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It is the dream of many young men and women world over to one day own their own businesses no matter the nature, size or field, the desire of being a business "owner" remains real to many.

Over the years, there are those who have made the stride successfully and today remain proud business owners. This lot will attribute their achievement to various factors including savings from their secular employment, loans from financial institutions, inheritance or initial capital from a family relation like the Dangote story, pooling funds together as a team, etc. This lot seems to be the common route to business ownership world over. This lot also gives the impression that a person must have some tangible foundation available to start from. Yes, if possible, having a tangible starting point is praiseworthy. But does this mean those who have NO capital base to start from are doomed from owning their own businesses?  Not at all and we shall delve into arguments that show that IT IS POSSIBLE to start and own a business even if you may not belong to what we may term the 'privileged' group of starters.

The first among these arguments is that your "THINKING" of owning a business is already a very valuable starting point much as it can neither be seen nor touched, yes "thinking" is nothing touchable, but it is a resource available to those branded "poor" as well as the rich, it is the origin of all great businesses and other institutional ownerships, it is a business originator affordable by everyone. As the saying goes, 

"It all starts in the mind"

With focused thinking on the line you want to tow, mentally creating a visibly real picture of your dream business in your own mind with the hows, whats and whys of it clearly at the back of your head provides that first impetus to get going towards the proverbial promised land. 

In her empowering article entitled "Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro: Lessons In Self-Leadrship" found on the platform, Miranda Naiman makes a very intriguing observation which can be applied to "thinking" as a great intangible capital to starting and owning a business, she says 

"What the mind can conceive, you can achieve"

What she says is a truth that could see you in the class of reputable business owners if only you practically heed it. You maybe asking yourself: well, how does "thinking " and the "mind" which are both "nothings" touchable facilitate the starting and owning of a business?

Let's together go through the mind of an entrepreneur who starts and owns a restaurant in a section of a city. How did it start in his mind? 

a) Our restaurant owner walks along a street and notices the absence of restaurants as he searches for something to eat or just gets asked by a visitor in the locality for directions to a restaurant

b) he realises in his mind that the only restaurant is quite a distance and maybe not to relative standard

c) his mind gets to work on the kind of restaurant the area requires 

d) he THINKS and notes what it would take to have a restaurant in the area

e) The THINKING leads to the "how" to find start up funds

f) meanwhile his passion leads him to understand more about the trade by spending time with the right people in the industry and or studying more about it

g) which leads him to THINK of writing a feasibility study worth financing by an institution or individual or just providing him with  a clear picture of how much he needs to save

h) these all are refined in his MIND until he starts saving and sourcing till its enough to 

i) buy his initial requirements and pay initial staff or

j) take lessons and source a friend or family to support in doing it himself/ themselves for the start and at this point, what was conceived in the MIND through just THINKING has already become a restaurant which may become a three star hotel with branches across other cities.

If you do not have it clearly CONCEIVED in your mind through FOCUSED THINKING, it will remain a distant dream. Yes starting and owning a business all starts from nothing tangible but the mind through focused thinking. 

Sometimes it may take several attempts before you make it, but if you did serious "thinking" that developed into a passion with clear intentions and determination, you will keep on keeping on, no matter how many times till you make it. Please research on the history of KFC that is currently a global brand and you will be inspired to keep on keeping on till the little seed you had in your mind becomes a GIANT REALITY. Colonel Sanders' endurance till he made it is an inspiring study recommended for all young and old "dreamers" alike, its dreamers who create the dream worlds into reality!

A word of caution: many loose it at just the SAVING point because once the money starts being seen, then wants that are deceitfully taken for needs become hard to resist. You will see an attractive phone or watch and borrow to yourself the savings saying, "I'll replace it", a beautiful attire or some outing, etc keeps eating the savings thus, unfortunately so, postponing your dream business until probably indefinitely. IS IT POSSIBLE for a young lad to avoid this pitfall? YES DEAR, IT'S POSSIBLE? Then How? 

Tim Ferriss speaks for many who have come from " nothing " to becoming  business owners when he advises in the words (ref. "Four Hour Work Week.." by Tim Feriss)

"To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through SACRIFICE of common but over estimated things" (capital emphasis added)

True, if you do not tighten your belts and shut your never satisfiable quest for the overly rated so called good things of life before you reach your goal, you may as well sit on your butts and wait till death do you part before achieving any goal of business ownership. The premature enjoyment of the goodies of life has seen many a young one's capital that has been painstakingly  accumulated starting from "nothing" disappear just like the sweetness of a sweet dream but only in an early morning dream: you wake up and it was JUST A DREAM, non existent anymore!! 

Once you have gotten started, however small your beginning, maintaining pace is important, step by step while gaining expertise that only experience provides: some experiences are really hard and send start up owners abandoning their dream businesses but perseverance pays where appropriate, as the Kiswahili saying goes: "Mvumilivu Hula Mbivu"  (the one who perseveres eats that which has properly ripened). Some experiences are sweet. Eventually only the sky can be your limit. 

Bottom line is that you can start and own a business even if you may yet have nothing at the time of starting your dreaming, it all starts IN THE MIND then sooner or later the support systems will flow to you even without your bidding. Once you break through the tough founding stage people will bring themselves to INVEST IN YOU and you will be the real deciding "Boss MKURUGENZI" not just "boss" ('mkurugenzi' is kiswahili for "director"). Once you reach the " Boss Mkurugenzi" stage, WHI you deal with and HOW you tread your grounds matter a lot because going back to start from "nothing" due to the factors just cited among others, is always an ever present danger worth being aware of, and that is a subject for another good time for your good.


At the "thinking" stage, many young ones and even other age groups tend to think of urban related business areas such as selling phone and computer accessories, opening boutiques, groceries, bars and other mainly urban class, white collar related services and products. 

But if you consider some of the biggest brands like Bakresha of Tanzania with tentacles across East and Central Africa, Mukwano industries of Uganda among others,you will realise that THINKING OUT OF THE BOX pays. They are deeply entrenched in Agriculture which many, especially the urban youths seem to not consider. Agriculture has an ever present market: if you choose any of its vast sectors then maintain quality and consistence, you are on a good trajectory!  Sometimes you are better off being a meaningful fish in an area not overly dominated by too many big fish and a million hungry small ones. Again bottom line is: where your passion is, that's your best bet to start from, but remember, just as you at first may have no feelings for someone but later from "no where" become madly in love with them (whatever L.O.V.E means to you), yes, PASSION for a viable business  can be cultivated too if you make the effort to properly and determinedly CONCEIVE IT IN YOUR MIND, nurture it well and follow through.

Can You Start A Business From "Nothing ":  When you understand where KFC emerged from and many more other such stories that you personally may know, the answer will be our truly true: YES DEAR, IT'S POSSIBLE!

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Nelson Ebong
Written by

Nelson Ebong

Being Of Effective Service by sharing knowledge and skills both experiential, which is most impacting, and learned, which can be hypothetical but all the same essential in the journey towards the mastery of living that is fulfilling and positively contributory to improving our world

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