Home Blog Anecdote: The Entrepreneur’s Greatest Tool Is….

Anecdote: The Entrepreneur’s Greatest Tool Is….

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Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life, we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now

While Bobby McFerrin’s popular hit song may sound cool for the salary earner now, it isn’t always the case for the entrepreneur as the end of each month usually comes with a lot of pressure. In addition to the recurrent expenditure like wages, utility bills, and rents there could be other expenditures like emergency repairs, equipment procurement, repayments, and unavoidable dips into your capital for unrelated exigencies.

No matter how much you have mastered the game there will be a month when that financial pressure will come upon you like the Biblical thief in the night. And so it was for yours truly last month.

August is always a tough one for every parent because of the usual back-to-school outlay but for those of us in business, the additional expenditure of wages makes it almost unbearable more especially in Nigeria where businesses experience a lull in the rainy season. I had my own adult education tuition fees to pay, equipment to procure for new business, an obligatory repayment to make, and goods to clear. So it was a stacked deck for me.

For a few days, I was noticeably anxious. I slept and woke up late. I ate outside my feeding period and my routine workout became irregular. I prayed but answers weren’t forthcoming. All I could think of was a solution I was unwilling to broach. When my missus inquired I didn’t tell much because she was also going through a phase of relocating back to the office after working at home for 18 months. It didn’t make sense to add to her palaver.

I finally reached the last bus stop in my search for solutions and was left with no option other than the one I had been scared of; borrow. Like every businessman, I had many sources of raising credit but I also know that it should be a last resort. So I decided to do that but on the condition that I will repay in installments. Surely that shouldn’t be a problem or so I thought. Well, it turned out to be. Two of my regular sources were low on liquidity. The third was in a similar position with me and was even thinking of ringing me before I did.

I had other sources though. I resolved to call them as soon as I left the gym that day. There is a belief among creatives that the best ideas often float to you at odd times and places. And so it happened that just as I was about hitting the 20 calorie mark on the treadmill it struck me to do the day’s jogging in the open. I figured that some fresh air and greenery will be better than the tiresome vocalization in the gym.

I dashed to the changing room, flung my towel into my locker, and left for Bride Valley park in Fairhill. The summer breeze was cool and soothing that morning. The windy road sloped upward and on my right was the long stretch of shrub that acted as a fence for the ledge. I enjoy walking on that side of the road as it offered a panoramic view of the casual but graceful meadow below. An elderly couple walking their brown Irish terrier passed on the other side of the road and the wife offered her greeting with a slight nod. As I savoured the natural environment my pace reduced unconsciously and questions gradually crept into my consciousness.

Do you really have to borrow? What options have you not considered? Slowly it dawned on me that because I was thinking in one direction I had skipped the basic lesson which was to prioritize. My dad made this a motto for us and in basic economics, we were taught to use a scale of preference. But under pressure, one can easily forget what his fingers looked like.

So I had my solution; prioritize!

The rest of my walk was used to classify and place the tasks on a scale. Of course, the non-negotiable responsibility topped my list.

  1. Back to school & Wages
  2. Tuition fees for my new course.
  3. Clearing my goods.
  4. Repayments
  5. Equipment procurement.

Ranked in this order, I started tackling them one at a time. Once I resumed the regular school run and paid my staff, I wrote the finance department of UCC and requested to pay my tuition fees in installments. That was promptly refused because the state was already funding 90% of my fees and since I was self-employed it was expected that I should be capable of paying the balance.

I tried another tactic. I asked for a 2 week grace period to raise the complete sum. I was only given a week since lectures will resume on the 13th of September and you must be registered to start classes. Well, half a loaf is better than none. So I moved on to task 3 and paid for the clearing of my goods immediately. Actually, the Nnewi man would probably have listed this above others because it is a revenue expenditure. No serious businessman toys with that because income will start flowing in once the goods are out.

Next, I called my creditors, and luckily my request to reschedule the repayment by a month was granted by one of them. It wasn’t difficult, my only fear was making the embarrassing calls but having done this for over 2 decades I have got used to that. I am still working on the other tough cookie and hopefully, I should get a concession.

In the meantime, while I was handling these tasks a potential breakthrough for №5 popped up. My google calendar reminded me that a tenant’s rent was due and I immediately directed my manager to fund the new equipment procurement with that.

There you have it. I can breathe again and I get to live another day, sorry another month. So I can now sing:

In every life, we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, PRIORITIZE and be happy…