If you went into business or your reason for starting a business is to make a living (survive), I suggest you re-evaluate your options and go back to the drawing board again. Going into business simply because you want to make money (profit) is far too much a price to pay as an entrepreneur. I mean isn’t that what employees do; working nine-to-five in order to make ends meet? Why in the world would you choose to become an entrepreneur (be your own BOSS) just because you want to make a living when there is already a far more easy alternative for that –employment. If you are so much in need of money in order to make a living (survive), please go get a job and stop wasting your precious time posing as an entrepreneur!
Survival (making a living) is not the goal of entrepreneurship but rather significance (making a difference). You would greatly be doing yourself a disservice if you became an entrepreneur simply to make ends meet. You are only short-changing yourself on the long run because entrepreneurship demands more work from you than an average nine-to-five job ever would. Entrepreneurship is not the ideal choice for those who simply want to get by in life (survive); entrepreneurship is the ideal choice for those who want to live life according to their own terms and therefore will demand more from life in order to get what they really want (significance). Entrepreneurship is not for those who take what they are given in life and in self pity call it their fate, NO! Entrepreneurship is for those who take what they are given in life and rather than accept it as their fate, go all out using what they have been given to get what they really want. Entrepreneurship is about using your life to do what you really love and truly care about –passion. It’s not about submitting to the status quo (enjoying comfortability); it’s about challenging the status quo (creating change). A true entrepreneur at their very core is a renegade; someone who is bent on creating change even though it means going against the norm. Does this sound like you?
If that description doesn’t go down with you well enough, perhaps it’s never too late for you to take a critical decision and make a u-turn rather than continue on this path of the less travelled. If your goal is to get rich quick as an entrepreneur rather than making a difference by doing what you love and truly care about, then you might also have to make a u-turn right now, back to the place where money and survival is the goal – employment.
Now I know you will be having a tough time swallowing all these hard stuff and probably wondering what the heck is he talking about? Saying to yourself; “shouldn’t we as entrepreneurs make a living or what?” Or put in another way; “shouldn’t we make money our goal, for crying out loud isn’t that why we are in business?” And here in lies the very reason why most entrepreneurs fail in business. Focusing primarily on the end (output mentality) thinking only about the profit that is to be made forgetting that the end will only come as a result of diligence and commitment in the beginning backed with an unwavering discipline and persistence in following a process (input mentality). The simple truth is;
Money is the reward (product) NOT the goal (purpose) of entrepreneurship!
Entrepreneurship is much more than making money. It is a calling. And like every other calling, it’s people-centered. It’s never about you, it’s all about others. It’s a calling to serve; it’s not about what you can accumulate (money/profit), it’s about what you can contribute (service/value). Why do I say this? A calling is a strong urge to follow a particular career or do a particular type of work. The emphasis here is on the word ‘follow’ and to follow means to come after somebody or something. Meaning; you being an entrepreneur cannot choose yourself. You are chosen. Entrepreneurship is not something you suddenly choose to do or pursue. It is something you are called to do – a pathway you are called to follow. In other words, you are not the ‘doer’; you are only an instrument. It’s not about accumulation; it’s about contribution. I know all these sounds a little strange, so I am going to explain further.
Here’s the deal; in all my humbling experience both as an entrepreneur and a business development consultant, I came to this singular conclusion; that an entrepreneur is simply a problem solver, no more, no less. This definition is owed to the fact that entrepreneurs are nothing if they are not meeting the needs of a particular group of people, known as the customers or target market as the case may be. Without these people, an entrepreneur would never have considered starting a business in the first place. Here is what I mean.
The starting point of every entrepreneur is either;
- The recognition of a need (problem) or
- The conception of an idea (solution).
When an entrepreneur recognizes a need (problem), he goes in search of a solution (product or service) to meet that need. And when an entrepreneur conceives an idea for a product or service, he goes in search of a group of people who have a need for it.
In either case, the entrepreneur is always in search of something or going after something. Entrepreneurs do not exist for themselves or by themselves; they depend on something out there; something beyond them before they can birth whatever it is they carry. They don’t do, they are being used. They don’t create, they are instruments for creation. They don’t start the process; they only complete what has been started. They see a need they didn’t create (problem) and find a way to fill it (solution). In other words, an entrepreneur is but an instrument of nature; a servant to customers functioning as a problem solver to humanity. This is why entrepreneurship is a calling and not a money-driven venture (profit) but rather a value-adding venture (service). And like every other calling, it has its own reward. For example; the reward of good leadership is committed followership; the reward of a good teacher is a knowledgeable and changed student; the reward of an inventor is the birth of an innovation and a missionary wins souls. Likewise, the reward of a good entrepreneur is profit. In order words, the reward of an entrepreneur’s call to create a value-adding venture is profitability. This is where money comes into play. The money comes only after a value-adding venture had first been created.
So, going into business with the singular goal of making money is as simple as putting the cart before the horse. What most people fail to realize is that, money is a reward (an outcome/output/end result/product). It doesn’t just happen on its own; it is the result or product of a particular activity or input. It never did or will never happen on its own, so making it the goal of going into business is choosing to fail from the very start. I say this, because the purpose of a business is not to make profit, but rather to deliver value to customers. Businesses don’t exist for profits’ sake; they exist for customers’ sake. And these customers exist because they have a need or problem that needs to be solved. Indeed, anybody fit enough to solve these problems automatically becomes an entrepreneur.
Therefore, an entrepreneur is someone who has answered the call to solve a problem (input or activity) for a set of people (customers or target market) and gets money (result or outcome) as a reward for being able to accomplish all these things.
Understanding this chain-like relationship is what clearly makes entrepreneurship much more than making money. The goal of any entrepreneur going into business should not be what he will get (output or result) but rather what he will give (input or effort). This is because what he gets (money or outcome) is directly tied to how much he can and is prepared to give (effort or input).
Your capacity to make money as an entrepreneur is greatly dependent on how much problems you can solve or solutions you can proffer to customers’ needs or problems. So why focus on the end, when the end is unattainable without the beginning? Your focus as an entrepreneur should revolve around the problems you can solve for people. How well am I solving this problem? How many people out there have this kind of problem and need my solution? How may I reach them? Who else is out there solving this same problem for people too? How may I do better than this other person? These and many more customer focused questions are what an entrepreneur should go into business to answer.
You as an entrepreneur have but one task;
- To either solve one problem for so many people or
- Solve many problems for a few people
This is what your focus should be, because your reward (money) is tied to this. The more people you solve one problem for, the more money (reward) you stand to get and the more problems you solve for a few set of people; the more money (reward) you also stand to get.
Looking at several examples of successful entrepreneurs all over the world reveals the fact that at the heart of entrepreneurship is the provision of solutions to the day-to-day needs of society. Ask yourself why Richard Branson’s Virgin has become so successful? Have you ever wondered why Microsoft remains the world’s leading computer software company? All these case studies exemplify the true essence of entrepreneurship –
By Tito Philips, Jnr.