Love is what drives true entrepreneurial endeavours.
Love is the reason why you think that idea of yours is going to change the world.
Love is the reason why you gave up everything else to chase your entrepreneurial dreams.
Love is why you are risking everything you’ve ever known and owned in pursuit of an idea.
Love is why you jump out of bed in a scurry to pen down an idea that you conceived in your sleep.
Love is the source of your passion.
Love is the fuel for your creativity.
Love is the energy we use up for creation.
Becoming your own boss has sort of gained a global appeal. These days many people start up their own businesses for virtually any reason. Somehow it doesn’t seem to count anymore what led people to go into business, going into business has suddenly become the new mantra of the 21st century.
Obviously, there are several factors owing to this global trend some of which are; the emergence of the Internet, the unreliability of job security, the God-like attention given to successful entrepreneurs, the rise of the knowledge worker and so on.
In the end, it’s not the number of businesses that are being started that matters, but the number of businesses that thrives.
So, in this article I will be x-raying some of the ways how NOT to start a business so that in the end, you can have the right mindset needed to start a business.
I welcome you to join me in this exciting journey and as you go through this unusual article I want you to constantly bear this in mind, failure in business is usually as a result of how you start. It is the beginning of a thing that often predicts the end.
As always, I encourage you to share this unusual information with as many entrepreneurs as possible and don’t forget to share your thoughts and opinion in the comment box below. There’s no way you’re going to read this, without having one or two things to say; trust me, it’s just too unusual for you to keep quiet.
1. Don’t Start a Business for the sake of MONEY
Top on the list of reasons why people go into business is the strong desire to amass wealth. I have never known of a more ineffective way to think about business than this. As unpopular as it might sound, most business failures stem from this singular fact alone.
Why? Because the moment making money becomes your primary focus as an entrepreneur, delivering value which is the foundation of effective business practice becomes secondary. And when this happens, no matter how great your business is, it automatically goes on a downward spin.
Nothing kills a business faster than putting money first before adding value. So when next you’re thinking about starting up a business, I suggest you lose every possible thought about making money and focus entirely on delivering consistently superior value.
Trust me, I’m talking from experience (of other people), starting your own business for the purpose of making money is a sure fire way of being highly indebted and having cardiac arrest!
2. Don’t Start a Business because you LOST your job
Closely related to the issue of money is going into business because you lost your job. As you’ve probably realized, this is how many people end up as entrepreneurs. At first glance, there might not be anything wrong with this approach of starting up a business.
But taking a closer look will reveal a vital truth; people who lose their jobs are often driven by fear and to start a business because you are afraid is absolutely disastrous. The implication is often enormous; top on the list is that you will never exercise the due diligence starting a new business entails.
Why? Because the fear of living without a regular income since you no longer have a job will keep haunting you and eventually start making you place unrealistic financial expectations on your new business venture.
Second on the list is that you are emotionally unstable the first few months of losing a job, especially when you didn’t see it coming. The disappointment can be disheartening, the more reason why you shouldn’t go into business with such mind frame.
Why? Because in the world of business, disappointments are a natural prerequisite for success. Meaning, the more disappointments you get, the closer you are to success.
3. Don’t Start a Business because you HAVE money
I know you’re probably startled about this one. You certainly didn’t see it coming. Well, it’s as wrong as starting a business for the sake of making money. How? Here’s the thing most people with money don’t realize, it doesn’t take money alone to make a business work.
Starting and running a business will cost you more than all the money you think you have. There are just too many things a business will demand from you that money can’t even buy, for example; how much does it cost to buy the passion needed to build a SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) business?
Have you ever seen passion being offered for sale? In fact, no university or institute of learning can even teach you passion (not even Harvard or Stanford J). Here’s the truth, having money is good, but it’s not sufficient enough to make you want to start a business. Starting a business requires gut, passion, ingenuity, creativity, resilience and so many other personal character traits that all the money in the world is insufficient to buy!
4. Don’t Start a Business because you want TIME Freedom
The thought of not having to wake up early and rush off to work can be very enticing to would be entrepreneurs. But take it from me, I’ve been in the game now for 4 years; the fact that you didn’t wake up early and rushed off to work doesn’t mean you are not at work. Being an entrepreneur means working all of the time even in your sleep. That your fantasy of time freedom will naturally go sore once you choose to become your own boss.
How do I mean? You see, it’s not that you wouldn’t have more time to yourself when you’re an entrepreneur, certainly you would. But the irony of it all is this; that time freedom is for you to do some creative work and not for you to be idle and indulge yourself in some unproductive activity.
You left your job to have enough time to do what you really care about in life, that’s all the definition of time freedom you’ll ever get – having enough time to make a SIGNIFICANT contribution with your life to the world. True entrepreneurs hardly stay idle indulging in pleasurable activities just because they have time freedom.
They are always in the creative process, picking up clues here and there of how they can make the world a better place by utilizing their time, money and life for something worthwhile.
5. Don’t Start a Business because OTHERS are doing it
Anything that is popular has a way of being highly contagious. People just literally jump at it without any logical explanation. Believe it or not, this is how so many people ended up in the world of business. Since everyone they know is quitting their 9-to-5 jobs to go start their own thing, why shouldn’t they do the same?
The down side of going with the bandwagon is this; you’ll lack the staying power critical to survival in the world of business. At first, the thought of being your own boss can be very enticing, but sooner or later you’ll realize it’s not a bed of roses. And when this reality sets in, you’re the only one who would be left alone to figure out a way of making it through the stormy days.
So start a business because it’s what your soul desires and not what the society or your peers desires for you. Starting your own business is not about boosting your personal ego or winning a popularity contest, it’s a personal decision born out of an internal conviction!
6. Don’t Start a Business because you HATE working for others
Now here comes the tricky one; starting a business because you hate working for others. After wanting to make money, this is another popular reason people give for going into business. Listen, as popular as it may seem, here’s the truth; 99% of popular things are either totally wrong or mere misconceptions. That you hate working for others is no guarantee that you will succeed or enjoy working for yourself.
In fact, there’s more work to do working for yourself than you ever thought you did working for others. So if you hate working for others, you might just as well hate working for yourself. What it turns out to be sincerely is this; you simply don’t like work in general and this is why starting your own business is the last thing you should ever think of doing.
Why? Because business is the domain of unlimited work; there are no working hours like your regular 9-to-5 job. Welcome to the 24/7/365 days a year working schedule!
7. Don’t Start a Business just LIKE everybody else (Differentiate or Die)
In my field of business development, I have seen so many people go into business just because they saw somebody else succeeding in it. This is a higher form of going into business because others are doing (point #5 above). You observe a business and simply go make a clone of such business. So what do we get? The same kind of business but with different brand names.
I don’t get it; “Why would any right thinking person choose to be a duplicate of another when it’s absolutely possible to excel being an original?” As a matter of fact, you have higher chances of succeeding going into business as an innovator than being a duplicator.
The business terrain is already overcrowded filled with countless number of companies doing almost the same thing you have in mind to do. Unlike in the past before the advent of the internet where you had only local or national competitors, such is no longer the case in this age of globalization. Now your competitors are all over the world and just one click away from your local or national target market.
So why would you want to build a business just like your neighbour? Here’s the deal; if your business doesn’t stand for something SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) there’s no need repeating what others have already done and giving it another name.
Meaning, if there’s nothing positively unusual about your business, don’t bother going into business to offer the same old milk but now in a new brand skin or container. Doing this is the fastest way of route to extinction. In other words, differentiate or die!
8. Don’t Start a Business without SUFFICIENT planning
Business is a highly complex activity and therefore requires adequate planning. It’s been statistically proven that inadequate planning is top among the reasons why most businesses fail. I’m sure you already know that by now (that’s why it’s the second to the last point.
Why then did I include it in the list? Because most times, the problem is not about what we don’t know but more of what we do know but never put to use or practice. There’s a phrase that best captures the essence of planning and it goes like this; “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”. And a key element of planning is having a long term perspective of things or as it is popularly called; seeing the big picture. Which intentionally, happens to be the subject matter of the next point to which we now turn.
9. Don’t Start a Business that cannot OUTLIVE you
One of the underlying principles of the Accounting profession is called; “going concern” which means that a business must be in perpetuity. That is, a business is meant to exist as far as there’s still a need to be met. It’s just basic human nature; I mean who wants to raise a child only to watch the child die before their eyes? In the same regard, you should never start a business that has a short lifespan.
Starting a business from a short term or temporary viewpoint, as far as I’m concerned is the definition of selfishness. Why build something temporary when you have the potential to create something eternal? The joy of any creator is to see his/her creation rise above their widest dream and outlive the very existence of the creator.
So here’s the ultimate question for you;
“does your business have the capacity to outlive you?”
“Would your business still be in existence long after you’ve gone?”
Never start or go into a new business without asking and providing answer to either of these questions.
What then is the RIGHT way to start a business?
It’s in the bid to help you answer these two questions above that I now offer the only right way to start a business.
Start a business because you have something SIGNIFICANT (unique & useful) to contribute to the benefit of the human race!
Because a business is a tool that entrepreneurs create in order to make a SIGNIFICANT (unique & useful) contribution to the world by addressing a particular problem plaguing the human race.
In case you’re still wondering how to use your business as a tool for contributing something SIGNIFICANT (unique & useful) to the human race, here’s an unusual article that takes you through the process;
Thank you for your time.
“Behind every unusual entrepreneur lies an unusual beginning!”
If you have ever cared to know where I get the inspiration to write all the unusual articles published on this site; if you have ever thought to yourself, how did I become as I am? If you have ever been curious about my business name “MADphilips”; if you’ve ever asked what kind of an entrepreneur I am? If you have ever wondered about the source of my passion or pondered about what keeps me going?
If you’ve ever wanted to know the driving force behind my unwavering focus; if it has ever crossed your mind to know why I’m so bent on helping people, businesses and lives escape the trap of survival by empowering them to become SIGNIFICANT – different [unusually unique] and making a difference [unusually useful]; Then I have got good news for you! Don’t ask, think or second guess anymore because this article is specially written for you!
For the very first time ever, I am going to let you in on the inside story of my unusual journey into entrepreneurship. I have never shared this story publicly before, now you are going to have the rare privilege of hearing all about it straight from the horse’s mouth. I owe the inspiration for this revelation to quirky [unusual] entrepreneur Jess Webb of jessilicious.com who interviewed me recently.
During the interview she asked a rather unusual question; “What was the defining moment that started you on the business you’re in now?” Answering the question inspired me to share this unusual story with you guys. Read the whole interview here. [I strongly recommend her blog for every serious minded entrepreneur].
How does this UNUSUAL Story Benefit you?
I decided to share this unusual story at a time like this because it’s a New Year and I thought to myself, “what gift do I give to my awesome readers in appreciation for their unusual support these last 6months of naijapreneur!’s existence?” Then I remembered the words of a wise man that went like this; “the best gift a man could ever give to another is his personal philosophy of life!” So my dear readers, silver and gold I have not, but that which I have and have used thus far, I wholeheartedly offer.
So in case you are saying to yourself; “Slow down Tito, what the heck has your personal philosophy of life got to do with me?” OR “How does the story of your unusual journey into entrepreneurship develop my business IQ?” To both questions, I offer one resounding answer; to unveil once and for all the hidden secret behind every business success story out there. What is this hidden secret?
“The content of your personal life experience is your greatest competitive edge in business!”
Take it or leave it. Your most competitive advantage in business as an entrepreneur is your personal life experience as an individual. I have often said this, and will keep repeating it; “business is not different from life, business is an extension of life. They are both sides of the same coin”. You cannot separate your life from your business just as you cannot separate business from your life.
This is where the whole concept of following your passion as an entrepreneur originated from. The only way you are going to succeed and attain the enviable status of significance in your entrepreneurial endeavours is to bring the whole content of your personal life experience to full bear in your business.
Why is this so? Because there is something unique about you and your life experience that no other competition can replicate no matter how hard they try. They simply cannot replicate your life experience. Wow! Isn’t that just awesome?
Knowing this has been my greatest discovery in business and in life. It is totally liberating to know that you have an edge over all the others in your niche just because you have a personal life experience that is uniquely yours. Your only task therefore is to find a way to add some usefulness to your uniqueness.
That is, use your unique personal life experience to do some good [useful] in the world through your business. Pull from the content of your life experience to set yourself apart in business!
Here are some classical examples; Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group who due to dyslexic left school at the age of 15 with “pretty well no qualifications“! He has ever since been leveraging on that personal experience of his life to build a global empire. Today the Virgin Group is made up of around 200 companies spanning 30 countries. Not bad for a guy who left school with “pretty well no qualifications”!
Then there’s the comeback kid; Steve Jobs of Apple who during his famous commencement speech at Standford University shared 3 lessons which had been pivotal to his success by drawing upon his personal life experience. And finally, my personal favourite; Warren Buffet who sold coke at night from door-to-door at a tender age of 6. From then on, he has leveraged that early personal experience in life to become the largest shareholder of coca-cola.
All of these points to the same thing; your personal life experience counts in your entrepreneurial journey. There’s something about your past that can add up to become your greatest differentiating idea in business. Your task is to dig deep into your past to find it.
So, the whole essence of this unusual revelation of the origin of MADphilips is to help you learn from my own story how to use your personal life experience as your greatest competitive advantage by showing you how I have been able to do that myself.
The Origin of MADphilips
My unusual journey into the world of entrepreneurship began in 2005 when in my quest for survival I almost sabotaged my purpose in life. I was heading down a destructive path very fast. What was this path? I was once an online scam artist! In my country, Nigeria, this is popularly known as “Yahoo! – Yahoo!”.
How does this work? Through the internet, relationships are initiated and built between a man and a woman over a certain period of time with the intention of being together as lovers in the nearest future. One person out of both parties, usually the one being scammed [the maga] is completely honest, innocent and ignorant of the nefarious intentions of the other person [the scammer].
The whole objective of the scam artist [scammer] is to siphon money as much as possible from the one being scammed all the while leveraging on the emotions of love, romance and sex. The real identity of the scammer is usually hidden because a phony name, gender, nationality, location, story and even pictures are being used all through the period of interaction. The scammer can assume any gender, male or female, depending on the availability of pictures in any particular period.
I was employed as a cybercafé computer attendant in May 2005. I worked primarily overnight when scammers came to chat with their ‘maga’ via Instant Messenger [IM] in the cybercafé due to the time difference. While it was day in Africa, it was night in other parts of the world and vice versa. So night was the ideal time to connect online with their supposedly significant other [maga].
This was how I got introduced into the game. The rules of the game were simple; play the game but never get attached to the maga. Meaning, do everything you can to get the money, never fall in love with the maga!
Precisely on July 2nd, 2005 I met a 40 year old woman via Yahoo chat room, her name is Victoria S. Jaime. She is an American who lived in Sacramento, California with three kids; Saulomon [male, 13 years old then], Petrapilar [Petra for short, female, 7 years old then] and Enereo [a special needs child; he was 4 years old then]. At that time she was working with Silicon Graphics International [SGI].
I was under the phony name “Timmy Thomas”, a phony age of 31 years, a phony location South Africa and used a phony Yahoo ID “teeblackstone” while in reality I was only just turning 21 years on the 25th of that same month of July we met. We became friends, very close friends from the moment we got talking and it didn’t take us long to bond eventually as lovers. Just for the record, what I felt for her was absolutely real. If you asked me, I would say, everything about us was just so darn unusual.
From the very beginning; I broke all the rules of the game. I wasn’t just being attached; I was head over my heels. In fact, she even had a special name for me; “Mi Amor” meaning ‘My Love’ and I had a special name for her “Mon Cher” meaning, ‘My Dear’.
For my birthday present, she sent me a Nokia 6620 camera phone, a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, “The power of intention” [she also had a copy] and a stone with the word “inspiration” inscribed on it. Guess what? Except the phone which ultimately got stolen that same year in December, I still have the book and the stone! How about that for unusual?
To cut the long story short, our love for each other grew so strong that she sent me $1500 in August for a computer engineering course I previously had in mind to enroll for but couldn’t due to lack of funds. She called it an investment. We planned to see each other physically in September during my so called visit from South Africa to see my mother who was living in Nigeria.
This was when I couldn’t take it anymore. Meeting physically was against the rules of the game. There wasn’t supposed to be any physical meeting between the two parties involved, because one party was real [the maga] while the other wasn’t [the scammer]. Normally, following the rules of the game, this was supposed to be my exit point. But I did the unusual.
I Quit the Game!
I came clean and told her the whole truth. On one of our phone conversations, she made a statement as she was always fond of saying, “Tim, you always sound so older and talk so wiser than your age. You sound like you are 60!” Right there and then, I seized the opportunity and told her my real age, name, and everything else there was to confess about.
For about 3 hours, we were both on the phone crying and asking ourselves why? She was so brokenhearted. I had to tell her the whole truth because I couldn’t stand not meeting her in person. Deep down inside me, I desperately wanted to meet her in person, even till now, I still do!
Everything changed from that night. The next time we had a chat online, she told me how she had refused to go out since the past 3 days and had been in door crying herself out. She didn’t know how she was going to tell her kids that their so called daddy to be was just a phony!
She didn’t know how to tell her family and friends, some of whom I had chatted with online that I was all a lie. She didn’t know how to get herself to accept me and take me as her man and lover if I was just only 21. I begged and promised her that the age difference wouldn’t matter, but she wouldn’t listen.
The worst part was when she even threatened leaving Sacramento California where she had lived all the 40 years of her life to Chicago, just because she couldn’t stand the shame of those around her when they asked her where the love of her life was. It was really a very traumatic time for the both of us; life became boredom!
Her Greatest Impact on My Life!
In case you are wondering why was I so keen on meeting her? Here’s the truth; this woman Victoria S. Jaime literally changed my life! She is responsible for my rebirth, because she pointed out to me my role here on earth [my purpose]. In her own very words, she said to me;
“Tim, in all of my years, experience and education on earth, I have never had anyone not even my teachers at the Dale Carnegie’s institute, speak to me like you do. Their words never had as much impact on me as yours. Tim, your words is your wealth. That is all you need to be everything you dream in life!”
Those words, gave my life a new meaning. They made me realize that I didn’t have to continue with being a scam artist anymore since I had something SIGNIFICANT to offer the world. Why go ahead with a false identity when my real identity still spoke out loud from beneath a false identity? There was no need being someone else when I could do the world a greater good being myself. I made a promise to myself to give this new life she had pointed out to me a chance.
With the money she sent me, I refused to go for the computer engineering course she had given me the money for. Rather, I asked her permission to go for a 3 weeks leadership development program I had recently seen being advertized in my church. She agreed and so I began the program in September.
During the course of the program, I bought as many personal and business development books as possible. Paid for and attended as many personal and business development seminars, workshops or conferences as possible. I have never stopped, nor looked back ever since.
That’s how I became who I am today – MADphilips. To always remember and commit to my just found purpose in life, I added the acronym ‘MAD’ which stands for Making A Difference to my surname ‘Philips’ and registered it as my company name. The name stands as a reminder to me every time of how I escaped the trap of survival and how I must help as many people, businesses and lives do the same.
Today, MADphilips is fast becoming a Nigerian brand with a global appeal that is helping people, businesses and lives become dissatisfied with SURVIVAL and showing them how to make the crucial life changing transition from survival to significance. I started this blog “naijapreneur!” to teach businesses and entrepreneurs how to be SIGNIFICANT because I have also seen how businesses that focus on survival [making a living] end up as mediocres.
Having witnessed personally what focusing on survival [making a living] can do to destroy one’s destiny in life, I am currently working on another blog iLIVE4CHANGE that will teach people how to say no to the trap of survival and make the transition to live a life of significance.
And finally, to help more lives become SIGNIFICANT, I intend to build a humanitarian organization called Helpers Of Destiny [HOD] to give hope to many less privileged kids of underdeveloped nations. She knows about this, we even planned on building it together.
The End and another Beginning…
Today,6 years later, I am still online, but no longer as a scammer [teeblackstone], but as a blogger [MADphilips]. I’m no longer using my gift with words for deception but for inspiration.
Today when I speak at events, I still get the same feedback as I got from Victoria, “Your words are powerful, how come you know these and talk so deep at such a young age?” My answer is usually the same – PURPOSE.
We are all but instruments in the hands of the almighty. If as a scammer, my gift with words was recognized in spite of all the deception, then I leave you with the greatest truth on earth –
“your purpose can never be HIDDEN, no matter how far astray you might have gone!“
I and Victoria are no longer talking, the last time we spoke was in 2008 and she was still very cross with me. Her final words to me was this,
“goodbye Tim, Tito or whatever it is you call yourself. I don’t need your words anymore because they are all lies. And when you do write a book, don’t bother sending me a copy again because I don’t want to hear from you anymore!”
I still wish and pray that someday, we would meet and reconcile physically. If you are reading this, and have been inspired by this unusual story, I have a little favour to ask from you. What’s your own unusual story? Do you mind sharing it? Don’t you think it’s high time you stopped hiding it? Remember, it’s your greatest competitive edge in business as an entrepreneur!
Are you really an entrepreneur; a person who takes risks to create change? Or are you just one of those multitudes who hide under the title of an ‘entrepreneur’ to make ends meet?
So much Fuss about Entrepreneurship, Yet so Little Impact!
Why? Because many people going about with the title of an entrepreneur are not really in it to create change (significance); they are in it to make a living (survival). And when survival is the FOCUS, then mediocrity becomes the OUTCOME.
What we see are a bunch of businesses offering inferior goods and services yet charging exorbitant prices at the very expense of their stakeholders; customers, employees, suppliers and society in general. Their singular focus is on what they will get (profit) rather than on what they will give (value). If you went into business or your reason for starting a business is to make a living (survive), I suggest you re-evaluate your options and go back to the drawing board again.
Going into business simply because you want to make money (profit) is far too much a price to pay as an entrepreneur. I mean isn’t that what employees do; working nine-to-five in order to make ends meet? Why in the world would you choose to become an entrepreneur (be your own BOSS) just because you want to make a living when there is already a far more easy alternative for that –employment. If you are so much in need of money in order to make a living (survive), please go get a job and stop wasting your precious time posing as an entrepreneur!
Entrepreneurship is Beyond Survival
Survival (making a living) is not the goal of entrepreneurship but rather significance (making a difference). You would greatly be doing yourself a disservice if you became an entrepreneur simply to make ends meet. You are only short-changing yourself on the long run because entrepreneurship demands more work from you than an average nine-to-five job ever would.
Entrepreneurship is not the ideal choice for those who simply want to get by in life (survive); entrepreneurship is the ideal choice for those who want to live life according to their own terms and therefore will demand more from life in order to get what they really want (significance). Entrepreneurship is not for those who take what they are given in life and in self pity call it their fate, NO!
Entrepreneurship is for those who take what they are given in life and rather than accept it as their fate, go all out using what they have been given to get what they really want. Entrepreneurship is about using your life to do what you really love and truly care about –passion. It’s not about submitting to the status quo (enjoying comfortability); it’s about challenging the status quo (creating change). A true entrepreneur at their very core is a renegade; someone who is bent on creating change even though it means going against the norm. Does this sound like you?
If that description doesn’t go down with you well enough, perhaps it’s never too late for you to take a critical decision and make a u-turn rather than continue on this path of the less traveled. If your goal is to get rich quick as an entrepreneur rather than making a difference by doing what you love and truly care about, then you might also have to make a u-turn right now, back to the place where money and survival is the goal – employment.
The Purpose of Entrepreneurship
Now I know you will be having a tough time swallowing all these hard stuff and probably wondering what the heck is he talking about? Saying to yourself; “shouldn’t we as entrepreneurs make a living or what?” Or put in another way; “shouldn’t we make money our goal, for crying out loud isn’t that why we are in business?” And here in lies the very reason why most entrepreneurs fail in business.
Focusing primarily on the end (output mentality) thinking only about the profit that is to be made forgetting that the end will only come as a result of diligence and commitment in the beginning backed with an unwavering discipline and persistence in following a process (input mentality). The simple truth is;
Money is the reward (product) NOT the goal (purpose) of entrepreneurship!
Entrepreneurship is much more than making money. It is a calling. And like every other calling, it’s people-centered. It’s never about you, it’s all about others. It’s a calling to serve; it’s not about what you can accumulate (money/profit), it’s about what you can contribute (service/value).
Why do I say this? A calling is a strong urge to follow a particular career or do a particular type of work. The emphasis here is on the word ‘follow’ and to follow means to come after somebody or something. Meaning; you being an entrepreneur cannot choose yourself. You are chosen.
Entrepreneurship is not something you suddenly choose to do or pursue. It is something you are called to do – a pathway you are called to follow. In other words, you are not the ‘doer’; you are only an instrument. It’s not about accumulation; it’s about contribution. I know all these sounds a little strange, so I am going to explain further.
Here’s the deal; in all my humbling experience both as an entrepreneur and a business development consultant, I came to this singular conclusion; that an entrepreneur is simply a problem solver, no more, no less. This definition is owed to the fact that entrepreneurs are nothing if they are not meeting the needs of a particular group of people, known as the customers or target market as the case may be. Without these people, an entrepreneur would never have considered starting a business in the first place. Here is what I mean.
The Starting Point of Every Entrepreneur is Either;
- The recognition of a need (problem) or
- The conception of an idea (solution).
When an entrepreneur recognizes a need (problem), he goes in search of a solution (product or service) to meet that need. And when an entrepreneur conceives an idea for a product or service, he goes in search of a group of people who have a need for it.
In either case, the entrepreneur is always in search of something or going after something. Entrepreneurs do not exist for themselves or by themselves; they depend on something out there; something beyond them before they can birth whatever it is they carry.
They don’t do, they are being used. They don’t create, they are instruments for creation. They don’t start the process; they only complete what has been started. They see a need they didn’t create (problem) and find a way to fill it (solution).
In other words, an entrepreneur is but an instrument of nature; a servant to customers functioning as a problem solver to humanity. This is why entrepreneurship is a calling and not a money-driven venture (profit) but rather a value-adding venture (service). And like every other calling, it has its own reward.
For example; the reward of good leadership is committed followership; the reward of a good teacher is a knowledgeable and changed student; the reward of an inventor is the birth of an innovation and a missionary wins souls.
Likewise, the reward of a good entrepreneur is profit. In order words, the reward of an entrepreneur’s call to create a value-adding venture is profitability. This is where money comes into play. The money comes only after a value-adding venture had first been created.
So, going into business with the singular goal of making money is as simple as putting the cart before the horse. What most people fail to realize is that, money is a reward (an outcome/output/end result/product). It doesn’t just happen on its own; it is the result or product of a particular activity or input.
It never did or will never happen on its own, so making it the goal of going into business is choosing to fail from the very start. I say this, because the purpose of a business is not to make profit, but rather to deliver value to customers.
Businesses don’t Exist for Profits’ Sake; they Exist for Customers’ Sake
And these customers exist because they have a need or problem that needs to be solved. Indeed, anybody fit enough to solve these problems automatically becomes an entrepreneur.
Therefore, an entrepreneur is someone who has answered the call to solve a problem (input or activity) for a set of people (customers or target market) and gets money (result or outcome) as a reward for being able to accomplish all these things.
Understanding this chain-like relationship is what clearly makes entrepreneurship much more than making money. The goal of any entrepreneur going into business should not be what he will get (output or result) but rather what he will give (input or effort). This is because what he gets (money or outcome) is directly tied to how much he can and is prepared to give (effort or input).
Your capacity to make money as an entrepreneur is greatly dependent on how much problems you can solve or solutions you can proffer to customers’ needs or problems. So why focus on the end, when the end is unattainable without the beginning? Your focus as an entrepreneur should revolve around the problems you can solve for people.
How well am I solving this problem? How many people out there have this kind of problem and need my solution? How may I reach them? Who else is out there solving this same problem for people too? How may I do better than this other person? These and many more customer focused questions are what an entrepreneur should go into business to answer.
You as an Entrepreneur have but ONE Task;
To either solve one problem for so many people or
Solve many problems for a few people.
This is what your focus should be, because your reward (money) is tied to this. The more people you solve one problem for, the more money (reward) you stand to get and the more problems you solve for a few set of people; the more money (reward) you also stand to get.
Looking at several examples of successful entrepreneurs all over the world reveals the fact that at the heart of entrepreneurship is the provision of solutions to the day-to-day needs of society. Ask yourself why Richard Branson’s Virgin has become so successful? Have you ever wondered why Microsoft remains the world’s leading computer software company? All these case studies exemplify the true essence of entrepreneurship –providing solutions to the problems and needs of humanity!
Thanks for reading!
So why did you become an entrepreneur?
Kindly share your thoughts and comments below, I’m sure someone out there will find your story useful.
How is your business helping someone?
Never before in the history of humanity have there been a time as this when the whole world seems to be realizing
finally, the very intent and purpose for creation – collaboration. The stiff competition that often characterized the industrial age is gradually giving way to this new age where passion thrives and information rules.
Businesses are beginning to awaken to the fact that unless there’s something SIGNIFICANTLY unusual about their business, there’s no way they are going to remain relevant.
It is increasingly becoming obvious, that the businesses that will thrive in this new age are those who are consistently willing to touch a heart before asking for a hand – being helpful.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are out to get before giving.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not different and making a difference.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not unique and being useful.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that don’t stand for something.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not contributing to the success of their customers.
In this new age, the law of exchange which states that; ‘to get, you must first give’ is the standard on which every business that aspires to grow must be built.
Every site I visit is now giving away something, mostly an eBook in exchange for my email. Everyone is sharing something, whether it’s a link on Twitter, a video on Youtube or a picture on Facebook. The whole world seems to be in the business of helping someone.
To thrive in this new age, being Helpful must become your new business model. Woven under the very fabric of your business must be a strong desire to help. Your business must be built on the principle of helping someone accomplish a particular goal or objective as a result of coming in contact with the product or service your business offers.
Looking at this concept, two words come into play, business and model. For better understanding, I am going to separate them and look at each individually, ok?
The Meaning of Business
A business is a social institution that provides a product or service to a particular group of people known as customers or clients for a particular agreed fee or price.
The first word in the definition that I will like to talk about is social institution. A business at its core is purely built on social interaction. Meaning, everything in the world of business revolves around people. Your employees are people, so are your customers and your suppliers and bankers and lawyers and partners or investors. There’s no way you can do business outside of people. So what does this suggest to you?
It clearly means that to succeed in business, you cannot avoid dealing with people and when people are involved, the golden rule must apply; “do unto others how you would have them do unto you.” Underlying the golden rule is the law of exchange [giving before getting] at work.
Going back to the definition, you would see the law of exchange at play again. How do I mean? You would notice that the definition of business clearly states that a business must first provide [give] products or services to a particular group of people who would then pay an agreed fee or price [get].
In other words, you are not permitted to get until you give. Therefore, business is a discipline that involves dealing with people through the provision of goods and services that attract payment in return.
The meaning of a Model
A model by itself is the interpretation, representation or simulation of a theory in real life. It’s how we mentally try to imagine or portray what a theory, principle, concept or idea will look like in practice.
According to Dr. Phil Walker,
“Models are used to help us understand how things might work in real life. They are the mental representation of an outward reality. A good working model must be exact enough to give us answers to how things will work yet flexible enough to allow for adjustments and changes.”
In case all of the grammar in the definition above didn’t sink, here’s one that might sink. I’m sure you are very familiar with models, they come in different categories; we have beauty models, fashion models and role models. Picture a fashion model for example, what do they do?
They basically portray how a particular design of an apparel or clothing will look like when worn in real life. They are in other words, the representation of what the cloth will look like on your body. Merely looking at them gives you a clue of how it would look on you even though you haven’t actually worn the cloth or apparel yourself. A model works basically in the same manner.
Looking at another example, role models, we all know what they are meant for. They are the physical representations of what we would like our life to look like when it is finally done. They give us a clue that when we lead our life in a particular way just as that of our role model, eventually we’ll be just like them. The same again, is how models in business work. They give us a mental clue, representation or interpretation of what a concept, idea, principle, thought, philosophy etc. will look like in reality.
What is a Business Model?
In the words of Seth Godin;
“This classic MBA phrase describes how you set up a business so you can get money out of it. A business model is a machine, a method, a plan for extracting money from a system. Without a business model, a company can get publicity, hire employees and spend money, but it won’t make a profit.”
1. HIRE THE WORLD’S BEST ATHLETES AS SPOKESPEOPLE. Buy an enormous amount of advertising. Use the advertising to get every sporting goods store to carry your products. Make your product overseas for a very little money. Charge very high prices.
2. FIND LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT CARE ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES. Offer them a free water cooler if they allow you refill it. Earn money by making deliveries on a regular basis.
3. CREATE THE OPERATING SYSTEM that runs every personal computer in the world. Then use the power you gain from knowing that system, which controls the computers, to create software, web sites, online services, even travel agencies.
Permit me to add a fourth one; I’m sure you would love this one.
4. CREATE A SOCIAL UTILITY that will allow people to socialize by connecting and sharing things with family and friends online for FREE, then make room for businesses, celebrities and organizations to also do the same, but charge them a token for this in form of advertisement to those who use the platform for free.
You must have probably guessed right, FACEBOOK’s business model.
Therefore, a business model is the way a company has decided to setup and portray itself in such a way that it is able to attract money [get] by providing specific products or services [give].
It basically serves as a framework, blueprint, or prototype that attempts to describe or capture the underlying, thought, philosophy, idea, concept, principle, or mindset that will drive or guide the operations of a business in real life in a way that will allow it to be profitable.
It’s an ideal representation of what the operations of a business would look like in reality woven around a particular mentality or philosophy. That is, it gives a clue about how your business should be done in the real world. A business model is not the same as a business plan.
A business plan is a strategic course of action. Meaning, it basically outlines several action steps a business should take as regarding different aspects of its operation.
A business model on the other hand is not a list of action steps, it is not as tangible or concrete as a plan, but rather, it’s a conceptual or mental projection of your business when it is ready. It doesn’t present action steps as a business plan does; it presents the actual picture of the business when the action steps have been executed for maximum results.
The business model is what is underneath the business plan. Meaning, a plan is built on a model. So without a model, a plan cannot be created. A model is what guides the creation of a plan. It is the business model that gives a business plan its inherent meaning.
Creating A Plan Built On The Desire To HELP
The desire to help must underlie everything your business represents and does. You can have the best business plan in the world, if it is not built around a strong ideology or philosophy of helping others [those you’ve targeted to be your customers], then your plan is as good as useless.
Your business must be built on and around the desire to sincerely provide help in the form of product or services to those it serves. How you create, communicate and deliver this help is totally up to you, but the key thing here is to understand that help is the new business model.
That is, helping people is the new way of looking at and doing business, unless, you don’t want to succeed. Therefore, only those companies who are in the business of providing help will succeed in this new age.
So What then is the Meaning of HELP?
Help in the context of business and in life, means the same thing. A business provides help so do other non-profit making organizations concerned about certain aspects of life too. While a business provides help for a FEE, non-profit organizations provides help for FREE. Whichever way you choose to look at it, they are both in the service of providing help.
Help means Value. Let me be more precise; help is adding Value. Value is anything that is capable of providing satisfaction or gratification in one way or another to an individual or group of individuals. Value is something that is worth something to somebody. Value is anything that can be measured as a unit of satisfaction or gratification irrespective of personal preferences. If it can be quantified, then it has value.
How to make HELP Your New Business Model
1. Definition of HELP:
The first step to making help your new business model is to sit down and define what you want to call help in your business. Every business cannot provide the same kind of help, so it’s highly important you define your own kind of help because this is what separates your business from all others who are in similar industries or providing similar products or services.
So what kind of help do you want your business to provide? In other words, what kind of value do you want your business to be adding to its target customers? Your first task as an entrepreneur is to identify and define the value [help] your business is offering or bringing to the world.
2. Creation of HELP:
The second step in making help your new business model after identifying the kind of help [value] your business wants to offer the world is to ask yourself; how do we create this help? That you have identified your company’s definition of help [value] doesn’t mean your company currently possesses or provides that help.
After all, you cannot possibly give what you do not have. So the next step is to create your own version of help [value] which you’ve decided to offer the world in exchange for money.
3. Communication of HELP:
No one will ever know that your business has identified and created something of value to the world if it never comes out to proclaim such a thing exists. There are a million and one people in the world who are in need of the kind of help [value] your business has identified and created, it is the responsibility of your business to make the existence of such help known to the world.
This is the place of communication. You have to announce the existence of your company’s rare kind of help [value] so that those in need of it can come for it while giving you money in exchange for the help your business provided.
4. Delivery of HELP:
The final step in making help your new business model is the actual delivery of the help you have identified, created and communicated to the world that your business offers. In delivering the help [value] you want to be sure that it is exactly as you have communicated.
You certainly don’t want to over promise and under-deliver. So make sure you deliver on the same quality and quantity of help [value] you have previously communicated. Doing this makes your business indispensable in the eyes of the world or those you serve.
Over to You
So over to you my dear reader, how has your business been able to define, create, communicate and deliver help [value] to the world?
Q: How do you build the world’s greatest company?
A: By doing BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL!
Of all activities known to humanity, engaging in something for the mere sake of merely surviving is the most hazardous to our journey here on earth as human beings. I have never been comfortable with the thought of merely doing things. It really doesn’t make much sense having to spend time, effort and resources doing things just like every other person does it.
In my opinion, the joy of any activity be it in business or in life, is in its outcome or the result it produces. No one cares nor will ever care about whatever you are doing unless it’s creatively being done in such a way that it is significantly different (unique) and significantly affects the life of others (useful).