Are you really an entrepreneur; a person who takes risks to create change? Or are you just one of those multitudes who hide under the title of an ‘entrepreneur’ to make ends meet?
So much Fuss about Entrepreneurship, Yet so Little Impact!
Why? Because many people going about with the title of an entrepreneur are not really in it to create change (significance); they are in it to make a living (survival). And when survival is the FOCUS, then mediocrity becomes the OUTCOME.
What we see are a bunch of businesses offering inferior goods and services yet charging exorbitant prices at the very expense of their stakeholders; customers, employees, suppliers and society in general. Their singular focus is on what they will get (profit) rather than on what they will give (value). If you went into business or your reason for starting a business is to make a living (survive), I suggest you re-evaluate your options and go back to the drawing board again.
Going into business simply because you want to make money (profit) is far too much a price to pay as an entrepreneur. I mean isn’t that what employees do; working nine-to-five in order to make ends meet? Why in the world would you choose to become an entrepreneur (be your own BOSS) just because you want to make a living when there is already a far more easy alternative for that –employment. If you are so much in need of money in order to make a living (survive), please go get a job and stop wasting your precious time posing as an entrepreneur!
Entrepreneurship is Beyond Survival
Survival (making a living) is not the goal of entrepreneurship but rather significance (making a difference). You would greatly be doing yourself a disservice if you became an entrepreneur simply to make ends meet. You are only short-changing yourself on the long run because entrepreneurship demands more work from you than an average nine-to-five job ever would.
Entrepreneurship is not the ideal choice for those who simply want to get by in life (survive); entrepreneurship is the ideal choice for those who want to live life according to their own terms and therefore will demand more from life in order to get what they really want (significance). Entrepreneurship is not for those who take what they are given in life and in self pity call it their fate, NO!
Entrepreneurship is for those who take what they are given in life and rather than accept it as their fate, go all out using what they have been given to get what they really want. Entrepreneurship is about using your life to do what you really love and truly care about –passion. It’s not about submitting to the status quo (enjoying comfortability); it’s about challenging the status quo (creating change). A true entrepreneur at their very core is a renegade; someone who is bent on creating change even though it means going against the norm. Does this sound like you?
If that description doesn’t go down with you well enough, perhaps it’s never too late for you to take a critical decision and make a u-turn rather than continue on this path of the less traveled. If your goal is to get rich quick as an entrepreneur rather than making a difference by doing what you love and truly care about, then you might also have to make a u-turn right now, back to the place where money and survival is the goal – employment.
The Purpose of Entrepreneurship
Now I know you will be having a tough time swallowing all these hard stuff and probably wondering what the heck is he talking about? Saying to yourself; “shouldn’t we as entrepreneurs make a living or what?” Or put in another way; “shouldn’t we make money our goal, for crying out loud isn’t that why we are in business?” And here in lies the very reason why most entrepreneurs fail in business.
Focusing primarily on the end (output mentality) thinking only about the profit that is to be made forgetting that the end will only come as a result of diligence and commitment in the beginning backed with an unwavering discipline and persistence in following a process (input mentality). The simple truth is;
Money is the reward (product) NOT the goal (purpose) of entrepreneurship!
Entrepreneurship is much more than making money. It is a calling. And like every other calling, it’s people-centered. It’s never about you, it’s all about others. It’s a calling to serve; it’s not about what you can accumulate (money/profit), it’s about what you can contribute (service/value).
Why do I say this? A calling is a strong urge to follow a particular career or do a particular type of work. The emphasis here is on the word ‘follow’ and to follow means to come after somebody or something. Meaning; you being an entrepreneur cannot choose yourself. You are chosen.
Entrepreneurship is not something you suddenly choose to do or pursue. It is something you are called to do – a pathway you are called to follow. In other words, you are not the ‘doer’; you are only an instrument. It’s not about accumulation; it’s about contribution. I know all these sounds a little strange, so I am going to explain further.
Here’s the deal; in all my humbling experience both as an entrepreneur and a business development consultant, I came to this singular conclusion; that an entrepreneur is simply a problem solver, no more, no less. This definition is owed to the fact that entrepreneurs are nothing if they are not meeting the needs of a particular group of people, known as the customers or target market as the case may be. Without these people, an entrepreneur would never have considered starting a business in the first place. Here is what I mean.
The Starting Point of Every Entrepreneur is Either;
- The recognition of a need (problem) or
- The conception of an idea (solution).
When an entrepreneur recognizes a need (problem), he goes in search of a solution (product or service) to meet that need. And when an entrepreneur conceives an idea for a product or service, he goes in search of a group of people who have a need for it.
In either case, the entrepreneur is always in search of something or going after something. Entrepreneurs do not exist for themselves or by themselves; they depend on something out there; something beyond them before they can birth whatever it is they carry.
They don’t do, they are being used. They don’t create, they are instruments for creation. They don’t start the process; they only complete what has been started. They see a need they didn’t create (problem) and find a way to fill it (solution).
In other words, an entrepreneur is but an instrument of nature; a servant to customers functioning as a problem solver to humanity. This is why entrepreneurship is a calling and not a money-driven venture (profit) but rather a value-adding venture (service). And like every other calling, it has its own reward.
For example; the reward of good leadership is committed followership; the reward of a good teacher is a knowledgeable and changed student; the reward of an inventor is the birth of an innovation and a missionary wins souls.
Likewise, the reward of a good entrepreneur is profit. In order words, the reward of an entrepreneur’s call to create a value-adding venture is profitability. This is where money comes into play. The money comes only after a value-adding venture had first been created.
So, going into business with the singular goal of making money is as simple as putting the cart before the horse. What most people fail to realize is that, money is a reward (an outcome/output/end result/product). It doesn’t just happen on its own; it is the result or product of a particular activity or input.
It never did or will never happen on its own, so making it the goal of going into business is choosing to fail from the very start. I say this, because the purpose of a business is not to make profit, but rather to deliver value to customers.
Businesses don’t Exist for Profits’ Sake; they Exist for Customers’ Sake
And these customers exist because they have a need or problem that needs to be solved. Indeed, anybody fit enough to solve these problems automatically becomes an entrepreneur.
Therefore, an entrepreneur is someone who has answered the call to solve a problem (input or activity) for a set of people (customers or target market) and gets money (result or outcome) as a reward for being able to accomplish all these things.
Understanding this chain-like relationship is what clearly makes entrepreneurship much more than making money. The goal of any entrepreneur going into business should not be what he will get (output or result) but rather what he will give (input or effort). This is because what he gets (money or outcome) is directly tied to how much he can and is prepared to give (effort or input).
Your capacity to make money as an entrepreneur is greatly dependent on how much problems you can solve or solutions you can proffer to customers’ needs or problems. So why focus on the end, when the end is unattainable without the beginning? Your focus as an entrepreneur should revolve around the problems you can solve for people.
How well am I solving this problem? How many people out there have this kind of problem and need my solution? How may I reach them? Who else is out there solving this same problem for people too? How may I do better than this other person? These and many more customer focused questions are what an entrepreneur should go into business to answer.
You as an Entrepreneur have but ONE Task;
To either solve one problem for so many people or
Solve many problems for a few people.
This is what your focus should be, because your reward (money) is tied to this. The more people you solve one problem for, the more money (reward) you stand to get and the more problems you solve for a few set of people; the more money (reward) you also stand to get.
Looking at several examples of successful entrepreneurs all over the world reveals the fact that at the heart of entrepreneurship is the provision of solutions to the day-to-day needs of society. Ask yourself why Richard Branson’s Virgin has become so successful? Have you ever wondered why Microsoft remains the world’s leading computer software company? All these case studies exemplify the true essence of entrepreneurship –providing solutions to the problems and needs of humanity!
Thanks for reading!
So why did you become an entrepreneur?
Kindly share your thoughts and comments below, I’m sure someone out there will find your story useful.
How is your business helping someone?
Never before in the history of humanity have there been a time as this when the whole world seems to be realizing
finally, the very intent and purpose for creation – collaboration. The stiff competition that often characterized the industrial age is gradually giving way to this new age where passion thrives and information rules.
Businesses are beginning to awaken to the fact that unless there’s something SIGNIFICANTLY unusual about their business, there’s no way they are going to remain relevant.
It is increasingly becoming obvious, that the businesses that will thrive in this new age are those who are consistently willing to touch a heart before asking for a hand – being helpful.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are out to get before giving.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not different and making a difference.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not unique and being useful.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that don’t stand for something.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not contributing to the success of their customers.
In this new age, the law of exchange which states that; ‘to get, you must first give’ is the standard on which every business that aspires to grow must be built.
Every site I visit is now giving away something, mostly an eBook in exchange for my email. Everyone is sharing something, whether it’s a link on Twitter, a video on Youtube or a picture on Facebook. The whole world seems to be in the business of helping someone.
To thrive in this new age, being Helpful must become your new business model. Woven under the very fabric of your business must be a strong desire to help. Your business must be built on the principle of helping someone accomplish a particular goal or objective as a result of coming in contact with the product or service your business offers.
Looking at this concept, two words come into play, business and model. For better understanding, I am going to separate them and look at each individually, ok?
The Meaning of Business
A business is a social institution that provides a product or service to a particular group of people known as customers or clients for a particular agreed fee or price.
The first word in the definition that I will like to talk about is social institution. A business at its core is purely built on social interaction. Meaning, everything in the world of business revolves around people. Your employees are people, so are your customers and your suppliers and bankers and lawyers and partners or investors. There’s no way you can do business outside of people. So what does this suggest to you?
It clearly means that to succeed in business, you cannot avoid dealing with people and when people are involved, the golden rule must apply; “do unto others how you would have them do unto you.” Underlying the golden rule is the law of exchange [giving before getting] at work.
Going back to the definition, you would see the law of exchange at play again. How do I mean? You would notice that the definition of business clearly states that a business must first provide [give] products or services to a particular group of people who would then pay an agreed fee or price [get].
In other words, you are not permitted to get until you give. Therefore, business is a discipline that involves dealing with people through the provision of goods and services that attract payment in return.
The meaning of a Model
A model by itself is the interpretation, representation or simulation of a theory in real life. It’s how we mentally try to imagine or portray what a theory, principle, concept or idea will look like in practice.
According to Dr. Phil Walker,
“Models are used to help us understand how things might work in real life. They are the mental representation of an outward reality. A good working model must be exact enough to give us answers to how things will work yet flexible enough to allow for adjustments and changes.”
In case all of the grammar in the definition above didn’t sink, here’s one that might sink. I’m sure you are very familiar with models, they come in different categories; we have beauty models, fashion models and role models. Picture a fashion model for example, what do they do?
They basically portray how a particular design of an apparel or clothing will look like when worn in real life. They are in other words, the representation of what the cloth will look like on your body. Merely looking at them gives you a clue of how it would look on you even though you haven’t actually worn the cloth or apparel yourself. A model works basically in the same manner.
Looking at another example, role models, we all know what they are meant for. They are the physical representations of what we would like our life to look like when it is finally done. They give us a clue that when we lead our life in a particular way just as that of our role model, eventually we’ll be just like them. The same again, is how models in business work. They give us a mental clue, representation or interpretation of what a concept, idea, principle, thought, philosophy etc. will look like in reality.
What is a Business Model?
In the words of Seth Godin;
“This classic MBA phrase describes how you set up a business so you can get money out of it. A business model is a machine, a method, a plan for extracting money from a system. Without a business model, a company can get publicity, hire employees and spend money, but it won’t make a profit.”
1. HIRE THE WORLD’S BEST ATHLETES AS SPOKESPEOPLE. Buy an enormous amount of advertising. Use the advertising to get every sporting goods store to carry your products. Make your product overseas for a very little money. Charge very high prices.
2. FIND LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT CARE ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES. Offer them a free water cooler if they allow you refill it. Earn money by making deliveries on a regular basis.
3. CREATE THE OPERATING SYSTEM that runs every personal computer in the world. Then use the power you gain from knowing that system, which controls the computers, to create software, web sites, online services, even travel agencies.
Permit me to add a fourth one; I’m sure you would love this one.
4. CREATE A SOCIAL UTILITY that will allow people to socialize by connecting and sharing things with family and friends online for FREE, then make room for businesses, celebrities and organizations to also do the same, but charge them a token for this in form of advertisement to those who use the platform for free.
You must have probably guessed right, FACEBOOK’s business model.
Therefore, a business model is the way a company has decided to setup and portray itself in such a way that it is able to attract money [get] by providing specific products or services [give].
It basically serves as a framework, blueprint, or prototype that attempts to describe or capture the underlying, thought, philosophy, idea, concept, principle, or mindset that will drive or guide the operations of a business in real life in a way that will allow it to be profitable.
It’s an ideal representation of what the operations of a business would look like in reality woven around a particular mentality or philosophy. That is, it gives a clue about how your business should be done in the real world. A business model is not the same as a business plan.
A business plan is a strategic course of action. Meaning, it basically outlines several action steps a business should take as regarding different aspects of its operation.
A business model on the other hand is not a list of action steps, it is not as tangible or concrete as a plan, but rather, it’s a conceptual or mental projection of your business when it is ready. It doesn’t present action steps as a business plan does; it presents the actual picture of the business when the action steps have been executed for maximum results.
The business model is what is underneath the business plan. Meaning, a plan is built on a model. So without a model, a plan cannot be created. A model is what guides the creation of a plan. It is the business model that gives a business plan its inherent meaning.
Creating A Plan Built On The Desire To HELP
The desire to help must underlie everything your business represents and does. You can have the best business plan in the world, if it is not built around a strong ideology or philosophy of helping others [those you’ve targeted to be your customers], then your plan is as good as useless.
Your business must be built on and around the desire to sincerely provide help in the form of product or services to those it serves. How you create, communicate and deliver this help is totally up to you, but the key thing here is to understand that help is the new business model.
That is, helping people is the new way of looking at and doing business, unless, you don’t want to succeed. Therefore, only those companies who are in the business of providing help will succeed in this new age.
So What then is the Meaning of HELP?
Help in the context of business and in life, means the same thing. A business provides help so do other non-profit making organizations concerned about certain aspects of life too. While a business provides help for a FEE, non-profit organizations provides help for FREE. Whichever way you choose to look at it, they are both in the service of providing help.
Help means Value. Let me be more precise; help is adding Value. Value is anything that is capable of providing satisfaction or gratification in one way or another to an individual or group of individuals. Value is something that is worth something to somebody. Value is anything that can be measured as a unit of satisfaction or gratification irrespective of personal preferences. If it can be quantified, then it has value.
How to make HELP Your New Business Model
1. Definition of HELP:
The first step to making help your new business model is to sit down and define what you want to call help in your business. Every business cannot provide the same kind of help, so it’s highly important you define your own kind of help because this is what separates your business from all others who are in similar industries or providing similar products or services.
So what kind of help do you want your business to provide? In other words, what kind of value do you want your business to be adding to its target customers? Your first task as an entrepreneur is to identify and define the value [help] your business is offering or bringing to the world.
2. Creation of HELP:
The second step in making help your new business model after identifying the kind of help [value] your business wants to offer the world is to ask yourself; how do we create this help? That you have identified your company’s definition of help [value] doesn’t mean your company currently possesses or provides that help.
After all, you cannot possibly give what you do not have. So the next step is to create your own version of help [value] which you’ve decided to offer the world in exchange for money.
3. Communication of HELP:
No one will ever know that your business has identified and created something of value to the world if it never comes out to proclaim such a thing exists. There are a million and one people in the world who are in need of the kind of help [value] your business has identified and created, it is the responsibility of your business to make the existence of such help known to the world.
This is the place of communication. You have to announce the existence of your company’s rare kind of help [value] so that those in need of it can come for it while giving you money in exchange for the help your business provided.
4. Delivery of HELP:
The final step in making help your new business model is the actual delivery of the help you have identified, created and communicated to the world that your business offers. In delivering the help [value] you want to be sure that it is exactly as you have communicated.
You certainly don’t want to over promise and under-deliver. So make sure you deliver on the same quality and quantity of help [value] you have previously communicated. Doing this makes your business indispensable in the eyes of the world or those you serve.
Over to You
So over to you my dear reader, how has your business been able to define, create, communicate and deliver help [value] to the world?
I know you want to make profits. I also know that you want lots of it. I have come to tell you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, except for one minor often neglected fact, which is, “what is the origin of profits?”
In my little experience in the world of business, going to 5 years now, I have discovered one truth and have often made it the guiding principle behind most of my business actions and decisions.
That truth is this; “building credibility comes before profitability”. In the lay man terms, here’s what I mean; “seeing is believing”.
I cannot stress this fact enough, because it is at the core of everything we do as entrepreneurs. People don’t pay for or buy words, or promises, or mind blowing ads, they pay for and buy results.
There’s no way you are going to get money from people, until they can see, feel and know that you can deliver on your words, promises and mind blowing ads.
It is not easy to part with money, because it is not easy to make it in the first place.
This is why as entrepreneurs and business owners, your first task is to instill that sense of competence, credibility, capability or trust in the mind of your target market or prospects long before you ever ask for a sale.
Listen, “seeing is believing”, take it or leave it.
People need proves that they are not throwing their hard earned money away as a result of doing business with you. They want you to show them why it is you and no other person or business that should deserve their hard earned currency. This is the test of every business; the fight for the customer or prospects’ money.
This article has been unusually written to help you win that fight, not luckily, but strategically. How? Because as always, I’m going to unusually break down this principle to its most simplified form such that the knowledge and insight will be naturally clear to you and practical enough to put to use immediately. And to top it up, at the end I will be sharing two practical case studies to help you see this principle at work.
Now, let us begin!
What is credibility?
Credibility is that perceived sense or feeling of trust or belief that people have towards you as a result of relating with you.
Credibility is the ability to inspire or earn the trust, belief or confidence of others towards you based on a combination of certain factors or qualities they have seen at play in your life.
Credibility is the direct result of exhibiting certain qualities consistently.
Credibility is earned, meaning it doesn’t come freely; it is a direct outcome of a conscious effort. Credibility is not a thing you can give; it is a thing you get. It is not up to you to say [you can’t give it], it is up to others to say [you receive it].
Credibility is not in your hands; credibility is in the hands of others. It is the impression others have about you and all that you do or represent.
It is your perceived sense of value or worth in the eyes of others when it comes to certain issues regarding life or business. Credibility is all about managing others perception of you.
Credibility is the feedback you get from others as a result of who you are, what you do and what you represent. It is the highest form of compliment you could ever ask for in life or in business.
In the world of marketing, the whole concept of a brand is wrapped around credibility. A brand is a marketer’s definition of the credibility or trust customers have towards a particular business, company or organization and the products or services they offer.
It is the summation of feelings or overall perception a customer has towards a particular business, company or organization and the products or services they offer.
A brand is that level of credibility, trust, confidence or belief others have come to place or associate with a particular business, company or organization and all that it represents.
A brand is only a brand so long as other people still has a certain level of trust, belief, confidence or credibility towards it. Once that sense, feeling or perception of trust, belief, confidence or credibility diminishes, a brand ceases to exist.
At its very core, a brand exists in other people’s mind and not in yours. In your eyes a brand could still exist, but in the eyes of others, it is already dead. The bitter truth is, it is what others generally say about you and what your business represents that gets taken as credibility or not. Your credibility lies in the hands of others. You are as credible as others say you are or aren’t.
Meaning, your business, product or service is only as good as others say it is. In business as well as in life, your overall value is collectively estimated by other’s perception of you and all that you represent. Your credibility in life or in business lies outside of yourself. And this is why profitability only happens after credibility has been established.
Why does credibility matter?
At the core of everything we do in life and in business is the desire to influence. We are all in the game of influence. We all want to dictate the response of others in our favour. Children cry when they are hungry because they want to influence their parent’s attention at that particular time.
Ladies look seductive in order to influence the attention of men. Men spend in order to influence the perception of women. Marketers advertise in order to influence the purchasing decision of buyers. Politicians campaign in order to influence the voter’s decision in their favour.
In a rather subtle way, we all want to have a certain level of control over the behaviour or reaction of others in response to what we do, say or think. In the end, nothing is wrong with wanting to influence others, so long as it is not coerced [forced].
That is, nothing is wrong with playing the influence game once it is done legitimately and ethically. As a matter of fact, people do always want to be influenced, but not compelled. They want to own the final decision or choice to act.
However, they need certain level of information from the environment on which to draw a clue or base their final decision or choice. This is where the issue of credibility comes into play.
Credibility is the only legitimate, moral and ethical form of influence permissible by law and nature.
Credibility is influence earned. Credibility is the permission or privilege given by others to you to be influenced by you. Why?
Because over time you’ve earned that permission or privilege as a result of certain consistent actions, qualities or behaviours you’ve been exhibiting from which they have been benefiting. Because they have seen those consistent behaviours, actions and qualities and have come to value them, therefore they let down their guards and allow themselves to be influenced by you.
Credibility is a social license; once abused, it can be retrieved or revoked. The license is only valid so long as it is not wrongfully used.
Meaning, you can only keep influencing the behaviour, actions or decisions of others as long as you’re consistently doing what gave you the right to earn it in the first place. Your right to influence ceases once you credibility diminishes.
Can credibility be developed?
Yes! Below I offer the basic ingredients necessary for earning the credibility required for gaining the right to influence the actions or decisions of your customers which eventually leads to profitability. Let’s now begin the process with two peculiar case studies to wrap it all up!
Who are you by the way?
[Getting the word out]
I am willing and absolutely comfortable handing out my money to someone I have heard of somewhere else before now. This is the reaction of every customer, prospect or client out there. You want to make the sale?
Don’t be the first or only person that is just mentioning the name of your business, product or service, it somehow raises people’s suspicion. Here’s what comes to their mind; “If it were that good, how come I have never heard of it before?” why? Because I will not give out my money to just anybody.
It is a very logical thing to do. You cannot come to me reciting all your sales pitch and just expect me to hand you my hard earned money simply because you can speak good English or wear a nice looking suit. Absolutely not!
That’s not how it works; you’ve got to build credibility first.
Meaning, you’ve got to earn the right to influence me first. And the first place to start is to announce the existence of your business and its products/services long before you come into the presence of the prospect, client or customer.
How do you do this?
Marketing is the core business function that deals with the entire process of finding, attracting and keeping customers or clients for life as a result of consistently creating, communicating and delivering superior value to them in form of products/services.
Marketing is what helps you identify the prospect or target customers for what you want to sell. Marketing is what reveals what they need or what their problems are, without which, you cannot create a solution or product/service that will meet their needs and solve their problems.
Marketing is what helps you to first get the news of your business’ existence to them long before you show up physically. Marketing is what bridges the gap between you and the target prospects or customers. Marketing is a tool for building credibility. You had better learn how to use it, or else don’t expect profits!
What have you done and for whom?
[Showcasing your track record]
I am willing and absolutely comfortable handing out my money to you if you can just show me what you’ve been able to accomplish in the past through this particular product or service you’re now offering me. Nobody likes to be an experiment, most especially, if they are going to be the first specimen.
Prospects, clients or target markets want to know what you and your business has done that relates to what you are now offering for sale. There’s no need going out there to meet with the client or prospect if you don’t have any results to point to. The true test of competence is the quantity and quality of results presented.
No one cares how you got the deal, prospect or client; they just want to know if and how you met the needs and solved the problem. This is why it is important when staring out in business as an entrepreneur, to focus on getting as many jobs done so as to be able to build up your portfolio or track record for future references. Some people advice against doing things in business for free, I would say it depends.
If you know the person you want to do a free work for, especially those of us in the service industry, has a lot of social influence, that is, knows a lot of people who can be possible prospects, then go ahead. But be smart, that you are doing it for them free doesn’t mean you do it for free for everyone that comes from them also.
Furthermore, be careful to really assess their social influence, not everyone who is popular is important. Get that into your entrepreneurial head! You want to be sure that they don’t just know a lot of people, but that a lot of important people also know them.
I mean, I do know Barrack Obama; he’s the president of the United States for crying out loud. But hey, does he know me? That’s the big question you need to always answer before deciding to do a free service for anyone.
How long have you been doing this?
[If I must be influenced, you must be experienced]
You must be really good if you’ve managed to be around for a considerable period of time. Why? Because experience is not gotten overnight; it is built over a long period of time. Besides results, experience is one other thing that counts in business.
The fact that you’ve been doing a particular thing for a considerable period of time goes a long way to show that you would have developed a deeper level of knowledge and insight better than someone who is just starting out. And this can be translated into a very valuable source of credibility.
In marketing under the concept of differentiation and positioning, it is called leveraging on heritage. Heritage simply means the riches of the past or wealth of experience of the past. It is something that has been passed from years to years.
Why does the number of years in business count for credibility? Because experience can never be bought with money. It is only acquired over time. Time is the only way to measure experience.
The idea is very simple; passing a road for the first time or doing a thing for the first time often looks difficult and your confidence level is usually low because of the fear of making mistakes.
But over time, doing the same thing over and over again, your confidence level soars and the time it took you to complete the task the first time will considerably be reducing the more you do that particular task or thing.
This is why experience counts for credibility; it reduces the number of possible mistakes and increases the speed at which the task gets completed. All of these gets converted into credibility in the eyes of the client or prospect in terms of time savings and cost savings.
What are others saying about you?
[The battle for social proof]
I am willing and comfortable to do business with you, if there are other people out there talking about you positively. The need for social proof has increasingly become very important most especially since the rise of the internet and social media where it’s now easy to check up the credibility of just about anybody or company.
What you do both as an entrepreneur and also as the ambassador of your business is no longer hidden or secret, thanks to Google. The only time a word doesn’t go out there about you or your business is if you have never used the internet or don’t have an email address.
But so long as you have an email, it shows you have registered your presence on the World Wide Web and Google will most certainly find you!
Therefore, it is important to guard your business reputation and make sure you are consistent wherever and to whomever you are dealing with in business or personally. They can do a background check on your business or reputation as an entrepreneur.
So get out there, and make sure what others are saying about you connotes a positive image of your company, business or brand. If you have done wrong in the past, be sure to make up and apologize.
No one is perfect, so if a client has an issue previously with you or your business, be sure to address and try to remedy the situation as fast as possible, before it becomes the next blog post of that person.
Never Go to Print as an Author Unless You’ve 1st Built an Audience
A friend of mine some years ago made up his mind to write a book. Before embarking on the process of compiling the articles he had previously written, I advised him not to publish the book yet, at the very least, not until he established some credibility.
My point was simple; why publish a book, when no one other than your family and friends knows or has heard about you? Why publish a book offering principles or ideas no one else other than you has put to use? Why publish a book when your life as the author didn’t reflect or epitomize the principles or ideas you’re writing about?
I encouraged him to test his ideas and principles by creating and running a blog or a group on Facebook where he could gradually but consistently share these ideas or principles and get feedback on their potential to change and create positive results.
I asked him to point or mention examples of people who he had shared the ideas or principles he wanted to write about with and who got positive results when they applied what he recommended.
Surprisingly, he couldn’t come up with concrete names or examples of those he could go to who have proofs of his ideas or principles at work and could boldly come out to testify.
In a rather funny twist of events, he went ahead and published the book without informing me while it was being published till it was out in print. And so he went out to market his book, but guess what? He met roadblocks; no one was willing to stock the books on their bookshelves.
They weren’t so sure it was going to sell because they had never heard of the author up until then. Even I being his so called friend didn’t bother going through it. Why? Because he didn’t come across to me as someone who was practicing what he was preaching.
A smarter Approach …Using credibility as a LEVERAGE!
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith are the authors of “Trust Agents: Using the web to build influence, improve reputation and earn trust” a book that made the New York Times best sellers list in just about two weeks or so of its release.
I strongly recommend the book for all entrepreneurs serious about building SIGNIFICANT businesses. In fact, as I write this, I am reading it for the second time this year.
How did Chris and Julien pull it off?
They were the best at using credibility as leverage for profitability. Chris had been blogging for the past 10 years before he decided to co-author the book with Julien who had also been on the web for long.
They had both initially written an ebook called “Trust Economies” [click on title to download your copy] published by Changethis an online ebook publishing organization founded by Seth Godin [they are also publishing my 1st ebook too :)] to test the principles and ideas which they later expanded in the hardcover book.
They spent years building their credibility amongst their audience and when the book was eventually released Chris made an audacious statement;
“Over the years, I’ve done what I can to be helpful to as many people as humanly possible, without ever asking for much in return. It’s the right way to do it. But now, I’m asking for your support.”
It was the most audacious statement and ultimate test of credibility ever, it worked and it’s still working till now. Everyone bought the book and so many people didn’t just buy one copy, they both in droves. You can read all about it here; the big push!
Credibility is a great leverage for building profitability in business if you can only learn to put it first before profitability. It can take you to places you have never anticipated and it can bring you closer to your entrepreneurial goals faster than any other business strategy.
Learn to master the four steps above and see credibility do wonders for your business.
Hint: I created this site, naijapreneur! For credibility sake! Wouldn’t you agree with me that the leverage of credibility is already at work here? If you think otherwise, be bold to share your thoughts, opinion or suggestions in the comment box below. Thanks for enduring the reading process; I know it was pretty long! 🙂
Q: How do you build the world’s greatest company?
A: By doing BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL!
Of all activities known to humanity, engaging in something for the mere sake of merely surviving is the most hazardous to our journey here on earth as human beings. I have never been comfortable with the thought of merely doing things. It really doesn’t make much sense having to spend time, effort and resources doing things just like every other person does it.
In my opinion, the joy of any activity be it in business or in life, is in its outcome or the result it produces. No one cares nor will ever care about whatever you are doing unless it’s creatively being done in such a way that it is significantly different (unique) and significantly affects the life of others (useful).
The dream of every business owner or entrepreneur is to see their business at the peak of whatever industry or niche they operate in. Every business wants to be the ‘Google’ of search engines, they want to be the ‘Harvard’ of universities, they want to be the ‘Boing Boing’ of aircrafts, they want to be the ‘Oprah’ of talk shows and they want to be the ‘Facebook’ of social networks.
As lofty as these ideals are, not many businesses have a clear cut approach on how to achieve them. As a result, many businesses have only been dreaming about these lofty ideal and have never begun on a deliberate journey to making this ideal a reality.
Therefore, in this article, I want to share my own insight into how any business can become the KING of the NICHE in which they operate. I want to outline certain key principles and processes that if taken by any business whatsoever, will catapult them to the peak of their industry. Let’s begin.
What is a NICHE?
A niche is a specialized market in which a business operates in. For example, every automobile company produces cars; therefore we have the automobile industry. In that same industry, we have certain niches, such as; the luxurious car niche, the high speed niche, the safety niche and the affordable niche.
These niches represent different smaller percentages of the automobile industry. They are different from the general automobile industry, because their market is highly specialized. While people buy automobile generally for movement or mobility, those who belong to these niches buy automobiles for different reasons other than mobility.
Those who buy Rolls Royce for example, certainly aren’t after mobility, they are after luxury. The classy feeling and social status often associated with owning and driving a Rolls Royce. Why? Because a Rolls Royce commands a higher price than most regular automobiles. Therefore, a niche is a specialized market in a particular industry.
How To Create Your Own Niche and Be King!
Find a Reason for Being [PURPOSE] other than Profits
The first thing you want to do in order to be a king in your niche is to find a reason greater than money as the purpose of your being in business. Being a king means you control a certain specialized domain in your industry better than any other company in that industry.
It means you are the market leader and every other company follows behind you. The big question for you is this; why are they following you? Are you being followed because you make all the profits or you are being followed because there’s something more to your business other than profits? Let’s take a clue from other kings of their niches like Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is into the retail business and has become the largest company in the world as a result of their business success. This company is worth over 400 Billion US Dollars and has over 2 Million workers worldwide. Wal-Mart is the king of the retail business in the world, they do retail simply like no other. What’s their secret weapon? Everyday Low Pricing – this was their reason for being greater than profits.
Sam Walton the late founder of Wal-Mart had a clear cut purpose for going into business 87 years ago which was;
“to provide the common man on the street an opportunity to buy at lower prices the same stuff the rich buy at other stores at higher prices.”
This commitment to the ordinary guy in the world has been the most vital element in Wal-Mart’s success story. Not once in the whole of their history did they make profit their overall goal, it’s always first about creating everyday low prices. In fact, they did this so well that they ended up trade marking and owning the word “Always”. Meaning, at Wal-Mart, there’s “Always” everyday low prices.
There you are, I hope you can now clearly see the correlation between having a purpose greater than money and eventually being the king of a niche? There’s no way you are going to get to the top of your niche or industry by putting money first. Being at the top is a result of being different [uniqueness] and making a difference [usefulness], and not profitability.
Kings wield the highest level of authority in their domain because they occupy the highest position in the eyes of their subjects. The same is true in business; kings of their niches occupy a key position in the minds of their customers.
They are recognizably known to be the best at what they do. They didn’t get to such an enviable position because they had so much money to buy it; they got there as a result of their consistency in delivering a service like no other company in their niche could.
So if you desire to be the king of your niche, I suggest you revisit your reason for being in business and make it one greater than just making money. Every other point I am going to mention henceforth, finds their relevance in this first point. You cannot be a king in your niche if you are not prepared to serve those in your target market.
Your reign will depend on your relevance to the market you serve. If there’s nothing peculiar and unusual about your business and how it relates to meeting the needs and solving the problems of the market it operates in, then forget about being a king of a niche!
Select and Own [BRAND] a Particular Word in the Market
What word does your business own in the market in which you operate? You cannot be a King without having a peculiar name or word that resonates deeply in the mind of those you lead. You cannot be a king without having a sacred word unto which you bow and hold in highest esteem.
The art of owning a word is what marketers refer to as positioning or differentiation, in other words, branding. It is a deliberate attempt to make your business memorable in the mind of your customers. It is a deliberate attempt to direct the efforts, resources and focus of your entire business as a whole towards making the actual meaning of a particular word experiential to those you serve.
How do I mean?
Take Wal-Mart for example, they chose the word “Always” suggesting that no matter what they will never compromise on providing everyday low prices to their customers. The word “Always” connotes consistency and integrity; it means all of the time, without fail, constant and come what may, we will never cease to provide everyday low prices. Look at such level of commitment. Tell me who can beat such an audacious promise or claim?
Selecting and owning a word is the greatest test of any business. It is a test of your level of commitment and consistence. Nothing can make you more distinct as this, and when you can be seen as distinct, becoming the king of your niche is a piece of cake.
There’s got to be something they can hold you accountable to as a king. Every king of a domain is bounded by certain oaths or promise which they cannot break as a result of the position they occupy. The same is applicable in the world of business.
What claim, oath or promise has your business openly made to the world? By what standard shall your business or company be judged?
The Word we OWN at MADphilips
My company MADphilips, owns the word SIGNIFICANCE and every other shades or related meanings of it like; SIGNIFICANT. We have found other creative uses of the word like;
- different and making a difference,
- uniqueness and usefulness,
- ab-normal which stand for above normal,
- being unique and being useful etc.
These are different words we own in the mind and eyes of those we serve as a company. As a company, we bring that mentality into everything we do and into every project we embark on. It is our most sacred word up on which everything we are and do is judged. We bow to it and hold it in the highest esteem.
We don’t compromise on being SIGNIFICANT. If there’s no way that the work we do for a client won’t reflect SIGNIFICANCE, we simply won’t take it. If you have been very observant, you will notice every time I use the word SIGNIFICANT it is always capitalized.
Because it’s the reason for our being, it’s sacred and must be treated as such. This singular word, directs everything we do and will ever do as a company. It is the foundation on which my business is built.
When choosing your own word for your business, be sure it is something that truly resonates within you as an entrepreneur. Let it be a word that will ignite your passion and inspire your creativity. Don’t just choose any random word; choose one that you will be ready to die for if the need ever arises!
Make Your Business A Never Ending Story [LEGACY]
I have always been known to ask this question every time I’m opportune to address entrepreneurs; “what will the world miss if suddenly your business ceases to exist?” The whole of your existence would have been a complete waste if as an entrepreneur you cannot or haven’t figured out an answer to that question. Entrepreneurship is a calling, take it from me!
You have been called to use your life to build a business that will make the world much better than you met it. Entrepreneurship is nature’s instrument for solving humanity’s problems. What story are you using your business to create? You want to be the king of your niche, what will the world remember of your reign?
There’s always a story behind the reign of every king in human history, so what will yours be as the king of your industry or niche? Whether accidentally or intentionally, every business tells a story, what story will the world tell about your business?
To be the king of your niche requires you to use your business to create a never ending story as a result of the SIGNIFICANT impact your business will have on those you serve. A never ending story is a Legacy. What does it mean to create a legacy in business?
Creating a legacy means breaking new grounds, doing things no one else has ever achieved in that line of business. It means meeting the needs of your customers beyond their wildest dreams. It means constantly being the trendsetter in your industry or niche. It means giving everyone a run for their money.
Innovation must become your watch word. You must never cease to ask, what other positive change is there to make?
Wal-Mart is known to have done this time without number. They were the very first company in the world that created a network amongst all their suppliers such that every supplier had direct access to their inventory and daily sales record of every item in their stores.
This allowed for prompt re-order of depleting items without causing any delay or shortage of inventories which would have caused customers’ needs to be unmet. It totally removed all the bottlenecks caused by the traditional form of inventory management.
It was simply a revolution in the retail business and when it was fully integrated into Wal-Mart’s operation, they made it available to the entire retail industry worldwide and others were able to benefit from their landmark. This is what it means to be a king in your niche.
Your business must become the light that shines in the dark and makes way for others to pass. Why? Because every king leaves a mark in the sands of time, what mark are you going to use your business to leave behind in the sands of time?
With this, I come to the end of yet another unusual article and I leave you with this question; “If you were on your dying bed and you were asked what you did with your life as an entrepreneur, what would be your reply?”
Has your business IQ increased as a result of reading this article?