Years ago an old man who had a supermarket at a popular location, boasted that he started his day at 4am and left at 12 midnight. His business never grew because two Ps were missing:
People – He did not hire people with management and leadership skills to run his business and; Process – He did not invest in the processes that would have allowed him to run multiple locations with lots of time to spare. You don’t ever need to visit a business if these two Ps are in place. Most people with entrepreneurial hearts are working towards a future where their business grows from a small business to a big one.
If you’re dreaming of building a business that grows very big, your business must also have a life. It is important to allow your business “to get a life of its own”, separate from you. It must be a separate living persona that has its own needs, separate from you. You are not the business and the business is not you.
Imagine you run a cash business like a supermarket and a dear relative comes in with an emergency asking for money. Can you say to that person: “I’m sorry I have no money; what I have belongs to the business”? People who run big successful businesses never treat the money of the business as their own.
A friend came to me once and asked me to lend him some money and I said I didn’t have any. I could see the bitterness in his face as he said, “Everyone knows you have money because your business is really doing well.” “The business is really doing well, but I’m not the business,” I replied. “The two of us are different from each other.”
Now if you’re new to big business, you will not accept this, but if you went to Bill Gates or Patrice Motsepe (South African mining magnate) they will tell you the same. If you cannot do that, you will never be able to own a truly big business.
Similarly, you cannot take the money belonging to the business to build a house for your family or buy a new car. You are only entitled to your salary which should be fixed and taken only when others get paid. You are also entitled to a small portion of the profit, taken only from Year 4 of successive years of profit. Cap it at 25 percent.
I have known some absolutely brilliant, innovative entrepreneurs in Africa and yet they struggled with this one thing – they would not allow a business to have a separate life from them.
The entrepreneur who allows the business to have its own life is the one who builds a big business.
*Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, is the founder and executive chairman of telecommunications group Econet Wireless.
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