By George Ogunbande

Starting a new business at a relatively young age was a big deal. I constantly got frightened and happy at the same time and I have come to realize that owning a business comes with its ups and downs, sometimes more of the downs.

We mistakenly think owning a business automatically leads to being on the Forbes list, but the truth is you may end up being on NO LIST. With my curiosity to know how I can get established as an entrepreneur, I discovered five levels of entrepreneurship by business coach – Bradley J Sugars.

Level Zero –  Being an employee. People often think entrepreneurs start in their mother’s womb, well sorry to burst your bubble, nobody was born an entrepreneur. It takes constant self discovery and experience to emerge at the top. Getting the necessary experience is never a waste of time, being under the tutelage of another experienced ‘master’ will not only give you an edge, but it will also help you to know the rudiments of the business.

Level One – Self employed. This level is when you are self-employed, and excited to learn new things in the business. At this level you will make mistakes because it’s a new business, and building the business is the most important thing at the stage.  You may fail in one or two or three businesses but the important thing to remember is that these businesses are just stepping-stones to the right one.  Throughout this level you learn everything from finance, sales, marketing, human resources, to emptying the trash can. The business becomes like a chainsaw, and the cash flow moves up and down. Also at this level  90% of small business owners go back to stage zero-being an employee because they cannot keep up.

Level Two – Manager.  At this level you have started to employ labour. This level is also known as the merry-go-round stage, where you have a high turnover of employee. Wrong people are often employed at this stage because these employees are just looking for a paycheck, most of the work is often done by you (the owner) because your total number of employees are not enough to carry out the tasks.

 Level Three – Owner. Here you may probably own your own home, car, e.t.c but the important question at this level is: can your business make profit without you? Entrepreneurs must realize that this level is not the end of it all, you must have future plans for your business in order to stay competitive.  There are two sides to wealth; Cash flow and Capital.  Cash flow indicates how much money you have, and Capital indicates the non-cash assets you have. Some entrepreneurs are asset rich and cash poor, in this scenario you won’t be able to sustain day-to-day business activities. What usually happens is the owner begins to sell assets for cash. Both sides of wealth are extremely important at any given time so as not to sell assets to sustain the business or exhaust cash without valuable assets.

 Level Four – Investor. This level is all about assets return and refinancing. The key action is investing in other businesses, real estate, and the stock market.

Level Five – Entrepreneur. The final stage involves using other people’s ideas, money, talents and time.  Partnering with other people who are more experienced in the business to generate more market share. Customers are the sole targets of products or services, and you must make sure you are constantly listening to them and anticipating the trends. This does not mean you can dictate for them. Now make sure you do the learning in order to do the earning.

George Ogunbande is based in Canada, runs a blog called Change and Revolution, which celebrates Africa, African politics and Afro-Preneurship.

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