I started my search for a publisher in earnest. In our part of the world where publishers are merely printers, I did not find any difficulty chancing on many, leaving me with the dilemma of settling on one. But eventually the decision in this regard was settled: ‘Thank God I have a publisher now,’ I said with a giggle of relief.
Once that had been settled, I kicked off the writing of my first book titled: ‘Dates with my eyes’, with the excitement of a hare in a race.
My enthusiasm for that project was egoistic as was it a point proving adventure. Having emerged the overall best communication student, I thought writing a book will not only add to my credentials but also the initiative will go a long way to affirm credibility for the honor and the responsibility that such a feat naturally imposes. Again, for my family and friends who joined me to celebrate that memorable day, I thought there couldn’t have been any other way for them to benefit from my intellectual gift without reading something that has been exclusively attributed to me. More so, I wanted it to be said that I was the first among my graduating class, if not in Ghana, to have authored a book while still undertaking my national service.
While the financial factor wasn’t the overwhelming motivator, I was certain that my good intensions and efforts will be financially rewarding. Effectively, I was inclined to the belief that beyond the luxury of celebrity or local champion status that the project will bestow unto me, I will also be able to recoup the amounts that I had expended in order to get the book published, advertised and distributed.
But I have come to the sudden epiphany that time is not only a healer of wounds but it also puts to rest doubts and brings finality to any uncertainty. All my estimations for the project truly did not materialize. These projections, as I will later come to terms with, were utopian and far-fetched. May be, I had not taken time to truly analyze, well ,my intended target or perhaps some degree of cynicism could have helped disabuse my mind of these projections and save me the stress and distress that reared its head in the course of the project. But what can I say? Am I not merely a man, who proposes and wait on a powerful celestial force to dispose? Are my projection not but a mere predictions? I will usually quiz when the thoughts of failure come haunting.
Needless to recount some of the harrowing tales and experiences that my first book project courted for me, I would have had many dimensions to hit at if I could allow myself the latitude of taking my own failure on. But it is not the challenges or disappointments of failure that I want to dignify in this piece. Indeed, doing same will be counter-productive to the lessons that I continually read about how people have defied failure, however recurrent there were, to succeed. This piece is to share some of the lessons that I gleaned from my book project. I think these lessons will be good for everyone seeking to enter into the entrepreneurial fray. I am still hankering and craving to be one. Documenting these lessons therefore, is my surest bet of correcting the wrongs or rights that eventually did not unfold to my benefits
Prepare for the plot to your own Story:
You will have your own story to tell, whether good or bad. Sometimes we relish the stories of people in a passive way. We quote them and think that by following their words, we will surely be shielded from meeting our own challenges. While, taking a cue from the failure of successful people is inevitable and can spare one the trouble of repeating a failure, we should be aware that we cannot run away from the challenges that our own situation throws at us. Indeed, we also need to be prepared for the challenges that will form the plot for our stories. Jesus Christ did not even indemnify us against the possibility of encountering challenges in our bid to succeed. In the bible he is quoted as saying: ‘‘To follow me, deny yourself and take your stake.’’ While his perseverance and endurance served to motivate and goad us on, He equally acknowledged the need to psyche us up for our peculiar stakes. The point is that every entrepreneur must and should be ready for their own story. It may be a onetime success in some instances, but for many, their road to success will be marked with recurrent challenges which will require the fortitude of an equal measure. Entrepreneurs need to know these facts; otherwise some few confrontations with failure will get them in a quitting mood.
Manage and Contextualize expectations:
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and dreaming big, but when doing same destructs you from keeping tabs with some fundamental realities then it becomes problematic. While I acknowledge that my expectations for my first project were not met, I have not had any occasion to be worried or feel disadvantaged. This is simply because I have come to agree with Murphy’s Law: ‘If it can, then it will.’ I tell myself that even if this first project does not turn out well, it will be another plot for another story that someone will stand to benefit. Contextualizing my expectations in this way has helped me to overcome some of the disappointments and bitterness that should ordinarily come with failing.
Vigilance: Check, Check and Check again:
A lot of the challenges and disappointments that come our way stem from our lack of vigilance and attention to details. I truly think that the tale may have been different were I a little more vigilant and curious. Perhaps, I thought, I were. If there is any doubt, refer to the title of my book (Dates with my Eyes). Indeed, the excitement and the fulfilment of having accomplished a feat blinded me from seeing some petty irregularities on the part of my publisher. Not only did he do a poor job in proof reading after I have personally made some corrections on several occasions, he couldn’t even count 200 books correctly. How these and many other anomalies went unnoticed is a mystery to me even till now. For one to succeed as an entrepreneur, the role of vigilance cannot be under-estimated. I have come to a point where relying solely on other people’s judgement for a decision has become very difficult. Quite frankly, (I think and may be it will take another experience to change it), every entrepreneur should entertain some degree of cynicism and not just accept things at face value. Remember that many do what is inspected and what is expected, your failure therefore to be vigilant will equally make you entrepreneurially irrelevant.
Delay Instant Gratification:
This point has strongly been used by many financial advisers. To them, one of the ways of keeping a firm grip or mastering one’s income is for them to develop the discipline of denying or delaying instant gratification. Upon further reflections, I have come to the realization that although the idea of authoring a book within national service period was laudable, racing against time for same was needless. Perhaps, doing otherwise could have spared me some of the hasty decisions which eventually took a toll on my book. Entrepreneurs must learn to not only delay financial transactions that give them instant gratification but more so, they must learn to extend that idea into any other form of decision or transaction. This will spare them some needless risks.
Your Constituency as an Entrepreneur.
Who believes in you? Are they ready to reward your prospects and talents financially? Until you come to the point where you can firmly and fully convince yourself that you have such category of people as part of your constituency then it may serve you well to wait. I lost count of the number of times I had to adjust the price of my books. Not that I did not believe that it was good enough to merit the price that I had assigned. The fact was simple: People wanted them for free. From the response that greeted my social media advertisements, I was certain that a lot of my prospective customers were not doubtful of my ability to script down my ideas. The Facebook likes and Comments were enough to convince me that people were eager to grab a copy for themselves. However, what I did not pay attention to was whether or not they were ready to finance their desire.
To achieve success as an entrepreneur, your constituents must not only believe in you or be desirous of your potential but most importantly they must be willing and ready to activate or translate their desire or believe into a purchasing process. Need I remind you that in Economics, it is said that demand is when desire is consummated with a purchasing power.
These lessons stem from the context of writing a book. Perhaps they may all not be relevant in your peculiar situation but I am certain that some will surely be of essence to you. For the established entrepreneurs, I look forward to your feedback on this piece. #Still Learning.#
Author: Samuel Osarfo Boateng,
Freelance, Research/Communication Strategist