Create a corporate culture. Letting people bring their children to the office is not a corporate culture. Getting your people to believe they can accomplish something insanely great and create an amazing customer experience, that’s corporate culture.
Study what works and doesn’t work. We learn from experience. We also learn from the experience of others. That’s how all successful founders and business leaders got that way. If you have to read anything, read about real successes and failures in the real business world.
Go where your competitors aren’t. How did Safaricom conquer the money transfer business in this hypercompetitive business? By focusing on Mobile money (M-Pesa). Nakumatt on retail and Jumia online. They all used new sales channels or existing ones in innovative ways.
Plan for success and develop competitive barriers. Come up with a plan, put all you’ve got behind it, then figure out what can go wrong, including coming up with a strategy to keep bigger and better funded competitors from beating you at your own game. If you’re successful, that’s exactly what will happen. If you’re not, it doesn’t really matter, now does it? That’s why you always plan for success.
Learn to say “yes” a lot. You never want to lose a good growth opportunity, give up momentum, or minimize the challenges of scaling a business. And you can never have too much money in the bank. When equity started, it was worth 30 million and James Mwangi owned 30% of equity. Now he owns 3% while the company is worth 170 billion, when asked why he let that happen. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I’d rather own 3 percent of 170 billion than 30 percent of 30 million.”
Listen to your customers … and yourself. Don’t know what problem to solve or product to develop? Ask your customers. They won’t know what they want because it doesn’t exist yet, but they will tell you what they want to do but can’t. Also trust your gut – your own focus group of one. You just might be right.
Learn how business works. Finance, income statements, balance sheets, operations, sales channels – yes, I know how boring and uninspiring that all sounds. But guess what? It will keep you from falling into different hellish pitfalls that swallow most entrepreneurs and business owners whole because they have no idea how business works.
Target your biggest competitors. List the leaders in your market, analyze your products and capabilities relative to theirs, and devise a plan to use your relative strengths while exploiting their weaknesses to take market share from them. The goal is to beat them, to topple them and take your rightful place at the top. That’s how little companies become big companies, by competing to win.
Look, anyone can start a business. Anyone can be an entrepreneur. Anyone can call himself a CEO. It only matters if you can make and sell something that customers like or want enough to buy it from you instead of the other guy. And that’s just the beginning. What’s the end game? Keep moving forward and enjoy the ride.
Originally posted 2015-05-10 21:05:29.