what? Even if you're hesitant to take such a pay cut, trust me, it won't drain the life out of you. It's a small investment in your learning journey that will pay off in the long haul.

Breaking Down Barriers: Degrees and Delusions

Oh, and let me address another misconception that might be stopping you from taking the plunge into learning your chosen business inside out. You might think that descending to a lower position contradicts your academic qualifications – after all, you hold a BSC or an HND degree. Brace yourself for a reality check!

I, too, had just returned from my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) after earning my HND before I followed my gut into this approach. Your academic background might be impressive, but it doesn't exempt you from the invaluable lessons learned on the practical battlefield.

And don't think that some businesses are too small to warrant such a deep dive. Take the example of selling phone accessories. It might seem like a straightforward buying and selling game, right? Wrong. There's a wealth of insights hidden beneath the surface, and you won't find them in any textbook. You have to become a part of the system to truly grasp them.

Here's My Success Recipe: The 80/20 Principle

My last gig before launching my own business lasted about three years, with an impressive 85% salary increase in the final year. Armed with my practical knowledge, I took the leap and founded my own business in January 2012.

I put my hard-earned insights into action, and guess what? My business kicked off on the right foot and has been a success ever since. Let me share a bit of my personal growth – in just a decade, I managed to buy two cars and build a house.

Now, I'm not boasting – I'm just using my journey as a testament to the power of sacrificing your ego and delving into your chosen business.

Conclusion

In a world overflowing with advice columns and how-to guides, it's easy to lose sight of the fundamental truth: business is not a spectator sport. It's a dynamic, hands-on endeavor that demands action, practice, and a willingness to get your hands dirty. Hence, as you stand on the brink of your entrepreneurial journey, remember this uncommon approach – the one that goes beyond the allure of theoretical knowledge.

Imagine this: you're not just reading about swimming; you're diving headfirst into the pool. You're not merely reading recipes; you're stirring the pot, adding a pinch of your own flavor. That's the spirit of entrepreneurship – a willingness to be an active participant rather than a passive observer. 

This isn't about disregarding knowledge, but about complementing it with real-world experience. By doing so, you're not just preparing for success; you're embodying it. So, let's bid adieu to the notion that success can be achieved solely through reading and theory. Embrace the path of learning by doing, and watch your business journey flourish in ways you never thought possible.

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