Entrepreneurship: Jump off a cliff and build a plane
“Entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and building a plane. You have to be innovative and resilient to do this.”
– Manuel Koser co-founder of Zando, Jumia Nigeria and Silvertree Capital
Entrepreneurs operating in the industry experience a range of trials and tribulations. They are exposed to the glamour, the challenges, the rediscovery of self. This entrepreneurial journey is a difficult one to undertake and immersed in many preconceptions. For some, the instability, and failures are too much, and so they bow out. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and life-changing. For the Entrepreneurs that continue to stick it out or the new ones entering the stream, it is important to nurture your passion and develop and value a strong support base to practice long term, sustainable entrepreneurship.
Elli Yiannakaris ( Director of the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development) states that “it takes a village to raise an Entrepreneur” thereby we need “entrepreneurship training that focuses on the personal as much as the technical” (Fin24). We need to go beyond simply teaching business skills and also focus on the people that surround the Entrepreneur and his/her well-being, i.e. the human aspect of development.
A fundamental quality of Entrepreneurs is that they “continue to build and grow despite what they actually have” (Mushambi Mutuma co-founder of Altivex Creative and Managing Director at Kairo). Having a passion for what you do is a critical factor for being able to generate success from minimal resources as entrepreneurship is something you do “only if you have passion, not something you do lightly” (Hannes van Rensburg co-founder of Fundamo). Furthermore, you need to reach out to various parts of your network to grow your passion exponentially. Your network of school mates, past and present colleagues, acquaintances, etc. is powerful and enables you to be more resourceful.
Statistics like “90% of startups fail” further emphasise the low success rate of Entrepreneurs in persevering, adapting and succeeding (Forbes). According to Manuel Koser, you need to understand that “you have to take risks, there will be sacrifices” if you want to be part of the 10% that ‘makes it’. But to what extent do you take risks and make sacrifices, i.e. when do you draw the line? For this, you need to look to your circle of influence for support- your family, friends, industry peers and mentors. Seek advice and guidance, learn from the feedback and evolve.
Yes, entrepreneurship is a leap of faith- it is freedom, scary, exhilarating and more. As you jump off that cliff and attempt to build a plane, it is essential to have some keys things in place: passion, network, a circle of influence. These three will assist you in making your entrepreneurial journey a sustainable and long one. It will support you when times get tough and guide you when you run out of steam. Nurture your passion, maintain and grow your network, value your circle of influence.