I had a consulting day with an entrepreneur who wants to start a fashion business. During my consulting days, I ask my clients series of questions to ascertain their reasons for deciding to establish a business. I asked the budding entrepreneur what was her reason for starting her fashion business.
She responded that she love fashion.
“You love fashion is that your reason for wanting to start a fashion business”?
“Yes” she responded and fired back at me
“Is that not enough of a reason for wanting to start a business”?
“No” I fired back emphatically.
“You do not start a business simply because you love doing something, you start a business because the market requires your product or service” I said.
She went on to explain to me how her mother had always said from the time she was young that she was going to become a designer bla bla bla. She was not far from the truth, being in love with something is enough of a reason for starting a business, at least that’s what successful entrepreneurs have been saying for years.
Even Steven Jobs who will be remembered as one of the world’s greatest entrepreneur could not resist the urge to dish out the love advice. In his famous Stanford commencement address he said “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers”
I have watched and listened to lots of successful entrepreneurs attribute their success to love of what they do. However, what they do not tell budding entrepreneurs is that they began to love what they do after they became successful. Who wouldn’t love something you are paid millions to do.
Would they continue to do it, or continue loving it if they were not making millions from it? They will tell you yes… You and I are smart enough to know that it’s just BS. The fact is this: most successful entrepreneurs find it difficult deconstructing their path to success.
They know that they sat goals, they know they had visions. But because the time between start date and breakthrough date was so long, by the time they finally arrive, it becomes difficult to explain the process. Earl Nightingale the author of the Strangest Secret said there will come a time in everyone’s life when they will achieve more in twelve months than they have achieve in twelve years.
However, in those twelve years, as you are going through the process, because the person is so busy trying to survive and for the mere fact that they do not actually know which action will eventually result in success, they do not take the time to map out the process. I believe I have discovered what the most successful entrepreneurs have in common.
There are three characteristics the most successful entrepreneurs and for that matter the most successful people have in common:
- They are incredibly good at something
- They know how to sell
- They have the resources to pay for the above two qualities
Let’s get back to the story of my fashion budding entrepreneur. During our discussions, I asked her, how much resource do you have? When I mean resource, I was talking about: money, contacts etc. She had only a thousand pounds.
“Have you already bought the materials you are going to use for samples?”
“No” “Do you know how to design exceptionally well?”
“Wouldn’t put it that way”
“Can you sew?” “No”
“Can you pattern cut?”
“Can you sell?”
“No this is why I am speaking to you”
“Great, you cannot design exceptionally well, you cannot sew, you cannot pattern cut, you cannot sell, and with just a thousand pounds you intend on opening a major fashion brand?”
She looked at me as if I was speaking Greek or I was an alien from a far far away world. And we are still surprise that 90% of businesses fail. She is a caricature of the typical budding entrepreneur.
They have no skill
They do not know how to sell
They have minimum resources And they think they can start a major business I meet people like her every single week…businesses and business owners that have no reason to exist.
If you are thinking of starting a business or if you run a business, big or small, ask yourself these simple questions:
- Why do I want to start a business?
- What qualifies me to be uniquely positioned to provide my product or service to the market?
- Why do we exist as a business?
If you can answer those questions, you have a reason for existence if not, do yourself a favour go and please go and find a job. I like Steve Jobs, but on this one I will beg to disagree with him and any other successful entrepreneur out there who preach love as a reason for starting a business.
You establish a business because the market demands your product or services not because you love doing something.