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"Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" - Career - Nairaland

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"Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" by 1forall: 4:44pm On Jul 01, 2013
A friend recently created an online community for Nigerian entrepreneurs and included the following mini-bio which I found worthy to share. It's well worth a read if you have ever questioned the typical Nigerian "go to school and get a job" approach to career, or considered business/entrepreneurship, or just see yourself as an out-of-the-box thinker. Enjoy!

[size=13pt]It’s been running through my head for a while… forming, taking shape. I didn’t quite know what it was, but now I think I have a “eureka” moment. I am no longer apprehensive, bashful or remorseful that I can’t be a regular employee. I just know that I was born to create wealth, not to slave for it. Some of you are like that and can relate with me on this. It is a difficult thing to break away from the safety net of a job and dutiful living, but the rewards are usually incredibly profound in nature. Many of us want to do this but are afraid to.

I have chosen to pursue my dreams full-time, and therefore lead a more rewarding life. Every day is a struggle, but a joy to wake up to, in comparison. A normal person cannot understand why anyone would want to, or how to leave the “safe” life, but an entrepreneur would do it in a heartbeat. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we like to be around people who make us comfortable or understand us. And so I thought, why don’t we create a global village where entrepreneurs can always meet and support each other emotionally, as well as share resources? It is often said that iron sharpeneth iron. In other words, surround yourself with people that think like you, understand your desires and perspectives and naturally, your productive capacity will tend to grow exponentially.

It is the dawn of the entrepreneurial day. The time has come to accept that our restive minds and creativity are a God-given gift. As entrepreneurs, we have to acknowledge that we are proud to be curious, enterprising and insatiable problem-solvers. Let us strengthen the world with our minds, let us embrace our individuality. Let us invent, innovate and lead!

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I came from a thoroughly academic background. I think both my parents were already professors of medicine before I was even born! These days, we like to tell ourselves that life wasn’t as difficult back then as it is today. I don’t know how true that really is, but I can barely remember my childhood. It all happened so fast. My earliest memory is that I started washing my underpants when I was four years old. I gather that this was because I still used to poop my pants overnight ,and my mom felt that it was time I felt the displeasure of having to do the washing myself. Supposedly, the activity would inspire me to desist from this most natural of urges, on the comfort of my bed. Well, it worked. I don’t think I have pooped in bed ever since. Sadly, I haven’t stopped washing my underpants since either. Such is life.

Before I could say “Jack Robinson” I was in Primary 2. I was four for Pete’s sake! I remember celebrating my fifth birthday in that class later that year, and wondering what I was doing there, or how I had gotten there so fast. Well I recall even less of my primary school years from that point. It’s all very hazy. All I know for sure is that I constantly got exceptional grades. Retrospectively, there was no surprise there, considering that there was less faffing around and more studying after school. Quite typical of an academic household you might say. I wasn’t even quite 10 years old before I was shipped off to boarding school, after an excellent performance in the common entrance exams and a barrage of secondary school entry aptitude tests. For those of us born in that era, we had the pleasure of being dumped in the “prestigious” Federal Government Colleges as a reward for our hard work.

I think for me, that was when the confusion began. It was absolutely horrible. Big bullying seniors and inhumane sanitary facilities! Bad food and giant mosquitoes! I remember that to get to the toilets back then, one had to wade through ankle deep water with real human excrement floating by in the same water! As if that was not bad enough, I happened to land the prestigious morning chore of toilet washing. I will say no more except to say that I was less than pleased at my new status. For me it felt rather like punishment for all the hard [academic] work instead of reward and I began to get put off by the whole thing.

I promptly reported the situation to my parents as soon as I could get their attention. My request for salvation from what I perceived as eternal damnation was vehemently denied, and any hope for transfer or change of school was also promptly dismissed for posterity. I took it all in stride, but I think for me, that was where my rebellion started from.

I didn’t realize this back then, but I reacted very badly to the whole thing. The relevant outcome was that my grades went on a downward spiral. This was in turn met by some good flogging and more lesson teachers over the holidays. But I was not fooled this time. I promptly proceeded back to school to perform even worse than the last term. Sadly, it didn’t work for me. I just don’t have the kind of brain that can fail so woefully that I would repeat a class or better yet, get kicked out of school. I remember thinking in those days when my colleagues who had worked extra hard to get admission into special talented FGCs were selected, that they were the dumbest suckers in the world. There was no way I was falling for that ruse again.

Anyway, with such an attitude as this, I of course flunked WAEC when the time came. I think it was Passes all through or something like that. They weren’t the dreaded F9s, but they were not credits either. It took me another six or so years to patch things up and passably get admission into university. Don’t ask me why, because I still don’t know why it took that long. Looking back now, I realize that I had so much trouble adjusting because I didn’t understand how hard work could be rewarded with inhuman conditions such as what I experienced in early secondary school. This sparked a question in mind very early in life. In today’s world, in some conditions, the working man’s life can be much like that. If the owner or boss is the wrong type, the workplace can turn into something close to a living hell. I remember when I got my first job thinking how clueless I really was. I still shudder when I think about it. Even after successfully concluding undergraduate school, all the theoretical concepts learned in school were absolutely meaningless in practical reality.

Why am I going through all this? It’s simple. Some of us are born entrepreneurs, we just are. I am one of the unlucky few that was not encouraged in any way to think like an entrepreneur. My few attempts were vehemently discouraged, and still are by my immediate family, whose opinion I happen to value very much. But I think it is easier to hide a strip dancer in a church than to kill an entrepreneurial spirit. No matter how hard you try, it’ll just keep raising its handsome head.

For me, it has been a wild meandering journey to where I am. I’ve tried to do the regular 9-5 thing. It just doesn’t work. It’s just too much trouble for too little reward, at the sacrifice of all else. More importantly, it gives no fulfillment. I happen to be one of those people who will give 100% of his attention to whatever he’s doing. Therefore when I’m working for someone else, I can’t seem to function for my own glory. Many times, the employer’s vision is very difficult to understand for a myriad of reasons. There’s also nothing utopian about the workplace- lots of politics, imperfections and absent work tools.

It’s been 10 years since I graduated from university. Over time, I’ve held lowly positions and relatively lofty ones. Once upon a time, I was a fund manager. I think there was some $24 million dollars in the fund. But so what? Emptiness and lack of fulfillment were the overriding emotions throughout my work experiences. Personally, I didn’t see the practical uses of my university education in the workplace and therefore elected to postpone any further education until I was sure that it would afford me some “actual” usefulness. It took almost 8 more years before I could convince myself that a graduate degree would be worth pursuing. After all, what the hell does Langrangean’s complex calculus theory know about surviving in Nigeria?

I look back at my life now and I know that if I had a different kind of “education”, I most likely would have chosen a different path. But everything happens for a reason, and I’m not complaining about my experiences. I’m just reliving them to learn from them. You see, if I didn’t come from a core academic family, I would have been exposed to, or at least given a fair chance to consider and understand the life and actions of an entrepreneur. As it was, the subject of business was continually derided in our home. There were always free anecdotes about failed businessmen and the likes to ensure that the thought processes were closed to that option. I can tell you now, that if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have chosen to learn carpentry instead of going to university. Or at least commit a fair amount of time to learning a trade or craft. I assure you, I would have been much wealthier by now. Too many people are cerebral experts and too few are craftsmen. Combine the two, and the sky’s your limit. It’s a truth.

I think the whole thing is a huge scam. We are all deluded into thinking that we should study hard in school, get excellent grades to improve our chances of getting a ‘good’ job. You see, every one conveniently forgets that every one of these businesses that we study hard to be qualified to join, once started in someone’s mind. They started in the mind of an entrepreneur. The world is rife with stories of the greats who went against the trend and ended up not only financially rewarded, but more fulfilled in life. This is the life of an entrepreneur. A life that is all about finding what people need and giving it to them, at a price. We find that people are quite happy to pay for value, in whatever form it comes.

The world is full of people trying to sell people what they don’t need- including the wrong kind of education. Fortunately, this is not one of our traits. The true entrepreneur creates real value. He/she may not get rich overnight, but always gets above average reward in the long run. It’s a rough path undoubtedly, and it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. But I like to say I’ll settle any day for taking 100% of the risk and getting 100% of the reward, over handouts. Entrepreneurs are not the smartest people, or the nicest people, or the most affable people. But we have an incurable appetite for looking for new and more efficient ways of doing things. It is what we are. It is what defines us.

Enjoy this platform, and may it bring great minds together and improve society at large.



Re: "Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" by talkryte(f): 3:54pm On Jul 03, 2013
Nice write up... very inspiring.
Re: "Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" by contra(m): 5:56pm On Jul 03, 2013
Beautiful piece. Recommended!!!
Re: "Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" by ABEngine(m): 4:37pm On Jul 04, 2013
Re: "Why I Chose My Entrepreneurial Career" by dbulus: 10:22am On Jul 05, 2013
nicely said,

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