8 Apr 2020
Be A Non-Binary Entrepreneur To Succeed In Business
My first published article for the The KOL Social magazine…
As a form of social activity, entrepreneurship connects us through commerce – the exchange of goods or services. Most entrepreneurs are not just ‘business people’, they do not fall into a particular rigid category, neither should they identify as binary or one-dimensional.
The best entrepreneurs are fluid, adaptable, agile, multifaceted and intersectional. For example a baker, who makes exquisite cupcakes in a corner shop, also provides a place for socialising. They also provide shelter and edible treats to local shops, and cater to a range of businesses. To label them as just a ‘baker’ would be disingenuous and self-limiting. It also betrays the many services they provide for society in general.
As entrepreneurs, we wear many hats, but in business, the hat that fits the best will determine whether we are affirmed as being successful or significant.
Every start-up has an overwhelming amount to get done — the “to dos” are constantly outrunning the “done’s.” It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and endless hours, that you forget that running really hard does not necessarily equate with running in the right direction. So, if we see our business as a marathon, we must learn to pace ourselves, wear the right gear and train with purpose – so we have enough mental stamina and physical endurance to finish the race.
A person who brings a unique idea and starts a company is known as an entrepreneur. The operative word here is ‘starts’. We cannot go around claiming titles such as ‘I’m a boss’, without implementing the basic fundamentals to operating a viable business. No shade, but a passion project or a side hustle that is not legally compliant and does not generate ongoing financial returns, is not a company, it is a draining drip feed hobby.
An entrepreneur believes in making their own path, is a market leader, naturally intuitive, takes risks, is unconventional and values people over profit.
Being an entrepreneur in not an ‘either or’ game. As much as you go into business with your eyes wide open, you will inevitably be blindsided along the way.
Entrepreneurship therefore, is not a binary experience. It’s complicated, nuanced, textured, layered, intersects and affects all facets of one’s life. Being an entrepreneur is part ones’ identity, and something many of us try hard to achieve. It’s not just a title, but integral to our personhood.
According to CEO Anthony Tja, to stay focused, entrepreneurs need to do three things: (i) planning (ii) selling and (iii) executing. These tasks require three different mindsets. Some entrepreneurs can excel in all three roles, but the best ones are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and build their teams accordingly. The first step is knowing which role your talents match most closely. So, let us dive in.
It is great to have lofty, grand and blue-sky thinking. But make sure your ideas are grounded in reality, with manageable attainable goals that can be measured. Entrepreneurs set the vision, chart the course and navigate the business to success, but you need to know where you are going. In other words, what sphere of influence or market share you want to occupy.
Secondly, you cannot go anywhere without a map. That is where your business plan comes in. The purpose of the Plan is to transfer your ideas onto paper – both in words and figures. The best plans are concise and compelling. So, be clear from the outset, what do you want to do? Who do you want to benefit? How do you want to do it, and who will help you achieve it? Answer these questions, and you’ll be on your way!
Great entrepreneurs need to be constantly selling the story of their vision, as well as researching how it should evolve. Not enough entrepreneurs commit time or money to research and development. Without intelligence, you will not sound convincing to a lender or investor. Raising funds is all about the art of communication, and that requires you to qualify, quantify and justify that what you are offering will be consumed – you need to show the receipts! Numbers don’t lie, so learn to use metrics, research methods and analytical tools to provide the evidence base. This ensures your sales strategy is constantly being refined and underscored by current data. This should make it easier to divert resources, adapt to changing economic conditions (COVID-19!) and maintain your competitive advantage.
It is striking how much confusion there is between strategy, implementation, and execution. Excellent execution comes from adhering to a tight set of controls and operating principles. Execution done right is a disciplined process, a logical set of connected activities, to make a strategy work. So, you need to set the vision, plan your attack and commit to doing the work, to ensure your activities convert to commercial success.
So, let’s rap up… Being an entrepreneur requires a level of unparalleled focus, drive and discipline. We all have titles and personal identifiers, each one shaping our attitudes, beliefs and relationships. We are not just ‘one thing’, we are not binary but multi-dimensional.
Having a visceral and emotional connection with consumers and being transparent, leads to being significant – success will follow. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who make not only great brands but great human connections. In business, making money is the goal, because you need cash to operate and expand. But having an impact, building a legacy and ensuring your work is impactful is key.
Photo Credit: Getty Images