To succeed in business, broaden your horizons

Wednesday March 18 2020

To take risks, we have to accept that trying only the things you can control limits you. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an entrepreneur I admire.

He was contemplating buying a business he could not afford. He was just recovering from an acquisition he made few years ago when another opportunity presented itself.

He told me something I will never forget: that he had to allow himself to contemplate the possibility. If he worked only with what he thought was possible, he would not even think about it.

However, if he allowed himself to think about figuring a way out, something might happen.

Even if he did not get the desired result, he would have learnt something that would change his approach and prepare him for the next opportunity. This blew my mind.

No matter where you are and what your aspirations are, I think he presented fundamental lessons we can all use.


First, seek more than what is within your immediate scope. These opportunities came his way, not because he sits at his desk and surfs the internet or comments on everything under the sun on social media.

It is because of exposure to the right networks, and, most importantly, conversations. Too many of us limit our conversations to people in situations similar to ours.

We have realised that when people are experiencing financial challenges, they want to have pity parties with people like them.

What you should do is talk to someone you believe is “doing well”. They will teach you something.

Even if you think you have reached the peak of your career or are financially well-off, there is still something you can learn.

I have been in business for over a decade but when I meet people like this businessman, I feel like a start-up.


Second, think beyond your immediate capabilities. You should be doing what you know how to do, no bonuses for that.

But strive for what you can’t do. If you can save Sh20,000 a month, strive to do double the amount. That will make you think about what you could do over the weekend to earn extra money.

Doing only what you know makes you comfortable, but it is a scary way to live. Why?

When you try something new, there is the risk of failing. However, it also offers an opportunity for success. The hope of succeeding should be greater the fear of failure.

I loved our conversation because, although this entrepreneur knew that things might not work out, he was still prepared to give it a try.


I have also learnt that in life, you just have to try things, but often, you cannot control the outcome.

It might not be what you expected, but then again, it can also be better. To take risks, we have to accept that trying only the things you can control limits you.

This ties in well with the final lesson. He said the experience would prepare him better for then next opportunity.

I think the primary purpose of our goals (which should be bigger than us) is character. You will definitely change the way you think when you aim high.

You can’t make millions with a shilling mentality or behaviour. Those who have tried to take shortcuts usually end up worse off. To whom much is given, much is expected.

The expectation starts before you receive the gifts. Preparation meets opportunity.


You can’t get a better job by being mediocre at your current one. Maybe the opportunity is even in the same organisation.

Your character should match what you want, and our experiences help us in this regard.

Even failure in one thing is simply a stepping stone to the next opportunity. It is not a reason to hide for the rest of your life.

And when you succeed in one venture, it prepares you for the next. New visions are always unfolding. The goal is not to become complacent or comfortable.

So I urge you to contemplate taking advantage of opportunities that come your way. Allow your mind to think about how it can be done.

Engage in conversations that you feel are bigger than you reap the rewards, whether a favorable result or lesson learnt. And most importantly, to watch yourself grow. It is doable.