It is because of Greed.
I recently got to know of a business story gone sour from a friend. It is about a shawarma seller who had a fallout with his Media Manager and Strategist and it quickly degenerated into bad blood. While the Shawarma seller and people in his camp accused the Media Manager for being too selfish by demanding 20% of the business against the owner’s 30%, the Media Manager was somewhat coy, cowered into accepting that he should be helping people grow their businesses free of charge.
The Media Manager who polished the business, crowd-sourced the funds to move the Shawarma Seller from serving another to establishing his own in three short months, sent him to a ‘Cooking School’ and garnered multiple customers to the brand, that manager had to leave a business that just six months ago had less that 100,000frs to its name and no accounts.
According to the Media Manager, he wanted the business to keep 50% of its income as retained earnings, ploughed back into the venture to catalyze its growth. However, none of this was written down. There was no Memorandum of Understanding(MOU). It was a gentleman’s agreement.
This was poor on The Media Manager’s side. Make business, business. There is no need to be coy.
I have always been a cynical businessperson. I expect people to try to take advantage of me if I let them. That is why I start it off with an MOU. Yet MOU does not guarantee that an understanding will be executed and good luck to you prosecuting that in a Cameroon Court of Law.
I have had a couple of experiences where a MOU still did not make the unscrupulous partners play by the established understandings and this affects confidence which is a critical ingredient in investor’s decision.
A typical Cameroonian Entrepreneur does not understand or appreciate the importance of partnership, the value of exploiting the competencies of others and rewarding it. He/she wants to be Chief Executive Officer(CEO),Boss ,Chairman, Chief Financial Officer, Media Manager and Head of Strategy. He/She wants to keep 100% of a business that operates at less than 5% of its capacity, rather than leverage and compensate external resources through partnerships to get his business operating at 100% of its capacity. He sits in his greed and expects rake in lucre.
That is why a typical Cameroonian Entrepreneur cannot create jobs, hates paying salaries and complains on end about how the business environment is holding him back.
My little foray into the business world returned a worrying surprise. There are a lot of investors looking for great business ideas to invest in but so little brilliant entrepreneurs. It is sad.
A friend of mine called me to look at her business plan which she intended to forward to a prospective investor. I took a glance at it and asked her some straightforward questions?
“Where is your revenue model and your financial projections for the next five years? Where are your partners who share stakes towards ensuring that your business succeeds? How feasible are your market projections when you are just one man? Where is your shareholding structure? Where is your funding channels?”
I asked her to revert with the answers as that might come up during her pitch.
You want to float a multi-million franc CFA business and you want to go it alone because you want to reap massive rewards, that is a recipe for failure.
If you start a venture, be liberal with shares and stakes, pay people for what they will bring to the business. That you conceptualized the business does not mean that you can fund it, that you can fund it does not mean that you can manage it, that you can manage it does not mean that you can grow it.
Do you know that Mark Zuckerberg owns only 11.96% of Facebook?
And Bill Gates, the world’s richest man owns only 1.3% Shares on Facebook?
Yet Neba John, the son of Ngwa Solomon making ends meet in Bamenda wants to have 100% of a dead business that has close to nothing in the account.
BizFam, let us come off it. Immediately.
We need to collaborate and be willing to share controls in our businesses even as Startups.
I am often reminded of Carl Groeschel quote which is apt to this piece “You can have control, or you can have growth but you cannot have both.”
Cheers to growth!