Can you count how many times you have heard people give the if-you-want-to-succeed-in-Nigeria-you-have-you-be-an-entrepreneur speech? I can’t. I’ve heard it since I was in primary school, literally. And when I graduated from university, it was ringing in my head: you have to have the mind of an entrepreneur to rise above the Nigerian poverty line.
Maybe it’s right for some people. But I believe that not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. At least I know I am not, and I firmly believe I’m not the only one out here. I can say this because the pressure pushed me to try, and I did. Do you know I started a business making popcorn shortly after graduation and before I was mobilised for NYSC? Well, I did. Only to realise that I was not cut out for the life of an entrepreneur. I am a different brand of person altogether, a sort of hybrid, but that’s a story for another day.
So today, I’m sharing a few pointers that you might not have that entrepreneurial spirit they talk about.
1. If you are not a risk-taker, you are not an entrepreneur
Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you did something risky? If your answer to this question is that you cannot remember or even never, then I guess you don’t have the entrepreneur’s bone. If you prefer to stay in your comfort zone and dislike change and risk, you are safer as an employee because as an entrepreneur, you would have to try something new every day. Don’t mistake this to be a bad thing, though. It’s just how you are, and we cannot all be the same. If we were all musicians, who would listen to whose song?
2. A good entrepreneur is an excellent salesman
It’s not just the ability to think up a need and provide a solution; in fact, the main work as an entrepreneur is in selling your idea or product. It’s in being able to make people see the need for your business and want to spend their money on it. Marketing!
I, for one, do not have the ability or will, even, to convince people to do what I want. Funny, but it’s one of the reasons I never considered studying law in school. Besides, I’m more of the do-as-you-wish person, you know, whatever rocks your boat. If you are anything like me, then entrepreneurship is not your calling. You could hire people to do it, yes. But do you have that type of money as a startup in Nigeria?
Some people are not born with an entrepreneurial spirit. They don’t have a burning desire to start something, to take a risk, they don’t have a groundbreaking idea they want to share, and they don’t want to invest their life savings in a dream.
There are three kinds of people: those who go under a problem; those who go over a problem and those who find a way around the problem. Which one are you? If you would always rather avoid wahala, then maybe you should not bother being an entrepreneur because each day would come with problems you have to face and deal with. If you are the first kind of person, who would rather go under a challenge, ignoring it until it becomes too big, you will crush under the weight of the whole thing.
4. Multitasking is an entrepreneur’s middle name
As an entrepreneur, you wear many shoes, and they pinch in many different places. I like to focus when I’m doing something. It’s the only way I give it my best. I mean, I can’t even read or study with music in the background, it’s either I’m listening to music or studying. Can’t ever be both.
As an entrepreneur, you think of everything, and it all has to be perfect or at least good enough. If you find it difficult to divide your attention and still perform maximally, entrepreneurship might not be for you. Unless you have the means to employ different people for different roles so that you can concentrate on your thing.
Want to find the future entrepreneurs in a room full of teenagers? Look for the boys who like to break a rule from time to time.
This sums up entrepreneurs. They are the ones that have an inner restlessness that pushes them to a certain level of rebelliousness.
An entrepreneur has to have the ability to step on toes once in a while. This is essential! Because people will attempt to frustrate your efforts as an entrepreneur. Even friends and family might take advantage of you. They will owe you! And the chances are that you would allow the goodness of your heart to make you become Fada Christmas and be doing giveaways anyhow. It is your ability to stand up to others that will keep you afloat in times like these. And if you get along with everyone, the chances are that you find it difficult to call people out.
It is possible to cultivate these skills. If you are passionate enough and have that resilience, you can groom yourself into an entrepreneur. You only have to work extra hard because you don’t naturally possess what it takes.
And, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are nothing like the above list and still manage to be excellent entrepreneurs. There are because there are always exceptions.
The end of the matter is that variety is the spice of life. We are not the same and should not even be. Some of us are made to be great entrepreneurs, employing hundreds or thousands of people; while the rest of us are meant to be a part of a whole. Employees, helping to build others the best way we can. As far as you’re doing what you love, you’re good, and you’ll make money. I mean, the governor of Central Bank is not an entrepreneur, but an employee, so 🤷
PS: This post is the first of many like it to come. I’ll be talking about entrepreneurship focusing on how the Nigerian entrepreneur can maximise their potentials in Nigeria even though it’s hard being an entrepreneur in Nigeria. This is a sort of test, so please do let me know in the comments if this is stuff you’d like to see more.
I am a Nigerian graduate documenting the perks and pains of being a graduate without long leg in Nigeria; while also contributing her quota to make the world a better place. Lets be friends on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You'll find me there as Naijafreshgraduate.