Climbing out of the box

Written by Balloon Ghana Fellow Efua Mercer

I have always been a little put off by the idea of being a business owner. I have instead opted for the path of the office monkey: putting in the hours; rising up the ladder and the salary scale; corporate politics; grey pencil skirts. It is easier to get on with something you know how to do, something with a direction and operating framework.  I have always had the desire to climb out of that box but through lack of confidence and fear of the unknown have never really committed to the action. After all, it’s so warm and cosy in the box. Something has always been missing though. A sense of fulfilment that can no longer be plugged by expensive holidays, sports, or fancy shoes to go with the grey pencil skirts.

Either way, who is to say that this will be achieved by climbing out of the box? It is an idea that needs to be tested. I am currently in testing mode. Testing is a key part of what we communicate to the entrepreneurs. Find a minimum viable product, discuss it with members of your customer segment and get out there and test it – see what flies. This is the effectual approach we learnt in the first week of the programme. It encourages you to avoid incessant planning, something I am usually prone to.

So here I am, doing rather than planning. I am brainstorming ideas and testing them with ambitious and hardworking entrepreneurs, seemingly restricted by their environment and lack of resources. I say ‘seemingly’ because one of the key things I have taken away from the programme is that we are most determinedly restricted by ourselves. Our own fears and perceptions. It sounds innately cliched but it has to pointed out, anything is possible. Ok, almost anything, let’s not get carried away now, the box still exists and even if we don’t live inside it we will be required to visit it every once in a while, to get a bit of paperwork signed off, or speak to our customer segment. Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we can set our own direction and are blessed with the resources, capability and intelligence to do so. Throw in a touch of determination and we have a plan. Except we will not spend too much time planning we will be doing; small small as you would say in Ghana.