Start with what Matters to You
- April 22, 2018
Tumelo Mashteng took the opportunity of being laid off from her job to start her business selling “My My’s Chillis” in Botswana in Feb 2017.
Umutoni Monalisa was an unemployed student who followed her interest in hairstyle and make-up to eventually launched her own brand “Mona Faces” – now a popular brand for make-up artistry across Uganda.
Udoka Uju was an accountant in a bank in Nigeria until she decided to start a business as “The Lady Painter” as well as a not-for-profit called “Grab-a-Brush. Colour-a-Life”.
Do you see the common thread with these three entrepreneurs?
That’s right, all three were ordinary African women who changed their situation in order to step forward on their entrepreneurial journey.
Each woman took the opportunity to use their skills and experience to start their own business. Each woman weighed up the options and had the courage to do what mattered to them so they could create the life they wanted. What’s more, all three women are alive and succeeding in Africa.
Everyone has a Passion and Purpose
Some of you might think, “Oh that’s not possible for me. She had opportunities that I don’t have.” That might not be true. I’m sure each of these women had their days of doubts and difficulties.
The point is not that they had more opportunities, it’s that they made the most of their opportunities.
The three women were all in career or study paths that were going in a different direction to what they really cared about. At first glance it looks like they figured out what mattered to them and they made changes in order to follow their passion. I think it’s even more than that. They didn’t just ‘follow their passion’. They were smart and found a way to turn their passions into business ideas. Then they were able to turn their business ideas into viable business opportunities.
Start by knowing yourself well.
Define your skills, experience and passion. Know what matters to you. When you know yourself well, you will know what makes you different to everyone else. You will start to get excited about all the things (issues, passions and ideas) that really matter to you. (I wrote more about how to figure out what matters to you here.)
Every person has something special that matters to them and it is something that the world needs to see. You are not the same as anybody else in your family or you community!
Whether you live in a city of a million or a village of a hundred people, there is no-one else like you who can do what you do in the way you do it. You owe it to yourself to do your thing, your way and to bless those around you with your special talent, gift!
There is no-one else like you who can do what you do in the way you do it.
How do you know what matters?
Sometimes the pressure to make the right decision can paralyse you. You are afraid to get it wrong or invest in the wrong idea, or to spend money and time chasing after something you don’t really care about. That’s human. No-one can predict the future and guarantee our success.
But you should know that things are not random. The passion and desires within, the things that matter to you, are not accidental. There are things that matter to you because they can only be done by you. You have unique gifts.
Some of you don’t have the patience to get to know yourself, you just want to start a business today and make money tomorrow. Unfortunately it is not that easy.
Many business ideas can seem right, but not every business idea is right for you. A good question to ask is, “How do I find the right business idea for me?” To know what is the right Big, Bold Business Idea for you, you have to start by understanding Yourself. Which takes us back to the starting point – what matters to you?
For example, what do you choose to do when you have free hours? Maybe you chose to cook, or garden, or go to the gym, or read books, or volunteer to care for your neighbour. That choice is already an indication of your passion – of something that matters to you. Once you have a hint, you need to clarify things more precisely.
To be more specific, many people might be passionate about cooking. You need clarity. Do you like to cook burgers or cupcakes? Do you like to cook for many people or to make special treats for close friends? Do you love to promote traditional foods or to fuse them with contemporary Western styles? Do you follow recipes or do you like the challenge to create your own meals with whatever is available? Your answer to each question tells you something specific about you and what matters to you. Knowing this level of detail about what really matters to you is where (business) ideas will start to flow.
Understanding yourself and what matters to you is a process…and there are no shortcuts. So, look again and see all the things that matter to you. Keep drilling down until you find the real issues.
You are not meant to be just like Tumelo Mashteng, Umutoni Monalisa or Udoka Uju. They can inspire you, but you are meant to be you and to do exactly what matters to you.
It is possible to figure out what is important to you. It takes time, but it is the necessary first step. The best chance of business success comes when you start by knowing yourself and what you truly care about.
Use the tools you have at hand and find space to think and reflect. The Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman says that the best tool on the market is a simple marble notebook.[/b]
The best tool in your toolkit is your journal. Grab it now, or a piece of paper and pen, and start writing. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start to describe what matters to you. That is always the starting point for you to generate your Big, Bold Business Idea or determine what really matters to you.
I love to hear your thoughts. Ask me a question or tell me what you would love to do if you had all the resources you needed. What truly matters to you?
- Five Ways Entrepreneurs Build Soft Skills
- Top Five Soft Skills for Entrepreneurs
- The best New Year’s Resolution
- Business Ideas are not Random
- Ten Lessons from 30 African entrepreneurs
- Six (more) Reasons to keep a Journal
- Start your Entrepreneurial Journey as an Employee
- Tips to Conduct your Personal Inventory
- How to make Smart Decisions about Important Things
- How to Figure out what Matters to You