Normalizing the entrepreneurial story

Normalizing the entrepreneurship: worth it but very very very hard, and not the youth employment panacea that African governments (and some DFIs make it out to be)

Normalizing the entrepreneurial story

(Cover photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash)

This is completely normal:

"For the first 3 to 5 years, most elephant calves are totally dependant on their mothers for their nutrition, hygiene, migration and health. This period is used to teach the young one all they will need to know about the herd and their environment in order to be able to survive alone." ~

This is also completely normal:

Before you run, you must learn to walk. Before you walk, you probably need to crawl first (son #1 skipped crawling entirely...), before you crawl, you need to be able sit up. No doubt interspersed in all these steps are countless scraps from falls, not to mention lots of tears.

Applying these lifecycles loosely to the entrepreneurial journey, it is quite normal for an entrepreneur to make mistakes, lose motivation and energy, fail to delivery on expectations. The list can go on. We (at least in this part of the world) however expect them to be near super-human right?

Our society generally frowns upon failure: one is celebrated and propped up by (social) media when crushing it, and at the first sign of trouble is quickly discarded and put in their place (by the same agents) as one who has 'no clue', should go back to what they were doing, <insert dismissive comment>. It doesn't help that we so often compare ourselves to that person who (seems to be) making it in life - yet there's so much more to life.

That's why I'm glad there's more and more people coming out and sharing just how hard building and/or running a business is anywhere in the world - cashflow, missed deadlines, team dysfunction, etc. In Kenya, it's probably even harder with the current economic state, and if one is attempting to run a business ethically, well that now gets to a whole different level. It's a lonely journey and one can, quite literally, lose their mind, not to mention get into bad health as a result of stress, eating habits, lack of exercise.

So to more hard stories showing the normal, to greater empathy, to more support for entrepreneurs - not just when they seem to be doing well - but when they most need it. If an entrepreneur seems to get out of circulation for an extended period, it may be a good idea to reach out and find out how they are doing, as they may be in need of, at the very least, some encouragement.


Grab "The Hard Things About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz.

Looking for a 'local' version of this journey...