If I fail more than you do, I win.

I have failed way more times than I have succeeded. I have owned businesses before, from owning a butchery, to an internet cafe, to vending machines, to dry cleaners etc. Some of those businesses went well, some went bust. My lesson from all these experiences was that if I fail more than you do, I win.

Because built into that lesson is this notion that you get to keep playing, if you get to keep playing that means you get to keep failing and sooner or later you are going to make it succeed.

The people who lose are either the ones who don’t fail at all and somewhere along the line get stuck, or those who fail so big they don’t get to play again.

If we talk about doctors or airplane pilots, they don’t try stuff, they don’t say I wonder what happens if I do this, and we are really glad they don’t do that because the cost of failing is greater than the cost of discovering what works and what doesn’t. But not everyone is a doctor or pilot. Most of us live a world where the kind of failure I’m talking about is not fatal at all.

If I post a blog post that doesn’t resonate with people, post another one tomorrow. If you tweet something and no one retweets it, tweet something else again in an hour. If you are obsessed with doing something that everyone else is doing because you are afraid that someone will say “you failed” then you are in real big trouble.

Take appropriate risks, and by appropriate risks I mean risks that keep you in the game even if you fail.

The Startup Revolution

The Revolution
There is a revolution going on and it is sort of hard to notice this revolution because revolutions take more than a week. For 150 years we lived in an industrial economy. The industrial revolution led to industries, right, now that era is over, now there is a revolution going on and the industrial economy is declining.

We are moving away from a world where you used to be cog in a machine, fitting in, doing what you were told, following instructions, being cheap and fast and that world is being replaced by a world where the only people who are winning are indispensable, they are the little pieces that holds the system together. Our economy is now revolving around individuals who do the work that matters and people who choose to make a difference.

Race to the Bottom
There has been a race to the bottom, how can we be cheaper, how can we get more stuff into Shoprite, Wallmart or Pick’n Pay, how can we make the packaging bigger and more average to get average customers in mass.

The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might be right and win it and when you win it you end up at the bottom.

So now we are left with the race to the top. People who do the work that is different, that is innovative and that matters. The really good news about this revolution is that the people who are qualified to do such work are entrepreneurs and small businesses because they are close to the customer, because the person who started the organisation is still there and still cares about making a difference.

Let me be more specific, let’s say you are tasked with selling insurance, in the old days all you would do was make calls to as many people as possible, interrupt as many people as you could, network at the local chamber of commerce dinner, take customers to a golf game or buy some adverts on the local team’s soccer shirts to have your logo or brand on. The idea is to sell, sell sell. I don’t think this is where we are now. Today what we do for a living as an entrepreneur selling insurnce is to help the community, to organise, to contribute and your side-job is to sell insurance, not the other way round. If you become the indispensable member of your community, the leader or participant in the local community forum, the person who organises this or that in the community, solve this or that problem and you are there and people know it, then selling insurance become easy.

There is no map, create your own map
Big companies don’t create jobs, entrepreneurs do, we know this. The government doesn’t pay attention to this because they are financed by big corporations. What we know is that our future is described and built by entrepreneurs.

I think the challenge that entrepreneurs have is to stop looking for someone with a rule book, stop looking for a map on how to get there, stop looking for some franchise, or a how-to book, or the dummies guide that says send me this money, do this and you will succeed because that’s not where growth comes from, that’s being a pawn in somebody else’s game.

What I am arguing for is doing the hard work of being original and the difficult work of navigating without a map. If you can do that, that’s when you are earn money and that’s where you create value

Don’t just think about it, do it.

No one ever got paid for something they were thinking about. No one ever got noticed for writing something in a little book and putting it away.

The challenge of this revolution, the challenge of the new economy today is did you implement it, did you deliver, did you get it out of the door to the market, did you put it in front of people to critise, did you extent yourself in the market.

The revolution doesn’t really care if it’s something you have been thinking about, but if it’s something you are implementing and delivering, then I’m applauding you.

Wishing and Hoping Does Not Work in Business

Wishing and Hoping
What works in business is “doing”. Executing the plan requires effort. It is the muscle, the labor and the heavy lifting that gets the job done.

If you are wishing a potential calls you to buy something, the wait is long. If you are hoping a great venture capitalist recognises your incredible invention, your desires can go unfulfilled.
The message is not harsh or meant to burst your bubble. It is a direct call to action. Your wish, want and hope strategy needs reconsideration. It is not time to give up. It is time to change your strategy. Winners get rewarded for hard work. They do what others won’t do and that is how they win.

Im not an expert on hockey, however this other time I was watching a hockey game and one thing I observed is that the team that was spending more time on the opposition’s side, the team that was hitting the ball to the opposition’s keeper more often is the team that was ahead on the scoreboard and ultimately wins.

The sales person that makes the most calls, nurtures the most relationships and asks for the close multiple times, makes the sale.

The marketing person that gets their message out through multiple channels using frequency and smart engagement tactics sees return on their marketing investment.

Business leaders who knock on many doors to showcase their compelling business models that are producing multiple returns with predictable growth get the call backs from the investor community.
Those that are putting their nose to the grindstone are realizing the rewards. The rewards of hard work.

Ambition needs to be equally measured by production.

Every business needs leadership, directing activities and measuring accomplishments. Great leaders inspire others to believe they will be winners and thus hard work will pay off. The fact remains that without the “doers”, leaders are really a figure head. A strategy without anyone executing the tactics is a failed strategy. Labor is what drives businesses forward. Those that execute in the business are those that bring in the revenue, open new markets, and create innovative products.

The amount of time defining the mission, vision and strategy of your business needs to be matched exponentially by the hours of “doing”.

Plans without the work tethered to tactics are simply great ideas. Goals are achieved through sweat. A vision is actualized through production.

Wishing, wanting and hoping are great for daydreaming. Put your dreams into action. The performance of you, your business and your teams are visible in hard evidence. Facts. Results. Failures. Accomplishments.

As you analyse the hours in your day spent on strategy and planning; multiple that amount of time by 10 and that is the minimum time you need to apply to working in your business. In other words, every hour of strategy and planning needs to be matched by 10 hours of laborious action. Match your planning time with a report card of hours worked on your to do list. The outcomes are a result of the effort. Measure your business success by the achievements, the outcomes, the results.

Wishing, wanting and hoping in business creates a crisis in confidence. Wishing is obscure. Wanting is desirous. Hoping is improbable. Doing is concrete. Working is absolute. A commitment in confidence is defined by action.

Execution moves a business forward.

Nike reminds us all the time to “Just Do It”. The simple motto is one that all businesses and leaders need to follow. Do it. Get it done. Then start again and just keep doing!

Carpe Diem!

Be a round peg in a square hole

Fitting in is a short-term strategy to get you nowhere. Standing out is a long-term strategy, it takes guts and produces results.

If you care enough about your work to be willing to be criticised for it then you have done a good day’s work.

Don’t be different for the sake of being different, be different because it is better that way.

Why is it so important for experienced entrepreneurs to mentor statup entrepreneurs

It’s a two-way learning experience.

As much as I thought I’d be teaching a startup entrepreneur a thing or two, they taught me a ton more. It is truly a mutually beneficial alliance. I share my insights and experience. They share their fresh ideas, passion and creativity.

It re-energises the entrepreneur in you

Any seasoned entrepreneur would agree that at some point along the way, we need our engines re-fired up. Spending time with the next generation of rockstar entrepreneurs refreshes perspective and re-energises commitment like nothing else. It’s my personal recharging station.

It’s a responsibility

Truth be told, someone bet on me (and you) at some point early in our entrepreneurial journey. They may have done it on a 5 minute phone call or over 5 months of hands-on mentorship. But they had a game changing impact on us. It’s our responsibility to do our best to be that person to the next entrepreneur. Nobody can advise an entrepreneur the way another entrepreneur can. We just have to do it.

You Know You’re Bad at Networking If…

1. If you have not allowed the person you’re speaking with to actually speak in the last 60 seconds, you’re not networking, you’re monologing.

Unless your name is Hamlet, quit it! There are few things as frustrating as someone who will not shut up about himself/herself and asks you nothing. I once was “captured” by this entrepreneur who spoke for 15 minutes straight and kept a death grip on my arm so I couldn’t leave. Keep in mind, it actually isn’t all about you

2. You dismiss someone after they tell you what they do because it’s not useful or interesting to you.

Frankly, this is just rude and belies the actual point of networking, which is to connect and exchange information. Just because this person’s skill set or business may not directly pertain to you, doesn’t mean the connection is valueless. Perhaps you know someone to whom you can connect them. Spin the web, that’s the whole point of networking.

3. You spend most of the time at an event standing in a corner, talking to the friend you came with.

Not too many people like networking but most entrepreneurs grow not to mind it so much and some actually enjoy it. If you have performance anxiety about speaking with strangers, do something about it. Spend time rehearsing your elevator pitch, learn some calming breathing techniques, and register for a class in business communications. Get out of your safe zone and make yourself a little uncomfortable. Networking skills are like muscles: you have to actually use them for them to become well defined.

4. You’re there for the free food and booze.

First, the food is generally not very good at these events and second, the booze is always watered down. If you’re not there to meet people and to engage, don’t go. There are few things worse than a half-drunk guy with imitation crab on his tie who has locked in on you because you inadvertently wore the colors of his favorite football team. Who knew black, white and touch of red (black is back) could be so troublesome?

5. You are only talking to people you already know.

If this is you, you’re missing the point completely. It’s NETworking. Cast your net, make contact, and create connections. Strive to meet three new people at each event. It’s a very attainable goal and it allows you to spend quality time with each person giving and receiving information. Three solid contacts, regardless of whether or not you can do business with them, is a successful event.

Happy communicating!

Entrepreneurship, if you’re doing it for fame and fortune. Don’t do it.

Two pieces of advice I tell startup entrepreneurs that I wish you knew when I got started

First, if you’re doing it for fame and fortune. Don’t do it.

Do it to change your little part of the world, to find a solution to a problem, to create positive change in society. Find 3 other reasons to start your business that have nothing to do with personal glory, income or recognition.

You might end up being famous and make a fortune, but that should be secondary if at all it is a factor. Don’t make it your primary drive.

Second, don’t go at it alone.

Partner(s), advisors and a business coach are mission critical to success. As smart as you think you are, your mind will play tricks on you and get you to make some pretty dopey decisions along the way. Having the right team surrounding you will ensure you get it as close to right as possible.