You are under 30, living the dream and officially an entrepreneur – a word you will embark to define on your own terms. You’ve identified the market gap and need which will make you a millionaire. Oh heck, why stop there, multi-billionaire and Time Magazine’s future Person of The Year.
You’re living on a prayer as you work on this dream – typing and skyping from cafés and other WiFi hotspots around the country and around the world.
With all the success you’re determined to achieve, ask yourself what the true human end goal of your pursuit is. The answer is not a condominium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or vacation home in Miami, west coast home in San Francisco or Los Angeles. Nor is it a private jet or five star holidays with matching luggage, partner and children.
As entrepreneurs, we all have a high ‘dreamer’ element within our personalities and self-belief that against whatever challenges we individually face upon company establishment – whether financial, time, infrastructure or resource, that we will be dually rewarded with daily fulfillment and one day, financial pay-off.
Although success must always be defined in your own terms, global media hypes and shapes our perception of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, constantly ranking and re-evaluating based on wealth, revenue, product sales, stock value and other empirical and non-empirical justifications. There is only one certainty though, as reinforced by Steve Jobs’ inspirational 2005 Stanford University commencement speech; the reality and certainty of our mortality. We may currently be invincible and unbreakable, but with age, our mortality becomes suddenly real, exactly as Jobs faced when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Therefore, what potentially separates an entrepreneur from a truly great human may not be the amount of money she or he acquires in a quarter, year, company tenure or lifetime. However, it may be the amount of time, money, effort and resources injected into a philanthropic cause or personal crusade enabled by that core entrepreneurial pursuit. Case studies include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Azim Premji, Li Ka-shing, Andrew Carnegie, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and The Rockefeller Empire.
The number of global U.S Dollar billionaires stands at 1,210 people today and a combined total of 10 million millionaires and deca-millionaires.
Your ambition is your passport to possible future inclusion within that league of super affluent citizens. However, beyond creating employment, which is necessary for your company’s growth and a social contribution in its own right, the exact spark which lit the heart of past and present entrepreneurial philanthropists needs to be ignited and accelerated in your life pursuit. Not at career’s mid or sunset, but at the start of your business, or at latest, today.
The course of world history has proven that problems only marginally improve over the course of a generation, hence our continued link with poverty, inequality, the widening gap of wealth and income, disease, infant mortality, unemployment, literacy and life expectancy. As the Gates Foundation invests significantly into HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and research, we can help and hope that the foundation’s contributions plus our global efforts will eradicate the world of this disease within the foreseeable future. However, old and new diseases as well as global socioeconomic problems evolve and entrepreneurs are both playing and are expected to play an increasingly important social role as catalysts of global change, cures and kindness.
Currently, the orthodox and prescribed first step for new entrepreneurs is to populate a formulaic business plan featuring an overview, growth strategy, SWOT analysis, market research as well as definitive distribution and marketing strategies, team structures, alliances, management systems, a risk reduction plan, profit, loss and cash flow forecasts, capital expenditures and a detailed break-even analysis.
Today, I encourage you all to take time to truly optimize the human value of your entrepreneurial pursuits by placing a philanthropic goal at the heart of your business plan. This, I believe, is the missing statement that will be the final measure of your professional success when your pursuit as an entrepreneur ends.
The philanthropic statement should be simple and mirror the magnitude of your ambitions and aspirations, for example: to eradicate leukemia within the next decade. Assume responsibility, establish the mission and set a deadline.
Wempy Dyocta Koto is the CEO of Wardour And Oxford, a global business development agency working with entrepreneurs and companies all around the world to grow their businesses nationally and internationally. Wempy has lived in Sydney, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York, devoting his career to some of the world’s most famous brands such as American Express, Sony, Samsung, Nokia, BP, Citigroup, HSBC and Microsoft. Follow @wempydyoctakoto and @wardouroxford