The Confessions of a Reluctant Entrepreneur

My African culture taught me that entrepreneurs are those who failed out of school or who couldn’t get a job in the corporate world. When you said, “Oh, he’s a businessman”, it was a way of saying he’s shady and we are not sure how he really gets his money.

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When I started to dream about being my own boss, fear gripped me. The ideas would come in my sleep, in the shower or it could stop me dead in a conversation. I started carrying a pencil and a notepad in my handbag. There’s a set on my bedside table too. While entrepreneurship in Africa is growing and better understood, I still heard voices, asking me what I do for a living. Will I say I work for myself? What will they think?

Now in 2016, I’ve never been more confident that I have great business ideas that could flourish. And I plan to pursue them, ignoring the voices.

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You are a Reluctant Entrepreneur if:

You daydream about working for yourself but you are afraid that you can’t make it on your own

You worry that your mother won’t think you have a real job if you start that business idea you’ve been doodling on napkins at dinner

You have a very clear idea of what you enjoy doing and you’re finding that more than half of your current role is not that

You have heard many times from friends and family that your business ideas are great but you don’t believe in yourself enough

If any of these apply to you, you might have an entrepreneurial spirit inside you. Give it a voice and see where it takes you.


This post was first published on Medium on 11 April 2016.

Tell me your dreams

‘What do you want to do?’

I’ve sat across several managers and HR folks in my career who asked me this question. It took me until recently to begin to design my ideal career,  in fact my ideal LIFE. Because when you’re passionate about what you do, it is your life.

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Photo by Pai Shih http://www.facebook.com/SomewhereInLife (‘Crystal Ball’)

Part of making your dreams come true is to design what your life will look like in the new state. You cannot isolate it. You need to decide what days you’ll work,  how much vacation you’d like and whether you want to have time to volunteer at a charity for instance.

 

If you are thinking about your dream career, allow me challenge you. What does your dream life look like?  Draw it.  Tabulate it.  Scribble it on a napkin.

 

On a personal note, 2015 has been a surprise. I wrote my first business book,  which is out in the new year, something that a year ago,  I hadn’t expected  to achieve just yet. I’ve received incredible support,  I am completely overwhelmed.

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My book cover – out in print and kindle in Jan 2016

There have been many other wins,  big and small.  I planned my ideal life and it finally looks possible. Through great coaching by the amazing Clare McNamara at Move Ahead Global,  I understand the things that stand in my way. I also know that it’s all in my head. Like thinking that I need to have all the right answers to be an expert. I realise now that what I’m great at is asking the right questions.

Here are some considerations
for anyone hoping to make changes in 2016,  be it a dream to break away from a loveless career or to turn your passion into a venture.

You have something in you that when identified and nurtured,  will make you unstoppable. Unbeatable. Everyone has this. Sometimes it’s obvious. An incredible singing voice. An ability to draw or paint like Van Gogh. Other times, it’s less obvious. An eye for beautiful design. An ability to mediate in high conflict situations. What is in you?

You can do anything you set your mind to. The issue isn’t that you can’t make your dreams come true. It’s that you think you need to do it in a particular way. There’s no prescribed way to become an entrepreneur or a writer or an artist. Do it your way. Aside from working, what’s your ideal life:  School runs, coffee with friends, mid-week football, the local community hall meeting? Why not? It’s YOUR schedule! What do you need to be able to do to achieve your dreams?

Now it’s your turn to change things in 2016:

‘What do you want to do?’

 

Happy holidays & All the Best for 2016

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Dear blog friends,

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My African Family Pilgrimage

all of us

“I want to be white like my friends!” My daughter’s words hit me hard. It’s a fair request, not birthed from any abuse she’s facing, but from a perplexing question clearly weighing on her mind: Why am I dark and everyone else is not? What’s the big idea? I feel helpless as she goes on, […]

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This is not a blog post

I’ve struggled with blogging lately. I’m happy and doing fine but my brain is preoccupied on other things now; I just can’t hear my writing-self. I’m not worried. This happens from time to time. When I’m still and reflective, there’s a voice in my head dictating every word and I cannot help but stop and […]

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