I met a young mother that newly moved into our street. I saw her in someone’s shop, braiding someone’s hair. That was the first time I saw her. I was told by the shop owner that she’s good in hairdressing. I wasn’t so keen to have her as my hairdresser but I promised I will give her a try. She doesn’t have a salon, but I didn’t see that as an issue. I mean she can do home services, right? So, this week I asked her to come over to my house to plait my hair, which she did.
During the exercise, I noticed that she uses oil for my hair and the attachment instead of the usual hair pomade. I found out that the oil she’s using is made from our local pear and that she is the one that extracts it. In fact she told me she sells them whenever she is able to get enough pears to produce the oil in large quantity. She expressed her fear on how she will keep the market going when pears go out of season. I encouraged her to save up money from hairdressing charges to invest in that. She said she won’t because she doesn’t have a salon yet, which she said was her major target for now.
She complained that nobody wanted to help her with the money for renting a shop and equipping the salon. I advised her to put up signs at the front of her house and at some strategic places around so that people will know about her and her home-made oils. This idea didn’t go down well with her because she felt she was too big for such a thing – you know, people will look down on her if she can’t afford a salon, banners, posters, flyers and all. Besides, home-service wasn’t in her plan. It’s either a big salon or nothing. Oh well, I took a chance on someone I hardly know and my helping hand and ideas were thrown right back at me. So, she will have to keep waiting for someone to invest on opening a big well-equipped salon for her before she can produce more oil and advertise her business.
This type of situation isn’t peculiar to this lady. I know of so many people who had cases like hers. A distant relative of mine was one of them. He had his apprenticeship with someone from my hometown, but along the line they had a squabble and the relationship was severed. He came back to his parents’ house and refused to look for another place to continue his apprenticeship. He later approached a relative who he believed could provide him with a seed capital to start a business. This man he approached told him that he wasn’t ripe enough to go into a large-scale business. So he should either start it on a small scale or do some years of apprenticeship with him before he will help him (so I guess he wasn’t even comfortable with giving him much money). My cousin couldn’t bring himself down to accept any of these offers. Instead he started complaining that nobody wants to help him to progress.
So I ask, do we really contribute to our joblessness? Are we sure we haven’t been sending away our investors because we want to start big? How many people have reached out to us and later withdrew because they felt we don’t need them? Are we sending away our jobs and businesses?
I have known people who would rather sit down at home than go for that small job by the corner. Someone once told me that I should not take up small jobs because they will ‘block’ big ones from coming (I hope she has taken back her words). I know that some people get stuck in smaller jobs (story for another day) but should we decide to ignore a humble beginning because we are afraid we will get stuck? Everyone won’t be lucky to start it big. Even those that started small still make it big if they have vision and focus. Besides, we should see these small jobs and small scale businesses as training grounds for bigger things.
Sometimes the things we believe to be small may be something big in disguise. Take the case of the hairdresser as an example. If she accepts to put up a sign at the front of her house, she will attract a lot of customers because there is no hairdressing salon on the street (and a big street at that). But her reluctance could cost her a lot if she doesn’t act fast because someone else may see that business opportunity and grab it. And, if you look at it, she wouldn’t pay for a shop if she goes for home services, or uses her apartment as her make-shift shop. In fact, she will make more income from home-services because their charges are higher.
It is good to have big dreams, but it is also good to start small. Like I stated earlier, not everyone will be lucky to start big, and remain big. Starting big exposes us to bigger risks and investors may not be comfortable to entrust us with huge responsibilities unless they are sure their investments are safe. This is also true with employers who would rather not entrust a rookie with ‘juicy’ positions.
So I’ll say, let your business idea have a big picture, but don’t send away someone that will help you to start it small. Pick up that job and climb your way up.
Dream big, but you can start small.