“Hey, don’t sleep, no sleep

Wake up, collect your money”.

This phrase speaks business sense to me. Curled from the lyrics of ‘Buga’ by Kizz Daniel, this song rose to becoming the most Shazam’d music in the world not long after its release.

Inspired by the first few lines of the lyrics, I thought to share some business insights for startups, young entrepreneurs or small business owners.

One of the greatest ‘scam’ in the world of business is this phrase “ we will do great things together in the future”. Before you cast your first stone, please give me a chance to argue my case.

When you hear such statements, there is nothing wrong with it except when it comes from the place of undermining your current value offering in exchange of a non-guaranteed future reward. Don’t confuse this with “sowing and reaping”. The principle only works when your seed is sown in the right soil and you can be assured of a good harvest. In my experience spanning over a decade of business consulting for African and European startups/SMEs, I can tell you that only a meager percentage of those “ future promises” end up getting fulfilled. Here is why:

1. No one can guarantee you the future. It’s just logical. The person making such promises is also not guaranteed of tomorrow. Life happens guys. People can change jobs, leave places, lose control(power) or even go ‘underground’. There is really no such thing as a future. The future as it were is nothing more of a complex tool to manage our aspirations while balancing out our frustrations and agitations. We never live in the future, but we live every day in the present.

2. Let’s assume that you would work together “in the future”(whatever that means) with a prospective client, this is by no means the reason why you shouldn’t get some level of value for your immediate service in the present. It is only those that are alive tomorrow can reap the benefits tomorrow brings. If you keep postponing present-day compensation from clients in the hope that your business will get dividends in the future, you may not have a business when the future eventually comes. Growing up as a teenager in Lagos, Nigeria, I recall seeing many shops having this sign on their doors “ Business grows when Family and Friends pay for services rendered”. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that the reason for this signage on doors of small business owners was due to the fact that many friends and families were of the tribe of “we will do many things together in the future” a.k.a “add it up, we will pay later”. Current national data at various levels will fail to show the number of businesses that have collapsed traceable to clients (including family and friends) who just kept postponing compensation owed. The demise of these businesses is largely rooted in holding on to futuristic promises beyond what their present structure could carry. Don’t join these statistics.

3. Real partners are not those who rub you off today’s compensation (especially when its within their power to pay) with a mirage of an ‘El Dorado of promises for tomorrow’. The actual clients that will eventually be beneficial to you will not mind compensating you (no matter how little) for the present-day value you give while still bringing you referrals without your direct nudge in the coming days… There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the rewards of a value exchange today and still working together in the foreseeable future. As a matter of fact, the great future collaboration envisaged should be premised on the success of the small business engagements we are having today. Why sign bigger deals if we haven’t passed the test of faithfulness on smaller deals. You have to keep your guards up against clients or business partners fixated on getting you drained till you have no business to run. Every good business partner or client understands that the current global economic outlook is one to be careful about. Inflation is not smiling (Nigerian parlance) and currency devaluation is hitting hard on many small businesses in different economies.

Before another ‘client’ comes knocking and trying to “Buga” you with no see-able compensation for your worth, let the phrase that re-echos in your ears be “Wake up, collect your money”. Cash is king and you must remain fluid to keep your business afloat.

Development Consulting & Collaboration !