If you follow the recipe below, and after 45 days your business is not making money, send me a message and I’ll reimburse you any money you have spent in starting your business.
I coach about 10 African entrepreneurs every month. The biggest resource they have is their strong will to become entrepreneurs. They don’t have money to invest (or very little), but more critically they lack a “how to get started” guide that would improve their odds of success.
This post is dedicated to young entrepreneurs who don’t have money, but would like to start their business in their country in Africa. I guarantee that any entrepreneurs who will follow the steps below will be able to make their business profitable in less than 45 days.
1. The philosophy behind the “God Approach”
The best entrepreneurs are problem solvers, not pioneers. They don’t search for ideas to start a business, they search for people with a problem they can solve faster and cheaper.
In more concrete terms, great entrepreneurs start their venture with phrases like “I want to bring this innovation to market”, or “I’m looking for innovation that could solve this pain/problem”. That should be your way of thinking if you want to succeed.
As Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple put it: “Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better.”
The best customers a startup could dream about are the customers who were dreaming about meeting a Company like that Startup.
My deep belief, based on years of hustling is that the best and most successful entrepreneurs are those which act less as “change agents”, but more like “obedient and convenient servants” any customer could hire to do better what they have been already doing, but with frustration and pain points.
“Change agents” want customers to discover them and their products, while servant entrepreneur first want to discover customers’ and their pains, and then proceed to serve them effectively.
Successful entrepreneurs see themselves as servants.
Dictionary.com defines a servant as “a person employed by another, especially to perform domestic duties.” The person who employs the servant see “domestic duties” as necessary tasks to be done, but don’t have time for them, don’t like to spend time doing them, or don’t know how to them. In the other hand, he or she has enough money to hire a qualified, professional and obedient servant to help out.
Another way of seeing entrepreneurship is to define it as a voluntary servitude, servitude defined as “a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life” – Merriam-webster.com
Defined in that way, the journey of an entrepreneur starts with the will to serve someone else with dedication, humility, and consistency, to the point that the entrepreneur is willing to lose the freedom to determine his or her one’s course of action or way of life, but would ground his or her service on the only thing that supremely matters: customer satisfaction and retention.
This kind of mindset could be called the Servant Mindset.
2. The how-to of the “God Approach”
Step 1: Target Dreamers with a Deadline
The most important things to keep in mind here are: “Dreamers” with a “Deadlines”
A story said: “During the gold rush toward the West in the United States, entrepreneurs who were selling shovels, Jeans, and wheelbarrow carriers to the gold seekers made more money than the gold seekers themselves, and still are in business today”.
With the “God approach” you don’t want to be the celebrity in town, but you want to help people who dream to become a “Celebrity”. The bigger their dream, the better it’s, but you can start with companies that are small enough to accept working with an inexperienced person.
How to do find the Dreamers in your city or country?
Asked how to become a successful entrepreneur, Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, responded :“Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar company: Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.” But you have to further validate the desire by asking “How old is the desire of getting from here to there? How hard was it really to do?”
Your goal here is to discover what are the desires or priorities of people who already have money or lot of money, then proceed to find out what kind of products and services would better serve their desires.
According to Napoleon Hill, the 10 basic human desires are:
- The desire for Self Preservation
- The emotion of Love
- The emotion of Fear
- The emotion of Sex
- The desire for Life after Death
- The desire for Freedom of Body and Mind
- The emotion of Anger
- The emotion of Hate
- The desire for Recognition and Self Expression
- The desire for Material Gain
In a more concrete terms:
1. Make a list of people and companies which are already successful or growing very fast, and have money to spend on anything they want
2. Put in front of each entry, the kind of human desire that is their current priority (to expand to new markets, to be elected, to be famous, to be recognized, to be distinguished, etc.)
3. Then, enter in the next 2 columns how old is the desire, and how hard was it to realize it.
Step 2: Build a List
This is the core activity of any business. There is no business without a prospects list or past clients database. So this is the first thing to do.
1. Make a list of 100 people or companies with the same “desire”. At this stage your list will be based on your assumptions.
2. You should have their name, address, email, telephone and a quick description of what is their business, what are their current expansion plans, or what are possibly their current challenges or threats to their industry or business
3. Make sure everyone on that list share the same desire, and now, try to quantity how many in total are these people in your city, country or in the world. (just to give yourself an idea of how big is your market).
Step 3: Ask What problems they need help solving
At this step, your job is not selling any idea or product, but finding out the problems these people have now, what are their current desire (or priority), how old is the desire, and how hard was it to realize.
You don’t have a product or solution yet. So the job here is to conduct interview to find out what problems these companies or people are ready to pay for.
According to the Startup Guru Steve Blank (Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything), “Statistically, only 10% of product-push startups or programs succeed, while 80% to 90% of demand-pull startups succeed since they have paying customers. So focus on solving a customer’s “pain points” with must-have-yesterday solutions. Customers will rarely pay for fancy, nice-to-have solutions.”
In his seminal book “The Four Steps to Epiphany – Successful Strategies for Products that Win“, Steve Blank made a vivid portrait of the best customers a startup could dream about. Those customers have the following 5 characteristics:
1. The customer has a problem.
2. The customer understands he or she has a problem.
3. The customer is actively searching for a solution and has a timetable for finding it.
4. The problem is painful enough that the customer has cobbled together an interim solution.
5. The customer has committed, or can quickly acquire, budget dollars to solve the problem.
According to Steve Blank, customers with above characteristics are the best any startup could dream about. However, any sane startup founder should focus his or her attention ONLY on customers possessing the characteristics 4 and 5.
Step 4: Find out solutions
As you have no money, you don’t want to create a solution for these problem by yourself. You should act here as a trader or a commissioned sales person.
Remember what we’ve said above: “Great entrepreneurs start their business venture with phrases like “I want to bring this innovation to market”, or “I’m looking for innovation that could solve this pain/problem”.
1. Make a list of solution that would solve your target list problems
2. Create customized proposals for your prospects
3. Review them carefully and send them out or go to present them to them
4. Be Polite, flexible, and honest to build trust and connections
5. Think like an “entrepreneur” and not like an “opportunity seeker.” Stop focusing on “ways to make money” and start focusing on building a real business. Think long-term, not short-term.
Step 5: Put a system into please to measure
Here you need to put a business system into place to measures your performances:
1. Create a model for your presentation to clients or proposals
2. Install an invoicing app to be able to create quickly invoice and follow up
3. Track when you call your clients and make sure you have a place to write down what they tell you as important to them
4. Track how long it takes you to close a new customer
5. Track how much revenue do you make per customer
6. Track what are your fixed expenses
3. Your Mindset
You goal should be: My business should be Profitable in 45 days or less.
But, You should think of everything as a “Test”, as this is a great way to beat procrastination. When you start thinking of your business as a test, in your mind things no longer have to be perfect because, after all, it’s just a test. Just put stuff out there and see what works.
Most people never move on their ideas because they are waiting for the conditions to be perfect before they launch. Get your stuff out there and then improve it while it is making you money. A less then perfect site that has been launched will be significantly more profitable than a perfect site that is waiting to be launched.
Take action and let go of your attachment to the result.
Finally you should work on developing your skills, especially your marketing skills. You can learn more in a direct marketing classic like Claude Hopkin’s “Scientific Advertising” than you can in most $2000 internet marketing products. Jon Poland