Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

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How to get from where you are to where you want to be

Inspiring Entrepreneurial Story

“I’ve always learned on-the-job, in real time. A problem comes up; I research it, and try to solve it. You can’t study to be an entrepreneur; you have to develop those skills day in day out. “ Tom Szaky

I have memories of going to a video rental store over the weekend when I was around 6-8 years old. The video store was called Star Video and when they gave us the videos they were packed in a paper bag which had the logo of a restaurant called Barbeque Tonite on it. The restaurant was the final aim of the owners of this small video rental franchise that had a couple of locations. The owner’s son used to school with me  and was a friend. Eventually they opened a small restaurant that served traditional barbeque food and very wisely paid an exceptional amount of attention to detail and quality. The place could probably hold a maximum of around 50 odd people in those early days. Fast forward to today, the restaurant has witnessed an absolutely explosive level of growth. Today it probably has a capacity of at least 500+ customers spread over 4 floors. They have a limited menu but the quality has remained evenly and  exceptionally good, this has kept most of us coming back for more week after week.

Seeing the level of success of this restaurant, many have attempted to replicate it, as close to them as possible, to cash in on the spillover since there are always  huge crowds waiting to get into the place. However, none of them have succeeded in coming close. Having dinner there tonight, I was once again amazed at the level of success that they enjoy and whenever I visit their restaurant it renews my faith as an entrepreneur. The owners knew from the very beginning what they wanted. The vision to be the leading provider of local barbeque food was something that each of them were passionate about and they figured out a way to raise money for the venture. Once they had managed to do that, there was no looking back.

There are two important lessons from this story. The first is, before you start whatever you want to,  ask yourself  “Is this something that I am truly passionate about?” If the chosen line of business is something you are passionate about, the next step is the need to articulate a vision for the business you want to run. I have made the mistake of not thinking through the second aspect with enough detail on several occasions and have paid a price for it. Without a clear vision one usually spends a lot of time going round in circles not quite knowing which direction to take. This problem is overcome when you think things  through and know and visualize exactly what you want. During the course of working it out practically things will change somewhat but the fact that there is a guiding principle from the very beginning is essential for starting on the right foot.

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Common Value Systems

 

Common Value Systems

Value systems are a key metric which should be carefully evaluated when selecting a strategic partner. These systems are not always clearly displayed or disclosed by either party. When talking about the core value systems of a company I do not mean the superficial coating. They are those values which are key drivers involved in decision making, product development, quality and customer service.

When evaluating a potential partner you first have to assess whether or not they have a win-win attitude. This is a critical requirement, without it the partnership is destined to be short lived or will not reach its potential. In my experience this is a mindset which is not present in a lot of organizations. They still use the traditional methodology of thinking which is to maximize their gain in any potential deal. The next time you are evaluating a potential strategic partner think win-win and see how a mutually beneficial solution can be found.

Secondly a partners view of product quality and cost is an important aspect to take into account. If you are a high quality producer and you are thinking about partnering with a low cost distributor who has national presence you will probably not be able to provide a win-win situation to your distributor, as the price of your products will be too high. The reverse scenario is where a high cost distributor will not want to distribute low cost products. Other key aspects such as aesthetics, customer service and human capital development should be some of the other indicators to be looked into before making a decision.

Common value systems are integral in creating long term partnerships. They provide a common thread which both sides can relate to and work towards. Finding out about a partners value system requires you to research diligently and needs you to dedicate time and resources towards it , however the effort is worth every cent.

 

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