If your child tells you that he wants to become an entrepreneur, you better cry and pray for him. I mean it. It takes a lot to be a real practising entrepreneur. It takes even much more to start, manage and grow a profitable business that really matters.
This is not bread and beans I am talking about here. I am talking about heart, soul, blood, core, life, madness, work! You can’t skip or corner the hard work. You must do it and do it well, it doesn’t matter if your name is Prince or your father’s name is Williams. You must roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You must twist and turn, bite and chew.
And sometimes it may require that you hang in there long or longer, racking your brain, scratching your head, bursting your butt, tweaking, until you find the right combination that unlocks the treasure chest of that true success and growth that your soul really pants for.
Even at my growing level, I am beginning to gradually understand what the Dangotes, the Elumelus, the Madukas, the Musks, and the Strives of this world go through to get their businesses going and thriving. These guys don’t operate in the same mental zipcodes as most of us. They are crazy. They are abnormal. They are nuts. They are sick. They are possessed.
On December 23rd 2015, I shared an interesting article I read about a very successful African entrepreneur. It was a 2-page feature on Mohammed Dewji, the Group CEO of MeTL Group who is currently ranked the richest man in Tanzania and was voted as the Forbes 2015 Person of the Year. Mohammed Dewji owns the biggest edible oil refinery in Africa and other multiple business interests in different African countries. Currently worth over $1.1 billion and employs over 24,000 workforce, Mohammed Dewji is set to expand his business to more African countries and grow his workforce to 100,000 by 2022.
At the age of 40, Mo, as he is popularly called, works 100-hour a week and holds at least 60 board meetings a month! Now, you do the math. That’s about 15 hours of daily work a week (if he works 7 days) or 17 hours of daily work a week (if he works 6 days). That’s one. Two, he holds an average of 2 board meetings every day (if he works 7 days) or an average of 3 board meetings every day (if he works 6 days).
And then your child wakes up one day and tells you that he wants to become an entrepreneur and you are still standing there doing nothing?
Pray. Cry. Fast. Pray again.
I am not saying your child must be like Mo. In Lagos, my company successfully hosted a crop of sharp-minded entrepreneurs from diverse business sectors to another exclusive business learning ecosystem called #TheIncubatorsPRO that took us late into the night discussing business, peer-learning engagement, and finding answers to tough business questions. By the time I finally got home around 9 p.m., I was dog-tired and really, really hungry. Yet again, by 2 a.m., I was up to carry out my early morning thinking ritual and review the work so far, plan out my day’s business checklist, work on this publication so that you can read it, as well as set new targets and agendas for our firm.
Do you think if I have my way, I wouldn’t want to sleep till 8 a.m. or even 9? And then when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I head straight for the remote and begin to watch Telemundo all day long or better still settle for the pad and play the latest Xbox video game in my pyjamas, and then when evening finally comes, I simply dress in my clean, starched shirt and styled jeans and go party in my friend’s girlfriend’s place or maybe some niteclub down the block?
Yeah, those are cool stuffs, no doubt, but you see, working on building my business and inspiring my team to stretch and win and be the best they are called to be and make a difference is far better, long-term, cooler, top priority, and, some would say, stupid.
That’s the part I like. That’s how entrepreneurs swing. They step forward and do the massive amount of work.
So if I call myself a real entrepreneur, then I must be ready to step up before and when the work calls forth. My work ethic must not be questionable. This is my life’s work, my destiny, and I must make it count. FYI, I want to take over the world (every true entrepreneur wants to, actually).
So as I face the day, I just want to constantly take my best shot now and always, not minding the odds that are stacked against me. Who knows? I may just hit the bull-eye’s before the sun sets. And even if I don’t, I will continue swinging and shooting until and when the sun wakes up.
And that’s because I am an entrepreneur and I am not normal. So don’t let your child come near me. I will corrupt him because that’s what entrepreneurs do.
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