5 Entrepreneurial Myths Demystified for Aspiring Entrepreneurs in Africa
In Africa, we have some entrepreneurial myths that we still hold on to that need to be demystified. For us to know the entrepreneurial myths and how we can overcome them, let’s first of all know what is entrepreneurship and who is an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship may be defined as the ‘state of being an entrepreneur’. Who then is an entrepreneur. Here we have many definitions.
1. Someone who sees a problem, looks for a solution to the problem and decides to sell the solution for profit. We know that there are people out there who have solutions to some of life’s problems but they are not selling it. These are not entrepreneurs. To be one, you need to make profit out of your solution.
2. Someone who has the talent of seeing opportunities and then develop the opportunities into profit making business. Opportunities come to us daily in our lives. Some take this opportunity as a stepping stone into something, others just let it go. Those that let it go are not entrepreneurs. Those that use the opportunity to make money are entrepreneurs. For instance, you realize that there is a new product in the market that girls are falling for. You decide to take that opportunity to supply the product and make profit. Once the market is saturated, you can quit or innovate. Some will see such an opportunity and do nothing.
3. In another sense, an entrepreneur is someone who creates a business or businesses, bears the financial risk with the hope of making profits in the future.
The general notion about being an entrepreneur is that you create, innovate or see an opportunity, put in some money (risk finances) with the aim of benefiting by making profits.
Roughly, about one in every 10 people in the world own his or her own business. They have different reasons for starting a business. In Africa in particular, people become entrepreneurs because they failed in getting a job. With a lot of successful startups coming up in Africa, that stereotype thinking is now fading away. Many go in as entrepreneurs because of necessity. They believe it is the most promising way to make a living.
I remember growing up in a community where government or salaried workers were praised as great achievers and successful entrepreneurs looked down upon. At times they say they got their wealth out of practicing some ‘juju’. However, that mentality is changing because many have come to realize that most of those ‘successful’ government officials in particular made their wealth from stealing from state coffers and not working hard.
Whatever has motivated you to take on this journey which you just started, every aspiring entrepreneur will benefit from learning what it really means to become one.
The best place to start with is to demystify the various myths and misconceptions about entrepreneurship. Debunking them can help you know truly what you need to become a successful entrepreneur. I know there are many of such, but I will explain 5 myths that many entrepreneurs I have coached come up with. I will also explain why it is wrong. Meanwhile, I will give you a list of recommended sites where you can learn some of the myths. Number 5 of these entrepreneurial myths will shock you.
Entrepreneurial Myths Specific Only to Africa
1. I Don’t Have Money to Fund my Business
Most of those who have said this to me rarely even have a business idea. What you should know is that if you don’t have a business idea, you shouldn’t even think of funding. Funding should come only later. First of all develop your business idea, make sure it works and solves a problem before you start to think about funds. You can even go as far as doing a market research or testing your product or service before you start thinking of money.
Another thing is that not all businesses need money to start. I can give you an example of one or two businesses that you can start without funding. As well as there are other ways you can get finance to start your business. This happens only when your business idea has been developed. Check out this How to Get Free Funding For Your Startup.
Take note of these
You need a skill and not money to start a businesses
Funds are needed to grow a business
Funders are interested in skills and in growing businesses, not starting it themselves
Nobody will risk money in a business that still has to make mistakes. They wont accept you make mistakes with their money.
Check out more on 8 Businesses You Can Start With no Capital in Cameroon
2. Getting a Business Idea is Difficult
As I said above, the first thing you should have in mind as a would-be entrepreneur is to get a business idea. Many people find it difficult to come up with a business idea. I will give you some tips on how you can do that, meanwhile if you are still unable and need help, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Identify your greatest source of satisfaction. Everybody has something he or she is passionate about. I am talking of that thing you can do with happiness. Some people like cooking (start an eatery business), some like music but can’t sing (start a business related to music) and so on.
I offer lectures to professional Bsc students in Entrepreneurship. There is an activity that we usually have – creating businesses using what the students are passionate about. You can check out these two which I published on my blog: Case: Help Lesceline Start Her Box Lunch Business and 5 Amazing Music Business Ideas for Music Lovers
Fix a problem. We said above that entrepreneurs see a problem, get a solution and sells the solution. I was coaching one guy one day who came looking for a job. This guy has been attending many entrepreneurial forums but yet could not find any business idea.
I asked him what he did in school. He said he did electricity. I asked if he hasn’t seen any problem he can solve. He said no. I thought and immediately saw a problem faced by all who use electricity at home. The wall socket usually doesn’t stay for long in the wall. It comes out and becomes a nuisance and danger to children and adults alike. I told him that maybe if he could get a solution for this, then he would get a business that he will control for a while before others learn his skill. He left satisfied, but never came back to give me a feedback. That’s just how you identify a problem, get a solution and sell to those who need it.
Monitor changes and trends. Our world today is changing everyday. If you can monitor changes with a keen eye, you will be able to decipher what the needs of people will be tomorrow. This is for those who think innovation. There are others who work with trends. These are the types that see opportunities and make use of them. For instance, women are so fashion-oriented. Once you monitor that sector and you are fast in taking opportunities, you will be a successful entrepreneur.
Copy, if you can’t find one. There is rarely any business idea today that one can hold on to. Most of them are innovated (copying and adding some changes). Maybe if you can’t get an idea of your own, it’s high time you copy. Do a research on what you copy before venturing into it. Don’t forget that some people have copyrighted their inventions or innovations. Make sure you verify before you get branded with a lawsuit.
Just start doing something, anything. The more you do something, the more you get ideas and solutions to problems you encounter. From there, you can get a common problem and sell the solution you come out with.
3. My Business Idea Will be Stolen
This one usually makes me laugh. I once thought like this also. By the time you are hiding your business idea, someone somewhere is already implementing it. When you open up to others about your idea, they could help you develop it better. There is nothing new in the face of the earth today. If you think hiding it is protecting it, then you have not done your research well. You have competitors who are already in the market doing same or similar thing which you are still hiding as an idea.
4. Marketing my Business is Expensive
Some people have the idea, but fear that they will not be able to get the right market. They believe that marketing is expensive and only big businesses can afford. That problem has been solved today. Marketing is no longer expensive. Digital marketing is very cheap and big companies have already flooded it in developed countries. This is the time for you entrepreneurs in Africa to go out there and market your products to the world. Traditional marketing – TV, Radio, Billboards, Newspapers, etc – is experiencing a little lower turn-over than before because many people have turned to the cheap method of marketing. Digital marketing includes email marketing, social media marketing, sms marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, etc.
5. Rituals (Nyongo, Famla, etc)
This one is a myth particular maybe just to Sub-Sahara Africa. There is that believe in my country that successful business people are in some sort of occult sect. This is one of the reasons that discourage people from going into entrepreneurship – the fear of being a member of the sect. In fact this idea has always been ridiculous to me. The only ritual I believe in is hard work and smart thinking. If you don’t work hard or think smart, you can’t succeed as an entrepreneur.
This funny reason has killed entrepreneurship in Cameroon. This is one of the reasons for the rush into white-collar and public service jobs. The phenomenon has not ended but is even extending to the private sector employees. People still believe that to get a good job in big companies, you must be part of the sect(s) that ‘control’ the company. Maybe some corrupt practices take place when looking for or becoming entrepreneurs, but using rituals is not one.
This is one of the reasons I am of the opinion that we aspiring entrepreneurs should concentrate more on the failures of successful entrepreneurs rather than looking at their success. Once you see their failures and learn how the solved them, then you will understand more how they made it big.
If you think marketing is still expensive, then come to us and we will help you demystify it. You can take one of these courses with us: Job Description & Requirements of a Community Manager or Community Manager Versus Social Media Manager or read this 5 Ways Blogging Can Boost Your Business
While there are many other things that frighten people from engaging into entrepreneurship, most of the generalizations are not true. As I promised you, below is recommended article providing additional myths about entrepreneurs.
Businesstown.com: 10 Myths About Entrepreneurs