Entrepreneurs should invest in themselves and be prepared to find the right information to leverage on support channels capable of translating their dream business ideas into reality. This is the path to credible start-up initiative and sustainable enterprise growth.
Shoulders of giants
The road to self employment is lonely and risky. Entrepreneurs do not have to walk alone given available support channels in the entrepreneurial ecosystem today.
The social, institutional and professional support channels represent shoulders of giants that entrepreneurs can leverage on to birth their dream business ideas. They are open source information resources entrepreneurs can access to strengthen their motivation for self employment.
It was John of Salisbury, the 12th century theologian and author who wrote in Latin in 1159 that “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they do, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”
Isaac Newton, an English physicist and inventor was renowned for his revolutionary discoveries in mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy. He also wrote to his rival and fellow scientist, Robert Hooke in 1676 that “What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Greatness is never achieved alone in life and certainly not in self employment. No single small business or large conglomerate attains success by sheer self efforts. Businesses thrive when they exploit opportunities in the ecosystem. Hardworking entrepreneurs take it a level higher by redefining the support channels and creating their own success story. These are innovators and empire builders.
Aliko Dangote has been celebrated in different quarters as an innovator and empire builder entrepreneur. He has achieved this phenomenal success not with his own self efforts alone but by personal ingenuity and unorthodox leveraging on different levels of support channels within and outside his reach. Forbes Africa recognised him as the richest entrepreneur in Africa. His diverse business interests span socio-economic landscape across Africa. Dangote founded his small business with loan he obtained from his uncle in 1981 but has grown to become a household name because he leverages on social, institutional and professional support channels.
Start-ups can get funds
The Dangote’s story is a model for small business start-ups. The problem with critics of the Dangote start-up narratives is that they do not realise that it is easier to access funds for businesses now than it was three or four decades ago.
These critics struggle to create new narratives but remain stunted in growth when they reach the limits of their self efforts. They cannot reinvent the wheel. Entrepreneurs should find information about how giants attain greatness. They should work their ways to the shoulders of giants to become successful or greater in their pursuits.
Also Read: How to Start a Business in Nigeria
Raising funds for start-ups remains a challenge to small businesses. Individuals who cannot raise funds to start their dream businesses are not likely to become entrepreneurs. The litmus test of becoming an entrepreneur is the ability to know how and where to raise the seed capital to fund a dream business idea.
When there is a bankable business idea and the entrepreneur is able to convince the investors, money will find its way into the start-up or going concern. There are many avenues to raise capital to fund dream business ideas.
The Bank of Industry is one of such avenues. It is a development finance institution that gives credible small businesses and entrepreneurs, access to investment capital at single-digit interest rate.
Bank of Industry has Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund for graduates and National Youth Service Corps members who have sound business ideas. There are Cottage Agro Processing Fund for small and medium agro processors, Nolly Funds for the Nollywood industry and Fashion Funds for designers among other services. The institution also equips customers with competences to manage their businesses.
Other sources of capital for start-ups include Tony Elumelu Funds instituted and managed by Tony Elumelu Foundation to empower 1,000 entrepreneurs across Africa annually. The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has N25bn to support small and medium-sized enterprises for residents with credible business ideas.
Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organisations focused on global poverty alleviation recently disbursed €100m through Nextzon to high-impact small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria.
Personal qualities are needed
There are numerous non-profit organisations, foundations, high-networth individuals and people willing to help dream business ideas become reality. Finding them is a major challenge to small businesses.
The entrepreneurs should not have problems getting support for their dream business ideas. But they have to work on themselves before this can happen. They have to become credible and come forward with bankable business ideas to attract funds and other necessary assistance from the different levels of support channels available for small businesses to thrive.