“As a young adult one feels a certainty to life that gives a false sense of confidence, as one matures they realize how much uncertainty is a part of life & therefore gaining true confidence.” – Pauline Ndirangu
This statement formed in my mind in 2012. It was so profound I wanted to tell the whole world about it. So I posted it on Facebook with public viewing settings. The response was huge. It resonated with many people. Some already knew it, others were pondering about it for the first time. Embracing uncertainty is a great shift in the way ones sees themselves and I needed to see myself a new.
A few years before 2012 I had left a steady well paying job, after thirteen years in that company to start my own consulting outfit. The initial years were fairly good. I leverage a lot on my networks. I rode on the goodwill of friends and former colleagues. I was fortunate to have the right experience in an emerging industry that was growing rapidly. My skill sets were heavily reliant on number crunching and logic. Following the rules and adding a little calculated forecasting for it to work.
This way of thinking mirrored my personal life exactly. It was the only way. The messaging came early. In school you had to get good grades to get to a good school and later a good job. It was an absolute certainty in my case and I enjoyed the comfort that came with it. As long as I kept doing my bit everything would be alright. True or False? False. This way of thinking puts one in the driver’s seat of life. In control. Ego driven. Not that I did not believe in God. I do. I say my prayers and follow the rules.
What made 2012 a unique year just like 2016? It was the year before a Presidential and Parliamentary election.
Studies have shown that 70% of all enterprises started in Kenya in the first few years result in failure. This is mainly because, amongst other critical factors, budding entrepreneurs lack capacity to harness a business in its nascent stage and enable it to take root and start a growth pattern:
- Budding and even existing entrepreneurs at micro and small scale level need adequate mentoring and coaching as well as assistance of a technical nature to enable them manages delicately balance between the demands of a new venture and the need for subsistence, most likely from the same venture.
- Entrepreneurs need to be imbued with the basics of the survival techniques necessary to keep a business afloat. Training in basic business management, corporate governance, book keeping, marketing, and human resources are not just buzz words for big business, but are fundamentally foundational in the quest to have more micro enterprises succeed.
- Most new ventures will fail because of taking on too much debt and failing to creatively employ it. Key skills in managing finances and maintaining credit discipline are critical factors in the success of any business.
- Most enterprises operate in complete ignorance of the legal/regulatory and taxation environment. A basic business license is not an end to itself. A sudden change in tax rules, a sudden change in local legislation or even a Government directive on a certain business issue can portend sudden death for an enterprise. Enhanced knowledge in each of these areas is a key ingredient to business survival.
What is not said out loud, but also contributes to the possible demise of a business is the disruption that comes with an election period in this country. The withholding of spending, holding back on growth and invest, the fear and anxiety, capital and human resources flight, adopting a wait and see attitude on all business fronts. Waiting to see what? How the elections we be conducted. Who will be in power next? Will there be political unrest and violence? All of it affects the economy and small businesses are most vulnerable. I was vulnerable and I worried. It was not going to business as usual. I could not control the outcome. Control was an illusion.
It took some soul searching to adopt a new way of thinking, albeit a work in progress but a step forward. Daring to have hope and embrace adventure.
Only death and taxes are certain.
The 2013 elections came and went with some anxiety but we survived. I survived. However not without realizing that, true confidence is not in certainty but in the uncertainty itself. Knowing and accepting this helps one prepare, put shock absorbers in place, the anchor into the ground and pray incessantly. Prayers not about ones fears, but prayers of thanksgiving because the truth has set you free.