Setting Up Your Business to Be the Favorite of Banks and Investors
Strive Masiyiwa, a committed Christian businessman, is currently one of the richest men in Africa. Here is what happened after he first tried to obtain a loan from a bank and was turned down.
… the Bank Manager had turned me down for my first loan application. What was I to do next?
In the Bible, a great king, told his son, “With all thy getting, get understanding.”
One day I had the opportunity to discuss my problem of raising money from banks with a well established business elder. He listened for a while and then said to me, “you are a very good engineer, but you need to get a better understanding of how banks work; you talk about money and banking like a man in the street. It might get you into politics, but it will not help you succeed in business.”
After such a stinging rebuke, I don’t think I slept much that night, but I knew he was right:
Always seek to get deeper understanding of an issue first. Never accept that anything is as simple as it looks, in fact when something looks really simple, then you should approach it with caution, particularly if you have never done it before.
I could have railed in anger at the criticism that day. I could have told him I have a degree in engineering , and I majored in economics; or I could have argued with him and told him what I thought of the system. However, if I go to someone for advice, I do not argue with them or use it as an opportunity to show them that I am smart; that’s dumb! I knew that none of that mattered, I was doing something I had never done before and I needed to get “understanding of it”.
…If you have never done it before, get understanding.
…If you want to improve, get understanding.
…With all thy getting, get understanding.
I began by drawing up a list of all the banks in the country, and all the financial institutions that provided any kind of financing for small businesses. I began to research every single one; I wanted to know everything about them:
* How much money did they have?
* How do they make money, as a business?
* Who managed them?
* What was their lending practice?
* Which one is considered accessible, and why?
It was a research project that I developed at a time when there was no Internet, and very little public information. I was painstaking and thorough, and it took me months. I did not rely on hearsay because I am always professional about what I do, I always check out facts.
I completely changed my circle of friends; hanging out with other young business people, and always asking about how they raised money. If I heard there was a business meeting, I always tried to get in, and I was always taking notes. I spent hours every night at the local university library. I had become a student again! Oh how I wish there had been the Internet in those days!
I bought books and read articles about financing of small businesses. I soon had a whole bookshelf on the subject. I bought books on how to prepare business plans, and how to make presentations. I had to wait for months for some of these books to arrive. This is how I approach most things: I do my research.
I had determined in my heart that if only $1 was going to be made available from the whole banking system, it would have to be to mine! There would be no “hit and miss”.
Read the rest of the story of how he eventually got every loan he needed here.