MAKING DEALS VS DOING BUSINESS
There is a saying that “hunger teaches you wisdom” or the most popular one, necessity is the mother of invention.
The “beauty” of the recent global recession which did not spare developed, developing or under developed economies gave birth to the consciousness and the need for taking our destiny into our hands. Hence, entrepreneurship mindset has been identified as one of the most effective and sustainable vehicles to drive this mental change that is needed to achieve economic revolution.
Entrepreneurship has become an increasingly interesting subject in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Governments are calling on their citizens to think of creative ways of adding values to the economy by creating jobs rather than waiting for one to be handed to them.
Several movements and social impact-based groups have emerged, politicians and religious leaders using their various platform of engagements are urging their followers to aspire, do more, get more and focus on how they can improve themselves, by themselves for the general good of the society.
These issues in addition to the disruptive influence of technology have given birth to increase in SME businesses across the African continent. Speaking of Nigeria, every day an entrepreneur is born. The socio-political issues plaguing the country has necessitated a swim or sink mentality which has inspired a refreshed drive for economic empowerment especially among the youth.
Like most trending issues, every one wants to have a slice of the cake. Whether they understand the content or not. Most people call themselves entrepreneur because it makes them feel good about themselves. Personally, I have no qualms with that.
My biggest quarrel goes to those who say they are running a business or call themselves business men or women. People often talk about being in business or running a business, yet when you probe further you come to realize that what they are doing is far from running a business.
Dr Francis Miles, when he visited Nigeria and gave an outstanding teaching during a strategic session with business owners and entrepreneurs Lagos puts it this way “Most Nigerians are deal makers, not business people”.
Hmmm, sounded controversial but since I was privileged to partake in that mind-blowing session, it wasn’t difficult to agree with the issues he raised.
Most entrepreneurs, especially among young people like me, tell you they are doing business. Yet, they have no defined business or industry they play in. They simple look around or within their network of influence for an opportunity to make a major supply of a product to a private or government related organization at often inflated rates raking in huge margins.
They are not interested in crafting a specific vision for a type of business, set up the basic structure on which the business will run. They just go around waiting for the next big thing to happen. Rather than developing a unique product or services that they can nurture, promote and scale-up as the year goes by. They do not own any office space not for lack of funds, but because they are unwilling to make commitments hence, they operate from their homes without any routine. Just waiting for the next phone call from a connected uncle, aunt, in-law, friend or parent. They simply live on the moment, like hustlers, unable to grow a team or build systems that can become self-sustaining. I call them opportunistic entrepreneurs.
One of my mentors, who happens to be both a professional in the oil and gas industry asides from also being a serial entrepreneur will often say “a business without structure or system is a hobby, no matter how big it may seem to be!”
I believe every entrepreneur should have the mentality of a farmer. At least, any aspiring entrepreneur should understand basic principle of agricultural practice. The simple process of sowing, nurturing, reaping and processing for added value.
As simple as it sounds, when it comes to practice it’s a different reality entirely. An elderly friend once said, our generation is a micro-wave generation. We want everything quick. The now-now mentality.
People just want to quickly duplicate other people’s original idea, and look for a connected friend or family member to either fund it or simple link them to a politician who will simply use public funds to sponsor a project that adds no meaningful value to the society.
Some of these idea “owners or carriers”, are not even willing to invest their personal funds to test the validity of their proposal. Yet, they hope some rich fellow with cash in hand to fund their “wild goose chase” business simply because they have the money to do so.
So, if you are in the activity of pursuing short term transaction with the sole intent of making quick profits (big or small) then you are not running a business, you are simple making deals or better still, you are a hustler.
Running a successful business, involves discipline, knowledge, skill, collaboration, systems and an extreme dose of patience to stick to what you believe in until it works out.
If you are already running a business, you might want to ask yourself the following questions;
- Do I have a business plan or model?
- Do I have people I am accountable to as regards how I am running my business?
- Do I have a well stated process of doing things?
- Is my business finance separate from my personal finance?
- Is my company duly registered with the basic regulatory requirement?
- Will my product or services be relevant in the long term?
- Can the business be scaled up?
- Do I have any book keeping systems I place?
- Is my business modelling after any existing business in the industry?
In my next article Think Like a Farmer, Act Like a Hunter, I will share simple, practical and impactful principles that aids successful starting, management and expansion of business as a continuation of this conversation.
Enjoy the rest of the week!