As a given, I love having options, being my own boss. Doing things because I want to do them, when I want to do them. For me, this is why I figured out, I have to work, and make money because money enables me to buy my freedom. I know you like that too.
First things first; let me now take you back to a lesson I learned in my first year at university and which has kept me above ground. I may not be very wealthy yet, but I’m on that path, and yes, I’m rarely desperate. One thing I have grown to love about nature is its simplicity, but annoyingly how we humans take disadvantage of our consciousness and complicate things for ourselves amazes me. For example on money, the heuristic is easy:
“You want money? Good.
Where is that money? In someone’s pocket or bank account! Good.
How can you get that money to your pocket or bank account without stealing or scamming it?
Simple: selling something. Good”
Unless you were born with a silver spoon like King Oyo, how do you expect to legally get money without selling either a good or a service?
When I figured that at university, rather than ask myself, “why is my wallet empty?” my question was always, “what can I sell to make my wallet full?”
That is when I figured out, I actually knew this lesson way back when I was in Primary three though my grandfather could not let me answer it. We would move in groups from our village in Busamali, go to Bukhabusi around River Manafwa, buy sugar cane, particularly I used to buy six canes at 300, then sell each at 100 at home and to some friends at school thereby making 600, 50% profit. Hope you are aware with 300, I would buy a chapatti and food at school, and a lot more things. My grandfather however stopped me when he heard we always had to cross a river to buy the sugar canes. He wondered what I lacked to risk so. (They never figure out what we lack…hehe)
At Mbogo mixed, I realised that students would come out of evening preps very hungry. Somehow. They did not have the wisdom to stock any eats in the evening, and so after preps, they would hunger around some eating “CP” others begging from those who had biscuits and the like. (As I said earlier, nothing degrades me like begging!) Money did not matter because there would be nothing to buy. So I decided to buy some big “mandazis” commonly called “Munno mukabi” or “kaswa” which was at 300, then I would sell it at 500 at night or even 1000 when the demand is too high. People would come looking for me from every dormitory and because I used to buy only a dozen, many times they would find when they are done. Of course I was okay with keeping it low because I knew making it very grand would attract authorities and I would be reminded of some rules and regulations which always show up when they want to net you.
When the lesson of “Selling something” was now re-echoed to me by my friend Ogilo Ojijo at university in one of his books – at a time when I was really doing bad financially, I remembered that I had just forgotten something I knew from way back; so at that time, I saved, and partnered with a friend Begumisa Isaac to put up a popcorn machine, and a “sigiri” for roasting meat “mchomo” and bananas “Amookye”
So here are two lessons from me, to you today;
1. I have already demonstrated that the only way to make money is to sell something. Unless, you are expecting a handshake, (but even handshakes are for those who were selling something already.) Look within, look around, and ask yourself, “What can I sell?” Then once you get an answer, hit the ground, thank me later.
2. In my write-ups above, I have not talked about the challenges I faced, for example when one time, particularly the last time, the river almost swallowed us trying to cross and get sugar cane, then on selling the “mandazi” one time my stock was stolen and I lost all my capital of 1500, and also suffered the pain of not serving my customers, and at university I did not mention how the kid we hired to do the roasting disappeared with everything! So I have not said “sell something” is just that plain and there are no challenges. No, it’s a fight for freedom, freedom to make choices, to be your own boss, to do whatever you wish. So you ask, “Easy?” I say “No sir!” “Possible?” I say, “Yes, madam.”
That noted; let me debunk another myth, on Saturday last week, I decided to join my partners at Cabral rabbit farm and do the taking of orders, and serving of rabbit meat “mchomo” to our clients at The Heights, and guess what, my usual suspicion was confirmed. There were many lessons but let me try to share the most important in my view.
a) Whenever I tell people about rabbit farming, they ask me; but where is the market for rabbits in Uganda? That question means, as a people we have not realised what has changed about business in the world. Dynamics have changed, people now, create both the product, and the market for it. Let me quote one of the entrepreneurs that I admire, the late Steve Jobs, as Taleb Nicholas explains this point in his book, “The Anti-Fragile”
“Never ask people what they want, or where they want to go, or where they think they should go, or, worse, what they think they will desire tomorrow. The strength of the computer entrepreneur Steve Jobs was precisely in distrusting market research and focus groups—those based on asking people what they want—and following his own imagination. His modus was that people don’t know what they want until you provide them with it.”
You read it!
Where was the market for Whatsapp? How would we know we needed it if we had never seen it? So, those days before I exposed myself to some facts, I used to wonder too, where is the market for rabbit meat, I no longer do, and me I had another limitation. So because I never use super glue, I would wonder, “Who buys super glue?” But check all the shops and it is stocked, who buys it?
On Saturday, when I did the serving myself, we were supposed to run from 5 Pm to 9 pm but by 7pm, all the meat had sold out. I had to apologize and explain to our clients yet we had almost doubled the stock from the previous Saturday putting in mind that all Saturdays have one common ending; shortage! So as we struggle to build more capacity at the farm so that we can easily remove hundreds of rabbits from the farm every week, I leave the challenge to you, you can decide to sell the common, usual things like I did in school, and they are many; charcoal, greens, fruits, bakery products like bread, cakes, mandazi, chapatti, greens, eggs, juice or you can even go into new territory. I’m told we have people in Uganda selling tortoise soup and crocodile meat very expensively! Who buys it you wonder? Sell any of those, and use your education to do it better than the folks already. At the rabbit farm, we are very scientific, digital and formal thanks to our education.
I will never harass waiters and waitresses who delay to serve me again after Saturday. Just so you know it is not easy either, remembering all orders was hard for me, so next time we have developed a better way to note orders, at a certain point I had over 12 orders in my head, and also since the orders tend to flow in in throngs, we have to come earlier than we have been doing prepare as much meat as possible so we are not overwhelmed, and yes, if me, a former Guild President, national students’ President, lawyer, Masters student, author with at least over 10,000 people referring to me as “Your Excellency” can serve rabbit meat, what are you waiting for my dear friend to fold your sleeves and do something?
-See you at the Top!
The writer is a member of the league of young professionals – Uganda, a rabbit farmer and weekly columnist with The Muyenga Breeze, a publication for Muyenga rotary club.