Love for the Game: the Needed Fuel for Success in Entrepreneurship

You can’t separate entrepreneurship from love – be it in theory or in practice. You can’t. If you try it, what happened in ‘1923’ will happen to you. That’s why I frown at the way they teach entrepreneurship in our Nigerian tertiary schools these days. If you ask me, I think it is simply a joke!

First we have people who simply don’t fundamentally understand what entrepreneurship is all about. They think teaching entrepreneurship, grading students and selling textbooks is all there is to it..

And then they feed such lack of understanding with something they would term ‘fighting unemployment or poverty’ at worse or ‘skill acquisition’ at best.

I think that’s one of the reasons why this whole concept of entrepreneurship is still crawling in Nigeria, simply acting like an add-on to our overall national priorities.

Apart from it being too watery, the love element is largely missing.

Instead of LOVE, we replace it with FEAR.

We project to the students a large mob of unemployed people, reel out scary statistics, and then end with the following statement, “You see, there are no jobs out there. So you better go and become an entrepreneur and start your own business.”

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No problem.

Of course, entrepreneurship helps address pressing issues like unemployment and poverty, no argument about that. And with the current state of Africa and Nigeria in particular, it makes a reasonable sense of necessity for survival to always hang on our lips.

But then you see, if we leave out the LOVE FACTOR in the entire philosophy and practice of entrepreneurship, we somehow place a limitation on the actual potential that this concept actually bears.

Do a study of every trailblazing ‘true’ entrepreneur you know of in your locale, you will find that love for their trades, love for the art, for the process, is what drives them at their very core.

For example, young entrepreneurs like:

1. Grace Ihejiamaizu – OpportunityDESK

2. Simeon Ononobi – MyAds Global & SimplePAY

3. Daniel Adeniyi Speaks – GidiCakes

4. Engr Chris Okoli – SeaRock Hydrosystems

5. Sara Nana Yeboah – The Sangy Foundation

6. Essienanwan Irene Bangwell – Hands & Minds

7. Ozoemena Mbanefo – Ozone Academy

8. Gossy Ukanwoke – Ben American University

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9. Okocha Nkem Christiana – Mamamoni

10. Bishop Mike – Pancrete Consults

11. Titus & Igwe Tobias – SpeedMeals Kitchen

(Just to mention a few)

Are fundamentally driven by love – love for the game. Note I said, fundamentally. They simply enjoy what they do. For them, it transcends beyond just putting food on their tables or running away from the scary, cold arms of unemployment.

It is not about subsistence. Their purpose is way bigger!

As an entrepreneur, love takes you farther; it inspires you to make the hard sacrifices required to serve the market exceptionally; it keeps you awake at night and gets you up early in the morning to swing again; it radiates smiles from your face as you work as well as gets you to stay open to constant learning and reinvention.

As an entrepreneur myself, I started out from the ground floor with nada. And in all, I have been through hell and back!

I have cried on several occasions, gotten kicked in the teeth many times, gone for days without food, without money, without anything, I have been betrayed and broke. But you see, what kept me going and growing was the deep hunger and love that I possesed for the value proposition that I wanted to create, the difference it would make in the lives of my tribe, and the relevance it would have in the marketplace.

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I just love what I do! Very, very much. So my point here is this: As an entrepreneur, never lose or play down on your love element. Let love be engrained in the entire field of your business purpose, culture and processes. Let it be your guiding credo and that of your team. The good part is, love, money and fame are not mutually exclusive. They can all co-exist.

Because truth is, when the love is there and strong in the mix, you will still be here even when others have long gone!

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