In establishing a business, the entrepreneur must take his or her very first risk, not knowing how it will all pan out. It is the chance and opportunity of a lifetime. If Lady Lucky smiles upon you, you will be blessed with the proverbial beginner’s luck that has no chance of ever lasting.
Lady Luck can only provide you with a small encouragement to get started or to keep going when the going gets tough. But, alas! Lady Luck is not there to build your business for you. You will have to do that yourself, with your team by your side, of course.
To create, build and preserve a legacy that lasts requires the three Fs: foresight, facts and fine-tuning. Without these three ingredients, we cannot even hope to build anything that lasts. The entrepreneur is always the one with the foresight. He or she can see what others cannot–be it in the marketplace or in their team. The members of the team are, after all, the ones with the facts, skills and expertise. Their role is to fine-tune and execute the business strategy in a way that is in alignment with both the long and short-term goals of the business.
We all begin our business journey with big dreams. We want to live in the house of our wildest dreams. In our mind’s eye, we can smell the scent of fresh leather that upholsters the interior of our dream car. We can even feel the decadent fabrics we desire to adorn ourselves with. We walk past the high-end stores in our city’s shopping district and look forward to the day when we are ‘worth’ enough to feel ‘worthy’ enough. We foresee the day that our affluence brings us status, recognition and good standing in the community.
At some point in our business journey, our luck runs out. It becomes a job, just like any other job. A job with a list of pending tasks and day-to-day operational concerns. Long gone is the sense of adventure that got you started. In fact, you begin questioning your sanity. Why did I choose to put myself through this? You become stuck. Stuck dealing with pragmatic matters that sap your energy and drain your resources.
This is the point at which many leaders lose their inner compass. Instead of focusing on the spark that inspired them to create, they get lost in pragmatic undertakings that have no bearing on the long-term trajectory and destination of the business.
Don’t get me wrong. Pragmatism is a necessary ingredient to lay down the fundamentals of a business. But beyond a point, even the pursuit of pragmatism becomes a hollow meaningless mantra. There are so many businesses out there that are perfectly profitable, yet completely undifferentiated from each other. These are the businesses that will not be remembered by really, anyone at all. They were started to make money and they will die when the money stops coming in. It’s as simple as that.
Wealth moves in cycles, so we cannot focus on financial goals alone to decide whether or not a business is doing well. There are equally important intangibles that form the undercurrent of a business. If you ask me, it is these intangibles that really come to the fore, especially when a crisis hits.
If we, as business owners, want to be remembered for creating and leaving a legacy, we need to push past practical concerns and remember the force that propelled us to create. By the time you arrive at this stage, it’s likely that your business is not a one-man, or in my case, a one-woman show. There are others to think of. People who believe in you and your vision. This includes both your team as well as your customers and clients. At the same time, it is probable that both your customers and your team have ideas of their own that are very different to that of the entrepreneur.
So even before we focus on profitability, we need to ensure that the stakeholders of a business all share a strong and unbreakable bond. Without this bond, things will deteriorate very quickly… and Lady Luck will probably take her luck elsewhere.
We all hear about the importance of having vision for your life, but is this vision shared by everyone–your team as well as your customers and clients? Do they have goals which deviate greatly from the goals of the business? If this is the case, there are a plethora of choices available out there in the marketplace that may be more suited to the person in question.
Anyone who hopes to benefit from the business that an entrepreneur has started from scratch should accept a fair share of the hard work, duties and responsibilities that comes from nurturing a business as it fulfils its full potential. Being part of a strong and united team where you are loved, cherished and valued is not something that money can ever buy. It goes without saying that there are both internal and external expectations that come with being part of this team.
To build a legacy that lasts will require a team to make responsible decisions in line with the collective trajectory. We absolutely cannot tolerate people with a me-first attitude who make egotistical decisions that benefit only themselves.
To be a part of a new business is to be privy to an unforeseen future that would not have been possible for you had you chosen a conventional route to success; where the only road you have to walk is one that someone else painstakingly paved.
If you ask me, this is the problem with privilege that everyone talks about but no one actually understands. It’s never about how much you start with. It is always about how much you finish with.
To be a part of the entrepreneur’s team is to be the one who creates the path. It is not about being the one who walks on the path that is already paved in gold.
While I wholeheartedly believe that entrepreneurs are self-made individuals, I do not believe for one second that the business itself is a self-made one. There are people who come onboard at different points and get off at different points. Some people are there for a short period, while others are there for the long-haul.
Commitment to the business and its success is something that needs to be shared by everyone on the team. If you are an ‘Outsider’ trying to make your way into such an environment, you may find that you are initially kept at arm’s length and viewed with indifference till you prove yourself. Business owners are known to be guarded and can keep people at arm’s length till their loyalty has been tested and proven. They can be very protective over what they’ve painstakingly built and will not let anyone barge in and turn everything inside out and upside down.
Alas, enjoy the journey, as I always say! But at some point, it will hit you like a ton of bricks, that to run a business is to have a destination. And the destination: to return to your inner compass time and time again… So that Lady Luck can sweep in and charm you off your feet once again…
Oh! Here she comes again. Pardon me, I must offer her a glass of water.
Till next time, sail away, captain…