By Kal Kassa
The areas we don’t take time to talk about because they are difficult to quantify or not immediately profitable. Or because our collective attention span is now the size of a TikTok video. Regardless, a well-intentioned and intimate business journey is almost always the most fun.
You’re gonna have to take my word for it, I’ve failed many times in my life. I know this to be true because I’ve counted. For example, in my business life, I submit more than 60 business proposals per year. A bit more than once a week. Most of these tend to be epic failures.
But over the years, I’ve failed so much, I now know the likelihood of my failings. If you’re a business professional in Ethiopia, I challenge you to dive into your own failings. It’s fun, but also very important. During these past 7 years in Ethiopia, I’ve looked at more than 200 business opportunities per year (both in-bound and out-bound). I know it to be true that on 92 percent of all of my proposals and quotations, I fail.
But, with regards to eight percent of my proposals, I find a relationship (with clients, partners, or advisors) that does, with the grace of God, give me a small taste of success. This is where I make my money and fund my operating costs. Normally that would be enough analysis on my sales funnel. But given my recent pandemic-awarded free time, I’ve dived deeper into my numbers of success and failure.
So, I found a few mildly-interesting things. Like that even my failures supported the overall mission in some unique way. Or that what I deemed a success, was actually not. But one significant type of failure, in the last few years of doing business, was crystal clear. My small business would be destroyed without timely access to my data.
There are only two times in my professional life when I was close to certain death (beyond a temporary setback).
The first time was in 2019 when I almost had my hard drive stolen in Addis Ababa. And the second time, this year, I accidentally deleted a Google Cloud account without proper backup. In both cases, I was able to safely return most of my valuable items.
My point is this. Your business may be in its nascent stage. Or you’re a big operation. But if you don’t have a good understanding of where your data is and the administrators involved, you’re in grave danger of a painful bottleneck.
The average Ethiopian in business is limited to the greater world that exists on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. There is no legitimate reason, of course, why there are a limited amount of developers and data professionals. Instead, the reasons come from limitations on the US Dollar for subscriptions to data and cloud technologies. Going through third-party providers may not always be available or cost-efficient.
And the vast majority of qualified technology professionals in the world simply choose to live outside of Ethiopia. There is more to the argument here. And thanks to the lack of solid jobs, there are also countless qualified professionals in Addis Ababa who tend to be underemployed or unemployed or working hard but still broke. So let’s be honest with ourselves and acknowledge this failure for one column. My rant is simple. Acknowledge your failures and protect your data. This may be in understanding the complexities and limitations of an ERP system.
And as with real life, this may be to never be a bad person on social media (it is already polluted with malicious data). But what should be most important is that my failure to secure a few terabytes of data is a luxury the vast majority of Ethiopians don’t enjoy. In real talk, we have failed to protect each other in real life.
And this failure, at a grander scale that I can’t begin to comprehend, is a collective failure we should understand and come to terms with. Not recognizing these historic failures would be the ultimate loss.
Kal Kassa is a Marketing Advisor.
He is interested in politics and loves coffee and business in Ethiopia. Find him on Twitter @KalKassa