“Everyone is putting ‘Entrepreneur’ in their Instagram profile. It’s easy to say it, hard to do it”.
~ Gary Vaynerchuk
Entrepreneurship has become the “it” thing. Everyone seems to be encouraging everyone else to become their own boss, and almost everyone wants the ability to answer to nobody, set their own schedule and make enough money to afford leisure trips.
“Everybody hustlin’, people grindin’, no?”. We all want to be rich, and the hustle, whether side or main, seems to be the quickest way to it.
This new spirit of entrepreneurship sweeping the country is one to get excited about, especially because never in the history of our relatively young country Ghana have citizens taken the destinies of their socioeconomic status into their own hands, as Ghanaians of today have. Today, the unemployed graduate is more likely to monetize her skills and go about setting up a business than sit at home complaining of the system that cannot utilise her education. There are 17-year-old make-up artists and freelance programmers earning a living even before they can vote. The heights attained by wealthier nations such as China and USA can also not be observed without acknowledging the contribution of entrepreneurship to their development.
However, if anyone is going to survive and thrive in the world of entrepreneurship, the pursuit has to be about more than just getting the coin. The paradox of entrepreneurship is that while it is the most popular route for financial success, the journey will chew and spit out he who begins this journey with financial success as the sole aim. Entrepreneurship has been contorted into a get-rich scheme for easy money; a minimum effort path to earning bucket-loads of money to be able to live the desired lifestyle – something it really isn’t about. Yes, being an entrepreneur means being in full control of your work as against working for and answering to someone else. But it also means working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, midnights and weekends inclusive, as against 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. In the entrepreneurship buzz, this truth is barely spoken of.
People talk about the success in entrepreneurship, but no one mentions the hard days when there are neither sales nor clients, long days and nights of gruelling work, forgetting to eat, sacrificing nice things, and even seemingly small sacrifices like eating kenkey when you really want noodles from Nobel Chinese. It is a constant sacrifice, constantly facing one’s fears, taking risks, uncertainty, self-doubt, rejection and a lot of isolation. No one talks about crying due to fear and exhaustion. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely not glamorous. It’s work. Work for something you believe in enough to risk it all; a thing that will continue to haunt you if you do not get it done. And despite how passionate you are or how hard you work, you will most probably have a number of spectacular failures before getting it completely right. And then maybe the money will pour in like a flood, or trickle in drop by drop. There are no guarantees.
Purpose. Heart. Strategy. Discipline. Sheer will. A tough skin. Those are what will keep you going during the exhausting work you must put in during the foundation stages when your business hasn’t even hit the market yet. Entrepreneurship is committing to working hard to create value for others who will then reward that value with their coin. And that value you’re creating is what keeps your mind awake at night, your body pulsing with nerves because the morning brings with it a new hurdle you’re not confident you can overcome. Entrepreneurship is definitely not carrying an iPad or sitting in coffee shops pretending to work. It’s definitely not your social media bio. You must be willing to learn, strip away old ways, transform your mindset and work consistently hard to see the results we see in memes and under the popular #goals hashtag on social media. If you’re not ready for it, it’s best to just stay out of it.
This is not to say that there is no value in pursuing a business idea that you’re not passionate about. There are people who need that side hustle in order to afford rent and food and school fees or to save up enough money to pursue what truly sets their soul on fire. The point is that entrepreneurship is an endless cycle of work, and if that work is not being done for something you are passionate about, something that fills your lower belly with that golden mixture of trepidation, joy, anxiety, excitement and a slight arousal, it won’t be worth the labour.
And so before you text that friend who’s clever with graphic design for a logo for your new business idea, take a moment to think it through and figure out if this new venture is in line with your passions, if it creates value for your target consumer, and if you would still consider it if you weren’t going to gain profits from it.
WRITER: Nana Yaa Konadu Agyepong