The story of college dropouts who later turned out to be multi-billionaires as a result of the great businesses they built is a popular success story. The likes of Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, Richard Branson of Virgin and Mark Zuckerberg of facebook to name a few. Here is a list of 55 School Drop Out Billionaires and Successful Entrepreneurs.
At the other end of the spectrum are entrepreneurs who didn’t necessarily drop out of school, but began their entrepreneurial journey while in school. Here’s a list of 10 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started Businesses in College. This is the category I belong; building my business while I was still schooling.
Both categories of entrepreneurs are living proofs of one fact; there are potential entrepreneurs on campuses. It is no longer smart to wait for them to finish schooling before planting in them the seed of entrepreneurship. As they say; “catch them young”.
This is particularly important especially in my country Nigeria where there’s a growing rate of unemployment. Every year several thousand youths graduate from these higher institutions with no hope of employment.
Recognizing this growing problem is what inspired the publishers of “Paddy Gbam” magazine to create this platform to raise and empower entrepreneurs on Nigerian campuses. I am part of the organizing team and have been selected to lead the talk on entrepreneurship development on campuses.
We will be kicking off the tour this Thursday, 7th Feb., 2013 at the Federal University of Technology Akure [FUTA]. We have 8 universities and colleges already scheduled for the month of February alone and this is just season one!
CampusPreneur Tour 2013 – The Schedule
The Tour will also feature other entrepreneurs like Rita Oloko, a make up professional and Segun Jiwande, a fashion designer. Orisha Femi a popular Nigerian musician will also be performing alongside budding artiste such as; Rizz, Lace, Testimony and D-whyne. This tour is proudly supported by; naijapreneur, soundcity, Nigezie, Primetime Africa, Dynamix, Acada, The Guardian, Nigerian Tribune, and Punch Newspaper and others.
Below is the timetable for the CampusPreneur Tour 2013;
@FUTA – 07/02/2013
Francis Thedibire Auditorium
@UI (IBADAN) -21/02/2013
@AAUA – 26/02/2013
Olusegun Obasanjo Auditorium
Stay tuned as we will keep updating the venue for other schools!
There are a few things you can do to support this initiative;
- One, like our facebook page and help spread the word among your friends.
- Two, if you are living around any of the 8 schools listed above, make it a date and join us at the designated venue.
- Share this post using any of the floating icons by the left hand side of the site on twitter, facebook, linkedin and google+.
Thanks for your support; we hope to do many more of such initiatives.
“I will build a car for the great multitude, constructed of the BEST materials by the BEST men to be hired after the SIMPLEST designs that modern engineering can devise…so LOW in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one–and ENJOY with his family the blessing of hours of PLEASURE in God’s great open spaces”.
How many entrepreneurs go into business with such a vision, purpose, mission or mindset?
Yet we wonder why few businesses achieve GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE.
The answer is simple; we go into business NOT for the benefit of OTHERS but for OURSELVES!
To build a business that MATTERS, fight a CAUSE [vision, purpose, or mission] that MATTERS!
Your business in this NEW YEAR 2013 will only go as FAR as the CAUSE [vision, purpose, or mission] that you went into business to FIGHT!
Your business was STARTED by you, but it’s never about you nor was it created for YOU; it is and will always be about OTHERS!
BUSINESS: It’s NOT Only About YOU!
“If you do something good, the future will come. By doing good, the world will conspire to work with you to achieve new heights.” –Illac Diaz, founder, MyShelter Foundation
Back in 2010, which was the launch year of naijapreneur, I wrote two very heart pouring articles titled “why doing business as usual is suicidal” and “two kinds of companies: what kind are you building?“.
You should read them if you haven’t read them already. And here is why.
Unknown to me back then, as I was busy pouring my heart out from far away Africa [Nigeria to be precise] on why doing business as usual is suicidal and why the growth and success of your business now depended on doing business Not as usual. Somewhere else on planet earth on a little island called Necker, Sir Richard Branson of the global Virgin brand was having the same idea and was putting it all together as a new book for entrepreneurs.
Talk about collision of ideas!
Last two years, in November 2011, he launched the book titled; “Screw Business as usual“. And guess what? Yours truly hadn’t read or ever heard about this book when I wrote those two unusual articles.
So what’s all these got to do with you or your business or your entrepreneurial journey for that matter?
“Every single business person has the responsibility for taking care of the people and planet that make up our global village, all 24,902 circumferential miles of it.” –Richard Branson
‘Doing Good’ Is Good Business.
Meaning, you can make more money IF MONEY ISN’T THE ONLY THING ON YOUR MIND!
Business is no longer as usual. To survive you’ve got to do the unusual. Being UNUSUAL is the NEW business as usual.
Before now, the usual was to focus on money [profit] –what you will get from your business. NOW, the table has turned. You have to focus on the unusual, meaning [purpose] –what you will give through your business.
For regular naijapreneur readers, you are already familiar with this. This is the core of what we preach. Not to be overly arrogant or proud, but with all humility and with pureness of heart, seriously you need to pay attention to what you read on naijapreneur!
Beyond the fact that I am also an entrepreneur like you and all that I publish are from my personal experiences in life and in business. I strongly feel what I share is beyond me. They are not just theories as they might literally seem at first glance; they are timeless principles that have repeatedly been used to build businesses that MATTER. And that’s why I particularly like Richard Branson’s bold move to challenge the business world with this new book.
“Over the last few decades as I’ve started up one exciting business after another, I thought that life and work could not get any better. In writing this book, I’ve realized that we’ve really been on a practice run, getting ready for the greatest challenge and opportunity of our lifetime. We’ve got a shot at really pulling together to turn upside down the way we approach the challenges we are facing in the world and look at them in a brand new entrepreneurial way. Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this great next frontier where the boundaries between work and purpose are merging into one, where doing good, really is good for business.”
Change The World, Profit From Purpose
This mantra of changing the world and profiting from purpose works. I have applied it and am still applying it and so have several other unusual entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson who in my opinion is like the Godfather of unusual entrepreneurs following legendary and Sam Walton of blessed memories.
In this New Year 2013, I am encouraging you to take these principles to heart and much more than that, PUT THEM TO TEST through APPLICATION. Meaning, practice what you learn!
It is my utmost desire to see you awaken the spirit of business within, build a business that MATTERS, change the world and profit from purpose. I will forever always do my part, which is bringing you unusual business and entrepreneurship principles, ideas and best practices. But all of these won’t matter in 2013 if you NEVER put to use the things you learn from naijapreneur.
And this is where I draw the curtain on this little heart-to-heart talk from me to you. In 2013, the world is awaiting the manifestation of unusual entrepreneurs who would not only build businesses that MATTER, but will also change the world and profit from purpose.
It is possible to make a profit by making a difference!
Grab a copy of “Screw Business As Usual” and go make something happen!
Over To You!
As it’s popularly said;
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
It’s a New Year again, so what’s going to be your strategy for doing business NOT as usual this year? What are you going to do differently in your business that will set you apart from others in your industry? Are you going to keep doing business as usual or are you going to screw business as usual and dare to build a business that MATTERS?
Share your thoughts and comments below. Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say!
Being an entrepreneur has its own perks and privileges such as time freedom, financial freedom, creative expression, admiration of peers, attraction of the opposite sex [trust me] and celebrity status, thanks to social media. Amidst all these, entrepreneurship also has its own share of woes and challenges.
Yes entrepreneurs are perhaps one of the smartest breeds you can find. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the bravest species around. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the most optimistic thinkers alive. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the most visionary and creative minds in the world. Yes to all these and many more.
Entrepreneurs are NOT superheroes!
Entrepreneurs are human beings.
Entrepreneurs have needs.
Entrepreneurs have weaknesses.
Entrepreneurs fumble, struggle and also stumble.
Entrepreneurs Also Cry!
Trust me, I have been there.
Some time ago, precisely in the year 2010, a relationship of two and the half years fell apart because I chose the road less traveled —entrepreneurship. As painful as this was, I found out I wasn’t the only one who had experienced such.
While discussing with fellow entrepreneurs, I discovered several others who had suffered a break up as a result of entrepreneurship. In fact, even marriage doesn’t shield you from a break up if you are an entrepreneur. Don’t think so? Ask Donald Trump!
So what does this suggest to you as an entrepreneur?
- One, that the unusual journey you have embarked on will test every fiber of your human configuration. The challenges are not only limited to the business domain, it transcends into your personal domain. In other words, being an entrepreneur doesn’t shield you from the imperfections and vulnerabilities that come with being human.
- Two, and perhaps this is the most important lesson, that it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to have doubts, fear and uncertainty. It’s ok to worry. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok not knowing all the answers. It’s ok to be lazy, sometimes. It’s ok to rest. It’s ok to be laughed at. It’s ok to be called crazy, stupid and foolish.
So in this unusual article, I want to lay it bare as I have done previously in the dark side of entrepreneurship to discuss our human side of this unusual journey.
7 Strategies For Coping With The Human Side Of Entrepreneurship
The human side of entrepreneurship refers to those personal struggles you face as a result of your decision to become an entrepreneur. They represent the pains, challenges, experiences, sacrifices and realities that are peculiar to entrepreneurs as a result of the unusual path they have chosen.
So here are some ideas on how you can begin to cope with the human side of your entrepreneurial journey.
1). Accept Your Human Limitations
Stop fighting the fact that you are a human being. The more you do the more frustrations you invite into your already complex entrepreneurial life. Rather, begin to appreciate the limitations that come with being human.
Why? Because it allows you to have a more healthy view of things. It allows you to appreciate how far you have come, how much you have done, and the role others have played in making it all happen.
Knowing that you are limited in some ways, allows you to develop humility. This is a very crucial virtue in your entrepreneurial journey. The moment you begin to think you are all and all, that you know it all, can do it all, then your downfall is eminent.
Knowing that you are limited in so many ways humbles you to accept one vital truth about entrepreneurship; you are just an instrument of nature. Entrepreneurs by themselves can’t do anything except that which nature has permitted to be done through them. Entrepreneurs are vessels of creation. You can do only that which you have been configured by nature to do.
Knowing that you are limited in so many ways, allows you the psychological air you need to preserve your sanity. This is so helpful especially when things begin to go wrong, when everything seems to be falling apart in your life. Knowing that you are human reminds you of the brutal fact that so many things are outside your control or influence. So don’t drive yourself insane!
2). Involve Your Loved Ones
You may be the entrepreneur, but the truth is this; you’ve indirectly dragged your loved ones into the journey the moment you made up your mind to become an entrepreneur. Your loved ones are your family and friends, those who care about you and that you care about.
The day you became an entrepreneur, you’ve involuntarily brought them along this unusual journey. So be upfront with them about the realities that come along with the entrepreneur’s journey. The more they know about your business and the challenges it attracts, the better they can relate with you. Trying to put them in the dark will only further complicate matters.
I must warn though, this decision to involve them has both its good and bad sides. My relationship probably fell apart because of the level of information and transparency I shared with my fiancé then. I made it very clear that the journey was going to be long, tough and slow at first which will demand that we made certain personal sacrifices, especially in regard to our lifestyle.
Looking back now, I am happy I did because it made the decision to leave easier for her. So bear this in mind, involving your loved ones can bring about some sad events because not everyone will want to go along this unusual journey with you. So don’t freak out when they choose to opt out and please don’t try to force them to stay against their will.
3). Embrace Fear, Doubt And Uncertainty
There’s nothing wrong in being afraid, doubtful or uncertain, they are natural human emotions. Like I have written in a previous unusual article, the hidden benefits of fear, doubt and uncertainty, these 3 emotions are only warning signals calling your attention to areas that you would have otherwise ignored.
The only wrong thing is to allow them hold you back from moving forward. They are present in order for you to make necessary corrections and move on. Whenever you want to take a bold step or break out of your comfort zone, fear, doubt and uncertainty creeps in to checkmate your decisions and actions. They are not to be ignored as we often do, they are to be leveraged upon to fine tune your decisions and actions.
I doubt myself several times. I doubt the path I have taken. I doubt the outcome of my entrepreneurial journey. But the thing I never do is allow these fears, doubts and uncertainties to cripple my progress. Every time these 3 emotions arise, I simply say to myself; “Tito, it’s time for some progress evaluations“.
I see them more as reminders of the need to pause and reflect over your decisions, actions and situations as an entrepreneur. They are very good re-alignment tools to help you assess your situation every now and then. Fear, doubt and uncertainty are like alarms that notifies you that something, somewhere is about to go wrong.
Sometimes, these alarms can be false, and other times they can be real. In either case, your task as an entrepreneur is to pause and examine your decisions, actions or situation to find out if it’s real or not. If it’s real, fix it as best as you can before moving on, and if it’s not real, move on. But don’t always ignore these 3 warning emotions. Rather, learn to work with them to your advantage!
4). Balance Optimism With Some Healthy Dose Of Reality
Entrepreneurs are famous for being the most optimistic breed on earth. Entrepreneurs thrive on hope. Nothing is wrong with this attitude, as a matter of fact, without optimism, entrepreneurship would never have been. Optimism is what enables entrepreneurship to thrive in the first place.
How else would you explain the drive of entrepreneurs to create change in the face of market, environmental, and other external oppositions? Optimism empowers entrepreneurs to act on their dreams, to pursue vision and follow purpose.
However, there is such a thing as too much optimism. As an entrepreneur, you must recognize that in life, nothing is guaranteed. The only thing guaranteed is change. Things will never go according to plan. So in your optimism, make room for reality. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by the hope of tomorrow that you forget to confront the harsh realities of today.
Allow yourself to dream big dreams, take huge steps of faith and plan for the future. At the same time, analyze your current situation in relation to the existing realities on ground and act wisely. Ignoring reality with the hope that your optimism will override facts, will only cause you more harm than good.
Here’s a very fantastic article I read recently about balancing optimism with some healthy dose of reality; 5 ways optimism can crush your launch.
5). Talk About It!
Look, the challenges you face as an entrepreneurial human being are not peculiar to you alone. These are universal issues relevant to all entrepreneurs. The only difference lies in the degree at which we experience these challenges. So stop sucking and start talking.
It annoys me whenever I see entrepreneurs who act like they have figured it all out. No one does, no one ever will. This entrepreneurship journey is a never ending journey till death. So what you think you have figured out today may turn out to be obsolete tomorrow. That’s why you shouldn’t lockup and act like everything is fine.
Speaking out is very therapeutic. The group Alcoholics Anonymous helps people suffering with alcohol addictions heal by simply sharing their experiences and challenges. Transparency no matter how shameful or embarrassing goes a long way to making things better. At the very least, you get to know that you are not alone.
This is precisely the reason I created this site, naijapreneur; as a community to air the lessons, failures and experiences of my entrepreneurial journey while also providing others the opportunity to do the same through their ongoing interactions in the comments section, via email and on social networks.
Seriously, being an entrepreneur is tough, so let’s not just deceive ourselves here ok? I know you can sometimes fall into the illusion that I have figured out this entrepreneurship stuff, to an extent I have. But this doesn’t mean I am having it all rosy or that I am not having challenges or that I am not still in the never ending process of figuring it out.
As a matter of fact, the more I share the more I realize I still have a whole lot of figuring out to do. The beauty lies in the fact that I am not a bystander but like you, also in the journey. So I get to share not only the experiences or challenges of others, but also mine as well. The bottom-line is this; learn to talk about your human side of entrepreneurship openly!
6). Develop A Sense Of Humour
The entrepreneur’s journey is tough already; please don’t make it tougher on yourself through your reaction to events. You can’t change what happened, but you can change what it means. In the course of this unusual journey of entrepreneurship, bad things will happen, expect it. But don’t kill yourself over it; instead learn to laugh over it.
Don’t let the negative incidences you encounter along the way get to you, they are bound to happen. See them all as lessons that you can learn from. If you don’t want to die before the vision comes to pass, don’t be too serious or take yourself too seriously. Shit happens and shit will always happen, to maintain a healthy balance of your life, develop a sense of humour. In other words, learn to see the positive side in every negative event!
7). Give Yourself A Break
You need some regular time away from work. Human beings were designed to also live besides work. The fact that you have involved your loved ones, family, and friends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make out time for them.
Especially if you are married with kids, learn to consciously and deliberately create family time for your wife and kids. Try not to bring work home unless when it is absolutely unavoidable due to emergencies or deadline.
Take care of yourself by ensuring you take out time to rest and also exercise and socialize with friends. These are self renewing activities that allow you more creative energy to function as an entrepreneur.
Certainly, there are several other strategies for coping with the human side of entrepreneurship. I can’t obviously mention them all alone, so here’s your part to share your own experiences and challenges and also offer some additional strategies you use to cope.
The comment section is below; it is your own platform for interacting with this community of unusual entrepreneurs. I am counting on you to use it!
Talk to you soon in the comments and don’t forget to share with your friends. The buttons to your left are for this purpose, hit tweet to share on twitter, share on LinkedIn or like to share on facebook or google+.
What is the number one reason for most small business failures? The number one reason why most small businesses fail is low business IQ!
A common trend among small business owners is thinking that all it takes to successfully run a business is technical skill plus some common sense. After all, business is all about selling your stuff to customers, so what’s the big deal? With their technical skills, entrepreneurs create products/services that they sell to customers using their common sense. Before long, they start wondering why things are not as rosy as they had imagined.
It’s not because your product/service is bad; it’s because you lack fundamental business skills. The best product/service mindset is how many entrepreneurs get into business. It’s not just about the quality of your idea; it’s more about the quality of your execution.
Execution is how you intend to turn your idea into reality. It’s the measure of your capability to make your idea happen. It’s far more important than your idea and here’s why.
Business Is NOT Common Sense!
Being an entrepreneur is not a job that you only require a specific skill and some common sense to do. Being an entrepreneur is a burden that goes beyond specific job functions or descriptions. So a good way to fail in business very gallantly is to rely on your technical skills and common sense alone.
As an entrepreneur your task is to build a business and not to do business. It is a task that demands more than one skill. Because you are building it, and not doing it like a job would imply, you are never going to succeed relying on one skill alone!
That you are a great accountant doesn’t mean you will build a great accounting firm. The technical skill of accounting is only one aspect of building a business known as product development or product knowledge. In other words, it means you are good at doing accounting, no more, no less.
It doesn’t mean you are a good marketer. It doesn’t mean you are a good manager. It doesn’t mean you are a good entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean you are good with people –leadership. It doesn’t mean you are good at selling. It doesn’t mean you good at strategy.
All of these and many more are what building a business entails. And your success is determined by how skillful you are in more than one area of business. How skillful you are in the fundamental principles of business. Without them, everything about your great product/service is trash.
The first fundamental business skill you need as an entrepreneur to build a successful business is entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship Is Your Number ONE Business Skill
How good are you at thinking up ideas and turning them into viable business opportunities?
Entrepreneurship is the first business skill you need to develop. It is not starting your own business as many often misinterpret. It is about taking an idea and turning it into a product/service and successfully building a business around that idea. The skill of entrepreneurship is the skill of making an idea a reality profitably.
So one good way to know whether you are a good entrepreneur is to ask yourself how many ideas have you turned into a product/service that people paid for?
A good entrepreneur is not judged by how many ideas they have, but by how many they have successfully launched into the market and profited from. Your ideas are not what people pay for, they pay for solutions to problems they have. You need to take your idea and turn it into something people want to pay for. That’s what it means to be an entrepreneur.
To Develop Your Entrepreneurship Skill, Master The Following:
Entrepreneurs are the ideas people and the ability to think up ideas is creativity. To be creative, you must be able to see something new from something old. Creativity is the use of your imagination to make things that didn’t exist before happen.
It’s more of a habit than a skill; the habit of thinking up something new and making new things. It becomes a skill through constant practice. Your creativity is expressed through creation. If you are not thinking up stuffs and making stuffs, then you are not creative!
The best place to start is to cultivate the habit of inventing play. What does this mean? Look at your immediate surrounding and think up different ways of doing things and giving it a shot. The objective is to train your mind’s eye to always seek out an alternative approach to solving existing problems.
Creativity is simply thinking about “what could be” rather than focusing on “what is”. It is the search for a better alternative other than what is available. As an entrepreneur you should always be looking for new ways to do old things.
A quick word of caution here, creativity does not absolutely mean originality. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be your idea, it can be a borrowed idea from others. The creativity is in your ability to successfully integrate the idea into what you are doing.
The source of your idea doesn’t matter, what matters is the unique changes it brings into the prevailing situation. So keep your eyes open for ideas worth borrowing around you and don’t be afraid of making mistakes trying your hands on these new ideas!
This is the ability to see the end from the beginning or begin with the end in mind. Strategic planning is how you define your goals, clarify the required process, estimate the needed resources and integrate all the different aspects into one overall blueprint. It is about defining and taking meaningful actions.
In other words, strategic planning is about putting your best foot forward. It’s knowing that there are two possible outcomes from every action; success or failure, then taking only calculated actions that minimize failure and maximize success. This is the difference between movement and progress. One is action [movement] and the other is meaningful action [progress].
As an entrepreneur, you have unlimited ideas but have limited resources to execute them. So you cannot afford to lash out frantically pursuing all your ideas all at once. You need to be strategic with the use of your limited resources to ensure they are being expended on your most viable ideas per time.
The patience to understand the audience you are trying to reach. Many entrepreneurs can’t clearly identify who their market is and what their needs are. Market research is about getting intimate with the target market you want to sell to. It involves understanding who they are, where they are, what they like and don’t like, how they think, why they buy, what they do, how much they earn, and every fact about them.
These facts are broadly classified into two:
Demography: all physical attributes of your target customers (age, sex, income, location, religion, marital status, education, association, etc).
Psychography: all emotional attributes of your target customers (interests, fears, dreams, values, desires, wants, etc).
This is the patience to understand your competition. Market research is about target customers, competitive analysis is about your industry, niche or competition. These are other businesses targeting the same market as you and selling them similar things as you.
You need to get intimate with them from far. You need to understand their strengths and their weaknesses and come up with ideas on how to differentiate yourself from them. No one is going to buy from a copycat, so competitive analysis is how you stand out in the market.
Value Creation/Product Development:
The very essence of entrepreneurship is the creation of solutions in the form of products and services to the problems plaguing humanity. So your skill set as an entrepreneur will be incomplete without an ability to create value –products/services. The ultimate test of your entrepreneurial skills is your ability to identify people’s needs and create products/services that meet those needs.
Your success is largely dependent on how well you can meet these needs better than others. To sharpen this skill, focus on the customer. Make the customer the centre of all you do as an entrepreneur. Your business exist to serve the customer, the moment you lose sight of this fact, the less capable you will be in creating value –products/services.
Effective Communication –Written and Oral:
Since entrepreneurs are the ideas people, most of what will make you or break you is the quality of your ideas and how well you communicate them to the world. Your ability to effectively communicate your ideas will determine whether the world will accept or reject you.
Why is this skill so important? Because being an entrepreneur begins with your idea for a product/service and in most cases, you will require the help of others to make your idea a reality.
The survival of your idea is dependent on whether you get the support of these people or not. At every time in your entrepreneurial journey, you will be asked over and over again to explain your idea. Whether it is to a panel of investors, a strategic partner, a possible buyer or even your employees.
If you can’t win them over with your words, then you’ve lost out before you even began. Effective communication skills include listening, copywriting, public speaking, presentation skills etc.
Strategic Alliance —Networking/Collaboration:
You must be able to enlist the help of others much smarter than you. Most of these people you might not be able to pay as full time workers, but this doesn’t hinder your working with them. This is where your networking skills come in handy. Collaborating with these smart people will enable you get more done with less.
As an entrepreneur, you cannot accomplish much alone. So it’s very important you seek out early in your journey those who will complement your skill set. These are people I refer to as vision partners –you are passionate about the same cause. Collaborating with them will greatly impact your wealth of information and experience.
How has your business been affected as a result of low business IQ?
Which of the above entrepreneurial skill set are you currently struggling with?
From experience, what other areas should entrepreneurs focus on to develop their entrepreneurship skill?
Kindly share your thoughts in the comment section below. Remember to be as specific as possible to add to the collective learning. Thanks!
The customer is always right, so you were told right? The customer is king, I’m sure you were also told this, right? Well there is just one minor detail they forgot to tell you and that single detail they left out is probably what has been frustrating your business.
What is that single detail about customers you weren’t told?
It’s ok to let some customers go because not all customer is right for your business.
This is the part you weren’t told and this is the part I want to talk about in this unusual article. Because for so long I have suffered too much in the hands of customers who I should never have involved myself with if I had been told what you are about to read here earlier.
Beware Of Customers From Hell, Choose Wisely!
You see all customers are not the same, so don’t waste time trying to satisfy all customers. As customers have the right to choose which company to do business with, so you also have the right to choose which customer to do business with. Business is all about value for value. It is a win-win relationship between you the seller and they the buyer. The right customers are those who understand this fact and won’t accept anything less.
I recently wrote an unusual article about 7 warning signs of a dying business, in it I talked about no word of mouth as one of the warning signs of a dying business. This is because customers are supposed to be one of your business partners who help you spread the word about the remarkable things you do. This is one of the reasons why you should choose your customers wisely. Not all of them fit the description of a partner.
As an entrepreneur, customers make or break your business. Besides your employees, customers are another set of people you should never joke with in business. The success or failure of your business depends on the customer. This is why you should choose your customers wisely. If you associate with the wrong set of customers your business is doomed!
4 Warning Signs Of Customers You MUST Avoid!
Below I present some obvious warning signs of customers who you shouldn’t allow in your business. You also have the right to allow them at your own risk; you will be the judge of that. My role is to share with you from my sad experiences with such customers!
Don’t Believe In What You Are Selling
The very first warning sign of a customer who is not right for your business is one that says to you something like this; “you know I don’t believe in all these things you are telling me”. The next time you hear such a phrase from your customer, take to your heels.
How do you ever plan to sell to someone who obviously doesn’t believe in what you are offering as a solution to their problem? This is like selling ice to the Eskimos. You shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince or confuse or manipulate or any of the sales tactics you use, it won’t work. They are not for you, and they just made it clear. Selling to them is nothing short of a competition, more like a game with two opposing parties.
As entrepreneurs, we often make one major mistake, and that is this; just because the prospect showed some interest on the phone or via email or somehow, doesn’t mean they are the right customer. I used to make this mistake a lot. The high point of this mistake is when the prospect invites you to a talk in their office or comes over to your office. Because they have made this initial commitment, you can be fooled into thinking they believe in what you are selling.
In most cases, they are just trying to see if what you have to sell makes sense or not. Deep inside them, they don’t believe it will work. This is what is known as self fulfilling prophecies. When a customer believes that what you are suggesting might not work, in most cases it turns out so. Not because your solution is wrong, but because they started with a negative attitude and won’t put in the effort to make it work. These are the customers who don’t follow up on your instructions. They are the customers who want to have it their way. They already have their mind fixed on a particular solution they think is better than what you are offering, by all means let them be!
A quick word of caution here, there is a big difference between customers who don’t believe in what you are selling and customers who don’t understand what you are selling. Those who don’t understand need some education, but those who don’t believe, well, you know what to do –flee!
Feels They Are Doing You A Favour
This is a classical, provoking and often funny twist of perception coming from customers you should desperately avoid. I talked about this in the introductory part of this unusual article above; business is value for value. The moment a customer begins to have the funny idea at the back of their mind that by buying from you, they are doing you a favour rather than seeing the transaction as a win-win deal, you should flee!
Why should you flee?
1. They will not spread the word about your business to others; after all, they are just buying to help you.
2. They will never implement or use what you are selling to them, they don’t need it. And when they don’t use it because they don’t need it, how do you get repeat purchase?
3. They treat you like trash; remember they are buying to help you and not themselves. You don’t matter; you are just one hungry entrepreneur who needs their money. Are we really that cheap as entrepreneurs?
4. They make you go the whole nine yards. Meaning, they don’t meet you half way, they leave you to do everything, making the whole relationship a one-sided thing. They play the passive role while leaving you to make rain. You will do all the thinking; make all the calls, rack your brain to figure out what exactly it is they want. Well here is the truth, nothing, so stop killing yourself over them.
5. They won’t appreciate you; remember in their mind you are only robbing them of their money. They are buying from you so that you leave them alone in peace.
I seriously don’t know about you, but for me, I’m not bearing the burden of entrepreneurship just because of the money. I am doing this also because of the joy of seeing my ideas translated into products/services that changes the world because of the extraordinary impact they have in people’s lives. So the money is only one fraction of the reward I expect to get from this entrepreneurial journey.
More than anything, I want my products/services to be used because that’s how results are achieved. That’s how the value of the business I am trying to build increases. If they aren’t being used, then I have failed as an entrepreneur regardless of how much money I make, because in the long run, the business will fold up. Or have you ever seen a profitable business whose products/services are not being used?
Always Want To Underpay You
Another category of customers you should avoid are those who feel you charge too much and therefore always want to underpay you. Back to my introductory premise again; business is value for value. As entrepreneurs, the pride of what we do is in the value it brings to our target market. Now while not every entrepreneur goes a great deal to ensure what they offer up for sale is extraordinary, for the purpose of this unusual article, I will assume you are one of such entrepreneurs.
So having gone a great deal to provide something extraordinary and taking it a step further to communicate the unusual value you bring to the customer, and yet they turn out with a price that so undervalues your effort, what do you do? Flee!
Now don’t get me wrong, there are certainly several exceptions to this rule, one of them being low purchasing power. If a customer makes me understand that they value what I offer, but can’t afford what I am asking and goes ahead to offer me a lower price, depending on the project, I can concede. In business, this is known as considering all other non-monetary benefits attached to the sale. But if this isn’t the case, and more about the perception that I am trying to overcharge or rob them of more money, I peacefully take my leave.
Why Should You Leave?
1. The first obvious answer is simple, value. The relationship has to be perceived as a win-win, if not, then you are only going to make the sale and risk the relationship. I always emphasize that, making the sale does not guarantee business continuity. What guarantees business continuity is a profitable long term win-win relationship existing between you the seller and they the customer. I am not in business to make a customer for a day or a while; I want to make customers for life!
2. Creating and delivering exceptional value costs money and time, so when a customer fails to appreciate this fact, then they are simply aiding you out of business. The point is very clear, if you want more, be prepared to pay more and if you want to pay less, be prepared to get less. So unless you want to be out of business, don’t hang around customers who always want to underpay you.
3. They are mean people who always want to cheat others by always asking for more than they give. This is perhaps the most annoying reason to flee from customers who want to always underpay you. The reason they are seeking to underpay you is because they always want to be above you. They want to control you, boss you around and make you feel less of yourself. They are the ones who would always be on your neck to deliver. They are the ones who always expect you to put them first. They are the ones always seeking for attention, always calling, always complaining. They will make your life miserable for a chicken change. Is this what you signed up for as an entrepreneur? I didn’t think so too!
Feels They Can Do What You Are Making Them Pay For
The classical phrase coming from such customers is this; “what’s so special in what you are going to do? I can do the same too just that I don’t have the time to”. Does this sound familiar to you? Customers who fall into this category never cease to amaze me. The reason is very simple; if you can do it yourself, why bother me? The very fact that there is some obvious reason however insignificant it might be to you for bringing me in to do what you can do, then you ought to pay me what I am asking.
Value again is the underlying premise here. Most people don’t realize that time is money. Anything you can’t do for lack of time, and you hire someone else to get it done for you, that’s serious value. Because of all resources on earth, time is the only non-renewable resource. Meaning once it is gone, it can never be regain for life. So what you are paying for as a customer is not the work being done, but the time being saved. That’s why air transportation is more costly than road or rail transportation. The reason behind this is the time being saved.
For customers in this category, a little orientation may work and help them see the value you bring. But for those who seem adamant and think you are simply asking for too much, then you know what to do, right? Flee!
I can go on and on pointing out several other experiences that serve as warning signs of customers you should avoid as much as possible. What I have realized over time is this, such customers only eat up your time and resources and won’t allow you to focus on getting the right customers into your business. You will often think that this is how all customers are, well you are partially right. This is how all wrong customers are. The day you encounter the right customer, you will better appreciate the need to choose wisely.
The bottom-line here is this, offer value to those who value your offering.
The core of business is relationship, so in essence choosing customers to work with is like choosing those to be friends with. You don’t want to hang around those who bring you down, right? You want to be in the company of those who see and treat you like the special, unique, extraordinary person you are. So go out and find your own kind or tribe of special, unique and extraordinary customers. Trust me, they are plenty out there!
How true are some of these signs in your business? Besides fleeing, what other ways have you managed to deal with customers who seem to come from hell?
Would love to hear your views in the comment section below. I have shared my experiences, I hope you do the same and let’s make this a collaborative learning experience.
Thanks for reading, I know this was a particularly long read 🙂
Are you a productive entrepreneur?
In the early days of naijapreneur, I wrote a very disturbing post titled Laziness checklist for entrepreneurs. It has grown to become one of the most searched for phrase on naijapreneur from Google generating thousands of visitors monthly. This is the follow up article.
As an entrepreneur you don’t ever consider yourself lazy or unproductive. You rather find yourself complaining of insufficient time, right? But here is the thing; most entrepreneurs are lazy and very unproductive. But before you start throwing stones at me, let’s be sure you understand what it means to be productive, ok?
What Is Productivity?
Productivity simply means getting more of the right things done. It is the ratio of time expended compared to results achieved.
I hope that was what you had in mind?
If not, I think I should be the one doing the stoning. 🙂
The very first sign of un-productivity is having more goals un-achieved. The more goals you have still hanging unfulfilled, the more unproductive you are. I know you have so many items on your to do list that’s why you often complain of insufficient time, right?
Here’s what you need to understand, you are not productive just because you get a lot of stuffs done. Getting a lot of stuff done is being busy —activity. Productivity is about getting more of the right things done. Productivity is about getting closer to your goals one activity at a time. It is not being busy; busyness is the opposite of idleness. Productivity is measured in terms of results.
So here are some questions for you; in your business, are you getting the kind of results you want? In your life, are you getting the kind of results you want? In your finances, are you getting the kind of results you want? With your employees, are you getting the kind of results you want?
If your answer is yes, then you are productive. If no, then we are on the same level. 🙂
How To Boost Your Entrepreneurial Productivity
1. Clarify Your Goals
The first step to getting the kind of results you want is that you define what those results are clearly. The essence of work is to achieve results; we don’t work for nothing, right? So before you start working or doing anything at all, clarify what you want to achieve first.
Here’s an example, at the start of the year I set out with three simple words to guide my thoughts, actions and expectations throughout the year. I wrote about it here, Effective Planning For 2012: Why New Year Resolutions Fail And What To Do Instead. Those words were produce, promote, and prosper.
Meaning, I will do more —produce, market more —promote and sell more —prosper.
For each of these words I created specific goals and revisit them from time to time. How much of them I accomplish is the measure of my productivity or un-productivity this year.
2. Prioritize Your Goals
Now here is the tricky part for entrepreneurs, including me. You don’t find it hard to set goals, right? The hard part is making those goals your priority. Once goals are set, in your quest to achieve them, you get distracted. It happens to every human being, it’s normal. Life is complex, so we end up several times in places or activities we didn’t bargain for.
What is not normal is continuing on this path like nothing is wrong. What is not normal is not retracing your steps every time you get off course. Your goals are like compass, they exist to get you back on track. They are not just for fancy, they are reminders of what you ought to be doing and pointers of where you need to be heading.
So every time you stray off track, stop everything you are doing and get your priorities right. This means you have to periodically review your activities to know how aligned or how off track they are from your goals. Just going on and on without this periodic alignment checks is how to be unproductive.
3. Eliminate Distractions
In the business of life, distractions abound. Some are self imposed and some are unavoidable. In either case distractions are anything that takes your mind off working on your goals.
So how do you eliminate distractions?
- Focus on one task per time: multi-tasking is a myth. You cannot successfully do two things at the same time. At most, you will end up with an average result from each task. Or you end up with so many abandoned projects. When working on a goal, get it done before taking on another one. Just as the great Albert Einstein stated, genius is the ability to focus on one thing until completion.
- Watch less TV: I am often surprised when I see entrepreneurs watching TV like normal people do. You are not a worker that closes from work and relaxes with a TV. You are an entrepreneur; your working hours is not fixed. Now don’t get me wrong, I do watch TV, but only once or twice a week, mainly in the night during weekends. Not watching TV gives me more time to get some more work done. Make watching TV a reward you earn when you have achieved some specific results.
- Become less social: this is going to annoy someone somehow. The truth is this, as an entrepreneur your success is tied to results unlike an employee who might hide under the collective results of others. Keep less friends, party less, chat less, tweet less, facebook less, browse less. All these are what keep you away from doing what you ought to be doing. My being social online or offline is with my goal in mind. I have realized that the more results you achieve in life and in business, the more friends you attract. Unless you are into public relations, there is such a thing as being over social.
4. Buy More Time
Your productivity as an entrepreneur is largely determined by the use of your time and how much you achieve. But time is limited in supply. You don’t have more than 24 hours in a day and you need more time to get things done, right? So what do you do? You buy more time.
Get productivity tools: this is very important for you as an entrepreneur. You need tools to get more work done.
My business is very dependent on content development — I create resources that help people, businesses and lives to grow. Meaning, a large part of productivity for me is how much creative writing I get done. Whether it is business proposals, plans or profile or contents for a website, brochure, book, article, training/course or speech, I am always writing.
So, I recently checked on my 3-word goals this year [produce, promote, prosper] and noticed how far away I was from the goal of produce –creating more contents. On further analysis, I noticed it was due to poor power supply. In Nigeria where I live currently, power is an issue and you need power to type. I have a generating set that produces my own power, but then there is the cost of fueling it.
To save cost of fuel, I started writing on paper and retyping later when I put on the generator. This meant I spent more time writing, one on paper and the second on laptop. That wasn’t productive at all. I needed to write as long as I could, saving as much as I could both in cash and in time.
So what did I do? I got an Android tablet PC [the alternative to iPad] that have more battery life than my laptop allowing me to type as long as 6 hours straight. Now when the generator is on, I charge it while working on the internet on my laptop. This is helping my goal of producing more contents this year.
Tools are great productivity boosters. Another tool I use to buy more time is my blackberry smart phone. Since power is an issue, with my blackberry smart phone I get all my internet tasks done while on the go. I get and send emails, twitter, facebook, linkedin, blogging and all of my online stuffs are done from my BB.
Lastly, as a business consultant, when working with clients it is important to note every detail as much as possible. In the past, I go about with a notepad for jotting down these details. But this didn’t help much as I often had to interrupt my clients asking them to repeat what they had said earlier so I could put it down on my notepad. I solved this problem with a productivity tool known as digital voice recorder.
With this, I simply got every detail of my meetings with clients on record instead of on paper. This allowed me more time to focus on what the clients were saying and helped me to better create solutions for them. And the beautiful part, clients can’t deny the said this or that because it is on tape!
Productivity is about how you maximize your scarce resources of time and money to get the results you want. Taking a very close look at the way you use your time and on what you spend your money will help you discover how productive or unproductive you are as an entrepreneur. Productive entrepreneurs use their time to achieve set goals and spend their money to buy leverage [productivity tools] to get more done with less time.
What is your biggest productivity challenge as an entrepreneur?
How have you been coping with this and what additional tips besides those above are you familiar with?
What other productivity tools do you leverage on to get more work done?