50 SHADES OF 21ST CENTURY ENTERPRISING
8. Understand the line that separates a freelancer from an entrepreneur.
A freelancer trades his/her skills for money. An entrepreneur connects skills in a mutual strategic pattern to generate money.
I heard about your friend, Amaka, who’s a ‘successful’ fashion designer. She started off with her great skills and creativity and one or two customers. Then an amazing stitches here and there with some cool designs and twists of luck, she awed her few customers. And words got about, people spread the story. Her customers suddenly grew to tens and then hundreds.
Amaka is talented and her designs are beyond class. A young lady in her late twenties making waves with her booming business. She’s accumulated some cool cash. What other thing to call her if not an entrepreneur. We call her that and she saw herself as that too.
But this is where the problem starts…
Amaka could no longer meet up with her customers’ demands as soon as they wanted. She went out and hired some few hands to help her with the sewing and designs. She soon realised that though her employees are good in the skills, they don’t always produce what she wanted. Another issue is that paying those people are actually costing her more than she thought.
Amaka doesn’t know stuffs about branding and marketing. She doesn’t understand why she needs a Business Plan. And she knew nothing about corporate structuring and business system.
What Amaka knew is that she has a great skill and that skill is selling well enough.
She couldn’t find anyone who would be cheaper to work for her than her. So Amaka decided to fire her employees and re-hire herself. She works harder, she gets more busier and her life becomes more stressful.
Of course, she limited her level of impact because she decided to cut the number of her customers. She decided to hire apprentices instead who will work to learn under her for some while without her having to pay them. But soon she realised that the apprentices are costing her much of her time while guiding them and stalls her work.
I can help Amaka. But the problem is: will she be patient enough to learn how to be an entrepreneur?
Freelancing is cool. It’s vital. I have got nothing wrong with that. But the Shades are about Enterprising. Thus, I’m more concerned with entrepreneurs.
Paschal is a freelancer. He is a talented software developer and computer programmer. He does that for people and collects some cool bucks. But Paschal has a company, Bigcode. It is dumb if he’s just building the company to freelance his coding skills. But Paschal is an entrepreneur and Bigcode is the field where he intends to play his game of enterprising.
Mark wrote the first lines of codes that became Facebook. But as an entrepreneur, Mark is no longer attempting to write a single code for Facebook. He’s more focused on building the perfect System that will connect developers who can write for Facebook, people who use Facebook and people who buy Facebook.
9. I’ll repeat: “An enterprise is a function of People and System.”
This is a basic entrepreneurial Algorithm. Just like the ‘almighty formula’ is important to every advanced mathematician when dealing with complex equations.
I don’t categorise the Shades anymore. But almost every content that’ll be about System and People are within the Building Stage.
You must understand the relevance of People to your career as an entrepreneur.
Our traders and businessmen don’t see People. Their essential deal is Product. That’s the reason why they trade trust to make sales. That is why some traders wangle and finagle.
There’s an interesting line in the novel, 50 Shades of Grey:
“Business is about people.I employ an exceptional team, and I reward them all. I have a natural gut instinct that can spot and nurture a good solid idea and good people. The bottom line is, it’s always down to good people.”
Years ago when I worked with an MLM company, while my colleagues read motivations and business books like Think & Grow Rich, Dream Achievers, The Richest man in Babylon, The Business of the 21st Century, etc I went an extra mile to include a different book in my library “How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie.”
You’re not going to end up being a people’s pleaser. Far from that! But your entire career will revolve around (leadership of) people. You need to spend time in growing your people-relationship prowess.
10. Without a functional business plan and strategic execution, your idea will never rise beyond the tag ‘dream’.
The function of a business strategist is very unnoticeable, but he’s the brain of a company. Brand Strategists are like Business Architects. They structure the business plan and they engineer its execution.
Coca-Cola is one of the most valued brand in the planet. Yet the company only sell coloured sugar-water. How are they doing it? Exceptional Brand Strategist.
Enterprising ends in building. Hence, Brand Strategists as architects are always needed in the life of every enterprise. Their roles don’t end until the enterprise ends. The reason why most founders get kicked out as their company’s CEO by investors or Board of Directors is because they are not good strategists. Some smart ones will eventually step down to enable their strategists take control and push the company forward.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google. But an Indian, Sundar Pichai, took over the office of Google’s CEO since… 2014? He’s been growing the company high into the skies since his inception into office.
Great Business Architects can never be displaced.
Some people wonder why small Mark is so powerful in Facebook that shareholders still left him as the CEO. Some American posts I’ve read said it’s because he’s so smart to maintain 30% ownership of his company which enables him take major decisions in the company. But 30% is way lesser than half. It is because he’s still the perfect Strategist for the company.
Recently he announced Libra -Facebook’s secure, blockchain-based Cryptocurrency. He intends to launch the company next year.
This small Mark, just like he changed human connection and social interaction, will ultimately change the future of money.
Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. Irrespective of the trauma, as a great entrepreneur and a good Brand Strategist, he went on to build another company – Next. The company became so great that Apple decided to buy it and beg Steve to return as their CEO.
Most Successful companies have their Brand Strategists as their CEOs, others employ them as a separate office. Don’t underestimate the worth of a Brand Strategist. Find one if you ain’t one.
11. Systems are maintained by standards
You can decide to compromise your standards in order to acquire more people. Or you can decide to keep to your standards in order to protect your system.
Ugocee Telecommunications Ltd (name purposely changed) is into mobile devices. He started with sales of quality and original phones. But, at a point, middle-traders pressured him into buying of copy phones from Dubai and promised to help him in selling those.
More profits are made from the copy phones compared to the originals. He sells the originals while the middle-traders sell the copies for him.
What he hasn’t considered is the fact that the invoice being given to the customers who were given copies instead of the original phones also bear his company name.
My friend, Ada, is into Confectionery Business. Her cakes are not only mouth-watering, they are uniquely tasty. But better soup na money make am.
She charges much, more than average, to bake cake for her clients. Most of her customers have become addicted to her products already. Some had asked and pleaded with her to bake cakes worth less than her usual charges and collect cheaper from them. But she had only answered:
“I can’t bake any cake cheaper than my usual amount. I have a friend I can refer you to who can do that for you.”
When people think of Ada Confectioneries, they only knew of a particular exotic unique taste. Anything less, no matter how you convince them, is not Ada’s.
There is no right or wrong here. You are to choose based on what you want: more PEOPLE or strong SYSTEM.
The Great Lord didn’t waste time to drive out the first two customers He created immediately they violated his standards, just to keep the reputation of his system.(Biblical)
You can go back and replace the word ‘system’ with ‘Brand’.
Share your thoughts…