The Basics of Business


Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage
Victor Kiam – US CEO of Remington Corporation

The very core of most business is that it is about people. Without people you don’t have a business – it’s that simple.

But even more basic to the concept of a business is that there is a person who provides the spark, the drive and the impetus to make it happen. Without that person, and often they are called an entrepreneur, sometimes a leader, or maybe just “the boss”, ultimately the business will fail – or at worst meander along to mediocrity. And to me mediocrity is little better, if at all, than failure.

When we think of all the businesses that have an impact, we think of a person – think Virgin, think Richard Branson. Think Microsoft, think Bill Gates. Think Wal-Mart, think Sam Walton.

But then think down to a local level. We can all recall a small business in our locality that has had a person who made that business have impact. And then they went. And the business under new ownership or management went from being something special to something ordinary. With time it probably even ceased to exist.

There have been many words written trying to analyse and define an entrepreneur.

However you define one, the simple fact is that a thriving business needs one. It needs a person (not a board, not a committee, not a duopoly – but a person) who is prepared to form an opinion. And then express and promote that opinion. And then to turn that opinion into action. It needs a person who is prepared to put their reputation, their energy, and their cash, on the line for the business. It needs a person who is prepared to make it happen – who wants to firstly make it happen, and secondly deal with the consequences – whatever they may be.

The entrepreneur needs to be prepared to take risks. Risks with capital (preferably their own!), and risks with their reputation. They will be prepared to step into the unknown, at times be unpopular, and inevitably there will be times when they will fail.

They have to have a mind, make it up, and then stand up and tell the world.

They need to have energy. Because making it happen takes energy.

And they need to be single-minded. There will always be obstacles. For ordinary people (i.e. the balance of the population who are NOT entrepreneurs ) the obstacles will slow them down, or even stop them. Even the thought of obstacles will probably mean they won’t get going in the first place. To entrepreneurs, obstacles are simply challenges there to be overcome. Challenges are simply mountains waiting to be climbed.

There are times when entrepreneurs are not nice people. To go places others don’t, and to push past barriers that stop others, bloodymindedness, a thick skin, and a bit of the mongrel are all assets.

Is that you? Because if you don’t have endless supplies of energy, be prepared to be a bastard, and prepared to put your dream in front of everything else, then it isn’t you.

However, read on – because even if you are not an entrepreneur, you really do need to know the Simple rules that enable your leader to overcome the challenges.

The great knowledge that is re-assuring to all of us is that it has been done before. There will be times when we think that we are all alone. That we are breaking new ground, and that there is no one to turn to for advice, for assistance and for support. The reality is that whilst our particular business segment may indeed be breaking new ground, the bigger picture is that in business terms, someone has indeed gone before where we are attempting to tread. Rather than inventing the wheel all over again, it makes sense to learn from the lessons of others, so that we can focus our energies on those truly ground breaking and world shattering breakthroughs we know we can make.

The Simple reminder: Every business needs a leader who is prepared to put their energy and reputation on the line to make their dream happen. Without that leader, and their dream, the business and mediocrity will become well acquainted.