Your Job Will Not Last Forever. Do You Have a Plan B?

Dennis was one of the colleagues I respected. He was very organized and focused in his work. He maintained his diary perfectly and never missed an appointment. He was always on time and never procrastinated. He is the kind of employee every boss would love to have in his organization.
There are many people who change their employer a number of times during the course of their career, as they seek greener pastures. Not so with Dennis; he worked for the same organization until retirement, albeit in different capacities. It was painful to watch such a valuable employee bid all of us goodbye as he left on retirement. He would definitely be greatly missed.

I still remember the day a colleague broke the sad news to me that Dennis was dead, barely 5 years after retirement. Processing the news about the death of somebody one knows is always difficult and it was no different in this case. A number of staff members attended the burial of Dennis in his rural home. I was in that number that made the journey from the city to Dennis’ rural village. The situation we encountered was heartbreaking. We started noticing that all was not well during the preparations for the burial. The family was clearly struggling financially and depended on contributions from well-wishers to give Dennis a decent send off. But nothing prepared us for the situation we met during the burial… Dennis’ family lived on a barren piece of land that clearly portrayed poverty and destitution. Everything from the run down semi-permanent house to the few miserable cows was clear evidence of a family that was struggling financially. But that was not the most heart breaking part of the situation. Apparently, Dennis relocated to the village after retirement. He opened a butchery in the nearby shopping centre and operated it himself. He never quite succeeded and it seems like he depleted the money he was paid as retirement benefits. Balancing between providing for his family (including his elderly parents as well as 3 of his children; 2 who were at the university and one in high school) proved too much for his struggling business. He eventually closed the butchery. According to what we learned from his wife, he became withdrawn and angry and also completely antisocial. He kept to himself and rarely talked to anyone. The story ended tragically when he committed suicide by drinking some pesticide. Dennis’ story was one of struggle, frustration and lost hope.

I often encounter the emotion of fear when I bring up the topic of retirement to people who are employed. Many would rather live in denial about the fact that their jobs will come to an end someday. People are living longer nowadays and it is possible to live another 30, 40 years after retirement. That is a long time especially if one had not adequately prepared for it. Some would not as much allow any discussion about the possibility of building a business of any kind. Their fears are evident as they say that not everyone is cut out for business. Are you employed? Do you have concrete plans to ensure that you will be able to support yourself (and any dependents you might have) after retirement? If you have planned for that time, that is admirable. If not, building a business is not rocket science; the skills can be learned.

I would like to address those who would be open to building a business as a way of securing their future. It takes approximately 20 years of consistent effort to become financially free so do not expect to build a business to take care of you using your retirement benefits; that does not work. Do not expect to set up a business with your retirement benefits as it takes time to learn a particular business and to make it profitable. I have often had people ask me how much I am making when I am in the initial stages of establishing a business. The truth of the matter is that at that stage in the business, one is likely to be injecting money into the business but not making any profit yet. It is like finding a farmer who has bought a piece of land, has cut down bushes and ploughed the land and he is busy planting seeds then you ask him how much he is earning from farm. He is still investing and has not yet started getting returns. So it is with an investor who is putting finishing touches on his hotel. He has put in a considerable amount of money into his investment but he is not earning yet.

Business is a viable option when it comes to securing your future past retirement age. I would like to share some very realistic information about business, to guide you should you decide to use this vehicle to secure your future.

Building a Business is challenging; Don’t Take It Lightly

Do not just venture into a particular line of business simply because so and so is successful at it or because someone has advised you that the business is lucrative. Each and every one of us is unique. You are not so and so; you are you. Take a moment to think of your value systems; what you believe to be either right or wrong; morally, socially, etc. How did you come to own your value systems? Are they your own value systems (what you are fully convinced is right or wrong), or do you in reality, echo the words of others without critically weighing what you believe? Are there areas in your life you would like to change but you hold on for fear of public opinion, being judged, criticized, disappointing people, etc.? Most of us live our entire lives doing things and working on careers that our parents and friends have told us to do not knowing what our talents and passions are. In some cases children who discover and insist on following their talents are seriously discouraged by people who are close to them, including their parents and siblings. It is very common here in Kenya to hear all top students in Kenya saying they want to become doctors or engineers- without much knowledge of who they are or whether pursuing those lines of careers will be fulfilling to them. Listen to yourself even as you listen to others. Weigh carefully what you really want out of life and follow your heart. And don’t let fear cripple you and block you from taking action to secure your future. No one is born into this world knowing anything; everything is learned.

Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the line of business you wish to pursue. Visit such businesses and make your observations. Identify people who are in that line of business and talk to them. We live in the age of information so you can easily access any kind of information. Do your research about the business. Ask yourself critical questions such as whether you have what it takes to build such a business. For example, are you planning to start a matatu or boda boda (motorcycle taxi) business? What do you know about the business? What challenges are you likely to face as you build the business? How will you mitigate against those challenges?

Every business involves some element of risk. Are you going to put in all your savings into the business or will you have cash saved to take care of you and your family in case of unexpected eventualities? To what extent are you willing to go to ensure your success in the business? For how long will you keep going without breaking even? What are the possible sources of capital in case you run out of money before the business becomes profitable? Do you have crucial support as you build the business, such administrative support, book keeping and other critical roles in a business? Is the support reliable? To what extent will you go to ensure that you become competent in running the business? Are you opening to undertaking some training if it proves to be necessary? Will you invest in your personal growth and development, top of the list being working on your mindset to ensure that you have what it takes to build the business long term?

This is A Great Day To Build A Business

The day we are living in is very good for starting a business. The population has grown tremendously in the past few decades so there is high demand for goods and services. We also live in the age of information, meaning that there if free flow of information. It is now very easy to access any kind of information including information about new ideas and business opportunities. Building a business has numerous benefits and not just the monetary ones. You have a chance to exercise your creativity and introduce something unique to the world. Building a business helps you to grow at the personal level as you handle different challenges that come your way. It is also good for your self-esteem as others looking up to you with admiration because of the contribution you have made to the world.

This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter; a network marketing professional, a life coach, personal development mentor and blogger.

Financial Independence Africa

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