In Part 1 of this series we dealt with Mutembuli‘s problem of having had two false starts in business with friends and now he’s among other things considering going solo in his pursuits. We saw the advantages of partnering as well as not partnering and went ahead to identify large business brands that had solo founders.
We however didn’t deal with the second part of Mutembuli’s concerns that went like;
“… what if I am not able to sustain the business on my own since some of my friends are better in marketing and so on?
What if my capital is not enough or I don’t get clients for a long time?
What will my friends think if I start alone because they are pushing for union yet I don’t trust a few based on [past] experiences?”
In the above comments, it is clear that our friend is seriously considering going solo in his business pursuits and is now ambushed by issues of perception and uncertainty. I sense a general feeling of loss of security that he has as a result of not being able to work with a team of partners. Where trusted friends have let him down, he is not willing to try partnering with unknown people.
Partners help spread the risk, they bring on the table complementary skills and can increase the potential of business success or growth through intrinsic contributions like business contacts, connections in high places, good will among others. However, this is all useless if after establishing a going concern fraud sets in, Mutembuli did experience this. I too would trade a partnership for a solo gig any day under such terms.
Mutembuli poses the question, “what if I am not able to sustain the business on my own since some of my friends are better in marketing and so on?” True, we can’t know each and everything as individuals and that is one of the reasons we seek partnerships. However, it is also important to realise that for someone to provide you these complementary skills they don’t necessarily have to be a business partner. You have the option of hiring an employee or entirely outsourcing the services. I stopped having an in-house accountant over four years ago in my consulting business after I realised that for a nominal fee I could maintain the services of a fully fledged Accounting Firm.
You may complain about the lack of money to hire or outsource but if you think ingeniously, there is always a way out. I have thrived on a network of Old School friends who are spread out in various professions to get services at either a low cost or in a barter trade format.
“What if my capital is not enough or I don’t get clients for a long time?” There is never enough capital. While you may have some capital to make you comfortable for a while, it will never be enough. I however suppose you are expressing the fear of running out of cash as a result of depleting your reserves as well as the possibility of not getting paying customers within your projected timing.
This is a true possibility and it happens more often than not. It’s the reason few people take up the challenge to traverse the entrepreneurial trail. It involves a lot of boot strapping in both your personal and professional life. Follow the Indian approach if you are to increase your potential to succeed. Spend very little and only a decent steady revenue stream should justify any increase your expenditure. Somehow with the aggression of a hungry lion, you are likely to eventually get in that first business opportunity. So, the best medicine for this challenge is to continuously keep costs low and look for alternative and innovative means of achieving goals.
“What will my friends think if I start alone because they are pushing for union yet I don’t trust a few based on [past] experiences?” You have tried it out with your friends and failed more than once, what reason do you have to still consider any of them as viable business partners? What they think about you doesn’t and shouldn’t cloud you from achieving your entrepreneurial pursuits for as long as you have not defrauded them. Rate them against this advice on Ten Worst Partners for your Start-up. Be bold enough to tell them that you want to go it alone this time round and if they are genuinely your friends, they will respect your decision. True friendship is all about being sensitive with each other’s feelings and besides maybe you might have a change of heart in future and partner with them in a different venture all together. Let the ‘We are in the same bus‘ mentality not drag you back. You’ve been in the same bus with them for too long since school and now as adults it’s time to try your own car, maybe it will help you appreciate the bus better.
Alternatively, choose those you trust and once again rate them based upon a checklist of ideal business partners, if they pass, so be it, you can try out your business with the successful ones.
Our dear friend Mutembuli happens to be dogged by fear too and we’ll address this in a separate post due to the nature of depth I want us to delve into.