A story is told of a village that suffered perennial water shortage due to erratic rains. The village elders invited bids from people who would provide a solution to the problem. Two people were vetted and awarded the tender to supply enough water using whatever method, provided every villager got the commodity.

The first man, Tom, bought two pickup trucks and started running back and forth to the nearest permanent river miles away. He started making money instantly although he had to work from sunrise to sunset to meet the demand.

The second man, Tim, went away and nothing was heard of him until nearly six months later. Instead of buying pickup trucks or canters to compete with Tom, Tim decided to consult experts who helped him draft a good business plan, incorporate a company, raise funds. He then contracted another company to build a big pipe that connected the village to the river.

Tim’s pipe delivered cleaner water conveniently to people’s homes. Nearly the entire village switched loyalty overnight. Moreover, Tim was able to charge the villagers over three times less what Tom was charging them and make more than three times profit. Also, Tim needed not work full time in his business. He installed a water meter and employed agents to collected payment and deposit on his account every month.

This simple story teaches us the importance of leveraging on technology and people to reap the fruits of entrepreneurship.​

Most people who quit employment to do business seeking money and freedom often make a costly mistake. Instead of owning a business, they go into another form of employment – self.

They end up becoming a victim of their own success and miss the very freedom that propelled them into business. Instead of owning their business, their business owns them and consequently they become slaves who have to work long hours to serve customers and make money.

Freedom in business comes from owning an enterprise and successfully putting in place systems that are able to run well in your absence. You may not be able to run from the reality of being a ‘slave’ to your business at the beginning, but as it grows you should start loosening the grip by employing smart people and installing procedures and systems to help it operate smoothly when you eventually take leave.

Unless and until you are able to leave your business operating smoothly without your physical presence, you are just an employee, where the employer is self.

In most cases self-employed people work more hours without overtime pay, suffer stress more, have less freedom and may even earn less than their contemporaries.

As an employee of another person, one needs to fill a leave form or communicate to their boss that they are sick, bereaved or held up by some unavoidable issues. Whatever happens in the office in their absence is none of their business. However, when self-employed, even on a hospital bed or in bereavement, one has to figure out how their office will run.


This article was first published in The Business Daily on September 3, 2019 as ‘Tech people make a venture to run smoothly’.

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