Start small to minimise on chances of failing in business

Early this year a middle-aged man came to my office to seek start-up business aice. Within the first few minutes I sensed he was in a big dilemma coupled with regrets.

He was torn between venturing into business and keeping his job. He told me that 10 years ago he promised his wife and friends that 2016 is the time he would quit employment and venture into business.

He went short of telling me he had developed cold feet yet he wanted to keep his promise.

After preliminary interview, I realised he had tried business seven years ago with a colleague with an understanding that once it picks they would both quit employment but things did not go well. Business went down together with their friendship. This traumatised and tortured him as he continued paying a Sacco loan for two years after the business failure.

Apparently one of the greatest obstacles facing people who want to transit from employment to business is indecision anchored on their previous experiences or that of their friends.

People who attempted business either as a hobby or on small scale and burnt their fingers or know of colleagues or friends who left employment to start business and failed are often paralysed with fear when making business decisions.

However, as Mark Twain said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

Back to my client, I asked him how many employers he had worked for since he started working 18 years ago. He told me he had worked for four different companies including the one he did internship.

We analysed them one by one and concluded that apart from his current employer where he has worked for 12 years, the previous ones were good for his career growth but were very important in gaining experience and skills that enabled him to land into his prime job.

I then asked him why he thought his first or second business encounter would be the best. I told him most successful married people did not marry their first date and most successful entrepreneurs today are dealing with different products from the one they started with. This is a remarkable fact.

Settle down

In life, the first choice is rarely the optimal solution. Failing or making wrong choices is not as bad as we often take it to be. It puts one on the path of growth through learning. And the earlier one begins making wrong choices, the better because sooner he will discover what is right for him and settle down for it.

If you want to start a business, you must literally start somewhere even if you have a feeling that it is not your dream thing. Let it be a stepping stone to get into what you desire.

Smart job seekers don’t stay at home and wait for their dream jobs. They look for somewhere to start their career from.

Often in business world clarity does not come when you are outside. This begins to take shape once you are in, and as many have confessed, your only major regret might be why you never made the decision early enough.

Don’t fear to make mistakes. However, if you want to minimise making wrong choices, start small and be focused so that you capitalise on your experiences and become an expert.

As Neils Bohr, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”

Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and the author of The Entrepreneurial Journey: From Employment to Business,