“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
SME’s Chat with Phillip Chichoni
How we all love heroic stories! That is what makes fairytales motivating — the little guy winning against the big guy. You might have heard the one about the hare and the baboon. It was said that the hare and the baboon both loved the same beautiful girl. But the girl only loved the baboon.
The little hare kept trying to impress the girl with different antics. One day he asked her to marry him.
“I cannot marry you little hare. I am in love with the big, strong and fierce baboon,” she told the hare.
“Baboon might be bigger than me, but I have tamed him. He is now my slave. Do you want to see me ride him like a horse?”
“If you manage to do that, then I will marry you,” the girl dared little hare.
The hare started befriending the baboon, complimenting him about how big and strong he was. One day he said to the baboon, “You are strong baboon, but I bet you cannot run very far carrying me on your back.”
“I can run fast the whole day carrying you little hare. Jump onto my back and see.”
With that, the hare quickly jumped onto the baboon’s back. The hare persuaded the baboon to run near the girl’s house. The girl was amazed to see the hare riding the baboon. She agreed to marry him.
There are many real-life stories that sound like fairytales: the blind orphan who went on to become a music star; the awkward footed boy who grew up to win an Olympic athletic gold medal; the school dropout who became a millionaire.
These are the heroes who inspire others into achieving great feats in life. All true heroes dared to challenge themselves and the system. And there is nothing stopping you from daring yourself and becoming a hero in business.
Dare to challenge the status quo
There is no reason why things should remain as they are. Strive Masiyiwa saw an opportunity in Zimbabwean telecommunications.
The system allowed for only one player in the industry, but he challenged that system and built what is now the largest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe. He continues to challenge that system through innovative new products and services, like EcoCash, which is having banks running scared. Dare to ask why things are the way they are and go on to challenge the status quo.
Target big opportunities
Zimbabwe held an investment conference in Johannesburg last week. This was an effort to attract foreign direct investment from South Africa and other international investors.
Zimbabweans at the conference had the opportunity to meet cash-rich investors, including some Chinese and Indians seeking opportunities in various sectors that include mining, agriculture, manufacturing and information technology. These are multi-million dollar companies and they want to develop big projects and not tuck-shops and bottle stores.
Many SMEs ignore such opportunities because they think they are available only to big firms. That is not always true.
It doesn’t need a big company to get into joint ventures with international partners. It needs innovative thinkers — entrepreneurs who are willing to explore and grab big opportunities.
One thing lacking among many local SMEs is the ability to think big and beyond their local horizons. With good corporate governance and professional management, you can position your business to attract serious investors. With a very good proposal you can attract investors many times bigger than your business. That’s what true heroes do.
What’s stopping you from daring yourself?
Share your stories at facebook.com/pages/ SME-BusinessLink. Best wishes in growing your business.
Challenge the big brothers
The David versus Goliath story is an inspiration to many. When we see the little guy win against all odds, we know that anything is possible.
When it comes to business, that’s absolutely true. History is full of upstarts who fought out with industry giants and won.
The late Rodger Boka was one such daring entrepreneur. He challenged the existing big players in the gold mining, tobacco and banking businesses which were dominated by non-indigenous players. Apple was once a small garage shop but it took on computer industry giant IBM and came out on top.
Phillip Chichoni is a business planning consultant who works with entrepreneurs and SMEs. You may contact him by: