Ways To Get MORE From Your Business By Doing LESS

The life of an entrepreneur is one heck of a life, wouldn’t you agree? From the incessant quest to make a significant contribution through the creation of innovative products/services, to the ever present fear of failing. The entrepreneurial life is very overwhelming, more like joggling too many balls in the air. In a rather funny way, the odds always seem to stack up against we entrepreneurs. What then shall we do; give up our entrepreneurial quest and settle for less? Or march on courageously despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles? I’m sure you would most likely agree with me that the second option is our surest bet as entrepreneurs and the very essence of the entrepreneurial spirit. You did not choose to become an entrepreneur because the journey is easy, NO. You chose to become an entrepreneur because the journey is worth it. Entrepreneurship is not something you can fake your way through; you are either doing it right or not doing it right simple. There are no ways around it.

So are you still on the right path as an entrepreneur?

It’s because of this singular reason that I offer the following 5 ways to simplify your life as an entrepreneur and help you get more from your business by doing less.

Enjoy!

1.Follow purpose: Dr. Myles Munroe was 100% on point when he made this statement; “when purpose is unknown, abuse is inevitable.” Most entrepreneurs complicate their lives and seldom find fulfillment in business because of the singular fact that they are ignorant of the purpose of entrepreneurship. You see, there’s no way you can enjoy a journey that you began with a wrong step. Entrepreneurship is never about ‘getting’ (accumulation of wealth) but about ‘giving’ (creation of value). Business is not a money making venture but a value adding venture. I will never cease to re-iterate this fact no matter how unpopular it might sound, most especially in a country like mine -Nigeria.

In all the success stories ever told about most iconic entrepreneurs in the world such as Google founders; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Wal-Mart founder; Sam Walton, Sony founder; Morita Akio, General Electric founder; Thomas Edison and so on, one thing has remained universally true about them; they all set out to build SIGNFICANT businesses – companies that will stand for something special (uniqueness) and will make their profit only by adding value to those they serve (usefulness). Little wonder their businesses are world acclaimed companies.

Take it or leave it, your entrepreneurial life will never be less complicated (simplified) if you keep focusing on the financial rewards of entrepreneurship. To put money first as the sole purpose of your entrepreneurial journey is to choose to fail out rightly from the very beginning!

There is no use battling with nature’s law. Mankind has continuously broken new grounds in science and arts not because it argued with nature, but because it chose to explore and understand nature by conforming to its laws. You stand a more better chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur if you live a life of purpose and align your business to the purpose of entrepreneurship.

2.Pursue Vision: life will always be complicated for the entrepreneur who has no idea of where he/she is going and what he/she really wants to achieve. In following purpose as was mentioned above, entrepreneurship is about creating something really special (unique/different). What is that thing you want your company to always be remembered for? This is what having a vision means. A vision is a picture or imagination in the mind of the entrepreneur about an idea. It’s about using your life to bring into reality an idea you are so passionate about. This idea can be in the form of a product or service you want to offer the market. However, because people don’t pay for products/services, rather they pay for solutions to their problems. This implies that, unless your product/service is solving a particular problem in the lives of your customers, you’ve failed already as an entrepreneur in your quest to create something truly special. As I’ve written in a previous article on How to build the greatest company in the world, your being special (uniqueness) must make a positive impact (usefulness).

So here’s the big question you’ve got to answer in order to simplify your life as an entrepreneur and get more from your business by doing less; what problem is your products/services solving for people? In other words, what do you and your company want to create in the lives of your customers? The answer to this question should be your major focus as an entrepreneur. This is what it means to pursue vision. Stop going about chasing several things. Focus on one thing. Stephen R. Covey was right when he said; “Your job is to keep the main thing as the main thing”. A business that doesn’t stand for something will eventually fall for anything. This is one of the core philosophies we are trying to instill into the minds of entrepreneurs. In order to get more from your business, you must learn to do less by standing for something (being different) and adding value to those your business serves based on what you stand for (making a difference).

3.Embrace Passion: for entrepreneurs who focus on their core gifted areas, doing less will always yield more. Nothing can be more enriching to the life of an entrepreneur and beneficial to the success of a business than focusing on what you naturally love doing – passion. Your passion is the same as your strength. These are those activities you naturally enjoy doing effortlessly. I’m sure by now, you should be tired of hearing this statement; “You can never be successful doing what you endure rather than enjoy.” This is just the simple truth about life and business success. Success is a natural outcome of unleashing your passion. It is the result of an unwavering dedication to the pursuit of our true calling as human beings. Many entrepreneurs underestimate the effect of passion in building a successful business. To show you how powerful embracing passion can be, here’s a revealing study of a group of businesspeople who took two very different paths after graduating from college.

A study of business school graduates tracked the careers of 1,500 people from 1960 to 1980. From the beginning, the graduates were grouped into two categories. Category A consisted of people who said they wanted to make money first so that they could do what they really wanted to do later – after they had taken care of their financial concerns. Those in category B pursued their true interests first (passion), sure that the money would eventually follow.
What percentage fell into each category?

Of the 1,500 graduates in the survey, the money-now category A’s comprised of 83%, or 1,245 people. Category B risk takers made up 17%, or 255 graduates.

After 20 years there were 101 millionaires in the group. 1 came from Category A (the money-now graduates), and 100 from category B (the risk taking graduates).

The study’s author, Srully Blotnick, concluded that “the overwhelming majority of people who have become wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing…. Their ‘luck’ arose from the accidental dedication they had to an area they enjoyed.”

Source: ‘making A Life, Making A Living’ by Mark Albion

The story above clearly says it all. Lucked up within each of us is a gift, talent or strength that was deposited in us at the point of creation which was given to us to be used for the benefit of humanity. This is why whenever you find yourself in any activity in which you endure rather than enjoy, you keep feeling empty and frustrated irrespective of the material rewards such activity might provide. So learn to embrace your passion for therein lies the answer to getting more from your business by doing less.

4.Empower People: there’s a limit to what only one person can do. If you are running your business as a one man show without enlisting the help of other gifted people, you would end up complicating your life and can never stand a chance of getting the best from your business. You see what you must realize is this; one is too small a number to achieve greatness. The fact that you own the business doesn’t mean you possess all the talents, skills or knowledge required to successfully run the business. A very simple way to grab this fact is taking a look at the way y our body works, the body is a composition of different parts all working synergistically with every part playing its own role in making you a total human being. Imagine the heart trying to play the role of the hand all in the name of wanting to be the main boss of the body. The end result is quite obvious, calamity. Likewise, the same is true in business.

Your job as the an entrepreneur and the owner of your business is to critically evaluate all the key areas of your business and then look for the right set of people to occupy and function in each of these key areas you’ve identified. You must therefore begin to groom a team of highly gifted, skilled and knowledgeable people who would complement you and your business as it is quite obvious that you can’t do it all by yourself. One of the reasons why most entrepreneurs hesitate in empowering their people is due to insecurity. Most entrepreneurs especially in my country Nigeria believe in controlling all aspects of their business because they do not trust those whom they have employed to work in their business. So they end up prying their nose into every area of their business and trying to be Alpha and Omega of their enterprise.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way suggesting that you don’t be in the know as regards the operations of your business, No. My point is quite simple; get those who are better than you in certain areas of your business and empower them to use their uniqueness to enrich your business. There is what I can do better than you and there’s what you can do better than me, together we can both pull our individual talents, skills and abilities towards a greater purpose which we would never have been able to achieve alone. Meaning, you cover up for my weaknesses by focusing completely on your strength and I cover up for yours by equally focusing on my strength as we collectively pursue a common goal, vision or purpose. So, to get more from your business, learn to do less by finding and empowering talented people whom you can delegate those things that bore you to nuts.

5.Leverage Technology: in the whole of human history, I personally think this is the best time to be alive. Never before have we humans been so interconnected globally as a result of the advent of Information Technology. Imagine a world where all humans could be reached just by sitting at a place and working on a computer? Imagine the possibility of reaching several millions of people all at the same time with the same message being passed from one main source? Imagine having to compete with the giants of your industry on the same platform – the internet, without any fear of being eaten up alive? The list is endless. The point I’m trying to make is this; technology is an amplifier. It basically takes a small thing and blows it up. How do I mean?

How to Unlock Your Business Earning Potentials

After all is said and done, profit is essential to a business’ survival as air is essential to life. But how does one make profits? Or put another way, where the heck does profit come from?

Proffering an answer to these questions is the essence of this unusual article. This article has been overdue, I’m glad I finally wrote it. I know a lot of you have been wondering why I often emphasize that profit is not the number one thing to focus on in business, well the truth will be unveiled in this article once and for all why this has been so.

Question: What Is The Origin Of Profits?

I have always believed that there’s more to profits than just chasing money. Dr. Stephen R. Covey helped clarify my thoughts when he came up with a perfect analogy in his classic book, ‘The 7 Habits of highly effective people’. He talked about the production and production capacity [P/PC] balance using the analogy of a goose and the golden eggs. I am building up on his analogy by relating the underlying principle to business.

Imagine you are a poultry farmer and you wanted to sell more eggs. What would you focus on? Selling more eggs [output] or feeding the hen that lay the eggs? [input]

Imagine you are a fisherman and you wanted to sell more fish. What would you focus on; selling more fish [output] or catching more fish? [input]

Imagine you are a dairy farmer and you wanted to sell more milk. What would you focus on? Selling more milk [output] or feeding the cows? [input]

I could go on and on, but by now I am sure you perfectly understand the point I am trying to make. However, I will like to add a last one; I use this often when I speak in seminars because it’s funny and perfectly drives home the point.

If you were married and you wanted to have babies as a couple, what would you focus on? Having babies [output] or making love? [process]

The point is very simple but very uncommon in practice. As with most simple things, they are seldom practiced. I think its basic human nature to always focus on the output rather than on the input or process. We shy away from the work and focus on the result. As much as I would love to see results, I have always cautioned myself with the above analogies.

For every expectation [output] there is a preparation [input] and execution [process]. The outputs we often focus more on in business is profit and they are not automatic, they are dependent on some things [input and processes] before they can be achieved.

Answer: VALUE

Relating this analogy to business is what answers the question; what is the origin of profits? While it is so much easier to go ahead chasing profits, it is much wiser to ask yourself where profit comes from or how profit is made. I have heard it over and over again from several entrepreneurs this phrase;

“I’m looking for a business that can make me some good money.”

I wish they existed.

The truth is that there is no business that doesn’t have the potential to make you some good money. It’s all a matter of what you focus on as an entrepreneur. Going back to the analogies above, there’s no hen that is not potentially capable of laying eggs; there’s no cow that is not potentially capable of producing milk, there’s no fisherman that is not potentially capable of catching fishes and also there’s no man and woman that is not potentially capable of making babies. The key word in all these analogies is potential. This is what Dr. Stephen R. Covey referred to as the production capacity. Without ensuring that there is an adequate balance between what you want [production] and your ability or potential to get it [production capacity], you will never get that which you seek.

If as a poultry farmer, your focus is more on selling eggs than feeding the hens that lay the egg, then you are killing the hens’ potentials of laying eggs. Sooner or later, rather than selling eggs, you will start making chicken barbeques as a result of several dead hens. Why? The moment you shift focus to selling eggs rather than feeding the hens that will eventually lay the eggs; you’ve given up the opportunity to sell more eggs. Hens don’t lay eggs because you’re ambitious about selling eggs, they lay eggs because they have been created to lay eggs if they are properly fed. So your responsibility as a poultry farmer who wants to sell eggs is to properly feed the hens. Fulfilling your own responsibilities of feeding them empowers the hens to lay more eggs that you can eventually sell.

Business is no different.

Value is the bait your business has to create in order to attract the kind of customers that will give up their money in exchange for the bait [value] which in turn will make you profits. Until a bait is created, don’t expect profits. The more bait [value] your business can create, the more money customers are prepared to pay, the more profit you stand to make. Wanting profit without creating value is the definition of stealing.

Customers don’t pay for nothing, they pay for something. That something is what is known as VALUE.

So here’s the big question;

“Is your business creating twice as much value as the profits it’s expecting?”

The problem with most entrepreneurs is that they always want to make profits without first sitting down to think about the values they have to create and exchange with the customers in return for their money which then becomes their profits.

As an entrepreneur, your business is only as profitable as much as the quality and quantity of value you are able to create through it. Therefore, your task is to think not about profits, but more about value. The most profitable businesses in the world are the most value adding businesses in the world. Your profitability is tied to your capacity to consistently define, create, communicate and deliver value. Until you have successfully established a business that can do all these, you are far from being profitable. It’s not rocket science, its just common sense!

Oh I forgot, common sense is uncommon!

I ask again:

“Is your business creating twice as much value as the profits it’s expecting?”

This is the question every serious thinking entrepreneur should focus on answering through whatever business they choose to build. Meaning, you are not in business to make profits, you are in business to create and add value. Business in other words, is not a money making venture, but a value creating venture. The money (profits) most entrepreneurs spend a bulk of their time daydreaming about doesn’t come automatically; it comes as a result of creating and adding value.

I personally think most businesses fail because they do not live by this principle; to GET, you must first GIVE. Your getting is dependent on your giving. This is a natural law of the universe you cannot afford to disobey or manipulate. Reaping will always come after Sowing. Harvest season will never precede the planting season. This is an irrefutable law of nature; you either obey or risk the consequences.

Don’t allow yourself to be deceived, always remember that making profit is dependent on four key things; defining, creating, communicating and delivering value. You must understand that value is the origin of profits. It is my goal through this unusual article to help you understand and better put to use this universal principle of life.

Value is your business’ potential for profitability

Making money in business is a question of potential. The ideal question instead of asking what business can make you some good money is this;

“How can I create a business that has the potentials to make me some good money?”

The moment you replace the word “looking” with the word “create”, the picture about the origin of profits becomes much clearer.

Businesses that make good money are not FOUND, they are CREATED!

It is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to create a business that can make you some good money by coming up with something potential to offer. Without that input of potential [production capacity] in your business, there is no way you are ever going to make a dime.

The potentials of your business to make some good money depend on how much value you offer to the public. Value is what makes your business potentially capable of making profits. In essence, value is the origin of profits. Until you can create something of value, your desire to make profits from business is not only impossible, it is universally illegal.

Here’s why.

When you are trying to make money from a business that is not offering and delivering value, what you are doing is called ripping people off and that my friend, is a criminal offence.

If as an entrepreneur, your focus is more about making profits than creating value, then you are limiting your business’ potential of being profitable.

What then is Value?

Value is simply anything that has the potential of making a positive impact on another human being.

I have decided to use this definition to clear the cluster and help you focus on what really matters. All the definitions of value are summarized in that sentence. The whole essence of value is to make a difference in the life of the recipient period. This is where the popular marketing phrase of “sell benefits and not features” originated from.

People pay for solutions to their problems and until your business is potentially capable of proffering solutions to people’s problems as a result of the value in your products/services, forget about making profits. In fact, you are not qualified to make profits just as it is not possible to get without giving. Focusing on making profits without creating value is the definition of stealing.

How to be profitable without stealing

1. Definition of VALUE: The great management thinker, Peter Drucker was phenomenal in his observation of what the most important question in business is; “what is our business?” Trying to define the kind of value your business will create and offer up for sale, is the answer to the question, “what is our business?”

The first step to making profits without stealing is to sit down and define what you want to call value in your business. Every business cannot provide the same kind of value, so it’s highly important you define your own kind of value because this is what separates your business from all others who are in similar industries or providing similar products or services. So what kind of value do you want your business to provide? In other words, what kind of problem do you want your business to be solving for her target customers? Your first task as an entrepreneur is to identify and define the value your business is offering or bringing to the world.

To answer these questions will require you to ask and answer the first question; “what is our business?”

In Peter Drucker’s own words, here’s how to answer the question;

“The customer defines the business. A business is not defined by the company’s name, statutes or articles of incorporation. It is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she buys a product or service. To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business. The question of what is our business can only be answered by looking at the business from the outside, from the point of view of the customer and market. All the customer is interested in are his or her own values, wants and reality. For this reason alone, any serious attempt to state “what our business is” must start with the customer’s realities, his situation, his behavior, his expectations and his values.”

2. Creation of VALUE: the second step in making profits without stealing after identifying the kind of value your business wants to offer the world is to ask yourself; how do we create this value? A business must have a particular thing that it must offer to the market in order to attract the attention of the buyer. This particular thing is what we call product or service. The creation of this product/service is where a business begins. Without this product/service there is no business. Why? Because people don’t buy anything, they buy something. And that something must meet a need or solve a problem for them. The ability of a product/service to meet the needs and solve the problems of people is what is referred to as value.

Value is what people pay for and why products/services sell. Without the value in them, they are as good as useless. In other words, you are in business when you have created something of value and you remain in business by consistently creating value. Your ability to create value is the most important function of a business and the determinant of success in business. Your ability to make profit is hinged on your capacity to create value.

Definition of value is knowing what to focus on as a business, creation of value is the actual product or service you want to offer to your target market. That you have identified your company’s definition of value doesn’t mean your company currently possesses or provides that value. After all, you cannot possibly give what you do not have. So the second step is creating your own version of value that you want to offer the world in exchange for money.

3. Communication of VALUE: no one will ever know that your business has identified and created something of value to the world if it never comes out to proclaim such a thing exists. There are a million and one people in the world who are in need of the kind of value your business has identified and created, it is the responsibility of your business to make the existence of such value known to the world. This is the place of communication. Value communication is the essence of marketing. Perhaps the most important key function in business is marketing. This is where you get the buyers attention by spreading the existence of your product/service. This is how you get those who may be interested in the value you have created to know about its existence. You have to announce the existence of your company’s unique kind of value so that those in need of it can come for it while giving you money in exchange for the benefits your business product/service offers.

At the heart of value communication is selling. Marketing is about creating awareness and getting the buyers’ attention. Selling is about converting that attention into a business transaction. Meaning, selling is about making the buyer a customer – someone who has given up his or her money in exchange for product/service you created.

Marketing and selling, make up the two key functions of the Value Communication phase of a business. This is where the business comes in contact with the potential buyer and what happens during this phase is what will determine whether the business will be successful or not.

4. Delivery of VALUE: the final step in making profits without stealing is the actual delivery of the value you have identified, created and communicated to the world that your business offers. In delivering the value you want to be sure that it is exactly as you have communicated. You certainly don’t want to over promise and under-deliver. So make sure you deliver on the same quality and quantity of value you have previously communicated. Doing this makes your business indispensable in the eyes of those you serve.

So over to you my dear reader, how has your business been able to define, create, communicate and deliver value to the world?

What To DO When Business Is Slow

Business will be dull whether you like it or not, so get used to it! Sometimes, if the cause is within your control, you could do something about it. At other times, when things are outside your control, there may be nothing you can do. Fortunately for you, this unusual article is about the things you can do when business is dull.

The highs and lows of business

In everything in life, there will be highs and lows. Business likewise, is no exception. There will be high sales periods as well as low sales periods, both periods are necessary for maintaining balance in business. Both are necessary forms of feedback and any serious minded entrepreneur should focus on making the most of both periods whether highs or lows rather than choosing one over the other. This is a fact of life and its better you get used to it and learn how to make the most of it.

As humans, it is only natural to think in dichotomies; positive and negative, good and bad, black and white, high and low, hot and cold, pain and pleasure and all others. The truth is this; we need both shades of dichotomies to maintain balance here on earth. Those things we refer to as unpleasant are actually the ones that make us better human beings.

After all, we are creatures of feelings, and the unpleasant ones tend to drive home the point faster than the pleasant ones. In other words, we learn better from our mistakes than from our victories. The same principle applies to the business world. You cannot have one side and reject the other; both are necessary and have their benefits.

Somehow, entrepreneurs don’t seem to have any problem dealing with high sales periods; after all, we don’t ever get tired of having more. But when it comes to the low sales periods, all hell seem to break lose. This unusual article is about knowing what to do when business is dull or slow. It will help you make the most of the low sales periods every business usually encounters every once in a while. It is very important to know that some low sales periods are self inflicted and others are not. I have decided to write this because one of the businesses I run is currently in this phase and I am becoming a better entrepreneur as a result.

Strategic Actions To Take During Low Sales Periods

1. Diagnose

When things don’t seem to be working out well in terms of revenue for your business, it is an indicator that something, somewhere, somehow is wrong. So, the first step to take is to trace the source of the problem. Meaning, take the pain to find out what is responsible for the low sales you are currently experiencing in your business.

What I have seen most entrepreneurs do when they are experiencing low sales is to lash out frantically looking for a ‘quick fix’ solution to the problem of low sales. I refer to this kind of response as taking wrong actions. In other cases, they simply respond by doing nothing believing that “this little affliction is but for a moment.” I refer to this kind of response as inaction.

Whether you responded wrongly or you didn’t respond at all, both are inappropriate responses to the problem of low sales. Folding your arms doing nothing won’t make the problem go away, and taking the wrong actions would only end up complicating matters. So what do you do?

Like every Physician, you diagnose before you prescribe. First find out the cause of the problem [diagnose] before implementing any solution [prescribe]. Spend time on the problem and let the problem give you a clue on what to do. Or else, you might end up treating symptoms rather than the actual disease. Then before long, the problem is back again. Remember, your objective is to solve the problem by understanding the root cause.

As I have mentioned earlier; whether high or low sales period, both are reliable forms of feedback for any business. High or low sales are not accidental; they are outcomes of certain factors. These factors are of two categories;

· Internal Factors: they are set of activities, behaviours, policies, strategies, and all other changes that occur within the walls of a business. They constitute the internal working environment of every business and are usually the making of either the management or the employees. Internal factors are classified either as strengths [positive organizational changes] or weaknesses [negative organizational changes]. These factors if they are the cause of a low or high sales period are in most cases controllable and can be adjusted to alter whatever sales period your business finds itself.

For instance, if the employees of a business are performing at their very best, making sure every customer’s expectation is being exceeded every time they come in contact with the business, this can tremendously boost the sales of the business as it generates positive word of mouth for the business that eventually increases sales.

In the other hand, if the management initiates a drastic policy or strategy that will affect the performance of the employees negatively, this will in turn affect the level of satisfaction customers will get from the business. On the long run, a negative word of mouth is created and sales will eventually drop as a result.

Implying that, whatever changes that occurs internally within the walls of a business, can potentially increase or decrease sales depending on its overall impact on the employees and eventually customers. This is why I emphasized that high or low sales periods are very vital forms of feedback for every business. Never underestimate either of these two sales periods; they are great learning periods for entrepreneurs and the businesses they run.

· ExternalFactors: they are the set of activities, behaviours, policies, strategies, and all other changes that occur outside the walls of a business. They constitute the external working environment of every business and are usually the making of the government, society, economy, nature, technology, culture, competition and so on. External factors are classified either as opportunities [positive environmental changes] or threats [negative environmental changes]. These factors if they are the cause of a low or high sales period are in most cases uncontrollable and will be a lot harder to influence in your business’ favour.

For instance, imagine what happened to the typewriter businesses when the computer was invented? This is a classical case of technology as one of the external factors at play in determining the low sales period every one of those typewriter businesses experienced during that era. In fact, the advent of computer didn’t just alter the sales of businesses, it completely annihilated those businesses.

Such is the power and effect of external factors on businesses; they are very uncontrollable in most cases. Most especially for the businesses that didn’t diagnose early to find out the cause of their low sales when computers started gaining prominence as a better alternative to typewriters.

In every high or low sales periods, at the very least, one of these two factors must definitely be at play. Your task as an entrepreneur is to dig deep to uncover the factor or factors responsible for whatever sales period your business is experiencing.