Oxfordson A.E. Obia was a security guard for a bank in Nigeria and on his spare time, he was trying to start a commercial farm with some land his family owned. He developed a business plan and he began looking for investors, but he was having trouble convincing people to fund his vision. Looking for some answers, he reached out to me asking for advice on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
Now I’m not necessarily a super successful entrepreneur, but I began to coach him and I was amazed at the results he came back to me with.
During my short career as a professional filmmaker, I learned a very important lesson and it was this:
When You Learn to Embrace Your Story in Order to Connect With What Matters Deeply to You, the Feeling of Success Usually Follows
Oxfordson already had a business plan, but he just wasn’t finding people who believed in what he was trying to do. Since I just met him, I didn’t really know what he was trying to do either so I started digging deeper.
I asked him why it was so important to him to start this farm. He then told me he wanted to put food on the table for those who are suffering from hunger and starvation. His goal was to cure world hunger.
This was really great to hear, but I knew there were plenty of other people who can say the same, so I wanted to figure out what made it so important specifically to him so I kept asking him further questions.
He gave me statistics on the need for commercial farms and how people were heading less towards agricultural jobs and more toward white collar professions. I kept asking more questions.
He shared with me how his heart poured out for the less fortunate and he was a humanitarian by nature, but I still didn’t feel I saw the whole picture yet.
The fact that he was putting himself out there to try and raise the funds for his vision showed this business mattered to him enough to have the courage to pursue it. I wanted to see what was really moving him to do this so I kept asking him more questions yet again and I finally saw a glimpse of his heart.
He began to share a story with me about how one day, he saw a huge crowd in the street and they were surrounding a woman who has been very badly beaten. He asked one of the people what happened and he learned she stole a few pieces of food from the street vendor and she got caught and was beaten as a result.
Oxfordson went over to the street vendor to find out how much the food she stole cost. It turned out to be 200 Nigerian Naira, which is equivalent to a little over 50¢. He paid for the food the woman stole then walked over to her to find out why she stole the food.
She was pleading for forgiveness and saying she was hungry and she also has two children at home who were starving just as badly.
Oxfordson escorted the injured woman home and met her two children. His heart was broken. The mother had to resort to stealing and almost got beaten to death for trying to feed her kids. This was the moment he decided he didn’t want to see any more people suffering from starvation. He became convicted to free the less fortunate from having to resort to stealing food and risk getting persecuted for trying to support their families.
I was moved, then I asked if he’s ever shared this story to any of the investors he approached who turned him down. He told me he hasn’t.
I simply shared with him I thought it was extremely important for him to share his story first to the investors he approaches and to let me know how it turns out.
A few weeks later, he reached out to me again and told me some amazing news.
Since we last spoke he’s connected with two investors and one of them has agreed to invest 5 million Naira (~$13,800 USD) to help him get his commercial farm started!
When You are Trying to Raise Funds for a Project or Business, People Care More About Why You Are Doing it Rather Than What You Are Doing
Oxfordson was talking a lot more about what he was trying to do by starting this farm, but not enough about why he was doing it. The personal story he shared helped others connect with him on an emotional level and they wanted to invest in his success as a result.
If there is a worthy reason why you are doing something, people join your cause. They want you to succeed and they begin believing in you. Even if you fail, they are likely to lift you back up and commend your bravery for trying.
If you have ever tried to start your own business and failed, what mattered to you enough to try and start it in the first place? What is the one important personal story you weren’t sharing that clearly shows why you are doing what you’re doing?
Please share in the comments below.