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.

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

Cm1cy_hWEAA-EDm

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.

Start Where You Are | Use What You Have| Do What You Can

Start wheree you are Use what you have Do what you Can
Often times we spend more time planning and dreaming about doing things than actually taking the steps that need to be taken in order to get to our goals.

Starting a business is hard, a lot more harder if you don’t have all the required tools, but lets face it, if you wait until you have all the tools, you will wait forever. This is not about being impatient, it’s about starting small with what you have and building from that.

That’s exactly how we should look at things. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Look at all of the tools and resources that you DO have around you.

Use as many as those resources as possible that you have at your disposal and grow from there. If you wait for the perfect moment, you will wait forever.

A lot of times entrepreneurs site lack of funding as reason not to start, how about selling to one client at a client, with the little you. Rome was not built in one, but it was built eventually and I would like to think the Romans didn’t have a big budget.

Top 10 Books for Entrepreneurs to Read this Summer

This summer, get away but stay-up-to-date and be ready to move your business forward with you when you get back. Discover the latest insights and lessons that will take you one step closer toward turning the vision of your company into reality.
reading-at-the-beach
When most people think of summer, imagery of beaches, sunshine, braais (barbeques) typically come to mind. And while many of us will, at some point, enjoy those things this summer, the truth is that entrepreneurs – even if they do take a vacation – can never really afford to totally escape from their business.

After all setting up a startup is often a 24/7 gig, and the challenge of constantly discovering new ideas, learning new techniques, and improving existing processes is ongoing. Fortunately reading is one activity that can keep entrepreneurs away from their businesses whiles at the same empowering and equipping them for business challenges.

Reading a great book when away from hectic schedule of your business is a worthwhile investment. The following are some of the recommended books (in no particular order) that will provide critical insight, advice, and ideas on topics ranging from ideas conceptualisation, leadership, marketing to business failure, business mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is the authorised biography of Steve Jobs. The biography was written by Walter Isaacson at the request of Jobs. 650 or so pages, it look daunting to read but once you read the first chapter, you will be hooked and will find it difficult to put it down.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years, in addition to interviews with family members, friends, adversaries, competitors and colleagues – Isaacson was given “unprecedented” access to Job’s life. Jobs is said to have encouraged the people interviewed to speak honestly. Most biographies tend to focus on the positive aspect of the biographer but this is an honest and unfiltered assessment of who Steve Jobs is (or was).

Among others the book tracks Jobs’s long and combative rivalry with Bill Gates. There is also section devoted to Jobs’s illness, which suggests that his cancer might have been more treatable had he not resisted early surgery. His love for music, philosophy based on Zen, his management style.

2. Black Man’s Medicine – Muzi Kuzwayo

Muzi Kuzwayo Black Mans Medicine
The title of this book comes from the African adage: “The Black Man’s Medicine is the White Man” implying that a black person cannot achieve much without a white man’s supervision.
The book attempts to show that it does not necessarily have to be true that Setlhare sa moSotho ke lekgowa, that black man’s medicine is the white man.

Kuzwayo tackles everything from rising food prices to unemployment, from thieving workers to lazy ones using superstition to avoid work. He explains where the concept of “African time” comes from. He introduces concepts such as SEE (Self Economic Empowerment). Africa as a Superpower, The Etiquette for Success.

The book is seasoned with funny quotes throughout, such as this one that had me weeping with laughter: “The poor masses are an invention of the elite; the chauffeur-driven class who would have us believe that they burp champagne for the benefit of the poor.”

I loved this book, easy to read to an extent that you may finish it within a couple of days.

3. Black Like You – Herman Mashaba

Black Like You Herman Mashaba
Black Like You is the story of entrepreneur Herman Mashaba, who takes the reader on a journey from his early years growing up in the GaRamotse township in Hammanskraal, through his wild youth to his recent business life.

Mashaba, against all odds, has excelled at business with, most famously, his cosmetics company Black Like Me. He relates growing up with his siblings while his mother worked as a domestic worker – “the bleak fate of many talented black women during the apartheid era”.

It might have been a tough childhood, but Mashaba looks back at his childhood with increasing affection as he ages. “The warmth and intimacy my family enjoyed casts a glow on my memories.”
The story of his journey should be an inspiring read for both black and white young South Africans.

4. Lemon Leadership – Brett Johnson

Bret Johnson Lemon Leadership
Since the release of the first edition in 2009 LEMON Leadership has become a consistent top seller in the Business book category in South Africa. LEMON is the acronym for Luminaries, Entrepreneurs, Managers, Organisers and Networkers.

LEMON Leadership will help you to identify which type of leader you are and show you how to apply your specific characteristics within your organization. Understanding these leadership types uncover keys to dealing with yourself and others in situations calling for different types of leaders. Much has been written on leadership, but most writings focus on only two or three types of leaders. In LEMON Leadership, Brett Johnson expands our view of leadership to over five distinct types of leaders.

5. The Icarus Deception – How High Will You Fly

Seth Godin The Icarus Deception
Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and plunged to his doom. The lesson: Play it safe. Listen to the experts. It was the perfect propaganda for the industrial economy. What boss wouldn’t want employees to believe that obedience and conformity are the keys to success?

But we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.

The safety zone has moved. Conformity no longer leads to comfort. But the good news is that creativity is scarce and more valuable than ever. So is choosing to do something unpredictable and brave: Make art. Being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things you’re an artist, no matter what it says on your business card.

Godin shows us how it’s possible and convinces us why it’s essential.

Loved the book and is a strong contender for my book of the year for 2013

6. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell David and Goliath
Malcolm Gladwell, the number one bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative—-and dazzling—-book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms, all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw, David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

To be released in October 2013, this one promises to raise the bar higher than Outliers.

7. Personal Growth African Style – Barbara Nussbaum

9780143026389_7
Personal growth, African Style takes an approach to leadership which offers a path to personal development, dealing with leadership as a process of self-discovery and a journey to the centre of oneself and one’s origins.

It inspires leadership through the individual’s reclaiming his or her wholeness as a human being, as an African, as a global citizen. It seeks to regenerate and ignite the less tangible aspects of leadership: those linked to higher purpose and self-awareness and to the good of a broader community. While focusing on personal growth, this approach not only calls upon you, the individual, to expand the level and depth of your self-awareness, but to honour and enrich the potential of those whose lives you touch.

The book contains a variety of readings and tools as well as written exercises to help you to grow personally and to encourage you to begin to see yourself as a person who expresses the values, knowledge and behaviour which consciously embody ubuntu. It seeks to reclaim the possibility of a more human style of leadership. Not only for Africa, but for the world

8. 43 Mistakes Businesses Make – and how to avoid them – Duncan Bannatyne

Duncan Bannatyne 43 Mistakes Businesses Make
Imagine you had your very own personal business adviser, who could give you the benefit of their expertise and help you avoid making costly, embarrassing, time-consuming and even career-ending mistakes. Duncan Bannatyne is that person and he’s here to help you. 43 MISTAKES will make sure you avoid the most common business howlers, and is just as relevant if you are a sole trader on the high street or a bond trader in the City.

Duncan Bannatyne is one of the dragons in the British TV show called Dragons Den.

9. How They Blew It

Jamie Oliver How They Blew It
The book delivers an insight into the lives of famous businessmen, who took incredible risks, won – and then lost it all. A book about men, who were entrepreneurs to the core, not only because of the money and the fame but because entrepreneurship determined, who they were.

The authors recount the stories of sixteen entrepreneurs of international repute. It follows them from their often modest beginnings to the height of their success and to the depths of their fall.

As varied as their backgrounds, professions and motivations might have been, one of the common traits of all of the portrayed businessmen was that they all had their “Eureka” moment at the right time and were able to seize it. Equally common was their subsequent tendency to going into overdrive: From the former head of Lehman Brothers, Dick Fuld, to German Industrialist Adolf Merckle, Ken Lay of Enron, all the way to Zhou Zhengyi, the Chinese tycoon – they all overestimated themselves and underestimated others and the blew it.

10. Eating the Big Fish – Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan Eating The Big Fish
If you are a start-up, into innovation and creative ideas and want to challenge big brands, this book is for you.

This is more than a book; it’s a way of life for the rebels and the revolutionaries amongst us, for the market makers and the ground breakers, to what Morgan describes so poetically as Challenger Brands. Following on from his highly acclaimed first edition, Morgan takes us on a journey of discovery, helping us re-familiarise with his original concepts and injecting new ideas to keep us flicking the pages.

The great thing about this book is that it’s not just for start-ups, market makers or early growth companies, it’s a book that when you read it opens your eyes to creating innovation and stand out within your own company. And let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us.

I’m sure there are plenty of great books out there. What are you reading and would recommend, lets share…

Don’t Expect Applause

applause
What this slogan means is don’t expect thanks. This is important.

When you open the door and invite all sentient beings as your guests, you also open the windows and the walls even start falling down, you find yourself in the universe with no protection at all.

If you think that just by doing that you are going to feel good about yourself and you are going to be thanked right and left, no, that won’t happen.

More than to expect thanks, it would be helpful just to expect the unexpected, then you might be curious and inquisitive about what comes in the door.

We can begin to open our hearts to others when we have no hope of getting anything back. We just do it for its own sake.

On the other hand, it is good to express our gratitude to others.

It is helpful to express our appreciation of others.

But if we do that with the motivation of wanting them to like us, we can remember this slogan.

We can thank others, but we should give up all hope of getting thanked in return.

Simply keep the door open without expectations.

Your dent

Mark
Are you making a dent in the universe?

Hint:

lots of random pokes in many different spots are unlikely to leave much of an impact. And hiding out is surely not going to work at all

Don’t Fix It, Change It

Change It
It’s clear that the economy has changed. What we want and expect from our best citizens has changed. Not only in what we do when we go to our jobs, but also in the doors that have been opened for people who want to make an impact on our culture.

At the very same time, the acquisition of knowledge has been forever transformed by the Internet. Often overlooked in the rush to waste time at Facebook and YouTube is the fact that the Internet is the most efficient and powerful information delivery system ever developed.

The change in the economy and the delivery of information online combine to amplify the speed of change. These rapid cycles are overwhelming the ability of the industrialised system of education to keep up.

As a result, the education-industrial system, the one that worked very well in creating a century’s worth of factory workers, lawyers, nurses, and soldiers, is now obsolete.

We can prop it up or we can fix it.

I don’t think it’s practical to say, “We want what we’ve been getting, but cheaper and better.” That’s not going to happen, and I’m not sure we want it to, anyway.

We need school to produce something different, and the only way for that to happen is for us to ask new questions and make new demands on every element of the educational system we’ve built. Whenever teachers, administrators, or board members respond with an answer that refers to a world before the rules changed, they must stop and start their answer again.

No, we do not need you to create compliance.

No, we do not need you to cause memorization.

And no, we do not need you to teach students to embrace the status quo.

Anything a school does to advance those three agenda items is not just a waste of money, but actually works against what we do need. The real shortage we face is dreams, and the will to make them come true.

No tweaks. A revolution. The World has changed, the education should change with it. The world demands initiators, the school is teaching compliance. The world demands innovators, risk takers, the school teaches memorisation and obedience.

An education system that encourages to look for a factor job is not only outdated but is expensive, expensive not only in monetary terms but also in robbing us of innovations.

Yes someone has to do the factory work, someone has to work at the mines, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be you. We don’t need to fix our education, we need to revolutionise it.