How many times have you had an idea to start something, whether its launching a website, to writing a particular story, to opening an Italian restaurant in the heart of town? You develop the idea further and work on an implementation plan, and then right as you’re ready to launch your project, someone else launches the same idea!
In this piece, I am keeping my language simple and straightforward for easy comprehension. No long syllables, No complicated words, none of that ‘grammar’ as we say in Nigeria. My goal is simply to shed light on an issue I know many aspiring entrepreneurs face – the issue of self-doubt. My thoughts stem from a discussion I had with a stranger a few weeks ago.
Once upon a sunny afternoon, as I sat on the beach sipping on a strawberry margharita, I noticed a man possibly in his late sixties picking up trash. He whistled a tune I was familiar with and had not heard in a long time. I excitedly sang along. It was not long before he noticed I was singing the words to his tune, and he whistled even louder and harder, as if to say ‘sing, baby sing me that love song’. Before you get any ideas, Rewind, I said he was in his 60’s. Feel free to roll your eyes at me, Judge Judy. My new acquaintance flashed me a smile, and I sent him one right back, adding a friendly wave to it. He then did the ‘I want your phone number’ signal that young guys use these days – something like making a cell phone shape with his fingers and nodding his head. I flat out thought, ewwww what a pervert. So I turned my head back around and ignored him. It wasn’t long before Mr.Now-I-think-you’re-disgusting, walked up to me and said in a very neat British accent ‘Sorry If I offended you, It’s not everyday I find a friendly person here, and I just wanted to talk.’ At this point, I don’t know what confused me more, the fact that I just heard a homeless looking, sixty something year old man on the beach in Nigeria, speaking in perfect Queens English, or the fact that this man had the liver to speak to me. I say liver, not in a condescending way, but if you grew up in Nigeria, you know that gathering liver to speak to a fresh-looking babe (yes!) is not easy. Talk less of being that old with an un-kept beard, dirty clothes, a trash bag in hand, yet, breezing with confidence. In a movie drama, I may have been dreaming this, but I wasn’t.
I agreed to give him audience for a few minutes, knowing that I had 6 years of active Kung fu under my belt, plus, I was sure I could kick the kidneys out of anyone 40 years older than me. So, on this note, we shook hands and then the journey began through the mind of this daddy cool. He started off with ‘when I was your age, I worked hard, look at me now.’ I just thought to myself, oh! Not one of those long grace to grass stories. Or is this 419.’
He narrated his life story – he once co-owned a business with a childhood friend of his, made some good money, bought a nice house. Years later, things took an unexpected turn, he fell out with his friend, company paperwork was not in his favor, and he was kicked out of the business. At the time he had everything he needed to start his own business – the customers from the previous company liked him and were willing to patronize him, he could sell some of his assets to get decent capital, and more importantly he had a good reputation in his industry. He was faced with taking the risk of starting up alone, but he was scared that he would have to compete with his friend, who he glorified as being a genius. ‘Miss, at the time, I thought there was no way I could stand on my own. I had the passion, but I just didn’t have enough faith in myself.’ This story was an all too familiar tune, and I felt knots in my stomach as he hopelessly spoke. After an hour and a half of speaking, he stood up to leave, and much to my surprise, asked for nothing. This was a man who had nothing, asked me for nothing, but left me with a lot of wisdom. I watched as he walked off, checking to see if he would disappear into the water in an angelic way. No luck with that one. The moral of the story for me was simple.
How many times have you had an idea to start something, whether its launching a website, to writing a particular story, to opening an Italian restaurant in the heart of town? You develop the idea further and work on an implementation plan, and then right as you’re ready to launch your project, someone else launches the same idea! You’re broken hearted, frustrated, lamenting to all your friends about how you thought about the idea first, and then after some weeks, you eventually move on. A year later, the same idea returns to haunt you. Yes. Someone else launched a similar project, but there are so many aspects that you wish they would improve on, and you have a better marketing strategy in mind. Your first thought ‘Maybe I should have launched mine. I would have done much better.’
It’s never too late to do what you would have done. If you don’t do it, someone else will and they might never do it as well as you, and the world will have to ‘settle’ for next best. Alright … maybe I’m being over-the-top here, but, what I’m saying is Don’t let anyone stop you from doing something great! And if someone tries to stop you, don’t let that person be YOU. There’s enough space in the sky for birds to fly without bumping into each other. Just like a player pretending to hold a straight flush in Poker, businesses often use intimidation tactics to scare their competitors away.
The reason your idea never left paper, is probably because you’re scared to lose against the competitor. What you should realize is that you’ve probably lost more by not even trying at all. You will only know the joy of winning, if you try. Do your best, create, and let the consumer choose.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.