I started life rather late. Or so I say, gauging on my personal standards.
I wanted to be uber rich by the time I was 19. However, I lacked the fortitude of certain vital organs to commit to the decision. So I wussed out, went to college, got a degree, wussed out some more, then got a job, then wussed out some more, got a credit card and then finally I manned up.
I started many different ventures, all which had successes, little but not enough to push me out of the rat race of life, meaning pay check to paycheck. Years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing anything for free, because a salary and commissions and payments for my service sustained my wuss life. Of course I idolized Bill Gates and the guy who created Yahoo. Of course I dreamt about being just like them. But, the seduction of middle class life (no matter how high you are in the pay grade, it is still middle class) was far harder to ignore. Also being of Asian descent, family pressure to get a degree and a job was monumental. So basically it was plenty of facilitated wussing.
Then, I took a leap of faith; I was at the time earning almost 100k annually and I decided to finally live all the books and seminars I took. I resigned from my job and I jumped into the middle of the ocean without a life jacket, raft or even knowing which part of the ocean this was. And when you are in that deep, you either swim or die. Best way to learn to swim is when you are in the middle of the ocean. No amount of swimming lessons can beat that motivation. So, I did everything from selling, to acting to directing. Plenty of success in almost all, but it was never enough. I was still clinging to the degree that would be my raft. I kept leaning on my former profession as a life saver. I never really grew as much as I wanted to.
And then it happened. In 2009 my meager business empire came crashing down. All of it just wiped out by the next year. I hit rock bottom. From driving my own cars to washing other people’s cars for a meal. It took me a few more years to grow a pair and really swim. Today the ocean of business is rougher than ever, but I changed my approach. I no longer look for a raft or a life jacket. As a matter of fact I feel nervous when there is shore.
Now, enough about me. What is this got to do with you ? Well if you are an entrepreneur or want to be, before anything else, you need to be ready for one certain thing that will definitely happen when you get into business. Ready? You will definitely fail. And oh so glorious this failure would be that you would want to stab yourself in your own aching heart. But, keep moving. Never stop swimming and I guarantee you, the next fall won’t be as painful. And then every fall, would just seem like a tiny shaving cut. You won’t even notice it is there. You will understand that a strong psyche is above anything else when it comes to business. Not just foolhardy optimism, but a strong mental ability to accept, adapt and grow. Not denial, but rather acceptance; not ego, but rather humility in learning.
And above all, a cause greater than money, a desire more powerful than wanting to gain wealth. When you have this then know that you are no longer just a businessman, you are now an entrepreneur. Ready to rock the world?
What are you waiting for?
So here are my 10-week guideline for you as an entrepreneur. Do this very diligently. I will go into greater detail in the coming weeks, but for now this is your rough guide to the rough world of entrepreneurship. Take one week for each task, as you will go through your logic sequence of Why, What and How. Define and write down everything that pops into your head. All this is designed to give you enough tools to calculate your probability and then jump into the ocean of business!
Week 1 – Understand your nature.
Why are you an entrepreneur? What makes you as an entrepreneur different? Bill Gates is a much different entrepreneur than Steve Jobs. Richard Branson is a very different entrepreneur than Tony Fernandez. If you were given a challenge, to sell your service or product with absolutely no profit or no personal revenue for you, will you still be an entrepreneur? Find your definition as an entrepreneur.
Week 2 – What do you really want?
Are you in business for a purpose greater than money? Money is not evil; as a matter of fact I love it. It’s the greatest invention ever. It makes the world move. But lust for it makes people go cuckoo. What is more important, your way of life or your business? Can you go for a year without your past time activities? Will you be able to give up an expensive hobby until your business is really developed?
Week 3 – Money: You either have it or you want it.
How much money do you have? In business (and in life) money buys you time. If you have a fixed monthly expense of 10,000 plus a variable of 5,000, that means you need to have at least 180,000 to flow in seamlessly for the next 12 months. And most businesses do not turn around or even break even until the 3rd year is over. Do you see a flow happening?
Week 4 – The power of PAUSE. Stillness is far greater than motion.
Everyone makes this mistake. And they make it repeatedly. The trick is to catch yourself doing it. I say this all the time, don’t be in the business, but work on it. When you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to pause. TOTAL PAUSE. No communication, no business talk, nothing. Just PAUSE and absolutely figure out where you are at this moment in your business. Do this frequently.
Week 5 – YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY ALONE!
This is the furthest thing from the truth. In today’s world of business, you are never alone. There is so much help, from free consultations, to leveraging off your competitors; there is absolutely so much help. I don’t say this from theory, but backed by actual experience. I was able to rebuild myself so much more quickly because the world today is about adding value. Seek for help!
Week 6 – Bouncing back after a fall.
If you are an entrepreneur, I would wish for you to fail, and fail big. HUH? You never truly become an entrepreneur unless you have been threatened with law suits, employees complaining to the employment office, partners treating you like crap and above all, teetering the edge of bankruptcy. Please get these experiences sooner than later, because it is so much easier to bounce back up when you are younger.
Week 7 – Love, family and business?
Love and family, could be your greatest ally or your biggest annoyance, when you are on the entrepreneurial path. Most businessman (and women) end up having very sour personal relationships. If someone denies this, they are lying. This is the art of balance; there is no way around it. Messy affairs, fighting with your spouse, divorces and families that cheat lie and steal; get ready for it. But you will eventually find a way to deal with these. This happens because business takes a toll on your personal and emotional needs and of those around you. From trusting too much to being emotionally void; these are the side effects.
Week 8 – The ASIAN FRINGE, Business SCIENCE.
If you are Asian, then you know what Feng Shui or Vastu is. Numerology, astrology, horoscope compatibility… (Did you know that the Tiger and Rabbit are a good business match in Chinese horoscope)? Now, I am not discounting these, as a matter of fact I don’t take in clients that do not fit their numerology personality with me, however business is business. Remember these things are old beliefs that have some practical roots to them. They should not be the full decision maker for you, rather a support system. Best you understand what you are getting yourself into. Else, forget about it.
Week 9 – GLOCAL ECONOMY.
Glocal stands for think Global work Local. Meaning, you take what is globally a standard and you adapt it to you. For example, McDonalds in the Philippines serves rice by default. Why? Filipinos cannot live without rice. But it is still McDonalds and has all the goodness that comes with it. So if you are a company here in Asia or a business in Asia, adapt your model to fit the international way (primarily western way) but tailor it so it fits your culture. The old logic that Asia has huge populations and you will succeed by the sheer number of people who get your services is a myth and a painful one, if you get into it without understanding the local market. Trust me, I have seen these happen repeatedly with many foreign owned companies. Every single Asian country is worlds apart in terms of business and people management culture. So, think global operate local.
Week 10 – AUTOMATION, DELEGATION, ACCELERATION.
It’s the new millennium. If Microsoft Excel is your primary accounting tool, you are seriously backdated. Windows is now only in 14% of the world’s computers. Everyone is moving to the CLOUD. A 5-man operation can make bank. There are apps for everything today. Get wise. Get “APP’ed” up. Equip yourself and make life easy for you. Business process is still the same, but it has been sped up so much, that if you snooze, you will definitely loose!
JUMP AND SWIM. Do or die, there is no try.