One of the common beliefs ravaging our society today is the belief that our youths don’t need to work for anyone.
While the intention of the belief in itself is to encourage youths to be creative in solving problems, some youths are using it to cover up their mediocrity and lack of willingness to learn basic business principles of how to run a successful and sustainable business from successful firms and individuals.
The minds of some of these youths are clouded with the belief that they don’t need to work for anyone to succeed and yet nothing is working for them.
They believe all they need is a capital to start a business.
Some will always site the stories of how Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Oprah Winfrey and several others who dropped out of school to start their own business.
What some of these youths don’t know is that their Nigerian B.Sc. certificate would not get them a cashier job in many of the developed countries.
The developed countries of the world have excellent education system where a high school certificate is almost equivalent to the glorified B.Sc. certificate received from a government-owned university in Nigeria where students still sit on the floor and lecturers who still use chalk to write on a blackboard are proud that they are using their undergraduate notes to teach their students the same course 20 years after.
I’m not saying it is bad to want to start your own business.
In fact, we need as many new businesses as possible to reduce the number of jobless youths who are roaming our streets. But have you ever asked yourself why no single business/company from Africa can compete with other brands globally? The reason is not far-fetched, many of our businesses were started and owned by people who don’t want to work for anyone.
The fact that you have a beautiful idea doesn’t mean you will succeed if you start a business around the idea now. I think we are at a point where we need to advise our youths to first learn about a business before starting one so that we won’t be having businesses whose addresses and names only exist in the logbook of Corporate Affair Commission.
Some of the businesses that are doing well across Africa today are businesses that are owned by people who have years of corporate experience. People who have worked in well-structured companies and are leveraging on the experience they have gained over the years to manage their business.
But an average Nigerian youth nowadays doesn’t want to work for anyone, he just wants to start his own business and become an overnight successful entrepreneur. Ask such youth to write a business proposal, he has no idea. Ask him about business structuring and his plan on how to scale up his business in the nearest future, he is totally clueless and he doesn’t want to work for anyone.
I was once culprit of such belief. I remember also saying I won’t work for anyone after I graduated from the university and a mentor who has a better understanding of business told me I need to change such belief and I don’t think I need to tell you how much money I lost before I discovered that I needed to learn how to manage a business from a successful firm before I venture into mine on full-time basis.
Look at some of the successful small businesses around in Nigeria, they are owned by the Igbos and it’s because they have an apprenticeship system popularly called ‘Imu-Ahia’ that mandated that you must first work for an accomplished business owner for a specific number of years to learn about a particular business before you would be allowed to start your own.
An average Igbo youth won’t tell you that he doesn’t want to work for anyone, he understands that working for someone to learn about a particular business is one of the prerequisites for success in business. He’s ready to learn as much as he can before he ventures into his own business.
An Igbo youth can be selling memory cards and build a big store from it, the reason is that he is not just selling memory cards, he understands the core principles of business unlike an average graduate who believes all he needs to succeed in business is just capital and a year later you won’t find the business anywhere.
Africa youths must be ready to do away with “I don’t want to work for anyone” mentality if we want to start building businesses that will employ more than one person.
If your talents, skills, business can’t feed you at the moment, I will advise you to get a job to gain practical experience on how to manage a successful business and start your own business later. Otherwise, you may end up as a victim of “I don’t want to work for anyone” ravaging disease.
I am Vincent Adeoba