A certain businessman, apparently successful and admired by many, was once asked how he felt after starting a business from scratch and keeping it moving for 18 years.

After a deep silence and with remarkable sense of humour, he said, “There are certain times when I feel like a man riding on a lion. Everyone around is cheering or looking for space to behold this daring man on the back of the beast. However, deep inside I am sweating and wondering how in hell I got on the back of a lion and how do I get out without being devoured.”

Well, on the outside, entrepreneurs are cherished and admired. After all, they have freedom, money and all that comes with the two. But if you asked many of them, they would tell you it is not a bed of roses.

The high rate of business failure is a true testimony of the quirks of business.

The man ‘riding on a lion’ narrated how at some point he had borrowed from friends, family members, financial institutions and even strangers to keep his business float.

At some point, he thought of going back to employment but he could not. He had everything any employer in his field would treasure. But he could not be employed because he could not survive outside business- he was deep in debts, and he had mortgaged everything he had including utensils and bedding. He had to keep maneuvering his way hoping that soon things would get better.

Whereas there is no single prescription for business success, most experts advise that before venturing into business, conduct what is called a SWOT analysis – your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

 Not all people are cut out for business. Most people are in business today due to various reasons. Some could not find a suitable job, some were retrenched, while others were forced by family.

Some followed their passion and others felt they have the skills or competences that cannot be utilized elsewhere. Yet there are some who were forced by the necessity to survive.

Doing SWOT analysis before venturing into business for whatever reason, helps one to understand themselves and their surrounding so that they can make the right decision. It helps them to bridge the various gaps that every person has.

More often than not, the best business for you is not necessarily the one that seems most profitable. It is the one that you have a certain set of skills in that gives you a competitive edge.

There is no industry or business that is better than the other. Success in any business depends on several factors, some of which are beyond your control. For example, factors such as your abilities, timing, policies, economy and luck are key determiners of success.

Therefore, work to capitalize on your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses. Hire or partner with people who compliment you so that you can effectively take advantage of opportunities.


This article was first published in The Business Daily on February 26, 2019.

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