I am a man of very few words so I would say this very frankly:
1)The “education system” in Nigeria is a scam. ( I said “education system”, not “Education”)
2)There are no jobs out there.
3)You need to add value to the society.
4)Your ideas matter & they are capable of changing the Status quo of society, if you let them.
If you are a person of few words too and you have read the 4 points above and truly believe them, then you can move on to another article, else, continue reading.
There are several reasons you should be working on a Startup of your own or helping a friend with a Startup. One of such reasons is that it’s the only way you truly get to use that amazing mind of yours & solve real-life problems. Academics is simple, really. Lecturers come to class (or maybe not). You get to know the scope of the course & topics you need to cover. You even get access to past questions and people who have done the course before that you can talk to. Startups are not so simple, infact I can say quite frankly that a Startup is the hardest thing you can ever work on because there are no blue prints, no guidelines, no benchmarks except the ones you create for yourself. And to do that, to be able to measure yourself on an unbiased scale requires a lot of sincerity & self reflection, traits that are currently lacking in the Nigerian youths of today.
Most people confuse “Startups” with “Businesses”, well let me draw the line. Contrary to popular belief, a Startup is not a small business, in fact a Startup is not a business at all. Simply put, a Startup is something you develop to solve real-time problems which eventually grows into a business. It could also involve solving a problem from an entirely new perspective.
So basically, problem solving is at the core of every Startup. Amazon was created to solve the problem of selling books & other products online, now it has grown to be the world’s first trillion dollar company. Uber was developed simply to help people find & share rides, now it’s worth 15.7billion dollars. These are ideas that never existed until they were executed and made to work.
You see, to solve problems, to really solve problems, you need to think differently. Do things differently in a way no one else will do them, but you. If you’re a graphics designer, or a tailor or a blogger, you’re not solving any problems unless what you’re offering is different from what every other graphics designer, tailor or blogger is offering.
A car wash that washes only cars is a business, but a car wash that doesn’t just wash cars, but also washes clothes, plates, houses & even people is a Startup. It’s what you do differently that truly makes all the difference.
Now, the truth is Nigeria needs more Startups than businesses. Our government has failed us and now it is up to us to proffer solutions to the problems that wish to completely consume us. You can easily start a business of selling clothes, for instance because your friend sells clothes too & he is willing to be your supplier. And you could be making a whole lot of money from this venture, but what problem are you truly solving? How have you been able to sell clothes differently?
Fact still is that just like its not possible for everyone to gain admission to study Medicine at the University of Ibadan, it’s also not possible for everyone to develop a Startup. So if you love to make money, then go ahead and create a business, but if you want to solve problems, then you should develop a Startup or help a friend that is currently working on one, perhaps you could become their cofounder.
When is the best time to Start a Startup?
Due to the frailty, risks and delicateness of Startups, the best time to embark of a Startup journey would be while you’re still very young, during your University days. This is because you would have less responsibilities and less risks should your Startup fail. This was a major factor that helped Mark Zuckerberg(Facebook), Bill Gates(Microsoft), Evan Spiegel (Snapchat) & the founders of Twitter to succeed. They started their Startups while they were still in the University.
I think it would be important for me to point out that 80-90% of Startups fail. Now you might be thinking:
” This guy is not serious o. He is telling me to come and be wasting money on something that has only 10% possibility of success. If my Startup would most likely fail eventually, why should I waste time working on it?”
Truth is Startups help you learn faster and better than you could ever think of.
I learnt website programming when I was in 200level. You know, the normal HTML, CSS & PHP stuff. But I noticed I kept on forgetting this codes & syntax often because I didn’t use them regularly. I didn’t need to. To my petroleum engineering brain, they were just jargons. So I decided to do something about that. I founded my first Startup, Ing-thing at the age of 17. I was a rookie at web development and I knew nothing about business & entrepreneurship. I won’t really call it a Startup because I just used my knowledge of web development to try to create a website that had the features that Facebook, Twitter & Instagram had. So it wasn’t a Startup like a fruit juice is a fruit. Ing-thing failed in less than a year.
Nonetheless, I got to learn alot about web development through the process and this laid down the blueprint for Tell!, the Startup I launched a year after Ing-thing failed.
If you want to learn any skill, any skill at all, the best way to do that is to use that skill often, and Startups provide an avenue to do that.
Bottomline is Startups teach you how to learn, how to accept & deal with failure, how to take initiative & do things without being told to do so. Our society values the value of money over the value of creating value & solving problems. Startups make you think different and prioritize solving problems over everything else.
When was the last time you heard that a fresh graduate from the University was made the CEO of a fortune 500 company? The CEOs of Google & Microsoft had at one time in their lives developed one Startup or another. That’s what made them more eligible to be made CEOs of these big companies. Great companies want experienced problem solvers to lead them, not people who would be learning on-the-job. Working on Startups provide these experience, not attending classes from 7am to 6pm.
In conclusion, if you want to be an employee, then stick to being academically sound only, you might get a job. But if you want to be your own boss & proffer solutions to major problems & make impact, then take that risk and Start that Startup!.