25 Entrepreneurial Lessons

1. Integrity matters. Build goodwill capital. You’ll need it to attract finance for business expansion or a crucial job recommendation.

2. Focus. Become very skilled at and known for something. It will generate referrals and significantly reduce your cost of marketing.

3. Read. Study. Be exposed. Your business can’t rise above the level of your thinking and life concept.

4. Gain international perspectives and use international benchmarks which can be sourced from magazines, blogs etc. If you can, engage international interns.

5. Gain generational perspective: Hire young people.

6. Sometimes, you need to ignore industry chatter. Especially when you’re cooking a breakthrough model.

7. Control your HR costs. Hire staff who can play BOTH professional and admin roles. This also creates a sense of ownership.

8. Corpers with potential are cost-efficient hires. To retain them, adopt an incentive program with the following features: Mission, responsibility, exposure, access, reduced cost of living & bonuses.

9. An entrepreneur cannot afford to NOT pay for performance. Include a trial period in your hiring process.

10. Identify protégées. They are your future managers. Pour yourself into them. Someday you won’t have the energy to work at your current pace.

11. Adopt financial discipline. Constantly review actual figures not estimates. Never underbid or under price. Always cover your admin expenses.

12. Delicately manage 3 sources of income: Cash flow for operations, bulk capital for major purchases & project finance for expansion.

13. Proactively manage your culture. Use family meetings, life sessions & time outs. Create a company legend or story.

14. Institute annual strategy or review sessions. Review the numbers and lessons. Set goals and achieve them.

15. Hold monthly financial meetings. They provide an early warning signal when your company is in trouble.

16. Weekly management meetings are essential. It’s a time to set goals for the week and review those for the previous week. It’s also a great HR performance tracker.

17. Provide your staff with a periodic measure of progress. It helps you to identify those that are just coasting or who are lost within the system.

18. Documentation will save you. It professionalises you, increases your brand profile and provides hard evidence in times of trouble.

19. A CEO must serve & put the needs of others first. He must be accountable and relinquish the day to day financials after putting in place adequate controls.

20. Structure is key. Put in place requisite regulatory, legal, accounting & HR structures as you move from a Stage 1 to Stage 2 enterprise.

21. You need staff that can represent the company when the CEO is not around. The brand must become independent of the CEO.

22. Craft an expansion strategy for the future. It shows vision. When it’s time, co-opt people in your network as strategic advisors.

23. Family matters. Staff can’t work when there’s trouble at home or their spouses oppose them. Develop programmes to help them understand the company. Programmes include bring-your-child to-work-day, annual family picnic, food & welfare packs for junior staff etc.

24. Review suggestions from your staff on how to make work better. But filter what they say for ‘freebie’ tendencies and presumption.

25. If you’re lucky, your company will attain institutional positioning. It will become the industry leader and set the standard.



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