Becoming your own boss can look like freedom to many with a 9 to 5 job. But for most, the journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur can be painful, littered with setbacks and sometimes even business failure.
John Sikkema is an executive business mentor and coach, helping business people better navigate the challenges they face when building a thriving business. In this article, John unpacks how to come up with entrepreneurial winning ideas.
You Can Learn How to Think as an Entrepreneur
Some of us are born with an entrepreneurial bent or personality but the environment we grow up in or live in can be a key stimulus and motivator to developing and activating the skill of becoming entrepreneurial. It’s our survival streak that’s the difference why some people simply quit, whilst others refuse to quit and dig deep.
Entrepreneurs invariably start by enrolling in the school of hard knocks. The good news is, entrepreneurial skills can be learnt but you will need to sign up for what will be lots of practical painful trial and error – and indeed failures – which will all become part of the learning curve in becoming a successful Christian entrepreneur.
Understand Future Trends
Being an entrepreneur means that you need to be prepared to do things that others are not prepared to do. Particularly for followers of Christ, we should be adopting a “servant-leadership” mindset. Through spending time with God and honouring His ways, we develop the wisdom and foresight for how to best others through building businesses that support the flourishing of others. This requires identifying future trends and acting now so that you have goods and services that will not only be in demand, but will satisfy a deeper need in people.
To use an illustration from the Bible, consider Joseph as recounted in the book of Genesis. Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and be given the wisdom to serve the whole of Egypt as second in charge while the country went through testing times of lack. Joseph’s close relationship with God resulted in him practically stewarding food produced during the seven years of plenty so that when the seven years of famine were faced, each city had sufficient food supply or as described:
When the famine became so severe, Pharaoh was directing Egyptians to Joseph, telling them “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.” (Genesis 41:55)
Become a Specialist Rather Than a Generalist
When investing in your business, it is a better value proposition if you specialise in a particular field. Keep practicing and tweaking in a specific target market you are successful and enjoy working in. Aim to know that market inside out and become the expert in that target market. When you are a specialist you are always more sought after since you provide a high-quality good and service that stands out in the market. You are also likely to attract higher value clients that will reward you for your point of difference.
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.
Have a Big and Clear Vision and Big Goals
It can seem wise and prudent to set achievable goals. But sometimes settling on a business plan that is just keeping the status quo will do very little to inspire you or your team to stretch itself and increase market share. It’s often a crisis that will force you to think about big solutions or ideas to achieve them. This was definitely the case when I was running a financial services company in Tasmania. In the midst of the early 1990’s recession and faced with a business model that was no longer profitable, I was stretched to come up with creative ways to improve our bottom-line. What seemed like a risky idea at the time, I decided to accelerate growing our business by setting up an Australia wide franchised financial planning business (which was a new concept back then) with 65 offices rather than simply 3 fully owned offices in Tasmania. Nine years later, I sold the business for $40 million to a Packer-based listed company Challenger company. The risk paid off.
Adopt the Principle of “Constancy of Purpose”
If something does not help in achieving you vision or mission, don’t chew up valuable time and resources pursuing opportunities outside of this. Anything that takes you away from your stated goal will put you further behind. Saying no to distractions becomes much easier with a vision in mind. The Book of Proverbs puts it best when it states:
Finding a Partner and be Open to Not Owning 100% of the Shares
Whilst it’s not essential it will greatly increase the odds of successful starting and successfully getting a new venture off the ground if you have a complimentary partner or at very least a high- level compatible teammate.
For me it has been true in the many businesses I have built. To have someone to cover my weakness and in fact excel in key parts of business has been critical success factor. In relation to shareholding do the simple maths, it’s better to own say 30 percent of a $50 million business than owning 100 per cent of a $500K business!
It’s OK to Become a Copycat
There is an old saying there is nothing new under the sun. Often we are too proud to simply say I copied or so liked what someone else did that I think I can do something similar. It creates opportunity to improve someone else’s idea. Most of us are not and don’t need to become inventors. Inventors are not necessarily entrepreneurs. These ideas on their own may seem ordinary but they are powerful when you apply them simultaneously – that’s when extraordinary results will happen, especially if you add in vital ingredients all successful entrepreneurs have – drive, belief, passion and positivity – which draws others to back and help turn your idea into reality.
About John Sikkema
John Sikkema is business leader, philanthropist and author of the life-changing book, Enriched: Re-defining Wealth. John is passionate about motivating and mentoring business leaders and organisations to discover their purpose and achieve their dreams and vision.
He has recently co-founded Business On Purpose, which provides coaching to business owners to help align their businesses with their values.
Visit businessonpurpose.com.au to find out how John can offer coaching for you in your business.
Featured image: Shutterstock.