Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't fall victim to your own Bullcrap

I am sure you have met those people who are all talk and no action. People with big plans but that always amount to building castles in the air. Dreaming grandiose dreams with no further actions.

Impress with actions not conversations. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.

Felix Dennis once said “Once you believe that you are infallible, that success will automatically lead to more success, and that you have "got it made," reality will be sure to give you a rude wake-up call. Believing your own bullshit is always a perilous activity, but never more fatal than for the owner of a start-up venture.”

Quality, the guiding principle.

I respect Steve Jobs (RIP) for one major reason. He was so focused on product excellence as opposed to making money. He obviously made huge bucks in the end. It is extremely important in business to jealously protect the quality of your product or service and to always strive to improve it. What will you ever be known for if not for your quality product or service? Sunny Bindra once said and I totally concur with him that refined buyers spend a fortune looking for specialty coffees, rare wines, and advisers who offer a very personalized service. I know like men will stick to a specific Kinyozi for ages due to quality. I used to have one when I was staying in shags and you can imagine I only used to shave on those weekends that I found myself in shags till I identified one in town.

Know when to call it quits.

Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Don't go on a fool's errand for the sake of ego. Know when it's time to walk away. If your idea doesn't pan out, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. Assess what you would have done differently. Determine how you will utilize these hard-learned lessons to better yourself and your future entrepreneurial endeavors. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity

This brings us to end of the lessons for start-ups. I hope somebody somewhere learnt something. More financial education on the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Act like a start-up

I had a dream: my real estate company with a massive but fancy premise overlooking the city in the sun. Then I wanted a big office for myself as the owner of the business. A big competent team that does the work for me, obviously I’d be their CEO. And that very cute secretary who prepares documents and does the office work for me. Then I’d be signing cheques and other serious docs like transfers, consents application and sales agreement from Monday to Friday. Then I’d have a very fat wallet which whenever I’d sit on would compensate for my short frame. On Friday evening I’d call my dear wife and sometimes kids, then we fly to wherever and enjoy our weekend as we thank ourselves for the good and hard work already done. Life would definitely be very sweet and I’d enjoy every bit of it.

That was a wonderful dream back then when I wanted to start my business. That was until I realized the reality is so different especially now that my wallet decided not to co-operate and be supportive of my good dream. I actually almost thought it has some holes. In fact that time the wallet was essentially my company's life-blood. I was the business owner; no doubt. I would have liked to recruit that competent team to work for me but for my start up business but I ended up being the Owner, CEO, errands boy, Secretary and the man on the ground all rolled into one. At the end of each day I’d be one very tired man.

I learned the hard way how to be frugal; every coin that passed through my hands had to be accounted for. I had to triple check every expense against the income. Overheads had to be maintained at the minimum. I even settled for a 10ft by 10ft office just to ensure that I paid the least rent. I read books and captured very crucial principles like cash flow being king for any business.

I used to have plans and counter plans until it dawned on me that I could plan no more and there is nothing like perfect plans. No business book or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. But I made sure that I never jumped right into my new business without any thought or planning.

Again, I convinced myself that it was not worth it to spend months or years waiting to execute a simple plan. My mentor advised me that for me to become a well-rounded entrepreneur there was need to be tested under fire. The most important thing I could do is learn from any mistake I’d make; after all who never makes mistakes—but never make the same mistake twice.

Mine was a classic case of going through the refiner’s fire; the way they purify gold and silver. The end product is definitely worth it. I could be somewhere midway my dream and someday all will come to pass. At least am no longer confined to the 10ft by 10ft and I have a team (albeit small) that works for me. I never pretended that my business was at one point a start-up and I was never ashamed of doing all it took to grow. By the way, I used to sell plots without owning a car. It is no mean feat to take clients to sites using their own cars. As they say, image is everything but God shone his light on me and I have seen His mighty Hand guide me and watch over me.

Several BIG lessons for starters:
1.     Practice frugality; actually perfect the art of being frugal.

2.     Watch every shilling and triple-check every expense

3.     Maintain a low overhead and

4.     Manage your cash flow effectively.

Next we shall talk about guys who eventually become victims of their own crap or is it bullcrap?