We used to compare Entrepreneurship to running a marathon. However, over the years we have learned that it is more like an ‘Ironman’ race (3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bicycle ride and a 42.20 km run). Not only will you need to grind it out like an Ironman, but you will also need different skills during this journey.
The fruits of the labour are not only the profits or the valuation of the company, but the value you have created in the lives of the people who you have been able to impact and empower.
Listed few learning that we, at SILA, have had during our entrepreneurial journey.
We have seen 3 trends play out; in 2006-2007 everyone wanted to be a Hedge fund manager, in 2010-2011 Real Estate was hot, and in 2015-2016 everyone wanted to be a Start-up entrepreneur. Each time the result was the same; the people who jumped in to ride a wave came crashing down, but the ones who were already swimming rode the wave to propel their businesses and managed to thrive. Riding a wave is for surfers, not entrepreneurs!
You often hear that to run successful business you need to have a great network, and that it is not about ‘what you know but who you know’. Our learning is that networking gets business cards and information, but strong relationships get business and insight. Also, it is important to have some key relationships/advisors along the journey, this may or may not lead to tangible business but it is very useful to have people who you can call at midnight for advice when you are dealing with a tough situation.
When you are an entrepreneur, it is likely that you will have a new idea or opportunity a day, maybe more. It is critical to have focus.
After the initial years of hustling and setting up the business, one of the most crucial roles for an Entrepreneur is hiring an ‘A’ team. The company has to start de-risking itself by becoming bigger than the founder, this can only happen if there a solid team to shoulder the responsibilities. The culture of a company stems from its people, hiring a team that shares your vision and principles is critical in building a strong organisation culture. Today, I get more excited when someone gives me a reference for a great candidate over a business lead!
You don’t have to have a background in Finance to be able to understand your Balance Sheet. This can be learned by reading or explained by consultants. It is imperative for an Entrepreneur to understand his/her balance sheet and use the data in decision making. Most entrepreneurs track their Profit and Loss (P/L) statement to see their margins and profitability, this is important, but it is equally important to see how the P/L affects the Cash Flow statement and Balance Sheet.
Colleagues, Clients and Capital Providers form the key stakeholders for most businesses. Each stakeholder is equally important and needs attention from an entrepreneur throughout the journey. Find ways to engage with colleagues at all levels of your company, get feedback/constructive criticism from clients and ensure you periodically report to capital providers.
The dictionary defined ‘grit’ as courage and resolve, or strength of character. As an entrepreneur you will be tested a lot during the journey, and sometimes you will not have the answers needed to find solutions. There will be instances when you will feel like you are fighting the fight alone, during these times, the grit in you is what will help massively.