Good stories come in various shapes and forms; movies, soaps, series, plays, novels folklore or any other form of oral literature. Nonetheless, there are salient features that you will find in every one of them; the plot has a protagonist (with whom we love to identify). S/he wants to something good (normally for others or the society).
Then there’s the big bad villain (whom we love to loath). The villain unreasonably (or so we think), but powerfully hinders our hero (heroine) from accomplishing her/his mission. The hero/ heroine eventually overcomes every hurdle thrown his/her way by the big bad villain. The more difficult his/her struggle, the better the story.
His/her victory is our victory. Add in the suspense that comes with the duel between good and evil, and you have what keeps Hollywood, Hillywood. Bollywood, Nollywood, Riverwood any other ‘wood’ as well as a whole army of writers in business, and brisk business at that!
Now imagine yourself the hero/heroine. As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, your story is not very different. Your intentions could never be better.
The product or service you are delivering will improve the standard of life of people in the society, perhaps in their thousands. Or if you are an entrepreneurial employee, the new production/ service method you are proposing will save the company millions. But good intentions are not enough.
Whereas it is good to dream, it is not in your interests to be ‘starry-eyed’ about it. Like the protagonist in any story you will encounter challenges. You should have this in mind from the start. Should you fear the challenges? Yes you should. But that fear should propel rather than inhibit you. The greatest fear is normally the fear of the unknown. Thus, the first step should be to identify and quantify the challenges that are the cause of fear.
Formulation of the problem is the most important, if difficult, part of solving the same.
Back to the story analogy; imagine what kind of story, movie, soap, novel, play, etc you would make if the hero/ heroine would just simply get whatever they want with ease? At best that would be the most boring story ever told! Ordinarily it would even not be told.
In your quest to start your own business, or to improve the existing one, or to improve service delivery in the company where you work, you will meet potholes, hardships, challenges and barriers. Bad as they are, they are what make you look back with pride and sense of achievement.
As Michael Gordon ably puts it, your concerns could be financial, emotional, related to time, fear, self- doubt, career, family, health, lack of knowledge, inertia, risk or being just plain stuck. Insurmountable as they seem, the obstacles should not get your eyes off your goal.
With your eyes on the prize, once you have formulated the problem, you will put in actions that will help you strike ‘a thousand small cuts of the samurai’. In Kiswahili, we have a saying ‘bandu bandu humaliza gogo’ (literally; small strikes will chop down the big log).
Three things must be brought to mind, small victories are what will make up the one big victory; don’t stand back doing nothing as you await your ‘knock- out punch’. You must work your way to that point (to borrow boxing parlance you might just get a TKO or win on unanimous point decision!) Two; Rome was not built in a day.
Factor in time, be patient, do small things right- no rush. Three; it is a trial and error process. Believe it or not, most of the successful entrepreneurs did not get it right at first attempt.
In a sense, the villain creates the hero. You have a choice in the face of your challenges; you could join the exclusive heroes’ club by overcoming or you could capitulate and become a victim…a statistic. To be a good story, you must be like a good story!
Sam Kebongo teaches entrepreneurship at Rwanda Tourism University College. He also is a Director at Serian Ltd that provides skills and business advisory services consultancy.