Q&A: I didn’t win the business funding competition, now what?

I shared this question earlier for others to comment but I promised my own detailed response.

The question was:

“What I actually wanted to do is agricultural related, I have the zeal,quite some knowledge and passionate about it, but the thing is my hope was for some competition I entered in,which so happens that I wasn’t selected, and that was my only hope, looking at the fact that it’ll still take me a year for this competition to resume gives me a heart ache.
1.Are there any companies or firm or even an organization that offers some sort help in form of loans or any other good terms and conditions?
2. Am just blank I don’t even know my next move now. Thank you!”

MY RESPONSE:

To start with, commiserations on your loss of the business funding competition.

Take a moment to grieve and complain over it.
I said A MOMENT because the rest of this rather long post is going to be tough love.

You see, I have been in business full time for 6 years now. Although to be perfectly honest, it’s been much longer than that because even in University, I did some side hustles. Even while in a full time job, I also had a side business. But that’s a story for another day.

However, 4 years ago, I was in your position. I had run out of working capital and closed my business. That sucked. So basically, I was starting from scratch. I was out of employment. I wanted a loan.

No, I desperately NEEDED FUNDING. I wanted someone to invest in my brilliant business idea. Banks promised loans but never kept their promise. I made so many follow-ups, wrote business plans and just kept on getting disappointed.

They would give excuses that they are currently not giving loans but would soon start. I know that’s a lie. They do give loans but selectively.

I know how it feels, because during those days I felt so disheartened. I complained a lot.

But how long can you do that? How do you benefit from complaining?
I stopped complaining and asked myself how can I use my existing resources, knowledge, skill, experiences and contacts to make money?

This is why I am a firm believer of
STARTING WHERE YOU ARE, with what you have.

Find your ideal customers. And NO, IT’S NOT EVERYONE. Ask yourself what you can do for them with what you have which they can pay you for.
Then start helping them and getting paid even if it’s a little.

I have also lost different business plan competitions. When it first happened, I felt so discouraged but I don’t anymore.

I started where I was with what I had.

THAT’S WHAT YOU MUST DOo.

I know you want me to say try this or that institution because they give funding. But trust me, if you have no practical track record of actually doing your business, IT’S HARD FOR ANYONE TO GIVE YOU MONEY FOR YOUR BUSINESS. You have to start, keep records.

Here is the beautiful thing. When you start with what you have, show commitment, seriousness, passion, determination and some promising results, something beautiful starts to happen:

PEOPLE START LOOKING FOR YOU.

Your know those banks that claim they don’t give loans? They will start calling you. Yes, they do that. They also want to make money and lending to successful people is their dream come true…OK, maybe am exaggerating but they do call once they are happy with your account’s performance.

I know this because this is the stage I am slowly entering. You might have seen that I recently went to Durban. It wasn’t a holiday. It was an invitation based on what somebody has seen me doing.

After that, two other opportunities have come to my attention.

I can tell you now that some great opportunities are simply not available to people who only have ideas and nothing else.

Meanwhile, I don’t live on Mars. I know that money is necessary, even at the beginning.

What can you do for now?

Use your savings. I am currently doing an expense tracking challenge on my public Facebook page. I want people to see how much money we waste.

I used to run so broke and never used to save. Are you saving any money from your salary?

When I was in full time employment, we even had a running joke with my workmates about sweeping and mopping the account before the next paycheck. ZERO SAVINGS.

Where is Aggrey, Toz, Fred and the other guys when I need the evidence? BTW, I was the only lady in a group of new engineers to join the mines because as you know, engineering is still largely male-dominated.

Anyway, I digress.

Start saving. You can manage because somebody somewhere is living on LESS THAN A QUARTER OF YOUR INCOME.

Use your savings, partner with others who have money or other resources. You said you need land. So many people have land but are too busy to do anything with it. Use savings groups, try crowd funding, renting equipment or land instead of buying, look for other funding opportunities like TEEP and others.

This is business my friend. That is why it’s not for everyone. If you feel it’s for you, you have to hustle, network, acquire knowledge, educate yourself, ask others for help, partner with them, use your initiative. PERSIST. Things don’t come on a silver platter.

But when it works, the satisfaction you can get from running your own business…aah…I can’t describe it.

Too beautiful.

I hope this helps. If you have further questions, you know my number and email.

Drop a message. Please NO PHONE CALLS ok? That just disturbs my hustle.

If you take this seriously, then I will see you at the top because that’s where I am headed.

Cheers,
Susan Mwenda-Mulongoti(BEng)

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