Early last year, I had an interesting conversation with one of my mentees who complained that her husband wasn’t giving her enough support to kickstart her business. She already had a fashion business but wanted to expand it into a self-sustaining venture.
According to her, several attempt to get him to put his money into the business proved abortive and at a point she began to feel he probably doesn’t want her to succeed. “Maybe he is afraid I might become richer than him” she said.
I smiled, not because I found her perception about her husband amusing. Somehow, I felt she already knew what the real reason was and it was only a matter of few minutes of further interrogation before she will admit what we both knew.
By the time we had conversed for about thirty minutes, I was able to understand the following;
At the beginning of her venture into business after she quit paid employment because she didn’t like the attitude of everyone around her at work, she learnt several skills but never got to practice any. After several uncompleted project she finally settled for tailoring.
Her husband bought her 2 sewing machines, cutting tables, overlocking machines and other key equipment needed to start a fashion design business. Instead of renting a shop for her, he converted one of the under-utilized rooms in their four-bedroom apartment into a fashion studio because he wasn’t willing to take the risk of renting a shop that she might abandon within the first year of starting.
“With all these efforts he made, you still feel he doesn’t support your business?” I asked.
“all I asked was for him to give me money to rent a bigger space now that my business is expanding” she said defensively.
“Expanding?” I repeated “hmm, that’s interesting” so, how much have you made so far and how much have you saved” I asked, trying to wrap my mind around why she will need her husband to fund her expansion hundred percent if the business was actually expanding.
“That’s not the point” she snapped, obviously she didn’t like where the conversation was going. “Am his wife, he needs to support my business so I can grow and be able to help him whenever he needs help. Anything can happen, what if he loses his job, God forbid, but what if?”
Well, I would have loved to give you guys the full gist of my conversation with my “one of my favourite mentees” time will not permit me to do so. However, the summary of my finding is that, although she has made significant sales from her “work from home” business, she could not account for the funds and after 3 years, she could not raise up to 25% of the money she needed for her “expansion”
She didn’t, run the place like a business, she admitted spending her money on personal needs which didn’t also stop her from collecting her monthly allowance from her husband over the period. According to her husband, he felt that if she couldn’t account for the sales, she has made for the past three years, then there is no guarantee that any expansion will not also go to waste like his first effort.
We all have our weaknesses. But when it comes to money or business, it is our responsibility to work towards managing our weakness rather than expecting those around us to overlook them when making decisions on whether to support our ideas, business or project.
Just like my friend above, a lot of us don’t understand why our spouses, parents, friends or relatives are not willing to support our project. We often think is because they do not wish us well or they are jealous of our ideas. Maybe in some extreme cases that could be true, however most times we are the problem.
Yes, humans are influenced mainly by what they know, think or feel which informs their perception about us. Perception they say is reality. At least for the perceiver.
If you are seen to be reckless with funds, or lack integrity even in the littles things, it will go a long way when decisions bothering on money is being made. If you are not faithful in little things, why should you be trusted with bigger things?
So, are you trustworthy? Before you say yes, I will highlight a few things that often influences the decision of those close to you when it has to do with giving you their money or investing in your idea
COMMUNICATION: did you take out time to put your idea into a clear plan that will make it easy to explain what your business or project is all about? Simply put, do you have a well written plan for your business that anyone can read and understand with little or no need for complex interpretations? There are a lot of free template you can download from the internet and use.
CAPACITY: have you shown competence in being able to deliver the skill needed for the business or project to succeed. Do you have any formal training or experience that will guarantee that you can efficiently manage the business? Most people will not invest in your business if you as the owner is also depending on another person’s competence to run the company. Your friends know you; they may not be comfortable with the third-party you are depending on. So, stick to business you have significant understanding of or control over.
DISCIPLINE AND CONSISTENCY: I chose to lump these two attributes together as you can’t have one without the other (my opinion though). How consistent are you? Can they depend on you to follow through your plan or are you the type that will quickly abandon the project at the slightest sight of trouble? Do you have a history of following things through? Even for a first-time investment consideration, your friend will often base their assessment of drawing from their experience with you in other areas. If your work ethics is poor while in paid employment you former colleagues and friends may not be eager to invest in your own business because of the doubt they have about how you handled your employers work.
CREDIBILITY: how much of your personal funds or asset are you staking in the business? I have heard ridiculous things like a business plan in which the business owner wants his friends to fund his business, while he hands it over to another person to manage so that he can keep his paid job at another firm. If you are not ready to stake your asset for your own business, why should anyone give you their hard-earned money? If it is an existing business, how much have you saved so far from your previous activities?
Even if its an NGO where you want people to support your project, my question is how long have you been running the project with your “own little” funds or resources?
INTERGRITY: do you have a history of borrowing and returning? Do you over promise and don’t have a problem disappointing those around you? When I started my business, I knew it would be difficult getting quick and flexible loans from the commercial banks. So, I started by borrowing from 20k to 50k from my friends. I made sure I paid back with interest before or by due date. Over time, they learnt to loan me more of their funds to execute my project. Gradually, when it became evident, they could not raise the money themselves, they began to stand as surety for me when I started to engage the services of investment firms that offer quick project funding.
There are many more reasons or factors that influences your friend’s investment choice in you, could be a matter of how much funds they can spare, how profitable is the business, their risk taking threshold etc. the above are the top five I have consistently had to overcome over a 10years period of building a business that started as a side hustle.
It’s all about TRUST based on HISTORY!
My first experience, withdrawing from my friends “Trust-Bank” was when I needed to raise up to 500k to fund a project urgently. I called one of my friends over the phone and he said he didn’t have the money at that time, he suggested I should reach out to any of the investment firms in Lagos. He quickly offered to stand as surety for me in case they needed a guarantor for the loan. I was shocked and pleased at the same time. All I could say was “Okay, Thanks”.
Next day, he called back and asked if I have made any progress, I told him I was already talking to Micro-Credit firm, he said “Good, just try and negotiate a favourable interest rate” then he went ahead to tell me that he was travelling that weekend outside Lagos State on an official assignment. He also informed me that the Original copies of his car particulars (an SUV) has been given to his colleague for me to pick up at the office the next day along with an attestation letter personally signed by him and witnessed by his colleague to back it up! This guy was ready to stake his car for me even before my potential creditors asked for a collateral without me having to ask, of course! it was a lot of responsibility having someone trust me that much, yet it reminded me that our relationship had come a long way.
That was the first of many occasions I have had the privilege of having my friends or their friend backing me up. It took years of consistency and integrity to build that type of relationship. I never take it for granted as I have also had to stake my reputation and resource for those that have also built their relationship with me along these lines.
So, before you assume your friends, partner or family does not want you to succeed, take a moment and reflect on how much you contributed to how those around you perceive you.
It’s never too late to start to make amends!
If she can, we all can!
Share your story with us, we love to read.