‘’conquering the world of business demands an unyielding exercise of intellectual faculties, developing superior emotional intelligence, cultivating a magnificent personality and building a strong value system.’’
A quick overview
Owning a business empire is a dream many people entertain from time to time. However, only a select few succeed in crafting such an empire. What then does it take to craft a business empire? It requires great conceptual and analytical skills. It also calls for meticulous implementation of concepts and plans. Realizing ones dreams require a systematic and sustained effort. Conquering the world of business demands an unyielding exercise of intellectual faculties, developing superior emotional intelligence, cultivating a magnificent personality and building a strong value system. Those who do not possess or fail to develop these ingredients are sure to fall by the wayside. Many at this juncture might wonder whether this is not asking too much. I prefer to differ.
The late Dr. G. W. Griffin, founding director of the famous Starehe Boy’s Centre and School once prescribed a 3-pillar success formula. He stated that one should work hard, pray to God and manoeuvre intelligently. The following steps provide a useful guidepost in successfully navigating and manoeuvring the turbulent world of business.
The five steps to business empire
Every successful enterprise begins with a great idea. I have always argued for the supremacy of an idea over the availability of the much touted capital. One can sell a great idea to generate the much needed capital for its execution. However, no amount of capital can suffice to purchase an idea. With money, individuals can duplicate an idea but they will never own it and success will be hard to come by. A lady friend once told me of how she would quit employment to start her own business if only she could lay her hands on Kshs. 500,000. Since such thoughts are held by many, I suppose she is in good company.
Conceptualization is all about generating and developing business ideas. In doing so, one must focus on three key sources of business ideas.
- Look inside – this involves searching oneself for skills, passion, experience, talents and other endowments that can translate into business idea. For instance, a career teacher may come up with the idea of establishing an academic institution. A talented cook can start a catering enterprise.
- Look around – this involves scanning ones neighbourhood for a problem the people face and which can be solved profitably. For instance, rising insecurity is a serious problem in our country. One can thus come up with a security company dealing in diverse issues such as training and deploying security guards to sourcing and installing security equipment as well as bullet proofing technologies.
- Look outside – this is about adapting an idea from another place and applying it to a local situation. In developed countries like Japan, there is a lot of automation which include cyber cafes where you just insert your money, browse the internet and when your money is over you add idea can be applied in Kenya where one would be making money on a 24 hr basis.
This step requires conceptual skills and deep reflection. People can go to a secluded place in which they can afford the peace of mind necessary to stimulate creativity away from the distractions of day-to-day life.
Once you have the idea, the next step is to develop it into an actionable business model and then translating the model into marketable products. This will include many preliminary issues like coming up with a business name, legal business form and registering the same, product development, choosing business location and so on. It does not include active trading. This is where you come up with a business plan and a financial model. The model clearly shows what is to be made, how it will be financed, how it will be sold, how the money will be collected and how the business will be sustained. If the business plan does not accelerate your confidence in the idea, go back to step number one.
Initialization requires the input of professionals and experts. Sit down with people already in the business and learn from them. Ask professionals to assist in drawing and reviewing your business plan. A good plan will help you to anticipate and mange risks, tackle threats and exploit opportunities. Starting without a plan is like jumping into a pool whose depth is unknown. A poorly conceptualised business will surely collapse.
Having laid the foundation, it is time to put spanner to work and test the idea in a real business environment. Acquire the business premises, buy goods or install production capacity and produce. Execute your marketing campaign. Ensure adequate capital and good cash flow management systems. Start selling your product and watch as the money starts trickling in. this may build up slowly but there is no cause for alarm. Your plans should provide for enough capital to run the business for at least six months. This step calls for vision, passion, courage, determination, patience and faith.
Once the business is up and running and money is finally on sight many are tempted to diversify, expand and start celebrating by living in carefree life on the fast lane. This is a serious mistake. You must learn to delay gratification and to celebrate with caution. Take time to perfect the art and master the game. Focus on becoming the best in the business rather than the biggest. Remember that expansion does not lead to business growth; it is growth which should lead to expansion. Does the story of Uchumi and its rapid expansion ring a bell?
Once you have mastered the art it is a good time to accelerate growth and expand. Expansion should however be a cautious process moving one step at a time and being careful to avoid biting more than you can chew. One can also diversify to other businesses but only after the first business is fully established and can run seamlessly without much intervention from the entrepreneur i.e the business is being managed by professionals.
Someone said that; ‘’We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’’ When you venture you can fail or succeed. It is a choice that only you can make. Good luck!
The dos and the don’ts
- Anticipate failure- failure is the wind beneath the wings of success. The idea can fail at any of the above stages. If you are not ready to fail don’t dare to start.
- Prefer to differ- many people will differ with you on the best way to pursue your business dream. Be ready for such. It is a small price to pay.
- Start early- avoid procrastination which is a dream killer. The best time to implement an idea is now. Any time is right to do the right thing.
- Don’t panic- things will go wrong from time to time. Don’t be quick to press the panic button. Reflect deeply on the situation and consider the bigger picture.
- Value tried tested and true methods – be a good student of history, learning from your mistakes and those of others.
- Sustain the passion – the passage of time and the experiences realised can erode the passion. Take time to recharge and recalculate your moves.
- Take pride in humility – no matter how successful you become struggle to stay sober. The route to success has no place for pride.
- Share the dream – as a business magnate many will seek out your counsel. Be generous and willingly mentor others.
- Don’t be a lone ranger – being alone ranger is a business danger. Establish a strong national and international network to move your business forward.
- Establish a gift that keeps on giving – a business empire outlives its architect. Don’t plan and execute as if you will always be there. When time comes, leave the idea to professional managers.