Founders’ Chronicles: Start Up Woes

“Founders carry the vision, teams guide the vision.”

Entrepreneurship stems from our very creation for those of us who believe in the story of creation as the genesis of mankind. Why do I say this? Entrepreneurship translates to creation of a new product, service, business model or innovative solution that may integrate existent solutions for improved efficiency. In the process of doing this probably one reaps some returns and this is one thing that makes it enticing to be an entrepreneur. I know this because I have been a viral one for that matter. From my days in primary school manning our kiosk at home, high school selling biscuits during tea breaks, and the several other ventures since then to my current landing: Ryculture Health and Social Innovation. Certainly and definitely, it’s not a glorious ride as many people would make it seem. However, for today I’m not here to talk about the great things about entrepreneurship or the hardships. Mine is as simple as it can get: highlighting some of the essentials as I recount a conversation with a great friend.

When we envision the outcome of our ideas in our minds it’s always an exciting affair. You feel you’ve had the best of ideas and all that’s standing between you and the success is action until you hit the road rolling and realize not everything was figured out. This evening I had a chat with a friend we got acquainted with during my campus years. At that time, he was working with another team on a project that they felt would be the greatest in the health insurance space covering the uncovered i.e. smallholders and the marginalized. Taking off was great with the excitement induced into the entire team to drive great strides to the end of time making waves. You remember how when in campus hearing stories about the greatest entrepreneurs having started from university days and you feel you’ll join the leagues? This is the story. At start, the envisioned future is alluring coupled with a desire to be part of something so people join in on an initiative. Down the road, the excitement fades, the team feels like it’s a single person carrying the load and then as people graduate, well bills must be paid and most often the venture can’t sustain you so it’s packed and people get to look for jobs. In the end most of these folders never get opened even once. How unfortunate? So through the conversation, the following are the key things we realized young people struggle with when founding their initiatives, companies or even businesses:

  1. The Team: Often than not, the first people to have in our teams are our friends or rather people we think are our friends. Just to clarify, the people we consider friends who are but acquaintances are those we get to meet and interact with during our campus lives so often that we feel we know each other yet it is so circumstantial. It’s important to get to know the interests of the people you have in your team otherwise you’ll be working by yourself but with individuals behind the curtains filling the numbers. It’s draining and is the first recipe for disaster brewing in your start up. Build a team with individuals who are willing to do the work, believe in the vision and most importantly ready to inject new ideas or contradicting opinions once in a while. It’s not a church hymn that everyone chimes in.
  2. Ultimate Goal: Making money in the immediate isn’t a goal because everyone wants to make money and it’s obvious. This is critical because when you don’t make money in the early days, you’ll get drained and discouraged. Most often you won’t make the money you thought you’d make and so you’ll definitely get demotivated. Having the long term goal and vision for the start up keeps you going.
  3. Getting a Job: Once done with campus in this case that your start up can’t sustain you, it’s understandable and acceptable to find a job. Most often people take up alternative jobs to get them going and while you do this, it’s not a justification to quit your venture. It’s still possible to run it on the side. Work on it because you know what it’s worth to you. At this phase, rest assured there are those people you started off with who will stop working with you as their focus on their jobs and other priorities. Let them. Don’t hate on them or feel bad about it. It’s part of the process.
  4. Pivoting: Most times you’ll want to keep focusing on your initial idea thinking it’s the best and the most original of ideas. This most often isn’t true and even if true, a good petal gets pollinated by another good quality pollen. It’s part of the process. Be open to new ideas, insights and improve on a daily basis. Just ensure you have your ultimate goal in mind so that you never lose the drive even with the iterations you go through.
  5. Mentorship and Guidance: We all need support and that’s why we come after others. In the process of establishing the idea, developing it and even in advancing it for scale in later stages, the need for guidance and mentorship can’t be stressed enough. It’s not easy to find the mentors to guide you along the way especially when they haven’t walked the journey themselves but you need them either way. In unchartered territories, break down your idea into the basic components on which you need help and seek it from someone you trust to offer it. Make it work for you.

These are not all the factors that we contend with as founders but they are critical ones to consider nonetheless. It won’t be easy but you know why you want it that bad. Celebrate the process and of all let’s keep on trying, the lucky day is soon approaching.

On this note: we are planning a YouTH Voices Summit in December 2020 that’s aimed at bringing together young people running initiatives or working with organizations committed to improving access to healthcare services to share their best practices, experiences and pain points. This is to recruit them into a mentorship and coaching program we are rolling out in January 2021 as well as for partnerships to amplify the work they are doing. If you know anyone or are one, register here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *