At a recent conference, I heard Peter, a 38-year-old Ugandan businessman, tell about his crucial journey to Dubai. God had given him the vision to move from employee to entrepreneur. He knew it was time. He had all the expertise required to start a roofing manufacturing business. He had even saved enough money to start the business but didn’t have the money or credit to buy the raw materials necessary to make it a business.
Then he said, “I was suffering from the grasshopper mentality.” He asked the audience, “You know what that is, don’t you?” When he looked out at the 7,000 people, they must have all been nodding their heads in agreement. Peter didn’t explain it, and I didn’t know what it was.
I was clueless—the grasshopper mentality?
I turned to Pastor Elijah and asked, “What is that?” He said it is from the Bible, Numbers 13. I noted this reference in my notebook and couldn’t wait to find out what it was about.
Wing and a Prayer
Peter continued, “I didn’t have the confidence to fly to Dubai and have a meeting with the supplier. He would see me as a 28-year-old, inexperienced businessman with no capital and a startup idea. I was so sure I would never get him to see me. In spite of this, I called and set an appointment for Wednesday, 9 a.m. at his office in Dubai.”
“I had the money for a round trip ticket but no money for a hotel. The plane got in late, I slept at the airport, and then went to his office the next day. I prayed the entire way because I couldn’t get past my inadequacies.
“I walked into this Arab’s office, and he asked me what I wanted. I told him, ‘I am here to expand your business. I want to be your exclusive representative for roofing products in Uganda.’ He said he already had a reseller in Uganda. Thanks but no thanks.
“The Arab continued by saying I was too young a man to do business with. So I asked him, ‘How old is the man in Uganda you are doing business with?’ He said he was 72. That’s when I told him his current representative has 10 years left at most, but I have 50 years remaining in building a big business. I said, ‘You need to work with me so you have a prospering business to give to your children once you are no longer working.’
First the Arab Laughed
“The Arab literally laughed at me. That’s when I told the Arab, ‘If I walk out that door, you will be missing a great opportunity. I am the future of business in Uganda and Africa for you and your products. Are you going to allow me to leave?’
“That day the Arab supplier made the decision to give me half the Ugandan business with financing terms.”
The result was that in just seven years Peter built the biggest roofing manufacturing and installation business in Uganda. Peter has achieved the vision God gave him a decade ago.
Numbers 13:33 describes the grasshopper mentality. Moses sent spies to scout the Promised Land. Fear filled their report. Instead of seeing men, they saw their enemies as giants and themselves as grasshoppers. But two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, had a very different perspective. If you have not read this story, it is an interesting read with a great lesson for entrepreneurs.
Peter’s story had a big impact on me. He didn’t let his inadequacies kill the idea God gave him. Further, he didn’t project his inadequacies on the Arab. Instead:
He set the appointment.
Bought the plane ticket.
Flew to Dubai.
Walked into the guy’s office.
Closed the deal.
He conquered the grasshopper mentality.
Take action. Do the next step. Move forward.