Think big and fall in love with your business this February
By Kizito Okechukwu
STARTING a new business can be exciting, but it’s by no means a constant rosy and fun experience as most assume it to be.
It’s actually like going into a new relationship, only your venture is your partner. And the similarities are quite common. To keep it going entails lots of hard work and passion, where uncertainty and sleepless nights also loom large. Ultimately, it’s a romantic roller-coaster ride that can be exhilarating, but often journeys into the unknown and totally unexpected.
Many say that you have to fall head over heels in love with your business to see it succeed, adding that doing something you truly adore, isn’t even working at all.
This could well be true. My opinion is that very often you’ll also have to show your business some tough love in order to sustain it. With your human partner, you can sweep difficulties under the carpet, ignore them – or wait for it all to blow over. And even that can be detrimental to one’s relationship. But in business, neglecting to address any aspect or thinking everything will sort itself out can be a death blow, and the end of your romantic business dream.
In my view, starting a business can also be compared to the undying parental love we give to our kids – making sure they’re constantly under supervisory guidance, do what they’re told in their best interest and initiate a little tough love if they stray off the path.
After the news that Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos was stepping down from a company he founded in 1994, I realised just how much he loved his business. I read about his journey in Scott Galloway’s book titled Four, in which he recalled Jeff’s undying dedication during the early years and how he went on to build his multi-billion dollar empire.
Having his long time lieutenant take the reins is also commendable. It shows true trust, love and respect for his long-time colleague. His announcement that he will stay on as executive chairman to focus on strategy and other big picture decisions shows the love he still has for the business – and also the difficulty he had to completely let go. I think it must always be hard to totally cut the umbilical cord after a 27-year loving relationship.
There’s also Jack Ma and his astounding entrepreneurial journey, who worked relentlessly to see his business thrive, before stepping down. And the list goes on, including heavy-hitters like Bill Gates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google, etc.
But let’s now talk about the young start-ups that inspire me each day at 22 on Sloane. During this pandemic, many opted to work from home due to safety concerns, yet many were dedicated to work onsite (always adhering to our strict protocols) in order to continue brainstorming with their peers, working late nights and driving their business.
Although I did not get permission to mention names, start-ups such as Bright On, Maxicash, Anylytical Technologies, Ngcobo Molapo Logistics, Stokfella and many others that I see each day are fighting to stay true to their mission. They need the inspirational and encouraging human interaction, because starting a business is often a lonely journey.
Young startups need to draw inspiration from the business leaders who have built undying, loving relationships with their businesses, resulting in long-lasting legacies, which have reshaped the businesses environment and helped ensure the world remains a better place.
And remember, every one of them started small, but thought big … cheers to loving your business this Valentine’s!
Kizito Okechukwu, the co-chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa and executive head of 22 On Sloane, Africa’s largest startup campus.
*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites