There are seven essential principles that you must practice as an entrepreneur throughout your business life if you are to achieve maximum success. They have been taught and repeated in thousands of books and articles over the years, and here they are.
You must be absolutely clear on who you are and what you want. You need written goals and plans for every part of your life. As Zig Ziglar would say, you must become a “meaningful specific” rather than a “wandering generality”.
Begin with your values:
- What do you believe in and stand for?
- What is most important to you in life?
- What would you pay for, fight for, suffer for and die for?
- What do you really care about?
Someone once wrote, “Until you know exactly what you would do if you only had one hour left to live, you are not prepared to live.”
- What is your vision for yourself and your future?
- What is your vision for your family and your finances?
- What is your vision for your career and your company?
Peter Drucker once wrote, “Even if you are starting your business on a kitchen table, you must have a vision of becoming a world leader in your field, or you will probably never be successful.”
- What is your mission for your business?
- What is it that you want to accomplish for your customers?
- What is it that you want to do to improve the lives and work of the people you intend to serve with your products and services?
You need a clear vision and an inspiring mission to motivate yourself and others to do the hard work necessary to achieve business success.
- What is your purpose for your life and your business?
- Why do you get up in the morning?
- What is your reason for being?
- And here’s a great question: What do you really want to do with your life?
Finally, what are your goals:
- What do you want to accomplish in your financial life?
- What are your family goals?
- What are your health goals?
- What difference do you want to make in the lives of others?
- And here is the best question: What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?
The greater the clarity you have regarding each of these issues – values, vision, mission, purpose and goals – the greater the probability that you will accomplish something wonderful with your life.
To be truly successful and happy, you must be very good at what you do. You must resolve to join the top 10% in your field. You must make excellent performance of the business task your primary goal and then dedicate all your energies to doing quality work and offering quality products and services.
To be successful in business, according to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, you must find a field that satisfies three requirements. First, it must be something for which you have a passion – something you really believe in and love to do. Second, it must be an area where you have the potential to be the best, to be better than 90% of the people in that field. Third, it must involve a product or service that can be profitable and enable you to achieve all your financial goals.
According to the Harvard Business School, the most valuable asset a company can develop is its reputation. Your reputation is defined as “how you are known to your customers.” And the most important reputation you can have revolves around the quality of the products and services you offer and the quality of the people who deliver those services and interact with those customers.
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Between you and your goal, whatever it is, there will always be a constraint or limiting factor. Your ability to identify the most important factor that determines the speed at which you achieve your business goals is essential to your success.
The 80/20 rule applies to constraints in your business. Fully 80% of the reasons that you are not achieving your goals as quickly as you want will be within yourself. Only 20% will be contained in external circumstances or people. What are your constraints? What holds you back? What sets the speed at which you achieve your goals? And what one thing could you do immediately to begin alleviating your main constraint? This is often the key to rapid progress.
The essence of successful business is innovation. This is the ability to find faster, better, cheaper, easier ways to produce and deliver your products and services.
Fortunately, almost everyone is a “potential genius.” You have more intelligence and ability than you could ever use. Your job is to unleash this creativity and focus it, like a laser beam, on removing obstacles, solving problems and achieving your goals. The essence of creativity is contained in your ability to solve the inevitable problems and difficulties of business life. Colin Powell said, “Leadership is the ability to solve problems.” Success is the ability to solve problems. And remember: A goal unachieved is merely a problem unsolved.
The way of the successful entrepreneur is to focus on the solution rather than the problem. Focus on what is to be done rather than what has happened or who is to blame. Concentrate all your attention on finding a solution to any obstacle that is holding you back from the sales and profitability you desire. And the more you think about solutions, the more solutions you will think of. You will actually feel yourself getting smarter by focusing all your energies on what you can do to continually improve your situation.
Your ability to concentrate single-mindedly on the most important thing and stay at it until it is complete is an essential prerequisite for success. No success is possible without the ability to practice sustained concentration on a single goal or task, in a single direction.
The simplest way to learn to concentrate is to make a list for each day before you begin. Then prioritise the list by putting the numbers 1 through 10 next to each item. Once you have determined your most important task, immediately begin to work on that task. Discipline yourself to continue working until that top task is 100% complete. When you make a habit of doing this – starting and completing your most important tasks each day – you will double or triple your productivity and put yourself solidly on the way to wealth.
Winston Churchill once wrote, “Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.” It takes tremendous courage to take the entrepreneurial risks necessary to become wealthy. In study after study, experts have concluded it is the courage to take the “first step” that makes all the difference. This is the courage to launch in the direction of your goals, with no guarantee of success. Most people lack this.
Once you have begun your entrepreneurial journey, you also need the courage to persist. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “All great successes are the triumph of persistence.”
The word entrepreneur means “one who undertakes the risks of a new venture in pursuit of profit.” Fully 90% of the population will never have sufficient courage to launch a new venture, to start a new business, to boldly go where no one has gone before. You need, first of all, the courage to begin, to move out of your comfort zone in the direction of your goals and dreams, even though you know you will experience many problems, difficulties and temporary failures along the way.
Second, you need the courage to endure, to hang in there, to persist in the face of all adversity until you finally win. When you develop these twin qualities – the ability to step out in faith and then to persist resolutely in the face of all difficulties – your success is guaranteed.
Perhaps the most outwardly identifiable quality of a successful person is that he or she is in continuous motion. The entrepreneur is always trying new things and, if they don’t work, trying something else. It turns out that most entrepreneurs achieve their success in an area completely different from what they had initially expected. But because they continually reacted and responded constructively to change, trying new methods, abandoning activities that didn’t work, picking themselves up after every defeat and trying once more, they eventually won out.
Top people, especially entrepreneurs, seem to have these three qualities. First, they learn more things. Second, they try more things. Third, they persist longer than anyone else. The good news is that, because of the law of probabilities, if you learn more things, try more things and persist longer, you dramatically increase the probability that you will succeed greatly. If you launch toward your goal and resolve in advance to never give up, your success is virtually guaranteed.
The ultimate reward
My friend Jim Rohn once said, “the greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. it is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place.”
To have more, you must first be more. For you to set out on the way to wealth and become a self-made entrepreneurial millionaire, you will have to develop many qualities at a higher level than you ever have before. You will have to become an exceptional person. You will have to become more than you ever imagined possible for you.
To realise your full potential and achieve all your financial goals in your own business, you must develop the virtues of integrity, courage and persistence to a much higher level than you have up to now. You will have to practice the qualities of clarity, competence, creativity, concentration and continuous action until they are as natural to you as breathing. You will have to accept complete responsibility for your life and everything that happens to you, and especially for the way you think in every area.
When you develop these qualities and become a completely different person, you will eventually achieve all your goals in life, including financial success. The best part of becoming an extraordinary person is that, if something happens and you lose it all, it won’t really matter. Because you have become a different person, you will be able to make it all back again and more, far faster than the first time.
Welcome to The Way to Wealth
You are about to embark on a grand adventure that may last for the rest of your working lifetime. But if you have the courage to begin and the persistence to endure, nothing can hold you back from achieving all your goals and dreams. If you decide that, no matter what, you will never give up, you will eventually become unstoppable.
Take these steps to get going on your business goals.
- Decide exactly what you want in life in each area, and write it down. Make your goals clear, specific and measurable.
- Specify the most important skill you could develop to move you into the top 10% of people in your field. Then do something immediately to begin developing that skill.
- Identify the major constraint or limiting factor inside yourself or in your world that is setting the speed at which you achieve your most important goal, and begin working on removing that constraint today.
- Determine the single biggest problem or obstacle in your business or personal life. Then focus all your time and attention on the possible solutions.
- Make a list of what you would want to be, do and have if you had no limitations and you were absolutely guaranteed success.
- Accept complete responsibility for your life. From this day forward, refuse to make excuses or blame anyone for anything. Instead, take action to make your goals a reality.
- Reaffirm and visualise your goals of financial success, excellent health and personal happiness as a reality. Remember, the person you see is the person you will be.
Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success
What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?
South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.
Be smart about scale
When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.
At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.
However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.
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Know your talents – and your limitations
There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!
Use your skills – but know when to hand over
My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.
In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.
The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks
This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.
The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.
Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.
In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.
Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.
I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.
None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
1. Believable vision
Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.
2. Be inclusive
You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.
3. Communication is critical
If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.
4. Be visible and transparent
You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.
5. Be practical
You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.
6. Build opportunities
As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.
7. Be human
It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.
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