The second edition will feature insightful speakers such as;
- Williams Bankole (Founder, LiveYourDreamsAfrica),
- Victor Bassey (Founder, Highly paid Expert Network),
- Theophilus cornerstone (Director of Training, Strategy, and Communications, IMLPD),
- Shola Ajani (Founder, human Capital Asset management Group),
- Tito Philips Jnr (CEO of MADphilips Development Company, LTD),
- Femi Oye (CEO of Green Energy & Biofuels (GEB),
- Zubi O’Peters (Chief Executive and Strategist at Authority Growth Co),
- Wale Olajumoke (Brand Strategist, Tech24),
- Eyitayo Ogunmola (Founder, PM Hub),
- Abayomi W. Kayode (Head of ECOWAS region, Chartered Institute of Management Specialist, USA ) and
- Esohe Igbinoba (Founder, The Global Brand Network)
Topics that will be considered include
Entrepreneurship is like many other things – you tend to get better at it over time. It’s true of the saying, practice does make perfect. By identifying and emulating the qualities of other successful entrepreneurs who have more experience than you, you improve yourself.
Since these qualities are not peculiar to them alone, their transferability makes becoming a better entrepreneur much easier for you.
I recently came in contact with 10 of such winning qualities of successful entrepreneurs compiled by Williams D. Bygrave, Professor Emeritus at Babson College and founder of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).
In his book, The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship; he had this to say regarding entrepreneurial qualities; “as with most human behavior, entrepreneurial traits are shaped by personal attributes and environment”.
According to him, “it does appear that entrepreneurs have a higher locus of control than non-entrepreneurs, which means that they have a higher desire to be in control of their own fate”.
To capture these entrepreneurial qualities in a way that is easy to comprehend and also easy to apply, he used every day words that began with letter ‘D’. These he called the 10 Ds of entrepreneurship.
I would like to share them with you. And at the end of each entrepreneurial quality, I will include a link to an unusual article previously written on it for more insight.
Let’s dig in!
The 10 Ds of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs have a vision of what the future could be like for them and their businesses. And, more important, they have the ability to implement their dreams.
They do not procrastinate. They make decisions swiftly. Their swiftness is a key factor in their success.
Once they decide on a course of action, they implement it as quickly as possible.
They implement their ventures with total commitment. They seldom give up, even when confronted by obstacles that seem insurmountable.
They are totally dedicated to their business, sometimes at considerable cost to their relationships with their friends and families. They work tirelessly. 12-hour days and seven-day work weeks are not uncommon when an entrepreneur is striving to get a business off the ground.
Entrepreneurs love what they do. It is that love that sustains them when the going gets tough. And it is love of their product or service that makes them so effective at selling it.
It is said that the devil resides in the details. That is never more true than when starting and growing a business. The entrepreneur must be on top of the critical details.
They want to be in charge of their own destiny rather than dependent on an employer.
Getting rich is not the prime motivator of entrepreneurs. Money is more a measure of their success. They assume that if they are successful they will be rewarded.
Entrepreneurs distribute the ownership of their businesses with key employees who are critical to the success of the business.
Over to you
Like all lists, these are not all the Ds there is to entrepreneurship. What other Ds can you add to the list? Drop your comments below.
The unending news of one tech startup or the other getting massive VC funding in the media is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Not only is this very distracting to budding entrepreneurs, it’s gradually killing the age long startup strategy of bootstrapping to success.
Bootstrapping is a process whereby an entrepreneur starts a self-sustaining business, markets it, and grows the business by using limited resources or money – this is accomplished without the use of venture capital firms or even significant angel investment.
Many of the successful companies that we see today – Dell Computers, FaceBook, Apple, Coca Cola, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle, eBay, Cisco, SAP and Virgin, to name a few, had their humble beginnings of bootstrapping to success.
But these days, all you need is an idea and you’ve got yourself an excuse to raise money. How come we seem to always want the rain check instead of putting our brains to work first?
Call me old school or even cynical, but here’s one fact that can’t be denied; not every startup or entrepreneur is going to get funding.
Yea, that’s reality for you, so suck it up and deal with it!
On this entrepreneurial journey, there’s no guarantee. And nothing can be more dangerous to your morale as an entrepreneur than succumbing to the fantasy of funding.
Trust me, I know the drift.
Lying awake all night wondering where the next income is going to come from to cover your expenses is no joke. Or wondering whether you will make it to the end of the month before running out of cash can be damn scary.
So yea, the fantasy of funding can be very appealing, especially in such situations. If only you could just get a major investor’s financial backing, all these nightmares and worries will just disappear, right?
Your Problem is MORE THAN Money
Funding is a palliative solution to a more fundamental business problem that most startup, especially these days don’t like to brutally confront.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup can’t generate some initial revenue to sustain itself till your business idea is fully validated and ready to scale.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup can’t find a way to successfully launch a minimum viable product to test the market with without seeking for major external funding.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup needs major external funding to create her first customer.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup can’t raise her initial funding internally from your family and friends.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup needs money to figure out how to make money.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup can’t find a way to start small.
It’s a fundamental business problem if your startup needs money to solve a problem no one is willing to pay for.
My point is pretty simple; there are so many fundamentals that are often left out once you allow yourself to succumb to the fantasy of funding.
There are just too many business basics that more money won’t necessarily help you solve. And getting caught up in the fantasy of funding will only becloud your thinking.
Until you identify these business basics and brutally address them, access to more funding will only amplify your fundamental business problems.
The Mindset for Bootstrapping to Success
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to understand one fundamental truth about starting, building and growing a business; there’s no guaranteed straight path to success.
What does this mean?
It means that your business will not manifest itself in the same exact way you dreamt of it or conceived the idea. It is absolutely going to take a very different form than when you first started and you must accept this reality if you will succeed.
This is the mindset you need to have for bootstrapping to success. You have to be prepared to think about your business in several different ways and continually work on the most minimal action you can take per time to get you closer to your goal.
Because all the resources you need to make your business a success won’t come to you at once. They will come in bits and pieces, and your ability to make the most of what you’ve got per time is what bootstrapping to success is all about.
If you would rather focus on having all the money and resources you need to start the way the business was conceived, then you are not going to ever start. But once you accept the reality that venture capital funding is not the only way to grow your business, then it’s easier to open up to other bootstrapping to success strategies available.
Strategies for Growing Your Business Without VC Funding
Here are some bootstrapping to success strategies that you don’t need more money for; applying them will enable you avoid the fantasy of funding.
I wish I could skip this fundamental business principle; think big, start small. All great things start small; I know you knew that already. But why aren’t most startups doing so?
Why do new businesses without any form of validations for their ideas just want to raise money without any substantial track record of success or traction?
I know you do need money to start, but do you really need that much money that you can’t raise internally through your family and friends?
If your startup idea is too big that you can’t start small, then perhaps you need an interim startup idea that will allow you make enough money to startup your big idea.
My point here is simple; don’t let the lack of money hold you down from starting. See your startup in bits and pieces rather than a completed whole. Then start with the smallest bit and piece bearing in mind that where you are starting from is not your destination.
The more traction you gain as you grow the idea from its smallest bits and pieces, the more tangible bootstrapping to success gets.
Don’t go into any business you haven’t first figured out how to make money from. Not knowing how the business is going to generate revenue is a warning sign you have a fundamental business problem.
Your business model is how you structure your business to enable it make money through the products/services it offers.
When starting small, your task is to find a way to start with the very first bit and piece that can win you a paying customer.
Your greatest startup success story is a paying customer. If you can get the first one, strive for the second and the third and so on until you have fully understood how your new business makes money.
Your primary drive should be to see your startup idea being embraced by paying customers. They are the best sources of finance any business can have. Always start with them first, they are great bootstrapping to success enablers.
Because you need the money to keep ploughing back into the business to sustain your bootstrapping to success strategy.
“Get a customer before you start your business, if you can. So many people say to me, “I have an idea. Can you introduce me to VCs?” There is a HUGE gap between “idea” and “professional venture capital”. In the middle of that gap is “customer”.”
– James Altucher, Investor and serial entrepreneur
Most of the things you may need more money for are being done by others and it wouldn’t hurt to just collaborate with them.
I realize that strategic partnerships mean giving up some sizable piece of the pie, but that’s permissible as long as it’s a high impact partner. Remember that you are just starting out and money is not a luxury you have to get the things you need, so you’ve got to focus on gaining some traction and less about money.
Bootstrapping to success through strategic partnerships is about giving up some piece of the pie today in order to secure a bigger pie tomorrow. The involvement of high impact partners intrinsically increases the size of the pie than what you alone initially had.
One form of strategic partnership you should explore for bootstrapping to success is joint venture. Rather than create a product/service all by yourself, partner with others through a joint venture relationship.
Providing a Service
I’m sure you are aware of this, most service businesses are usually less capital intensive than the manufacturing businesses.
This is another bootstrapping to success strategy you can adopt to avoid the fantasy of funding. This is equally applicable to manufacturing businesses; you just need to widen your scope a little bit.
If you are manufacturer and need money for production, find a way to provide a service with your professional expertise. That you want to manufacture a product means you have some deep level knowledge and expertise can be sold.
While this might not seem encouraging at first, remember my point about starting small, this is only temporary until you can raise the money you need to start initial production.
Knowledge is one thing bootstrapping to success cannot do without. Not having money to toss around means you will have to gain mastery of some critical aspects of your startups survival.
And this will require you to invest the only resource you have – time, to acquire the knowledge and skills you need to navigate the business during her infancy.
Bootstrapping to success by becoming resourceful is how most startup entrepreneurs grow personally and professionally. Through this, they are much equipped to execute strategically better than just the entrepreneur who has more money to throw around.
As a result of being resourceful, the same results people spend money to get, they achieve through strategic execution at much lower costs.
You don’t have the money to waste, so you dare not be trying stupid things. Bootstrapping to success is about focusing on the things you do best and letting go of all other things that may distract the startup.
You can’t serve the whole market obviously; you lack the capacity and resources. So your best bet is to focus on a profitable niche and being the king of that niche.
As you capture your niche market, you can extend your focus into another niche market. The strategy is to fight one battle per time and only fight the ones you are most equipped to win.
How are you Bootstrapping your Business to Success?
These are not all the bootstrapping to success strategies available to startups, so join in the conversation and share your own story below in the comment section.
Welcome to 2016!
To grow your business this year, for many it’s not going to be any different from 2015.
But for a few, it is going to be the greatest year of their lives yet.
None of these two outcomes are automatic; they both require your permission to come to pass.
To have the same kind of year as you did last year depends on you. To have a different year than you did last year, also depends on you.
Fortunately, this unusual article is for the entrepreneurs seeking the second outcome; to make this year 2016 the greatest year of their life yet!
5 Killer Activities to Grow your Business this Year
To grow your business this year, you will need to focus on some very fundamental activities that produce killer results. I have always believed in fundamentals, they are the unchanging elements of getting anything worthwhile done.
Rather than occupy myself with the latest fad or gimmick or tactic in town, I focus on sharpening the fundamentals. Gimmicks, fads, and tactics will always come and go, but fundamentals remain the same. They are timeless!
So rather than telling you about the popular business gimmick, fad or tactic in town, I’m going to draw your attention back to the fundamentals that you’ve been ignoring. These fundamentals are not going to be ideologies that you are going to passively learn and forget soon, these are going to be activities.
They are actions you must continually take throughout the course of this year in your business. They are practical actions you have heard of in the past but not actively doing.
I call them killer activities because of their dual impact on any business.
1). They are killer activities because failure to continually do them and do them well is what will KILL your business. That’s a guarantee!
2). They are killer activities because continually doing them and doing them well is what will GROW your business. Again, that’s a guarantee!
In other words, their impact on any business is powerful. It can kill and it can transform. They are unavoidable. Period.
Here they are;
This is one of the greatest fundamentals of growing your business this year or any other year ever. It’s a do or die fundamental activity of any business.
Let me repeat myself; to grow your business this year, this is a DO or DIE fundamental activity!
There’s no substitute to marketing. I have witnessed this fundamental activity over and over again in my business that I can boldly say this; without it, your business is a living corpse. It’s just a matter of time, it will eventually die!
There’s never enough marketing. So if you aren’t doing it at all, then you are simply digging your own grave. Those who do it are working towards doing more of it because they have experienced the killer results it brings.
So what is Marketing fundamentally?
Every activity that involves reaching out to both your existing and potential customers in order to add value.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Activity: it’s an action. Meaning, if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.
- Reaching out: it’s always about others. Meaning, you do it in order to connect, engage and communicate with others. It’s not done in isolation.
- Existing and Potential Customers: it’s for both kind of customers. Your old ones and the new ones you are pursuing. It’s not one sided. Both deserve to be reached out to continually.
- Add Value: it’s about helping the customers. Any marketing that isn’t focused on helping the customer is a failed strategy. It won’t last. You reach out in order to help them solve a problem or achieve a result they can’t do on their own.
Now that we have covered the fundamentals, to get started, you need to have the 3M’s of marketing;
- The Message
- The Messenger
- The Medium
To grow your business this year or any other year ever, will require the collective efforts of several skilled and passionate people other than yourself.
The growth potentials of your business is directly dependent on the collective potentials of the people working on it. By taking on two additional vision partners last year, my business exponentially grew. We broke through the limitations placed on our revenues!
The saying that; “together efforts achieves more” is no cliche. It’s a fact!
Don’t think you will earn less by bringing on other smart people to join you. The ironic truth is that you will actually make more money than you ever did alone. But this doesn’t happen automatically, you do need to get the right people on board to make it so.
I have witnessed on several occasions people whose business crumbled when they got in others. It’s all a question of getting the right people on board. To know the right people, read this unusual article on team building.
So what is Team Building fundamentally?
Bringing in on board other smart people to complement you with other skills critical to the business’s growth.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Other smart people: don’t bring on board a fool. Don’t bring on board someone you are smarter than in all areas. They must be competently skilled with one or more skills the business needs but you don’t have. Don’t bring on board your jobless brother or sister or cousin or nephew just to help them.
- Complement: this is the objective; someone to complete you in the areas where you are weak. I tell my vision partners, that I don’t expect anything less than 110% from them because I know I brought them in to enable me focus on my strength 110%. In return, I expect them to focus only on their strengths too. That way everybody performs at their best and not averagely.
- Other skills critical to the business’s growth: for growing businesses, don’t bring in two of the same skills at first. Duplication of functions early will allow other areas to suffer. So highlight the key skills the business needs to grow and first fill all with at least one very smart person that will serve as the leader of that function.
Once every team member complements one another with the critical skills for the business, the next phase is to duplicate yourselves with new subordinates. This time around, you are not just getting them for their skills, you also want to show them how the business works in relation to their skills.
The function of the first team members is to help create a system of how that function will be performed going forward in the business. That’s why you really need a very smart person for this first role. Not just anyone with the lacking skill set.
The best mouse trap will soon become the obsolete mouse trap if there’s no improvement. I’m often amazed when I see entrepreneurs with mediocre products/services complain of slow business.
For crying out loud, who wants to pay for trash!
If you must go into business, unless you are the first in that line of business, the least product/service you can start with must be at par with the existing competitions. And that is already a wrong position to start with.
So when I see entrepreneurs with even less quality products in the market I just wonder how they ever think they will succeed by being less.
To grow your business this year, you have to continually step up your products/services by adding more layers of improvement that adds more value to your customers.
Don’t think you can keep selling trash and hope to grow. Your customers will only keep tolerating you until a superior offering shows up. This is one of the crucial reasons why team building was discussed above.
Without good heads in your business, how then will you create products/services better than the competitions?
Only the best brains can create the next market wave. If you doubt me, go and ask Apple, Google, Facebook and all these technology pioneers. You can’t create tomorrow by hiring people from the past!
You need forward thinking people who will help you create innovative solutions that addresses the problems your target customers have and are dying to solve.
Don’t settle for average. Always be in the forefront of the market with new and improved versions of your existing products/services. The company with the latest improvements becomes the center of attraction in the market.
That’s how you maintain market relevance; by continually reinventing your products/services and introducing new ones.
To grow your business this year, your team members and including yourself must never cease to learn. Growing a business is not a static function or activity. Business is a fluid terrain; it is constantly ever changing, so you need to be at the top of your game.
Capacity development is all about sharpening your skills and that of your team members. Knowledge is the ingredient used to think up new products/services. If you are still using only what you learnt 5 years ago to run your business, then I am not surprised why it is struggling.
Investing on trainings and other information products like books, seminars, CDs, etc. is how you stay at the top of your game. When something new pops up in your area of competence, no one other than yourself should be the first to know about it.
Your mind and that of your people is the greatest asset of your business. You need to keep sharpening it. Don’t depend on old skills to compete in an ever changing business terrain. Keep on learning!
So what is Capacity Development fundamentally?
It is the conscious effort to continually increase a business’s ability to do more through reading, training and knowledge sharing.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Conscious Effort: just like every other killer activities discussed above, capacity development is not automatic. It won’t be done until you do it.
- Continually Increase: it’s a never ending process. It doesn’t end. So don’t be tired of reading, attending seminars, trainings or sharing what you know with your team.
- Business’s Ability to Do More: capacity is your ability to do something. So if you know one thing for instance, you have the ability to do one thing. The moment you know two things more, you just increased your ability to do more than one thing, now you can do 3 things. So if your capacity development is not translating to increasing your business’s ability to do more, it’s not effective. The result of knowledge is improved action, decisions and thinking.
- Reading, Training and Knowledge Sharing: these are the 3 fundamental ways of capacity development. Knowledge sharing can be in the form of mentoring and coaching.
Successful businesses are built on systems and systems are run by people.
There’s no growth without stability. To grow, your business must be able to function without chaos. This is why you need systems to create some level of stability and structure in your business.
I have come in contact with several entrepreneurs who rely on chance to run their business. And yet they wonder why they experience stagnation. Growth doesn’t thrive on chance, it thrives on stability and structure.
So if you want to grow your business this year, you have to focus on creating some form of stability and structure. This can only be done through systems development.
So what is Systems Development fundamentally?
This is the deliberate organization of several repeated activities in your business into structured processes that can be easily documented and duplicated.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Deliberate Organization: chaos is the opposite of organization. To create systems you need to be organized and this takes deliberate efforts. It won’t happen automatically. If you can’t do it, get someone who can.
- Several Repeated Activities: running a business is all about carrying out several activities daily either by you or other members of your team. Soon, you will realize these activities are often repeated. By grouping several repeated activities is how you create a system.For instance, the several repeated activities that you undertake to create a product/service can be grouped into the production system. The way you handle customer complains can be grouped into the customer care system.
- Structured Processes: a process is a guide to do things or a way of doing things. The grouped repeated activities are outlined into step-by-step processes in their order of implementation. Without these structured processes of carrying out these several activities, there is no system yet.
- Easily Documented and Duplicated: this is the ultimate objective of systems development in your business, to have it written down and passed on so anyone with the required skill set can perform that function easily. Having it documented enables you to save time when another person is coming on board to do the work. It also enables you find loopholes in the entire process and think up better ways to achieve the same results with less activities involved.
This year can be a whole lot better for your business if you simply focus on doing these 5 killer activities. You won’t gain mastery doing them this year alone, as you progress in your business you will need to be upgrading your knowledge and skills in these 5 fundamentals of business growth.
My goal with this unusual article was to help you focus on the few things that matters so that you can take actions without much confusion. Don’t do too many things this year, just do these 5 killer activities very diligently and you will sing a different song come December 2016!
Team building is a crucial part of your success story as an entrepreneur. It is so crucial that I have personally coined up two words to better convey the importance of building a team – vision partners.
Team building is about creating vision partners for your business. You see, business is a team’s sport, and only the teams with the best players win!
Very early in my entrepreneurial journey, I learnt this valuable business lesson about team building, thanks to Robert Kiyosaki.
Learning this principle about team building was such a great eye opener for me, it made me arrive at two critical decisions that have served me well as an entrepreneur.
- To never go on this entrepreneurial journey alone.
- To always be on the lookout for the best players to bring onboard.
Many entrepreneurs don’t take this issue of team building very seriously. If they even do, it’s often later in their entrepreneurial journey, rather than early, that they begin to consider this issue seriously.
Here’s the plain truth; all other things you need in your business to make it work can’t work without people. So pushing this issue of team building aside until later in your entrepreneurial journey isn’t quite a smart choice.
Now is the time to begin to prioritize the need to surround yourself and your business with the best available minds, talents and skills you can find. Having them around early will make the difference between success and failure on the long run!
Debunking the #1 Myth of Team Building
Before going ahead to the 5 winning qualities of the right team players, I want to quickly debunk a prevailing myth many entrepreneurs have about team building. What’s this myth?
You Need Money to Hire the Best Teams
This is often the most prevailing reason many entrepreneurs give for not building a team early enough in their entrepreneurial journey. They allow the lack of money to limit their potentials to attract the best team members.
This is one of those entrepreneurial fallacies and myths about team building that needs to be debunked. And I will give you some real life examples to validate this.
Was built by assembling the best online marketing minds Brian Clark met along his entrepreneurial journey. These were people like himself who were also passionate about building a digital media company.
All he had to do to get them onboard was to share the vision of a preferable future if they all decide to work together as a team. At the time of bringing them onboard, he didn’t have any money set aside to pay as salaries for each of them. He only presented the opportunity for collaboration and left the products they would co-create to determine how much financial reward they would all get.
Through this, he was able to get such A-list online entrepreneurs such as Sonia Simone, Chris Garret, Tony Clark, Brian Gardner, Robert Bruce, and others on his team. Every one of these guys had their own businesses and was doing well by themselves. But the opportunity of working together was going to make them become greater than they could have achieved alone.
- Apple Inc.
When Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, they didn’t have any salary structures in place to pay for the founding team members they brought onboard. The potentials of the opportunity they were introduced to presented enough motivation that inspired them to get onboard while deferring their financial compensation till later.
If Steve Jobs had let the thought of not having enough money hold him back from reaching out to get the best players onboard, Apple wouldn’t have become the success story it is today. Rather, he allowed the enormity of the opportunity they were all pursuing to determine how much they all stood to gain if they all worked together to make it a success.
Mark Zuckerberg built facebook through his founding team members he assembled on campus. They comprised of his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
Just imagine how much money he had to pay them to get them onboard early on his entrepreneurial journey?
Again, he only shared the potentials of the opportunity they were going to all pursue together and allowed the product they would co-create determine how much they were each going to get paid when it became a success.
Money is a Factor, But NOT a Limitation of Team Building
It’s a fact you do need to consider the financial reward of each vision partner you want to bring onboard, but it’s not up to you. It’s up to the opportunity!
When starting out, nothing can be more obvious than your inability to pay for the right vision partners. If you had the money to pay them, they wouldn’t qualify as vision partners would they?
So stop trying to magnify your inability to pay, the right vision partners are already aware of this. They aren’t counting on you to pay them what they know you can’t afford when starting out, they are only counting on your leadership.
They realize it’s up to the vision to provide the financial reward that will compensate for their contributions. What they require from you far more than you can ever afford financially is your leadership.
Much more than they believe the vision and want to pursue the opportunity together, they have to believe in your capacity as their leader to help them successfully deliver the vision. Stop focusing on your lack of money to hire the best teams, rather focus on your capacity as an entrepreneurial leader assembling a team of vision partners.
TEAM BUILDING CHECKLIST: 5 Winning Qualities of the Right VISION PARTNERS
Now that we’ve debunked the #1 myth of team building, it’s time to talk about the 5 winning qualities of the right vision partners. These are the checklist I have used to choose my vision partners over my 10 years in business. They have served me well; I hope they do the same for you too!
- They get IT
- They get YOU
- They get ON with it
- They get THERE with you
- They get READY for what’s next
They get IT
The first winning quality of the right vision partners is that ‘they get IT’. What do I mean by ‘they get IT’?
In team building, there are essentially 3 core attributes the right vision partners need to get that qualifies them to come onboard. And this is what I mean by ‘they get IT’; the ‘IT’ here represents these core attributes;
Not everyone can or should qualify to join your team of vision partners, only the right people should make the team. Its more headache trying to change the wrong person into the right person for your team than it is to diligently seek out and enlist the right person.
Remember what you are looking for is a vision partner, so having a shared vision is one of the distinguishing qualities you need to lookout. The right vision partner is someone who also shares the same vision as you the founder of the company.
- He/she must also want to build a business that MATTERS.
- He/she must also seek to change the world and profit from purpose as you.
- He/she must also buy into the purpose, vision and mission of the company.
- He/she must also be passionate about the products/services you are co-creating together.
- He/she must also be passionate about the problems you are in business to solve for your target customers.
The second core attribute they need to get is shared values. It’s difficult to build a team of vision partners with conflicting values. Your values are what dictate your intentions [thoughts], actions [activities] as well as dispositions [behaviours]. They constitute the internal codes that power your external realities.
Team building without shared values is the recipe for disaster. Why? Because you will never be able to align the thoughts, activities and behaviours of your vision partners towards achieving the shared vision of the company.
Shared values are what will determine the culture and personality of the organization. That’s why your team of vision partners must;
- Exemplify similar virtues.
- Possess similar work ethics.
- Passionate about similar ideas.
- Uphold similar principles of life.
- Share similar business philosophy.
The third core attribute your team of vision partners needs to get is complementary skills. The whole essence of team building is to maximize your results by amplifying your efforts. In other words, together efforts achieve more.
So you shouldn’t be on the lookout for a duplicate of yourself but rather you should seek out a complement of yourself. Don’t select someone that has the same skill set just like you, rather select someone that possesses the skill set that you lack.
The goal is to see your business as a big puzzle and your team of vision partners as the different pieces of the puzzle that needs to be fit together to complete the puzzle. So it doesn’t quite pay to have the same skill set onboard as vision partners. You need people with complementary skills.
This is very crucial because as the business grows, each of them will then duplicate themselves by hiring more of their kinds to facilitate that specific operational function.
They get YOU
When it comes to team building, as I have mentioned earlier above, your fundamental role and function on the team is leadership. Your vision partners are counting on your capacity to function as an entrepreneurial leader.
They need your guidance and direction to be able to work together in co-creating the shared vision of the business. So it’s absolutely important they also buy into you as the leader of the business and not just into the vision alone.
This is what I mean by ‘they get YOU’.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s unwavering believe in your capacity and the trust earned from your character as a person.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s mutual understanding of what you are trying to accomplish through the business.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s unwavering commitment to submit to your leadership.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s knowledge of you, admiration for what you are trying to accomplish, and the confidence that you can deliver.
They get ON with it
In team building, the right vision partners are master executors. They are not time wasters or eye-service workers. They are neither slothful nor deceitful. They work without supervision and don’t need to be micro-managed.
This is because they first get IT and then they get YOU, so it’s time to get ON with it. For them, these two winning qualities serve as the basis of their internal motivation to execute persistently. They work because they do what they love and love what they do. For them, work is play!
This is what I mean by ‘they get ON with it’.
So the right vision partner is anyone you’ve carefully observed and repeatedly seen exhibiting the following principles of self mastery;
- Being proactive – taking initiatives without being told
- Beginning with the End in Mind – aligning actions with purpose
- Putting First Things First – working according to priority
They get THERE with you
When it comes to team building, the right vision partners are those who are in it for the long haul. The entrepreneurial journey as I have often said is not a sprint, but a marathon. Building a business that MATTERS takes time.
So you wouldn’t be doing yourself and your business any favour if you surround yourself with short term vision partners. These are the people who are only in it for the immediate gain your business brings. They are always looking for a quick exit strategy; they want to make it big and fast, and then cash out.
The right vision partners don’t just get IT or get YOU or get ON with it; they also want to get THERE with you. For them, the journey is as important as the destination.
This is what I mean by ‘they get THERE with you’.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s commitment to the cause/vision/purpose/mission.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s willingness to integrate their dreams into yours to make it bigger, better and greater.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s capacity to hang on regardless of other tempting opportunities out there within their reach.
They get READY for what’s next
In team building, the right vision partners don’t rest on their laurels. They realize there’s always more out there that needs to be done. So they are never complacent as a result of today’s achievements, no. They are always ever reaching out for what’s next.
“Great enterprises can become insulated by success; accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline. The hubris born of success kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow.”
The right vision partners never lose sight of the underlying factors, principles and processes that makes them successful, no. They never relent on their quest to achieve their purpose despite how successful they must have come. They keep on raising the bar!
This is what I mean by ‘they get READY for what’s next’.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s dedication to their craft.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s discipline to keep sharpening the saw – improving themselves.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s capacity to be more and do more than has been done before.
Don’t wait till you are big before you start choosing the right vision partners. Team building is possible for you even as a startup with no money. The potentials of your business idea and the opportunity it presents is enough compensation to get the right team onboard.
And don’t forget to keep in mind these 5 winning qualities of the right vision partners;
- They get IT
- They get YOU
- They get ON with it
- They get THERE with you
- They get READY for what’s next
I am sure there are more to these 5 team building checklists for entrepreneurs; feel free to add your own in the comments. Thanks!
To demystify entrepreneurship, we have to start with the definition.
What is Entrepreneurship?
In the simplest form ever;
“ENTREPRENEURSHIP is about USING your LIFE to MAKE A DIFFERENCE through a BUSINESS.”
This is my personal definition of entrepreneurship. And in this definition, lies the 3 critical components that are necessary to successfully pursue your entrepreneurial dreams and eventually build a business that MATTERS!
The 3Ps of Entrepreneurship
- The PERSON (who): using your life
- The PURPOSE (why/what): to make a difference
- The PROCESS (how): through a Business
Let’s look at each critical component in more details.
The PERSON (who): using your Life
The entrepreneurial journey is embarked upon by an individual or group of individuals. And to a very large extent, the success or failure of the business to be created is going to be greatly determined by the founder(s).
This is why it’s imperative for us to start the exploration of this subject matter of entrepreneurship from a personal perspective. Because believe it or not, business and life are both sides of the same coin. At the very fundamental level, business is not separate from life, but an extension of life.
So any attempt to separate one from the other, will ultimately compromise the very essence of entrepreneurship.
The Entrepreneur: Who Are You?
Entrepreneurship is the most unusual journey you will ever embark on in your life, so you’ve got to be absolutely certain it’s how you want to live your life and what you want to use your life for.
Entrepreneurship is not complete without you the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is fulfilled through you; you are the one who gives birth to your business.
Your business is whatever you say it is. Your business can and will only go as far as you want to take it.
You and your business are inextricably linked. Your business derives its purpose from your purpose; your business derives its meaning from your life.
So this leads us to the BIG question every entrepreneur or would be entrepreneur must answer; who are you?
Until you have discovered yourself, every business you start will eventually fail. I know this is hard to believe, so I am going to prove it.
According to Bill Aulet, the professor of entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship; there are primarily 3 ways of starting a new business venture.
Meaning, there are basically 3 ways of becoming an entrepreneur;
- YOU have a breakthrough technology
- YOU have an idea
- YOU have a passion
Did you notice every one of the 3 ways of becoming an entrepreneur started with YOU? From the above, the only constant element is YOU. It takes YOU to create a breakthrough technology; it takes YOU to come up with a viable business idea; and finally, it takes YOU to have passion.
At the epicenter of entrepreneurship is YOU!
YOU will have to decide based on any of these 3 options how YOU want to become an entrepreneur. And your ability to make the right choice will greatly depend on your understanding of yourself as a person.
Knowing who you are; what you like and dislike; your strengths and weaknesses; your interests, abilities and skills; your character, temperament and values; your experiences, challenges, desires and realities; all add up to determine your success or failure as an entrepreneur.
So going into business without first discovering yourself and understanding who you are, is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Why? Because not knowing yourself will hinder your ability to accurately choose the right business that will suit your person.
In the end, you will find yourself in a line of business you are inadequately equipped for and will eventually lack the personal qualities to scale through thereby leading to business failure. You can avoid this by consciously seeking to know yourself better.
Remember, entrepreneurship is about using your life to make a difference through a business. So this is your life you are using up to create and build a business, don’t waste it on the wrong kind of business.
Self Discovery Tools
Here are a few tools that can help you know more about yourself;
16 Personalities – this is a personality discovery tool. Take the test to find out more about your person.
101 Self Discovery Questions – this is a great list of 101 important questions to ask yourself
The PURPOSE (why/what): to make a Difference
The second critical component of entrepreneurship is the purpose. In other words; to what end is your entrepreneurial journey? Or better still; why did you become an entrepreneur? What are you trying to accomplish by becoming an entrepreneur?
This critical component of entrepreneurship is necessary for all existing entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs because it serves as a compass to guide your business activities. Without it, many entrepreneurs have derailed and watched their businesses collapse as a result.
There’s only one true purpose for entrepreneurship; to make a difference in the lives of your customers through the products/services you create and sell to them.
In other words, the purpose of entrepreneurship is to add value for customers and ultimately society. If a business is to succeed, it must aim to add value to customers through continuous innovation and finding new ways of making a difference.
The reason many people go into business and eventually fail is because they didn’t clearly understand the purpose of entrepreneurship. To many in this category, entrepreneurship is about making all the money you can through a business.
Consequently, they go into business with a selfish mentality determined to GET as much money as they can without first considering how much they have to GIVE in exchange for the money they seek.
Entrepreneurs with this selfish mentality fail in business because they have violated the very purpose of entrepreneurship, which is to make a difference through your products/services. Thinking about the money [profit] you will get first rather than the products/services [value] you should create is the recipe for business failure.
In the world of business, there’s only one way to make money; consistently creating and selling products/services that add value to humanity. Death is the eventual outcome of any business that doesn’t make this purpose of entrepreneurship their core guiding principle.
The PROCESS (how): through a Business
Business is the tool entrepreneurs use to make a difference in the lives of their target customers. Without creating a business, entrepreneurs greatly limit their capacity to make a difference. Why? Because you are limited as a person.
As an individual, there’s only so much you can do to satisfy your customers. Sooner or later, you will be overwhelmed by all the different activities required to provide the products/services your customers demand. So don’t attempt to go down that road, you will only entrap yourself.
The process of entrepreneurship is all about building a business and not about doing business. The reason for the failure of most small businesses can be traced back to this mistake of doing rather than building a business.
Building a business is about creating systems that will power the activities required to create and sell products/services to your customers. These systems will involve both people and machines; through them your capacity as an entrepreneur to make a difference is greatly amplified.
There are essentially 5 core inter-related systems you need to create;
- Human Resources [HR] – a specific process of finding, hiring, training, retaining and firing workers
- Finance – a specific process of sourcing, allocating and managing funds
- Marketing – a specific process of attracting, retaining and growing profitable customers
- Production – a specific process of converting resources into finished goods and services
- Distribution – a specific process of delivering products/services to your customers
The process of entrepreneurship is about putting all these things in place in your business. They are the pillars on which you will build your business. The more effective and efficient these core inter-dependent systems are, the quicker your business will grow and the bigger the difference you can make.