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The Reality Of Making Decisions As A Business Owner.

I’m the biggest fan of millennial professionals starting purposeful businesses and in fact I want help more of them to do it. However, I worry that many of us are thinking of starting a business for the WRONG reasons.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had recently with a lady who felt that her next best move was to start a business. As I always do when people say this to me, probed with further questions to try and tease out not just their “why?” but also “why now?”

In this particular conversation she explained how much she enjoyed her job because it challenged her, how she was really interested in the industry and how she even took a pay cut to get her current job. As she answered my questions, I still couldn’t hear her why until she mentioned her dissatisfaction with not being a key decision maker especially as she felt there were some business decisions should have made and she didn’t understand why they were stalling etc.

To me this was a classic because being a millennial, I realise how much a sense of autonomy and responsibility fuels us and makes us feel like we’re really making waves but having being in the seat of a key business decision maker since the beginning of the year, I began to share some truths with her:

  1. She hadn’t yet paid her dues, so to speak, at this job in order to rise up the ranks to have the kind of influence she wants. This is something so many of us miss because we get lost in the seeming glamour of holding high positions. There is a time and a natural progression that cannot be avoided and if we don’t curb our sense of entitlement it’ll make us hasten to our own detriment.

  2. It is easy to criticise our bosses when our monthly pay check is guaranteed and we don’t have to bear the same level of risk as they do. Every decision has a consequence and when you’re not only responsible for yourself but also employees, you learn the benefit of not making decisions without significant thought. So if you boss/manager/employer seems slow to decide, learn from them by asking what their thought process is and be amazed at their insight. They’re thinking of things you never even considered!

  3. If you want to leave a job you’re happy with, and feel that your progression opportunities are clear and in line with what you want for yourself, to start a business in the same industry as your would-be former employer then have you considered that they become a direct competitor as well as other established key players in the industry? Do you have a ready customer base to get started with? Will you be able to endure and build your business to that level even if it takes 10 -15 years?

  4. What is your anchor for the business you want to start i.e. what sense of purpose will it give you whether in terms of the problem you want to solve or your overall life vision and driving values? This is an important question because if you’re doing it to get noticed or so you can say your run a business and get invited to speak at places etc. those will come but you’ll have to endure the process trying to break you every so often.

  5. Don’t try and be a teacher before you’re done learning. I learnt this lesson a long time ago as I understood it to be one of the roots of impostor syndrome. We try to pour out into others things we barely have ourselves. But when the surface level stuff wears out, you’ll start to feel like a fraud because of the gaps in your own understanding. Take your time, learn from all those you serve under as much as you can – think of it as you investing in yourself as opposed to you doing them some kind of favour by working for them.

I don't share any of this to discourage but rather to get you thinking about your motives and why you desire certain accomplishments. If they’re not rooted in solid foundational and personal principles, you’ll struggle more than usual and you’ll end up quitting and seeing yourself as a failure.

As I said, I desire to help millennials get started in business but I’m interested in them starting firm and with a higher likelihood of longevity because they are driven by the right “Why?” and “Why Now?”

Abuja, Nigeria

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