In Uganda, especially with the mushrooming shopping malls, hardly a day passes by without a new business being started. Based on that, many people and research reports have concluded that Ugandans are an enterprising lot. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report 2004 indicated that over one in every three adult Ugandans is engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activity, resulting in Uganda being ranked the second most entrepreneurial country in the world. However, the study also showed that the rate of failure of businesses in Uganda was also one of the highest in the world, citing that for every business that was started, another closed.

This means that there is high formation rate of new enterprises but also high failure rate of newly-formed enterprises. Likewise, a look at newspapers indicates that a number of businesses are being put under receivership. Therefore, it is one thing to start a business and another to sustain it.

Recently, I read something amazing about Chinese bamboo and the way it grows. I haven’t seen one though.

Once you plant it, you need to water it, nurture it, and fertilize it every day. But nothing happens the first year. You do the same thing the next year, and still nothing happens. That’s right, you see no results for 4 long years!

You’re waiting for results, not seeing any evidence of progress. Can you imagine yourself doing the same things every day, not having any evidence that your efforts are having any effect? The only thing you know, is that the result is supposed to come in 4 years. But then what happens on the fifth year is just awesome. One morning you wake up and see a small bamboo sprig, then the next day an even bigger one and in 5 weeks it has grown up to 90 ft. (27 meters)!


What do you think? Did the bamboo grow in 5 weeks or for the 4 years it was growing? Definitely, the bamboo was growing all this time underground with no visible results. It was building the strong foundation ready to hold the weight of the success.

Many young entrepreneurs start business after looking at very successful entrepreneurs and wanting to become like them instantly. What they forget is there has been several years of unseen success, of hard work, of watering. Chinese bamboo can give us a lot of lessons as entrepreneurs about success. Here are some lessons we can learn.

1. It all starts with a strong Foundation

To stand strong, the bamboo grows and develops its root system for 4 long years, so it can support the whole structure and weight above ground when the day comes. This support system enables it to survive in the harshest conditions for many, many years, thanks to durability, strength and flexibility it developed ahead of time. Many of us start businesses without building strong foundation. So any slight harsh condition sweeps us off our feet.

2. It takes small actions every day

In the early days, the bamboo does not grow overnight. In life, there is no such thing as overnight success. Yes, that’s true, in spite of what you constantly hear in the media and what we all wish. Real success takes time and diligent effort. You become successful by doing the right things on a regular basis to move closer to your goals. Small actions today make a big difference in the long run.

3. It takes persistence, patience and faith

Some dreams may take months or even years to accomplish. If you start working on your goals and dreams today, but don’t see immediate results, will you continue tomorrow? How much faith and patience will that require? Successful people don’t stop – they move forward, even if they don’t see immediate results. They know that if they put in the effort, doing the right things every day, then results will eventually come.

Remember, the Chinese bamboo story is a perfect example of that.

Don’t let your mood, circumstances or people derail you. Get started, and keep going. You’ll be amazed at what you achieve. And what is more important is who you will eventually become as a result.

Joel Aita

CEO Joadah Consult

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Written by A'ita Jaffer Joel (2)

An Infrastructure Consultant, Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker. CEO Joadah Consult

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