This post was transcribed by Shadrach Twumasi Ankrah from a video presentation I did at HapaSpace. It was edited by Samuel Aboagye.
I completed school in 2005 and started working as a national service personnel at the Kumasi office of
British Council as Project Manager and then became the Kumasi Office Manager, where I was
responsible for the whole of Ashanti region all the way up north. I then became the Digital Services
Manager for sub-Saharan Africa handling everything IT for twenty-one countries.
Entrepreneurship or owning a business was not new to me because before joining the British Council I
used to spend time at the family’s shop. Also, all the time I was at the British council I really wanted to own something. It is not easy to quit when you start receiving salary but I told myself that I was quitting after five years. In September 2010, I left. It wasn’t easy leaving but I left. I am going to share with you how I left and what has been my experience so far.
I left the British Council to form Hapaweb Solutions in the year 2010 and in the year 2015, I co-founded Hapaspace. My understanding of a startup is that you can either be self-employed or an entrepreneur.
In simple terms, a self-employed person is someone who is working for himself and an entrepreneur is someone who has employed other people. An example of a self-employed is a lawyer or an accountant practising as a freelancer and an example of an entrepreneur is someone who has a number of outlets and has employed other people.
SOME FACTS ABOUT BEING SELF-EMPLOYED OR BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR
1. 25th (Pay Day)
When I was working at the British Council, my salary used to come on the 25th so I always prayed and hoped for 25 th to come. But when you become an entrepreneur the whole thing changes – you wish that 25 th (Pay Day), never comes.
2. See Better When I was an employee,
I used to waste printing sheets by printing on only one side. But when I became an entrepreneur, I have learnt that printing sheets are two sided.
3. The Lord’s Prayer (… and give us this day our daily bread)
If you are a Christian, the Lord’s prayer begins to communicate a whole new meaning to you. The life of an entrepreneur is a bit tough so you begin to pray it very passionately.
4. You become healthy
When we become entrepreneurs, life becomes hard, so we start eating common and simple meals like, “gobe”, which is gari and beans. We stop eating the expensive pizza and fried rice. We start walking a lot because buying fuel becomes difficult and this strengthens us.
Employees mark them on their calendar, but employers do not want to see them. Holidays are no more exciting as an employer.
6. Go Natural
Both men and women who enter into entrepreneurship reduce their budget on fashion. The men, at the beginning of their journey in entrepreneurship do not frequent the barbering salon as they used to while the women also subject to “weavons” and simple hair styles.
7. Discover Shortcuts
We start to discover all the shortcuts in Kumasi because we begin to take a lot of “trotro”. These vehicles pass through so many shortcuts and introduce us to these areas. The truth is that self-employment or entrepreneurship is not for everybody.
You need to have a thick skin and big balls. You will see friends who have moved further in life. But the truth is that entrepreneurship is living your first set of years in a way that many people will dare not and living the later years of your life in a way others will never afford to.
If you decide to quit your job, let’s focus on two things:
1. Since 2 out 10 businesses make it, what can we do to make us stand a better chance of succeeding? The answer is, if you want to get two businesses right, try ten businesses.
If you want to be within the two, try ten times. But quite often, by the time we hit number three, people will begin to discourage us. So what we can do is to prepare very well.
HOW CAN WE PREPARE?
Before you decide to quit your job:
1. Have a minimum of 5 reasons to support your decision to quit
2. Learn to live on ½ of your salary
3. Save and invest the other ½
4. Get a co-founder
5. Begin with a service
6. or COUNTABLE products
7. Use the BMC (Business Module Canvas)
8. Test it out during the night and on weekends
9. Take “troski” two times a week
10. Pay all your debts
11. Get an employee
12. See your job as a business school
13. Focus on one thing at a time
Before you quit your job remember to test your idea to be sure that you have a good chance to make it into the 2. In spite of all these, you can still fail – but it’s worth the try.
When the going gets tough, learn from the following:
The teabag: it brews in hot water. We become very good when we endure tough times.
The elastic bag: we gain extra length when we are stretched to the limit.
The magnifying glass: it burns a paper only when it is focused on it for a long time in the sun.
The seed: before it germinates, it has to get rotten in the ground.
The axe: before we cut a tree, we spend time to sharpen the axe.
The stamp: no matter where the envelop goes, the postage stamp sticks to it.
The rain drops: by consistent efforts, rain drops makes a hole in the ground.
Water kettle: it whistles at a 100 degrees. It takes pressure to bring out your true talent.
Biscuits: they seldom break the way we want them.
The needle: it has a hole, yet it is used to fix holes. But nobody fixes the whole of the needle.
The pencil: it comes with an eraser. It means that the pencil knows that you will make mistakes.