There are times in business when in the presence of facts or the absence of, you’ve got this ‘feeling’. This ‘feeling’ or intuition (abstract at very best) could present itself as a warning bell or excitement. Many times, you can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s birthed from a sixth sense – one that somehow seems to have converged on you from the universe. Unseen, but a co-conspirator that’s somehow trying to guide you. Truly successful entrepreneurs have a heightened sense of intuition. They feel it and they trust it.
My run in with this sixth sense was a couple of years ago. It was the warning bells kind of sixth sense. I learnt that if something doesn’t feel right or you keep on getting this gut feeling that something is off, even though you can’t put your finger on it at first – start paying close attention. Chances are you are on to something and received wisdom is to listen to your gut and proceed with caution.
My company was in a business relationship that on the surface looked fine until I started to ask questions because I just had this uneasy feeling that something was not quite right. So, I probed for answers, to put myself at ease in the hope that this nagging feeling would subside. However, the more I probed, the more I realised my gut was on to something. The thing about a ‘gut feeling’ is that it doesn’t go away until it proves itself wrong or right. With every response I got from the company we were doing business with, the more I confirmed we were being misled.
What intuition did for our business was that though we did suffer financial losses, the loss would have been much greater had we not severed our business dealings at the time we did. That gut feeling lead us to ask questions we may not have necessarily asked and come to the conclusion that we had no confidence in the responses we were being given. The company we were doing business with did go bust 18 months later with a number of other businesses exposing the founder for giving misleading business information. Unfortunately for these businesses, they had made commitments resulting in huge losses. This was an e-commerce fashion retail business.
This was a hard lesson as an entrepreneur because when the warning bells started to ring, my eye was disproportionately focused on the money (as they were our second largest source of revenue); and not the risk to the business. So I could have acted on my gut feelings much sooner. With one lesson down, I’m sure there will be more to come on my journey as an entrepreneur.
If you have an uneasy feeling about something or a sixth sense (whatever you call it), pay attention to it as it may just be the saving bell that you need.
Mariatu Turay is a fashion designer and owner of Gitas Portal. Born of Sierra Leonean and Barbadian heritage, Mariatu left Sierra Leone age 16 due to the Civil War, and experienced periods of homelessness. Mariatu uses her work to promote a positive narrative about ‘Brand Africa’ and inspire women to boldly go after their dreams.@gitasportal