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By Bernard Wainaina
CEO,Profarms Consultants

In the course of my work as an Agribusiness Consultant,I meet both young and old clients who want to start new businesses,or inject new life and ideas into their already existing businesses.

In the course of drawing up the business plans,there are very many variables that are brought into the table for discussion;feasiblity studies,initial plans and action plans,clients managerial aptitude,planning,implementation,capitalization,cash flow forecasts,profitability,return to capital investment etc.

But there is one word that is actively avoided in all these discussions; FAILURE.

it is considered to be a bad omen to mention failure in business planning.

But it happens that businesses sometimes fail for one reason or the other.

It is inevitable, given the many variables involved in trying to make it work,that some variables that may not always be in our control may lead to business failure,for example,change in policy by governments,or staff mobility that works against the initial plans.

Starting three businesses –two of which didn’t take off the way I envisioned — taught me that while entrepreneurs should dream big, it’s
essential that we also plan for failure.

More than 90 percent of start-ups fail.

And recognising this right off the bat will prepare you intellectually, emotionally and financially, if your
venture doesn’t succeed.

Planning for failure doesn’t make you
negative or paranoid.

It makes you smart.

First, there’s a huge difference
between preparing for failure and thinking you’re going to fail.

The latter is highly discouraging and curtails growth.

The former, on the other hand, is about being practical and thoughtful
about all of the possibilities that may occur.

In some ways, it can even encourage
entrepreneurs to progress because being prepared quells fear and prods you to keep going.

I always plan for worst-case scenarios, considering how they may affect my consulting team,clients,their lives and how to mitigate them.

For example, I need to think ahead: What if we were to lose one of our
largest clients?

How would that impact our cash flow,
company morale and what would my investors,and bankers who have a stake in how my business performs think of the company’s outlook?

What about my other remaining clients?

Would they think that a pullout by my largest client is a vote of no confidence in my business?

It’s difficult to think of these scenarios, but I believe it’s necessary to plan for it.

In some cases, planning for failure helps me anticipate challenges so I can prevent them from happening.

Additionally, being honest with yourself and thinking about potential failure enables you to identify mistakes that you’re making in your business, so you can correct them more quickly along the way.

It helps you be more objective.

Starting and running a business can be a very emotional experience.

Your agribusiness company is your “baby,” after all,and it’s something that you’ve poured a lot of heart and passion into.

Forcing yourself to be prepared for
the worst can help balance that out.

How?

Planning for failure or thinking of an exit strategy pushes you to be less “clingy” with your agribusiness.

It forces you to look at the facts and unpleasant possibilities (no matter how difficult), thereby enabling you to be more analytical and objective.

Being a bit disassociated from your cbusiness also gives you more perspective because it allows you to
look at it from the vantage point of your investors or customers.

This, in turn, helps you generate ideas or even catch errors that you may have missed being too close to your business.

Toward the end of my first company’s existance, my I forced myself to
evaluate the business from a customer’s perspective,and I learned that the solutions I was building
simply did not solve a problem that was big enough.

I set my emotions aside and closed the business because when looking at the facts, I did not have a
business.

It was just a strong attachement to something that I owned which did not from my clients perspective meet their needs.

I would have not had the courage to face my failure so quickly if i didn’t plan for it.

Recognizing that you might fail keeps you on your toes.

Acknowledging the possibility of failure prevents you from being complacent.

Knowing that at any point your venture could take a wrong turn
keeps you from resting on your laurels, which means you strive harder and don’t let success lead to pride.

Never became too self-satisfied.

Remember it takes years to build a business and one simple mistake to
bring it all back to nothing.

Never lose sight of that.

It’s important to stay focused and hungry.

Planning for failure makes it easier to move on.

Preparation can help soften the blow in the event that your business hits the rocks.

Looking back, I don’t think I would have been able to move on quickly from my unsuccessful ventures if I hadn’t prepared for the possibility of failure.

When my first startup didn’t take off, I was prepared to deal with the circumstances.

I had planned for it mentally, emotionally and financially, and decided I wasn’t going to take it
personally, which was why it only took me two months to recharge and start my next venture.

No one wants to face the dreaded “Failure” word, but even the most successful entrepreneurs experience their share.

It’s simply part of the game.

And, who knows?

It could even serve as the foundation for something far bigger and better.

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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