Here is a guest post by Dudu Msomi, Chief Executive, Busara Leadership Partners. I have had the pleasure of working with her for over 8 months. Busura is a management leadership consultancy based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dudu is considered a thought leader and has published many articles on strategy, leadership and business growth. Enjoy – TCW
The Realities of Building a Business: Lessons Learnt
Have a personal vision for your life, not just the company’s vision.
This will be important as you spend time in the business. When times are hard, you will be tested. If you do not know where you want to go to as a human being and what you stand for, you will be swayed by anything and everything. You need to be able to live with yourself when the lights are off and when you are the only one that can hear your inner voice and thoughts. Do not do things you will regret. Life is too short for regrets. When things are tough, that is when your true character and values come out. Make sure you will like the person you are and have become when you draw your last breath.
Cash flow is definitely not a theory, it is a reality.
(Cash flow is essentially the movement of money into and out of your business; it’s the cycle of cash inflows and cash outflows that determine your business’ solvency).
- I heard about cash flow in accounting and in entrepreneurship everyday whilst studying for my MBA a decade ago. You know the word. You may even be able to define it. Then you experience it. I do not think you can really be prepared for the experience
- Each potential client who enters your business pipeline has a tremendous potential value to you, but until the money is in your bank account, they represent a cost. The on-going focus in our business is figuring who has our money in their pocket (and just don’t know it yet). All the energy is spent on going to get that money and putting it into our pocket.
Choosing the right partners is 95% of the work.
Successful companies are started and made successful by at least two, and usually more, soul mates. It is very important that you share similar values and definitions of those values, work ethic, have complementary management styles and believe in conflict resolution which will be needed at some point. You can’t believe that conflict is the end of the relationship. Constructive conflict is positive and creative. Always focus on the issue and not try to play the person. Aim to protect relationships rather than to always be right.
You should constantly be reexamining and refining your value proposition.
Set your sights high and strive for something grand. Shoot for doing things at least ten times better than the status quo.
The Age of Co-optetion is upon us.
The age of islands is fast disappearing. During the boom times there was money flowing everywhere. During these leaner times, we need to be smart in working with and through alliances. Ethics are very important. Break the golden rule and you will be burnt, if not now, somewhere down the line. It is not a sustainable strategy to build a business. Small companies need to work together and to sell and promote each other’s businesses. Work out referral fees. But fencing yourself off and hoping to make it solely on your own will not get you very far. Even big corporations have entered the Age of Co-opetition where you find areas of synergies with your competitors and work together to ensure both your survival.
Bootstrapping is the way to get any new business line or product or service going. One of the hallmarks of bootstrapping is to get your product or service immediately to market as efficiently as possible. Pick your battles. Positioning against the leaders or the standard ways of doing business is one way of getting an ear because people have a clear picture already. Your challenge is then to articulate your difference so that they get it. That is our on-going challenge.
Dare to be different.
Do it your way. I only have one life. I do not want to have regrets for focusing only on making money and not enjoying my family, friends and our world.
- Laugh a lot.
And have a great support network around you. Never look down at anyone you meet, even a beggar. Remember that “The toes you step on today may be the feet you kiss tomorrow”. So play it safe and treat everybody with respect and dignity. Tomorrow you may walk into an office and find out that the person you treated badly is the decision maker on whether you get the business or not. You just never know.
Develop ambassadors for your business.
I actively communicate with individuals (employees, partners, business associates, etc.), share with them my vision and the profile of the company and request their active assistance in looking out for opportunities and spreading the word about our company.
Congratulations on being on this journey. The very best to you!!
Dudu Msomi, Chief Executive Officer