Don’t be in a hurry: the road to success is never straight


I met a smart girl yesterday. She is in her Honours Year (financial management). I intentionally chose to sit with her at the University of Pretoria (UP) cafeteria. She was watching a movie on her phone so I assumed she was an airhead. But by the end of our meeting, however, I was left with “Wow, who would have thunk it?”

Never judge a book by its cover.

We spent close to an hour talking. It was about her ingenious business model. It was beautiful. One of the words I left her with was “People don’t act against your interest; they act in their own selfish interest and sometimes, the results negate your own interests. It’s nothing personal.”

She had been pitching her healthy food for pre-primary and primary to schools. She has a team, bakers, chefs, packaging, design team etc. Even took out a loan to organise an event to promote her brand but it all flopped. It seemed a lot of the school owners were acting against her interest, and she was discouraged.

She’d spent over 5,000 rands on websites which would have been their content marketing outlet but they were not landing clients. She felt the designers were also acting against her interest.

I asked her why she was not applying for the entrepreneurship incubator program on campus. She said she has everything set but all she needs are clients. That she had done too many classes on ideation, branding and building ideas into products. She just needed clients!!

I asked her, “Why do you think campus is where you will find these clients? If you don’t have family network to build your business on, you’d better join every institutional network you can find.”

I told her that the campus incubation program could be the right place to find investors and build a network. Immediately she checked the advert for the application and then realised that the program included a meeting with potential investors. It was like she had been blinded to that information because she was focused too much on what she thought she needed “clients.”

She mentioned that someone had advised her to host food seminars for free; to engage her prospects first before conversion.

I told her about my trainings in content marketing. How I’d discovered that people don’t buy from people who just want to sell. A lot of people buy after they have received value.

You have to use baits; education, entertainment, information and other free products to capture and engage audiences after which you work on converting them to sales using strategic call to actions.

For example, you have done a seminar on food then you ask for participants to submit their emails for a free brochure on healthy food types or diets. This gives you access to them and makes them actual potential clients.

She felt so relieved and excited that she was eventually getting validation on something someone had advised her to do. Again she saw how narrow minded she had been in not implementing this strategy which would have given her some progress towards the “clientele” she was so focused on finding.

Sometimes, the answer is not where we want or need it to be. We need to look away from our immediate needs, empty bank accounts, hungry stomachs, and allow ourselves to see the alternative routes to our goals.

In most cases, the pathway to results is not a straight line. Success is not a move from one point to another; most times it includes a lot of detours and cross paths, from one failure to the next till success is achieved. Don’t be in so much of a hurry.

Also remember, when people reject your offer, product or services, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Keep moving.

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