Reader’s Note: This is Chapter 1 of my upcoming book “HOW TO QUIT YOUR JOB AND BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR.”
I was raised in Kumasi, the second capital of Ghana and home to the biggest open market in West Africa. Growing up, every child in my neighbourhood had at least one parent who was an entrepreneur. My father was an architect but made most of his income from the two building material shops that he owned. My mother was a professional teacher but was also a garment trader.
From age ten, I worked at my father’s shops daily after school and during vacations. Right from an early age, I knew I would run my own business one day. Owning and running a business was already in my veins. When I had to select a course to pursue in high school, I chose to study business. And I studied business administration at the University of Ghana for my undergraduate degree.
During my four years at the University, I started several side hustles. I sold diskettes, CD and DVD ROMs, T-shirts, leather sandals and eggs. In my second year, I developed an interest in computer programming, and in my third year, I bought my first second-hand computer with my three years’ savings from my side hustles. Then I branched into IT-related business, including CD dubbing and SPPS data analytics. Through these businesses, I was earning more money than the monthly allowance my parent sent to me.
It was not always smooth sailing. In my second year, I lost all my capital after my stock of T-Shirts was stolen, and I had to live on gari for weeks until my student loan arrived. In my third, my friend and I invested in retailing leather sandals; the business was booming until we enlisted a shoemaker on campus to sell the sandals on a profit-sharing agreement. He disappeared with all our stock, and I was back to living on gari for weeks until my next student loan arrived.
Despite all the losses and the need to start all over again, I was never in doubt that I was going to run my business in the future. Although I did not mean to, these side hustles during my school days helped me build resilience and a strong business acumen which served me so well later in my entrepreneurship journey. So you see, entrepreneurship has always run through me veins.
Now, let’s come to you. What’s in your veins? You do not need to have come from a set of entrepreneurship parents like I did to have entrepreneurship in your veins. Nor, do you need to have grown up in a community where almost every adult has a business like I did to have entrepreneurship in your veins.
What you do need and only you can really tell – is this – do you have what it takes to take risks? Do you have the discipline to save and build appreciable capital to invest in a venture? Can you handle losing everything and having to start all over again? If you do, then you may have entrepreneurship blood in your veins.
To help you discern whether entrepreneurship pulses within you, I’ve developed the “Entrepreneur’s Self-assessment” questionnaire. Visit www.albertopoku.com/tools to gauge your entrepreneurial potential and discover if this path is meant for you.
Remember, self-employment or entrepreneurship is not for everyone! And that’s perfectly fine. It is not a crime to prefer to be an employee. There are many satisfied and wealthy employees. If you recognise that entrepreneurship is not your cup of tea, do not let the ongoing hype about entrepreneurship make you feel unworthy or unaccomplished. Embrace your unique journey, whether it leads to entrepreneurship or a different path. That said, this book is for people who want to quit their jobs and become full-time entrepreneurs. If that resonates with you, that is good; this book is for you.
Let me reiterate, having entrepreneurship in your veins is not about being born an entrepreneur. From my perspective, you could have been born with the qualities of an entrepreneur or assimilated it as a result of the environment you find yourself in or learnt it in school.
Whatever the case, you do need a burning desire to run a business coupled with the fortitude to take risks and the mental and physical capacity to strive irrespective of multiple failures. Ultimately, the fire within you—the tenacity to endure and rise, time and again—will define your journey as an entrepreneur.