By Okenyi Sunday Chinweike
The initial piece that introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship was rather flippant, leaving me with a fleeting sense of admiration. It posited that pursuing entrepreneurship was akin to taking the broader path to financial freedom. As the biblical adage goes, however, it is fair to declare so unequivocally that this path leads to hell. No one can dissuade you from the exhilaration that accompanies the birth of a business idea. Nor will anyone forewarn you that even with superior products, one may fail to attract customers. Moreover, the lifeline of any business is finance, and without it, one can expect a tumultuous ride full of disappointment and setbacks and it is hard forthcoming especially in the Nigeria ecosystem.
But have you come to realise that not even the most trusted confidante can protect one from the sharp sting of disappointment, for they are often the very first to brandish the weapon? I have! One night, I was startled awake by the realization that an individual whom I had approached to collaborate on my business project had instead taken it upon himself to launch a venture based on the same concept. My initial reaction was not one of shock at the treachery of his actions, but rather a sense of despair at the prospect of someone else taking the reins of an idea fraught with obstacles which only the one who had conceived it could possibly pave the way for a broader goal as the snippet of the idea was only tabled before him. However, despite my initial dismay, I soon found myself feeling a sense of excitement at the prospect of welcoming this individual into the industry. Should he succeed, I would be gratified to know that my idea was not a fruitless endeavor, but rather one that was worthy of pursuit, despite the countless moments of frustration and exhaustion that I had experienced along the way that have washed down the prospect of continuing with it to little drop of hope.
In the midst of the exasperating trials and tribulations that are synonymous with the pursuit of entrepreneurship, a curious and paradoxical inquiry has frequently plagued my thoughts: why does the path of entrepreneurship appear deceptively easy? Each time this perplexing notion manifests itself, I am overcome with a sense of elation that uplifts my spirits and ignites my fervor. For an entrepreneur is invigorated by the challenge of problem-solving, and surmounting obstacles is an integral part of this process. Thus, it seems fitting to recall the wise words of the Igbo adage “oburu na odi mfe, oburu ife ummuaka,” which roughly suggests that when a task becomes easy, even a child can accomplish it.
PS: Just a mere week ago, I endeavored to pen an expository piece, but I soon realized that it would be more beneficial to impart an inspirational message. To this end, I would like to share with you a quote that has left a lasting impression on me, written by Ben Horowitz in his book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.”
“Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.”