NEUR January - March 2009 lime 41
42 lime January - March 2009 business to be involved in?' or ' What are the risks?' I put these questions to my business guru, and oldest friend. Although he was a very bright student, he left high school at 18 to go into business. He had no money to start with and little experience. He made his first million dollars when he was 23 years old. He then went on to make and lose fortunes all over the world. Today, he is a wealthy man who dabbles a bit in business and spends his time ' travelling and seeking out interesting people' when he is not playing with his grandchildren. Q If you want to go into business, how and where do your start? It doesn't matter what business you go into, where your business is situated or at what age you go into business, there is only one place to start from. QAnd that place is? Your head. In your mind. That is where it all starts. If you want to dip your toe in the water to feel the temperature; if you say ' I'll give it a try' or ' I'll leave if I don't like it', then I will tell you to forget business. Continue doing what you are doing. If you want to go into business, you have to jump off the cliff. You have to commit totally. But before you jump, find out how far down the water is and make sure you can swim. The first day of your business is not when you register a company or start trading – it is the moment when you determine, absolutely, completely and irrevocably that you are in business and that you will succeed, no matter what happens. You go into business because you want to be in business. You give yourself a goal, a target to push yourself along, but what you enjoy the most is doing business. QHow did you get started? I set out to make my first million by the time I was 25 and then retire. I did it by the time I was 23 and retirement was the last thing on my mind. It is true that your first million is the hardest. This is when you learn. You make mistakes. You fall. You lose everything. But you get up again and start all over. You learn some very tough lessons about people. You learn all the time and you apply your knowledge. You realise that underneath, all people are the same. Most of us want the same things in life, but, as a businessperson, you set out to achieve what you want with your own hands. QHow do you succeed? Success in business does not depend on how much money you have, your connections or your background. They can help but cannot guarantee success – look at the business failures of people who seem to have it all. The only thing that can guarantee success is how you think and how you act. QThat's easy for you to say. You have been very successful – but it is very different for someone like me who knows nothing about business. I'm bound to fail aren't I? The first thing you have to do is to get over your fear of business. People are terrified of business. They think you have to belong to a special club, or to have secret knowledge. They think that you must know all about business before you begin. This fear of doing business stops so many people from even trying. QAre you saying that I can go into business without any experience or knowledge and still succeed? If you don't know how to ride a bicycle, you will fall off! But if you keep at it, you will gain the knowledge of riding by doing it. Soon riding will become so natural that you will forget that at one time you did not know how to ride. It is the same with business. You learn by doing. But you must have the desire – if your desire to ride a bicycle is not strong enough, you will give up after the first couple of falls and never learn to ride. If the desire is strong, you will succeed. It's the same with business – you will be your own boss. You have to tell yourself to get up and try again, to work hard and above all to think hard. QIs there no such thing as business knowledge? Of course there is – but it is mainly about processes or the study of successful ventures. To start off a small business, you do not need to go that far. But there are some indispensable qualities without which you cannot succeed in this line. QAnd these are? Determination. Plenty of energy. Sharp observation. Passion. A very good sense of humour. Willingness to take calculated risks. An ability to analyse situations and weigh up people. A lot of common sense and a clear idea about how business works. QBut that's the problem – I don't have a clear idea about how business works! Yes you do! You have been engaged in it all your life. Every time you buy something or sell something, you are engaged in business. You may not think of it as business, but it is business. Remember always that business is part of the flow of life. Everything we do in business is about enhancing life for someone else and thereby enhancing your own life. Business is service to others for which you receive a payment, but the aim is always to enhance life. Whether you sell maize flour to a hard- pressed housewife or an expensive necklace to a rich lady, you are enhancing life. If they are better off for coming to your business, you will succeed. If they are worse off, you will fail. QHow do I know which area of business to enter into? First, ask yourself what you will most enjoy doing and what you are best at. Can you make things? Can you sell things? Can you provide a service? Ask yourself where in the business flow of your town or nation you would like to situate yourself. Then think how you can improve on what is already happening. The history of business is the history of innovation – whether it is a better product, a better way to do something or a cheaper, more convenient way to do things. How can you enhance life in your chosen area? If you come up with ideas, there is a businessperson inside you just waiting to get out. We complain about all sorts of things – shoddy goods, bad food items, clothes that tear too quickly, items that are too expensive, shops that are too far away, rude assistants, counterfeit parts and so on. As a businessperson, you don't complain – because you know nothing will come out of it – you see it as an opportunity to do better. Business is about serving the community to the best of your ability. If you do that, the community will make you rich. That is the secret of success. Now go out there. The world desperately needs entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create wealth. Be a wealth creator. Decide in your mind that today is the day. That is the first and most important step you will take as a new businessperson. Everything else will follow. BUSINESS " Ask yourself what you will most enjoy doing and what you are best at. Can you make things? Can you sell things? Can you provide a service?"