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Get up and start something now

“Instead of thinking about where you are, think about where you want to be. It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.” — Unknown.

Opinion by Phillip Chichoni

Lots of people have great business ideas in their minds, but few actually manage to turn them into real businesses.

You probably have a few ideas yourself, but you just can’t get them off the ground. What’s stopping you? Most people blame lack of money for not starting up, or a lack of experience.

In his book Screw it. Just do it!, Richard Branson talks about how he started his first business, at 15 and with no money. The project was a magazine for students, meant to give a voice to young people disillusioned by the raging Vietnam War.

Richard was so fired up with this project that he was able to convince big companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi to buy advertisements in the magazine. Although he had no experience, he managed to raise US$6 000, enough to print 50 000 copies. He quit school to get the project going.

Now a multi-billionaire, Richard Branson has built over 400 companies in different industries. All because he never hesitated to get up and start something, whenever he saw an opportunity.
A local entrepreneur told me his story, which in certain aspects is similar to Richard Branson’s.

When the internet revolution started creeping into Zimbabwe, he decided to start a website development business. He had no idea of how to build a website and he had no money.

Partnering with two web developers, they put together US$100, bought a domain name and set up their own website. Then they set out to look for customers. They started selling websites to businesses and the money started flowing in. Today his firm is one of the top web strategy firms around.

Passion is the driver of action. Money will follow. Skills you can hire. Technicians don’t always make the best business owners.

There are many entrepreneurs that own businesses in which they have no experience or technical skills in, like an accountant owning a construction company, or a lawyer owning a mine. When you see an opportunity or gap in the market, just grab it.

You don’t have too many opportunities to make it. It usually takes five to 10 years to build a business to maturity, where it starts generating significant revenue and profits.

In a lifetime, graduating from college, you have only five to eight opportunities to start, build and grow a successful business. So don’t waste any time.

Most people who live the life you fancy, most likely have their own businesses. A salary alone will not give you the lifestyle you desire.

A business is the best way to achieve your dreams and help others in the process.

Some young potential entrepreneurs are not sure what business they want to go into. The most important thing to do is to research the market. Pick the market you see an opportunity in and study it thoroughly. You can’t be an innovator in the market if you don’t know the market inside and out. Spend time with industry experts and get to understand the risks and factors that contribute to success.

Many people, young ones especially, get to the station when the train has already left. They try to get into a business that no longer has opportunities.

If you see many people already talking about a certain business opportunity, you are probably too late to the party. Some people got offended when a government official criticised some youths for submitting only poultry projects to the youth empowerment fund.

Well, what innovation can you bring into small-scale poultry production, a commodity market with low margins, thousands of players and which anyone can get into? Look for other real opportunities, find out what isn’t being done, what pressing problems are not being solved.

I have just introduced the BusinessLink Fired Up Entrepreneurs Show. Every week I am going to be talking to remarkable entrepreneurs and letting them share their inspiring stories.

If you want to get started in business, or want to accelerate the growth of your existing venture, I urge you to listen to the show and let these entrepreneurs’ journeys illuminate your path to success. Simply go to my website and you will be able to listen to the audio show on your computer or smartphone, or download the recordings to play later on. Enjoy and start something!

Find a suitable partner

To commit yourself to getting something started, get a partner to work with.

Alone, you can easily give up because there is no one to support or push you. Find someone with skills that complement yours. If you are the shy technical type like me, look for someone who is a good talker. you will need him or her when pitching to customers, suppliers and financiers.

You should both be on the same page and put the company first. And remember, passion is the key driver to success, not just skills or experience.

Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning consultant who works with entrepreneurs and growing businesses. You may contact him by email on chichonip@smebusinesslink.com, or visit http://smebusinesslink.com

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