The Only Advice Entrepreneurs Need to Guarantee Business Success


According to a 2012 study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, nearly 400 million entrepreneurs exist in 54 countries. In the United States alone, a study conducted in 2011 by Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity showed that 320 new businesses are launched for every 100,000 people, which translates to 20 million entrepreneurs every year.

Industry statistics in North America and Australia revealed that 98% of new companies registered every day are small businesses. A 2014 study on the distribution of sources for Canada’s gross domestic product highlighted the fact that 24% come from the revenues of small businesses.

Although no indicative figure exists on the total number of entrepreneurs worldwide for the end of 2014 fiscal year, we can safely assume that the figure is close to one billion. To put that into perspective, one billion represents 14% of the world’s population. These figures indicate that a significant majority of people want to own a business and to become entrepreneurs.

There are several definitions of what an entrepreneur is. At the heart and soul of it all, an entrepreneur is a risk taker. He or she wants to be in the driver’s seat and to take responsibility of navigating the business though the journey of entrepreneurial success.

Starting a business is one thing; however, sustaining it has historically been proved to be a great challenge. In a study by the Bureau of Census on the sustainability of start-up businesses, only 29% of businesses surveyed remained operational during a 10-year period.

Moreover, it doesn’t matter which part of the world you are in. Starting a small business carries a great amount of risk because your access to capital is limited. There have been stories of entrepreneurs who risked it all to support their enterprise only to lose their homes and relationships.

Despite the great risk, why do people still want to become entrepreneurs? Why not just take a regular 9-to-5 job, work hard, and get paid every 15 days like most working class people?

There are myriad reasons why people want their own business. If we were to identify just one that would define the call of entrepreneurship, it would be because entrepreneurs are driven by the idea of finding an activity where productivity is measured precisely by effort. You could be the project manager who was responsible for your company’s winning on the multimillion-dollar bid. However, all you will obtain after all your efforts would be a salary adjustment and maybe a pat on the back. In the meantime, the stockholders are sharing ideas on how to spend the year-end cash dividends.

So you’ve decided to become an entrepreneur and start your own business. Now comes an important question, “What business should I get into?”

You’re not alone in arriving at the career crossroads. Notwithstanding statistics, most would-be entrepreneurs like the notion of owning a business but have no clue on how to start. The natural course of action is to get into a business where the industry appears to be thriving.

In the Philippines, one of the most popular industries to get into is food retail. Visit any mall or commercial establishment in the Philippines, and the only tenants that have regular activity are apparently fast food restaurants and food carts. The food court is always packed at any time of day.

Inspired by the thought of achieving the same frenetic pace of service, you decide to get into the restaurant business with the goal of opening two new branches per month. Until reality bites, you realize firsthand the business conundrum. High volume equates to low margins. Food is a demand-sensitive product because consumer tastes and preferences change unpredictably. Philippines is primarily a net importer and most of the raw material for your food items are imported, which drives up food cost and lowers margins.

The combination of diminishing volume and margins has put you in a quandary: “Should I increase volume by creating high-value meals but compromise my margins?”

You know it is time to cut losses when you find yourself in that quandary.

This scenario brings us to what this article is all about: finding SUCCESS as an entrepreneur.

Also, the answer is much simpler than you think and is close to home! In fact, you’ve known it all along but you were rendered blind and deaf by your pursuit of achieving the success of others.

Before you ask yourself what – find out why you want to get into that kind of business.

  • Is it money?
  • Is it fame?
  • Is it glory?
  • Is it because it is your passion?
  • Is it because you want to help others?
  • Is it because you want to make a difference in other people’s lives?

The answer to the why defines your PURPOSE for getting into business. And here is the truth: You will never know your purpose unless you define and accept who you are.

Does this mean that saying that my purpose in becoming an entrepreneur is to make money is wrong? Yes. Because it already goes without saying that we get into business to make money. Unless otherwise dictated by your board of directors, businesses are established to generate profit. If you’re an athlete, do you train and sacrifice for months for the purpose of coming in second place? Obviously not. In the context of achieving unprecedented growth and sustainable success over the long term, purpose takes on a deeper meaning.

If you study the journeys to success of the most iconic people in business from Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Mark Zuckerberg of Face Book, Jeff Bezos of, Jack Ma of Alibaba, Henry Sy of SM, Tony Tankiatkong of Jollibee, George Ty of Metrobank, and Lucio Tan of Fortune Tobacco, they all started with a vision that was driven by a single-minded purpose to succeed. They went through several failures and difficulties that have been documented in print and film. However, what set them apart from those who never recovered from failure is their adherence to who they are as people.

You can see or read about the culture of their work place. Sir Richard Branson encourages his people to leave early once they have accomplished their tasks so they can experience life as he does. Tony Hsieh adopted Holocracy in Zappos where there are no managers or supervisors. Everyone is expected to be a leader or one who is accountable for his or her set of responsibilities. Mark Zuckerberg does not hold office in a cubicle but within the work area as everyone else.

Their companies are a perfect representation of who they are, why they are in this business, how business should operate, and what they want to achieve. These people went through difficult challenges and continue to do so, but they remain successful because they have stayed true to who they are.

Success in business starts with arriving at an understanding of WHO YOU ARE.

  • What do you believe in?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your greatest accomplishments?
  • What are your greatest fears?
  • How do you view people?
  • How do you value yourself?
  • How do you value others?
  • How do you deal with failure?
  • What do you want to accomplish next year?
  • How do you plan to do this?

These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself. The roots of these answers can be found in identifying your core values.

Some businesses believe that core values are nothing more than words to complete a web page on a website. But the truth is, core values are very powerful tools that drive your business to success. Core values shape who you are, how you think, how you deal with situations, and how people think of you. By identifying your nonnegotiable core values, you will accurately determine what your purpose and vision are.

Aligned values, purpose, and vision create the pathway for your journey to entrepreneurial success.

Alignment gives you direction in everything you need to do to manage your business: recruitment, strategy design, implementation, among others. The people you hire should be aligned with who you are and what you have set out to do, because if one person comes onboard with a set of self-serving interests, a disconnection will exist. Think about navigating a ship and one side wants to go another direction. Your ship will end up going in circles without a clear direction.

People who are aligned in your values, purpose, and vision will resonate with your target market. In turn, your target market will identify with who you are and patronize your products and services. Success in business depends on your ability to connect with customers on an emotional level and this means aligning values, purpose, and vision.

Daniel Kahnemann, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for proving that people were not rational but rather emotional consumers, theorized that markets respond more toward purpose than on the information on the product. A good example of this would be Spanx, a women’s hosiery product created by Sarah Blakely in 2000.

Blakely who was selling fax machines door-to-door in humid Florida, lamented the fact she could not find pantyhose without seamed toes and that does not roll up once she cut them. She realized hosiery products available in the market were not tailored to meet the needs of women. Hosiery was nothing more than a commoditized product, a generic item without deeper purpose. This led her to develop Spanx from her apartment. Spanx was designed to mold perfectly into its user’s body type; enhancing shape by tightening up on unwanted bulges. For women who are prone to have body image issues, Spanx is manna from heaven.

Blakely created Spanx because she recognized her purpose for the product based on her experiences. It should be noted that Blakely did not increase the prices of Spanx even when the business was picking up. Her focus was to give her loyal customers increased value and to show them her appreciation for patronizing Spanx. Today, Blakely is a billionaire and Spanx generates US$400 million in annual sales.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter what product or service you sell. If you believe in it because you identified its greater purpose for the market you intend to serve, you will succeed. Achieving success is not easy. However, if you are committed to manage your business based on your nonnegotiable set of core values, you will have the vision to chart your path to success. Remember that you are aiming your own success and not the success of the person who owns a fast food restaurant or Internet coffee shop.

Who would have thought a product as absurd as a duck whistle would turn Phil Robertson into a millionaire with his own reality TV show?

Before you can be true to your customers, you have to be true to yourself.

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