Starting out in business can be a scary thing, at least from where I was coming from and I believe there might be somebody there who could be sometime near taking such a decision. This is no advice, just a quick version of how I gained the confidence to start out. While I am a person of faith, I believe that threading new waters, especially when there is a lot at stake- like your family’s sustenance; it is imperative that we test out our ideas before launching all out and especially where you do not have a direct ‘push’ to do it, like I had. Let’s know if you find this useful.
I had always planned to set up in business in some form at some stage in life. In 2011, I reasoned I was some 5 years to when I will start up my own business and so I began a gentle push towards gaining more insight on what is involved. As I Have grown I have become a very selective reader of books and therefore did not go to books primarily for information about starting business. I was lucky a part of my job then, was auditing businesses and so I dealt with owners of small and medium businesses and senior managers of the larger businesses from time to time; I reasoned this was a God given opportunity so no matter what we talked about during the audits that would usually last for a minimum one day; I got them to tell me the stories of how they started; those many stories are material for another post.
Come the end of 2011; the head of the company I worked for took ill with a long term illness and could not continue; a new management structure was put in place and it was clear from the start that their approach was at odds with that of the previous head. She was focused on growing and gaining new markets; the new guys are about consolidating existing markets and stripping down to the core competence. I was brought into the organisation to grow a new competence- therefore I knew that I was an ‘at risk species’.
Along with my many ‘interviews’ with business leaders, I had also heard the oft repeated phrase, ‘think big, but start small’. I worked out a way of testing the waters as a business person. I realised, I needed a product. I had no money to put into some product, so I thought I would make a product that did not cost me much money- and so I decided I would make hand-made greeting cards. Now the gift of art and design in our family fell to three of my cousins; it didn’t come too much near my direction. But I visited hobby craft- a shop that provides various art and design material. I saw that in this shop you can simply buy various pieces, pictures and stuff that you can attach to a card to make up the full design, you do not even need fancy writing skills as you could buy key words like ‘happy birthday’ and ‘happy anniversary’ as sticky labels. I purchased materials, made a few samples and bought the plastic film pockets in which cards are enclosed in and put my cards in them- they didn’t look bad; because they were professional pictures on a professionally cut card in a professionally designed envelop in a professional plastic pocket- all I did was glue them together.
I went on the internet goggled all the card shops in Preston. I placed over 70 calls, got about 7 appointments and went to all seven and succeeded in selling my cards to 3 stores! I had created a previously non-existent product and successfully sold it- this was January 2012.
The important thing was not the amount I sold, but that I made a product and could sell it at all! The jinx was broken; the fear of the business world was removed. If I did the right things, I can make it in the brave world of business. Six months later as it was time to leave my job as I had foreseen, due to the new direction of management; I spoke to a competitor about doing some associate work with them as I set up on my own; on the day of the meeting; I was greeted with a much warmer smile by the team than I expected- as we began to speak; the manager said Yemi; “ just before we proceed with our discussion, I need you to know that a position is now available in our organisation due to someone leaving the role for you to do exactly the job you were doing with your previous company”. I thought it was interesting, we talked about 5 minutes and then I asked how much I might earn on the role- he told me the amount, it meant I could earn about a third more than I was earning with my soon to be previous employer- it sounded fantastic; I politely said “I’d discuss with my wife and get back to you”. I got to Shimona on the phone right at the car park- she said “that’s sounds fantastic, what do you think”? I said, perhaps to her disappointment, “I believe I can make it in business”! “That means the decision is made then, we’ll tighten our belt” she said.
I had tried it out on a small scale, now my income would have to depend on it; but I knew I could make it on my own in the big world of business. We’re six months in, no regrets yet! I’m working hard to ensure a brilliant sequel to this piece…how I became successful in business!