What is an entrepreneur’s greatest problem? This item has formed the heading fo some many entrepreneurship questionnaires around the globe. In polls I have been privy to, either as a participant or as a facilitator, which were taken at different times, I am always appalled to see funding top the list. I know that funding is a challenge in business but would-be entrepreneurs have placed funding on a pedestal that it does not deserve to be. During facilitation I have come across people who think that if they have funding they would change the world in 80 days (trying out my literary rhyming skills). This makes the question, “what is an entrepreneur’s biggest problem?” very important.
Let me digress. I came upon the picture below of a woman beating the odds of a riverine location to still produce, market and distribute bean cakes. She got herself a canoe!
Bean cakes are produced in Nigeria along the streets, mostly mornings and evenings. Patrons walk down to the stalls and purchase the amount they need. But what do you do when your location is 80% water and your addressable market are scattered in small clusters? The woman above beat the odds.
Today, I was encouraging a would-be entrepreneur to finish her application for the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant of $5,000 for Africans and could detect that she was no longer interested. What put her off? The long application process and wirte-up required. I understood how challenging it could be because of her schedule, but wait… are you going to get $5,000 without breaking a sweat? She was a Christian so I spoke the bible to her. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman was an army general and a leper. He went to meet a prophet who agreed to cure him but asked that he takes a bath seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman couldn’t, wouldn’t do that until his servants asked if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it?
Immediately after a mindset re-orientation class aimed at resetting mindsets from paid employment to entrepreneurship a student walked to a colleague and asked if he could get a business loan after the 6-week programme. When the answer wasn’t a yes he asked“what am I doing here then?” My colleague knew straightaway that his 4-hour class was a waste.
What is an entrepreneur’s greatest problem? The entrepreneur himself or herself! The average NBA athlete makes an average of $12m in 5 years. If finance was the problem of business then they should have flourishing businesses. If finance is the problem then why do 70% of the people who won huge sums of money off the lottery end up broke?
An entrepreneur is a solver of problem and a provider for needs. So healer, heal thyself.If finance is your problem and you cannot find an ingenious solution for it then how can you solve my problem? Your ability to solve your funding problem not only improves your chances of succeeding, it also instills the can-do spirit that every successful entrepreneur is known for. If funding can curtail your dreams then it wasn’t burning bright enough in your heart. (Ouch, I know people are going to chew me for that). If funding is the terminal for your business vision how would you beat the esoteric challenges that bedevil entrepreneurs.
If you are tempted to find excuses remember that he that finds excuses cannot find a way. Google Nick Vucjicic up; he is the man who without limbs (identifiable hands and legs) can get up when he falls. The solutions to reviving failing economies have been known to lie within that economy. China and India are good examples. The moment anyone thinks the answer to his problem is in the hand of external factors then he has set himself up to fail.