How do entrepreneurs manage to thrive even while taking such a difficult approach to the world? Morobe believes that the answer lies in their disciplined attitude which, although it varies in emphasis from entrepreneur to entrepreneur, can generally be described in the following ten rules that they live by:
Entrepreneurs tend to maintain a strong belief in their ability to achieve their goals, upon which they remain focused. They get out of bed in the mornings believing that they have something meaningful to do and a legacy to leave behind. It is a powerful drive that helps to keep them going even when times are tough.
Some entrepreneurs are famous for flunking out of school when they get busy with their businesses, but these stories should not give anyone the idea that entrepreneurs are not interested in learning. On the contrary, they are voracious learners, whether by reading, taking courses, listening to coaches, mentors and the experts around them. However unstructured it is, the aim is continual self-improvement and strengthening of their businesses.
The most successful entrepreneurs are those who do what they love to do. It allows for great resilience and staying power. “Even when you are weary and disappointed you keep on at it,” says Morobe. Running a business means having to do lots of things that you may not necessarily like, and that is where the next point comes in.
Although entrepreneurship is a do-it-yourself project in a certain sense, it is simply too difficult an undertaking to do on your own. That is why one of the most important rules of entrepreneurship is to find the right people, convince them to join your enterprise, and forging them into a team to which you can delegate. They should be chosen for skills that complement yours, and for their values which should align with yours.
Just like entrepreneurs continuously build their teams inside their business, they grow their network of investors, advisors, suppliers, associates and customers outside of it.
Entrepreneurs don’t pass up opportunities to promote themselves, their vision and their enterprise, irrespective of whether it is in their business interactions or at social occasions. It need not be tiresome or false. If it is done with sincerity and respect, it can be engaging and inspiring, and can win over not only customers, but also potential investors, employees, partners and suppliers.
For entrepreneurs, risk comes with the territory. They simply cannot avoid it altogether. The rule, however, is to manage risk – to mitigate it where they can and to constantly hedge against it. For example, the greatest risk facing most growing businesses is death by cash-flow crisis. Entrepreneurs who survive are those who remain acutely aware of their cash-flow situation so that they can see the crunch coming. A good example of hedging against risk is where an enterprise cultivates several smaller customers despite the fact that it has one dominant client. When that client goes down, they have others to pull them through.
In entrepreneurship there are no short cuts or half-measures. Once you start, says Morobe, you have to be all in, even if it means putting in twelve-hour days for many years.
One innovative idea is seldom enough to carry a business for longer than a couple of years. The most resilient businesses are those that adopt innovation as a broad approach to whatever they do, especially when it comes to taking feedback from their customers seriously and trying to incorporate it into their products and services. It is not always comfortable, because the disruption caused by innovation prevents any settling down into cosy routines. It also requires a certain tolerance to making mistakes.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Staying the course means pacing yourself, striking the right balance between exertion and rest, and being aware of the warning signals that your body sends you from time to time. Successful businesses are built on the foundations of healthy bodies and minds.