Go be an entrepreneur

Be an entrepreneur
I think the most important thing to be an entrepreneur is to get out of theory. A lot of entrepreneurs spend hours at coffee shops and in meetings talking about how they are going to change the world, how amazing things are going to be, and how wonderful they are going to be. Everything they say is in the future tense.

Go build something, go do something, it doesn’t really matter what it is but just go do something, build something together, make something happen.

Across the board, traction is very important. Do something, it doesn’t really matter if it is great. Just go through the process together. I think to a certain extent pitch skills are overrated, build something amazing and investors will find you.

Investors look for what is your distribution model, what is your product, what problem are you trying to solve, how are you going to access your customers, how much money are you going to make and do you have the right team to get there.

It’s not enough to sit in your office and say I think this is what people will want. Great start-ups talk to their users, great start-ups get out there. If I’m going to start a photography shop, I need to talk to customers and providers of cameras.

A mistake that most entrepreneurs do is that once they have refined their business model and business plans, their mentors are not changing. The core business advisor should be helping you with recruiting your team, with your business model, your distribution model, and the product market fit. If they are not helping you with one of those four things, if they are not fundamentally the best in one of those things, they are the wrong mentors to be working with. It’s okay to say I want to upgrade my mentor.

One of the problems start-up entrepreneurs have when they build their teams is that they build top-down, that’s a bad sign. You probably don’t need a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) or a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), or a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or COO (Chief Operations Manager). Why do you need junior and senior titles in your start-up, do you don’t. What you need is a group of people that are busting their tails to get something done. It doesn’t matter what their titles are, they going to have to earn their titles, for now it’s about having the role to play and contribution to make and they all need to have a deeper respect for each other’s contribution. When you are dealing with a big company (Apple, IBM or Microsoft) one bad person doesn’t have a huge effect on the overall culture, its one of how many tens of thousands of people. When you are five people in a start-up in a tiny room, one person is twenty percent, if one person is not pulling their weight they are taking away from everybody else. You all should be pulling the boat in the same direction. Focus on the task and solving the problem and let the culture start to form.

It really comes down to:
– Is it a great idea?
– Is there a great team?
– Are we solving a meaningful problem?
– With a real business model.

So engage deep, don’t be afraid to change and solve problems.

Don’t get caught up in the process and the culture of entrepreneurship, GO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR.

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Studying entrepreneurship without doing it

lemonade_stand
…is like studying the appreciation of music without listening to it.

The cost of setting up a lemonade stand (or whatever metaphorical equivalent you dream up) is almost 100% internal.

Until you confront the fear and discomfort of being in the world and saying, “here, I made this, here I create this, here I started this” it’s impossible to understand anything at all about what it means to be a entrepreneur.

Eating The Big Fish – Platinum Stars FC #EatingBigFish

Platinum Stars1
For a moment, lets put soccer aside and apply business principles in the soccer business.

I always advice entrepreneurs that small as they are, the are capable of competing against big companies and sometimes even compete successfully.

Platinum Stars was promoted to the Premier League in 2003-04 and had to compete with big fishes that have on the big league for a very long time. Within a space of 10 years the team just won the MTN8 cup in 2013, came second runner ups in 2006-07 and runner ups in the season 2011-12 and in the process having been one of the few teams to beat Kaizer Chiefs (a big fish), they beat Orlando Pirates (another big fish) to win the MTN8 Cup in 2013. They won The Telkom Knockout Cup in 2006 against Ajax Cape Town and in 2013 against Orlando Pirates.

Platinum Stars are challenger brands, several times they managed to challenged big established brands successfully. As a start-up entrepreneur you can start small and beat the big fishes, its possible. Apple did it to Nokia, Supersport United won the Premier League three years in a row consecutively, Platinum Stars has done it now, you can do it. Go ahead start and compete against the big fishes.

The big do you always eat the small, but the fast eat the slow.

Start Something That Matters

Tomms Shoes

Toms Shoes1
Blake at Toms shoes had a very simple idea. What would happen if every time someone bought a pair of shoes I gave exactly the same of pair to someone who doesn’t even own a pair of shoes. This is not the story of how you get shelf space at Egdars, it’s a story of a product that tells a story. And as you walk around with this remarkable pair of shoes, and someone asks what are those? You get to tell a story on behalf of Blake, on behalf of the people who got the shoes. And suddenly its not just one pair of shoes, or hundred, its tens of thousands of pairs of shoes.

Final Dry Cleaning
A friend of mine posted this picture on facebook recently, I have seen this picture before but when I saw it again, it reminded of the kindness of strangers. Some are ready to help those in need, to help them back on their feet. A jobseeker who used this free service will sure come back when she has found a job and will be willing to pay for the services. Suddenly its not just about free dry cleaning, it’s about creating a connection with your customers, in this case also future paying customers. It’s about telling a story that matters.

Steve Jobs sold the story of being a rebel, an innovator, the story of people who believe that they can change the world, often do. This is the story that people loved and joined the tribe. It was more about the connection to people.

The value we create is directly related to how much valuable information we can produce, how much trust we can earn, and how often we innovate.

In the industrial economy, the stuff we made (literally stuff – gadgets, devices) comprised the best assets we could build. Fortunes belonged to men who built roads, lightbulbs, bridges and buildings. Today we are seeking something a revolution apart from that sort of productivity.

The connection economy rewards the leader, the initiator, and the rebel.

The internet was not built to make it easy for you to watch Lady Gaga or Kanye West videos. The Internet is a connection machine, and anyone with a laptop or a smartphone is now connected to just about everyone else. And it turns out that those connections are changing the world.

If your factory burns down but you have loyal customers, you will be fine. On the other hand, if you lose your customers, even your factory is not going to help you. In South Africa we have a number of empty factories.

If your team is filled with people who work for the company, you will soon be defeated by tribes of people who work for a cause.

If you use your money to buy and to promote the average products you produce for average people, soon you will run out of money.

But if you use your money to make exceptional products and services, you won’t need to spend it on advertising, because your customers will connect to one another and bring you more.

The connection economy has changed the way we make and listen to music, write and read books, and discover where to eat, what to eat, and whom to eat with. It has destroyed the mediocre middle of average products for average people, who have few choices, and it has enabled the weird and innovative edges, where people who care find others who care and they all end up caring about something even more than they did before they met.

The connection economy enables endless choices and endless shelf space and puts a premium on attention and on trust, neither of which is endless.

Suddenly, it’s not the building or the rules or the packaging that matters, it’s the bridges between people that generate value, and those bridges are built by telling a story that resonates and by creating innovation products, not by selling average products to average people.

I would like you to do something for me, and I hope you will think about it before you reject it outright. What I want you to do will only take you 24 hours. it is to

create a movement, something that matters. Start, do it, we need it.

All boats leak

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There is always a defect, always a small leak somewhere, always a slow drip somewhere.

Every plan, every organisation, every venture has a glitch, a tiny hole, a leak somewhere.

The question is not, “is this perfect?” The question is, “will this get me there?”

Sometimes we make the mistake of ignoring the big leaks, the ones that threaten our journey.

More often, though, we are so busy fixing tiny leaks that we get distracted from the real goal, which is to go somewhere.

All boats leak, nothing and no one is perfect, the main question is will this boat, will this business, will this relationship, will the mode of transport get me there?

But what do people really think?

what-people-think-i-do
You know, behind your back…

What do they think of your product or your sales pitch or your speech? What do they think of your new shirt or your new friend?

Hint: You will not find out by searching for yourself on Twitter or Facebook. You will not find out by eavesdropping in the lounge, either. Or by reading the reviews.

Sure, you will hear what people say when they have an audience, you will hear condensed, pointed, witty comments, but no, you will not hear what they really think. All you will do is bring yourself down and strengthen the resistance.

No, the only way to know what people think is to watch what they do, not what they say. Do they come back for more? Do you cause them to change their behaviour? Can you make them smile?

The same is true for the armchair critics (amateur and professional) that have a megaphone they are using to criticise you.

Don’t listen to what they say (well okay do listen) but it is what they actually do that really tells you what they think.

Urgent, please read asap

Its Urgent
That’s what gets done, of course. The urgent.

Not the article you haven’t gotten around to writing, the trip to the gym that will pay off in the long run, the business you have been planning to start, the planning for your upcoming birthday party, dinner with your parents (who would love to see you), ten minutes to sit quietly, saying thank you to a friend for no real reason… no, we do the urgent first.

The problem, of course, is that the queue of urgent never ends, it merely changes its volume as it gets longer.

Yes, we’ve heard it said that it’s the important, not the urgent, that deserves attention. But it understates just how much we’ve been manipulated by those that would make their important into our urgent.