Last weekend I was in Copenhagen to attend a big conference where I was a judge in a pitching contest for social entrepreneurs. My team is working on the video which will be posted on this platform in due course. Later on I met a Danish entrepreneur who has moved to Kenya to set up a ride-hailing business called Mondo. I’m definitely interested in investing, because of his extraordinary drive and passion…
He quit his job working for an American investment bank where he had a great career, and left one of the most secure, prosperous countries in the world, Denmark, to go and start a business in Africa.
This is what he said to me: “When I visited Kenya, I noticed that many people really struggled for transport, particularly to get back to their rural homes.”
He did not come looking for me. We had already heard about him, and I asked to see him after seeing what he was doing. There are a lot of people even on this platform who have received calls from me and other investors that follow my blog!
# To be a great entrepreneur today, you must be driven by a hunger and desire to meet the needs of people in a sustainable way that generates enough profit to interest those with capital to invest.
# True entrepreneurship is sacrificial. This is what risk-taking is all about. You must be prepared to leave your comfort zone, and “rough it for a while.” And you must see all obstacles that you might meet as mere stepping stones on your way to the top.
__If what you are trying fails, and you lose the money, you get up, dust yourself, and try again.
Here’s another big read, this time from some young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong:
You know I was in the region just a few weeks ago, and I’m on my way back there in a few weeks. I will be in Beijing and Singapore.
Remember my comment on the @EntrepreneurialTourist!
I want you to read this story carefully. It’s called “How a high-school dropout with big ideas founded GoGoVan, Hong Kong’s first US$1bn start-up” …
After you read it, I want you to list five lessons that you have learned. No prizes, because this is a very serious exercise. The lessons you learn will help you decide whether or not you can make it as an entrepreneur, or should rather stay put in your job.
Finally, reading the story reminded me of some things that happened when I was also starting out in business as a young entrepreneur:
#1. I approached a friend who had returned with me from the UK to invest in our startup in Zimbabwe. I was desperate for money, and knew he had saved some money whilst working in the UK.
His reply still rings in my ears to this day:
“I cannot do something so foolish! I’m saving money to buy a house. My dream is to own a nice car, which I now have, and a house in one of the suburbs. I have a fantastic job with an international company.
“What’s wrong with you, man?” he asked. Have you lost your mind?!”
It was a stinging rebuke, but it steeled my resolve!
“I would not build a house in any of those fancy suburbs,” I told him. Soon after I solved the problem by selling my own car!
Years later he approached me for a job, and I declined. Not because I was vengeful but because I don’t hire people with that kind of mentality, if I manage to spot them in time!
#2. Another friend of mine got engaged whilst we were starting a business together. He was a hard working guy and his girlfriend was a nice girl. So one day whilst we were having coffee, after a long day, she joined us. I could see they wanted to tell me something:
“When we get married we will need a house, and some nice furniture,” she began.
“I know some places where you can rent a furnished flat,” I replied.
“We want to own our own house,” she said, then added: “You guys have money, and if you distribute it, there is enough for us to get our start.”
I did not reply. I just drank my coffee quietly, and listened to their excited dreams.
What would you have done, in such circumstances?
There is the reply of an entrepreneur, and if it makes you uncomfortable, then you just learnt something about yourself.
__Listen to me, and listen well: This is the fork in the road!
If you have visions to be an entrepreneur, understand that this is not the type of person who goes on to set up and run a successful enterprise.
The type of person who sets up a successful business is like the guy from Hong Kong or the young man I met from Denmark!
__Africa has thousands of them, and with or without support, they will make it!
Their mindset is totally different! To them, it would be better to lose those savings having tried to pursue their dream than to drive around in the latest Merc, or to build a house in the best suburb of your biggest city.
The choice is always yours.