The Failing Entrepreneur

I was the poster child for entrepreneurship – my restless spirit and ability to seize opportunities where other people couldn’t see it earned me the nickname ‘The Bull’.

While in university, I chaired the investment club and set up several thriving businesses; I believed in the principle – never pay twice for a service you can render – meaning I would only pay for something I could not do by myself. I executed a lot of deals and in instances where the capital requirement was too large for me; I would structure the deal and earn a commission.

My love for taking calculated risks and the rush of watching an investment mature or a deal come to life made me the go-to person for business advice. So, graduating from the university, I knew there was only one path for me – Entrepreneurship. However, I also knew I had a lot to learn before being ready to run my own business.

I got a job with a top investment firm and gave myself a 5-year timeline to learn as much as I could and contribute significantly. As the years passed, my skills grew and so did my pay. I was always pulled in on big investment deals because I had the ‘Midas touch’, and this attracted loads of promotions and perks. 5 years turned into 9 years.

On my 9th anniversary at the firm, it hit me – I had given so much to the firm that I completely forgot about my dream of being an Entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the rewards, but I could actually be structuring these deals on my own and giving other rising stars like me an opportunity to be great.

I became restless and sought a lot of advice, after all the voice of men is the voice of God, right? My wife was super supportive and our families believed so much in me that they were willing to invest in my business. I had everything I needed to start – a conviction in my heart, a supportive spouse and a large capital base.

The first 3 years were fantastic, you know the saying that the first few years are the roughest and toughest? Well, that’s not my story. My business was growing, my clients were excited and my small team was doing great. It all felt so right like this is what I was meant to do.

The deals became bigger, and like all things in business: the bigger the deals, the riskier they are. I knew I needed partners and a larger pool of staff – it was time to scale up!

No, you guessed wrong… it went downhill from there. I have seen it all – from staff who are lazy, to those who want to poach my clients and those who outrightly want to steal from me. Oh, please don’t get me started on the partnerships – partners who refuse to hold up their ends of the bargain, those who inflate deals for kickbacks and those who want me out of business.

Let’s just say, I haven’t had much luck with expansion and the people involved. Who would have thought that structuring deals and building a company are completely different? It feels like a house of cards, and the weight of the collapse is falling squarely on my shoulders.

Today, I woke up in a pool of my own sweat. Why? It’s because I have a meeting with my bank and they have offered to give me a Bank Guarantee to back the biggest real estate project I have ever invested in. This should be good news, right? What happens if I fail? Everything else is already going wrong, what’s to stop this one?

How do I tell my wife that I can’t keep going, or my investors that I failed them; if I can’t even admit to myself that I have given up?

I am almost sure I heard God clearly, knowing full well that I read all the signs correctly, now sitting in front of my mirror trying to make sense of it all; praying for a miracle, God seems silent and the heavens sealed shut.

Maybe I should not have quit paid employment, and even if I did, maybe I should have left it as a small business; I was just fine until I tried to scale up. Go big or go home right? Maybe it’s time to go pack it up and go ‘home’…

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