I recently met one of my childhood friends. As we enjoyed a sumptuous meal at a high-end hotel he reminded me that as children in a rural village we never dreamt of eating at such a place.

First, we did not know that such facilities existed; and secondly even if we knew, such hotels were beyond our wildest dreams.

We recalled how we struggled to go to school barefoot, laboured to help our parents in the farm, hunted wild animals and gathered fruits; sometimes endangering our lives.

It is something our children — born in urban centres with lots of indulgences and privileges – may term as hell on earth. He reminded me of something we often overlook; we are what we are today because of our past upbringing.

We are able to thrive in a fast-paced competitive world because of the tough life skills we learnt in our earlier daily struggles. Perhaps if life was easy and smooth some of us would not be where we are today.

Perhaps you have heard of the cocoon and butterfly story. We all know that a beautiful and colourful butterfly comes from a sloth, weak and ugly worm.

A man found a butterfly struggling to come out of a cocoon. For several hours the butterfly struggled to force its body out through a tiny hole.

When the butterfly seemed to be stuck the man decided to help it. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly came out easily. However, its body was swollen and its wings wrinkled and shrivelled.

The man watched the butterfly and waited for it to fly into the free world but it did not. Instead it feebly crawled around and died.

The compassionate man realised that struggle was necessary for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening to force fluid from the body into its wings and make it ready for flight after leaving the cocoon.

By saving the butterfly from struggle, he had deprived it of health and essential skills.

Start-up entrepreneurs are like a butterfly. They have to go through challenges to become tough and learn how to grow. Most entrepreneurs struggle with challenges such as lack of adequate capital, a hostile market environment, unsupportive family members and friends.

Such challenges should be taken positively because they impart priceless skills necessary for business growth.

Challenges in business, when taken positively, spark creativity and innovation. Getting it easy breeds complacency and lack of problem solving skills.

The greatest asset in entrepreneurship is not capital or a virgin market. It is the skills and experience we get as we struggle to steer business with limited resources.

This article was first published in The Business Daily on November 13, 2017.
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