Take a pen and paper, and start making a ‘assets’ and opportunities list as you read this.
It’s frustrating when there’s no job, no funds, and no help forthcoming from anywhere. You’ll be ready to start a business at that time without anyone prodding you, but yes there is no capital. What next? That’s what we will attempt to work through in this today’s no-MBA.
There are opportunities everywhere. I suppose it is only in war-torn and peace-less regions, famine-stricken or emergency-mode lands that we can really say there are no or little opportunities to step out and fight out for a livelihood.
What is the problem then? Why are we unable to tap these opportunities? Is that we don’t see them? Well, on one hand, it is not everyone who has the eye for spotting a business opportunity. Do you wonder why in some cities in Nigeria you find several people starting up enterprises in the same industry niche? You’ll find someone open up a cooking gas-filling business and then boom you find gas-filling spots all over the community. In my thinking, this is where the no-capital problem stems from and gets exacerbated.
When people want to start a business, what comes to most people’s mind is to also start one of the many common businesses they see around them. And so they think like “I would be able to earn an income if only I could get some money to start a clothing store”. Why a clothing store? That’s another topic; that of how and why people choose a business in Nigeria.
If you haven’t started because you do not have the funds for that specific business, then you are lucky to find this article today and I hope you will allow the argument here to sway you and and get you to consider the points we’ll layout.
In business and economics, the two most common types of capital are financial and human.
What is capital?
What is a capital in business? Capital is the money or wealth needed to produce goods and services. In the most basic terms, it is money. All businesses must have capital in order to purchase assets and maintain their operations. Business capital comes in two main forms: debt and equity. – Inc.com
Capital is a term for financial assets, such as funds held in deposit accounts and/or funds obtained from special financing sources. Capital can also be associated with capital assets of a company that requires significant amounts of capital to finance or expand. – Investopedia.com
The meaning of capital that I find very commanding for our subject is a definition that goes beyond the financial and the obvious. I don’t know much about the Corporate Finance Institute, but I found their page on capital a working guide to motivate my arguments. The following definition is from CFI.
Capital: Anything that increases one’s ability to generate value
There you have what capital really means, at least according to some thoughts. So when you say I’ve got no capital you are simply saying you have nothing, or have access to nothing, you can use to increase your ability to generate value.
Do you really agree with those thoughts that you have nothing that can be used in providing value to others? Let’s see a list of things you have that can be converted into generating value.
The capital we all have
- Your geographical location. Starting from your street to various key areas in your village, town, city, or state that you have easy access to, make a list of natural or physical resources, notable infrastructure or structures which may be present at those locations.
- Other people around you. This may be strange, but other people within your image vicinity form part of your capital in a way. They are there to ‘tap’ for enterprise purposes and business-related ends in a variety of ways. Make a list comprising of every member of your family, friends, and neighbors. For each person, include their skills, talents, employment, qualification, business, products, position and such notable details.
- Your social group. Your church, mosque, or community group you belong to should be added to your list.
- Time. You must heard the saying “time is money“. People use this phrase to highlight not to waste time but I think it is also a true fact. So if you’ve got time, you’ve got capital. In a number of nations, services are paid for based on the number of hours spent working on the task. Add the number of hours you have available for work daily, to your list.
- Your character (your personal brand). What positive attitudes do you possess? What have people complimented you for in the past? What are the values and principles you live by? Add all those to your list.
- Your personal experience (your story). We all have one story or the other but there are some unique, notable happenings and experiences that are special. If you think you’ve had one experience that’s uncommon to others around, add this to your list.
- Your knowledge, skills and education. Skills were cultural in ancient Africa. You get them from your family and the society. In modern Africa you get know-how via apprenticeship or through formal education. List all the skills you have acquired over the years.
Activate your list for the ‘capital’ needed
The list you’ve compiled is a range of potential opportunities waiting to be tapped by you. How you approach the task of converting the list into a business is left to you. You may have seen some patterns emerging. For instance you may find out one aspect of your list is full, loaded with entries while another may have fewer entries. That in a itself shows you the areas where you have more things you can leverage on to start a business.
You should begin to look at opportunities available to you as a result of each of those entries in your list. For instance some financial or small business grant may be available through your social group or your local government.
But you should look beyond money; that is the essence of this article and the list you created. Look at how you can turn what you’ve written in your list into a business and therefore to money.
Can you offer any of the services that your strongest connections on the list need? You’ve got time, they need a service that requires your time and one simple skill you have or can get someone within your close circle (something you observed from your list) to provide, and there a business is born.
Approaching people with a service is definitely more respectable than sitting down unemployed or approaching them for money for some ‘great idea’ you have. The moment you spot a gap that you can fill for others with nothing more than what is available to you, the limitation of ‘no capital’ is removed.
Take a look at your list; there are likely channels for the capital needed, and also and opportunities for starting a business in that list. You only need to connect those things you’ve listed.