The stroke is not the same for most entrepreneurs. The stroke is not the same for most entrepreneurs. For some, it comes like the fabled King Midas. Their first touch turns whatever idea it is into a gold mine. No stress, no pain, just gain. To some, if you are already successful and your business is booming, you are naturally inclined to take a respite and splurge a little. For most entrepreneurs, a holiday in Dubai, which was nowhere in your list of priorities, will suddenly occupy the topmost position. Clubbing, cars, and shopping are not usually taken lightly. “One comes to this world once”, remember?
Attention to the customers and service quality which was at 99% begins to drop slightly. Dust begins to accumulate in places they were never allowed to. Daily office cleaning drops to a weekly routine. An unsightly heap gradually collects by the corner. Customers will start to notice these changes and begin to drop little by little while you are away cruising the hell out of life.
No amount of warning and shouting will be good enough to bring your attention back to reality. Looking in the mirror and evaluating your situation objectively is not something that comes natural to most people. Only one thing has the magic touch you need.
One day you will wake up and be like bam …you are in trouble. You bank account is red. Your wife is on the other side threatening and breathing smoke out of her nostrils. The customers, who were your cash cows, have dropped from 80 per month to 10. Cash is no ore flowing in. You eyes go suddenly clear because that’s what happens at ground zero, your lowest point. You will not need someone to cuss you for being so lavish and irresponsible; you will happily do that for yourself. You will learn to reorder your steps and begin to swear oaths that will likely stand the test of time. Planning for rainy days will make a great lesson for you.
Then you will get back to work, severely hacking at your wants until they thin down to needs, and you discover things that mattered to you most in life.
That is usually some of the awful ways running out of money can teach you vital life lessons. You don’t have to wait for all that to happen. Besides, not all entrepreneurs are that lose and financially irresponsible.
As a beginner, being cash strapped puts a leash on you. To some extent you do not know yourself. There are parts of you, your traits and character you never knew about or have undermined. There are some beasts and self-destructive tendencies lying dormant in you, out of touch with your realities, and waiting for the right triggers. You will be surprised at what a jerk you will become if you just had 10 million naira drop into your account from “nowhere”. Your reasoning and senses will blank out and a new person takes over you. The tendency to squander, a taste for luxury and expensive things and the lure to run off once the cash is big are triggered by money most times.
If you had so much money early on in your business while you are still learning the ropes and grappling with finding balance, these traits are likely to show up early, sprawl out of control and spoil things for you. Being cash strapped puts them in their place, while you have a clear mind to pursue what is important.
You will learn the skills you need which ordinarily you will throw away money to hire someone to do for you. You will rightly become a generalist at this stage of your business. My friend once said that lack of money will force you to discover talents you never knew you had. Your focus will become razor sharp and your steps more discrete and articulate.
As an entrepreneur your ego is usually your most prized article and greatest enemy. It builds a wall around you as you try to protect it from crashing. It shots you out of valuable interactions, lessons and opportunities. It is also one thing that holds you back from taking an idea from creation to fruition. Your ego is afraid of failing. It fears that people will laugh at you and is always conscious of status and class. The worst of all it feeds fat on money.
But when the cash is limited, the ego gets a severe beating. It crashes to the ground and leaves you free to fear no falls. You are freed to grab opportunities, you are pushed to take actions and necessity humbles you to make some inconvenient choices that are rather good for your business. These are qualities you develop when no money is available. You learn to drop your ego and look at yourself objectively. That’s when you can ask, “Where am I falling short?”
Discipline, focus and planning are critical to get to the top – and also remain in the top.