Be inspired: I want to share something personal very quickly – it’s about success and failure. Of recent when my alma mater (Imperial College London) contacted me to be a judge on the business plan competition. I was really scared and had impostor syndrome. I was like I didn’t even ask for this, one thing I am very good at is communicating my failures on this journey of entrepreneurship. So when they reached out to me and stated that I was recommended by someone, who they hold in high esteem I almost fainted. I’m sure the few times I engaged with the person who recommended me, I mostly had conversations about my failed business ventures. So I was aloof as to why she would even believe in me.
When I have candid conversations with my mentors and peers I always share my struggles. I never sugar coat it. In this age where everyone acts like they have made it and design a narrative which people get hooked on to. I was very adamant on being true to myself. Some even get featured in high profiled magazines for doing nothing other than for pitching their ideas to investors and getting funding. Which in itself is a validation of the idea, but has nothing to do with the success of that idea. We now celebrate a culture of mediocrity amongst ourselves as Africans. Someone who has not even developed a product decides to profile him or herself as an industry leader and we buy into it, as long as the narrative is good. We continue to buy into these stories as we all progressively deceive ourselves about what success is and what it should mean. We celebrate ideas which may never take off. I am very aware of the damage this can do to my growth as an entrepreneur. So I am always keen to stay grounded, I tell you it’s easy to join the bandwagon. Most especially when you are certain about being more successful at what you do, in comparison with those who are profiled. We need to be careful with this PR’s definition of success. It gives entrepreneurs a delusional sense of arrival, when in actual sense they’ve built nothing this will eventually inhibit your creativity as an entrepreneur.
Inspite of all the noise going on I always find the need to consistently ask myself am I genuinely building or making noise. I lock myself in and just try to figure out what I’m doing with my life ! My reality makes me want to always tell both sides of the story on social media. I never want to put up a fake persona. For example, I once shared my story about how I was so broke from the wrong business and investment decisions I made last year, and how I had to move back in with my sister. Having lived as a London big girl, when things were not adding up I packed my bags and moved in with her whilst I tried to plan my next move. Whilst trying to get out of my bad business decisions, I partnered with some of my friends and tried another investment venture. We failed again, coupled with my own woes I also pilled on more disaster. Last year was my worst year in my existence on earth, but I carried on with a lot of grace! The grace that only God can bestow on you for the purpose of leadership.
Going back to my imposter syndrome story, given all of my woes, I said to myself I don’t know why they will want me to be on the panel with industry experts and judge business plans of students whose IQs are probably averagely above mine. I was happy but also sad. In fact I was scared to share the news with friends. I’m like I’ve not even been able to build the kind of business I am proud of, what will I contribute to the panel? Whilst pondering on this something came to mind, every failure comes with a takeaway(lessons learned). I may not have an accurate knowledge of how to succeed in business but I know how to spot a failing business. I’ve navigated through a failing business and I have had to make tough decisions on this journey which includes abandonment of projects which I was passionate about. With the knowledge I have gained so far as an entrepreneur one thing is certain, I know how to ensure a business fails and maybe that's the reality check one of the competitors will need in order to re-evaluate his or her idea. So I snapped out of my impostor syndrome and realized that failure is a gift as long as you continue to try again. This is not to celebrate the culture of failure, it’s to inspire someone who has almost given up on this journey to continue to thrive. I actually may not feel I’m deserving but I’ve earned it.
I must also say as you reach out for success be ready, I didn’t even do any form of social media profiling when they reached out. Meaning I didn’t lobby for it, it was after they reached out I started running around for headshots, cause they asked for a professional picture. Which is why I now advise fellow entrepreneurs to get headshots. You need to be prepared for positions you are praying for. This is for that person who is discouraged, and feels they have to hide behind their failed ideas and products. You feel like you don’t have a voice because you have not built a successful business. I want to tell you this. You have a voice, and the lessons you learned when shared will help another grow. Just ensure that whilst you are doing that, you stay humble. Humility and gratitude keep you grounded and you need it for this journey. Stay inspired entrepreneurs the best is yet to come. Just to let you know investors are always interested in entrepreneurs who have failure stories. It means they’ve tried and learned a thing or two which will be useful for the business, which the entrepreneur is intending to raise funds for. With failure, you build resilience and grace for the journey. I wish you well as you continue to innovate and build things that will inspire others and influence lives.
By the way, I run an entrepreneurship community with a group of friends. Want to get funding or accelerate your business. Join the community via the link below: https://chat.whatsapp.com/invite/IJxL1Po59X6GAaF3tIFlvm?fbclid=IwAR1s5_nvtjgddPoiIC1f1A_rc3pcDRSrPqbARh1kxNXNRpo1hLox4s6Upjc