Ghanaian female engineers take on a male-dominated automobile industry
My favourite definition of ‘entrepreneurship’ is “the creation or extraction of value”. Simple, right?
It means wherever you are, if you are creating extra value for yourself or bringing out more worth in whatever you do, then you’re entrepreneuring! …if that’s a word. It means an entrepreneur need not only be those that start/have a business or a side hustle. By this definition, you might have countless ways and opportunities to be an astounding entrepreneur in your everyday life and not even know it.
Value comes from an idea becoming a business
When you get a great idea, it has all the potential in the world, and all the risk in the world too. These kind of cancel each other out. We tend to put too much value on just ideas and that’s the wrong approach because an idea is just the start, just the first and arguably the least of many hurdles to overcome until you milk actual value from said idea.
I don’t react the same way I used to when I chance on a great idea. Because a great idea is as valuable as no idea if nobody does something good with it. In fact, badly executing a good idea might cost you more than having no idea at all. A good idea might mean something, to someone, somewhere, but until the right idea is paired with the right person and the right systems, it means absolutely nothing.
Some people sit on an idea for decades, imagining the virtual value of the imaginary billions of dollars they will make when their idea takes off. An idea is nothing until it becomes a profitable, worthwhile endeavour that lives and breathes OUTSIDE OF YOUR HEAD. It is important that a good entrepreneur understands that the sky is the limit when a good idea takes off properly, and hell is the bottom if that idea should fail and fall when badly executed.
Nonetheless, it all still starts with an idea
We all at one point in time have had an idea about how to make more money, how to get more value. Don’t forget that by my favourite definition of entrepreneurship, you don’t have to leave your job and stop everything to be an entrepreneur. But from where do you start?
It starts from an idea, a great idea, a great and grounded idea, an idea you are passionate about, one that brings you satisfaction to see executed. One simple trick to getting that idea is to think of one thing that frustrates, and then think of how to solve it. Boom! Just like that you have your great idea.
I might have oversimplified it but it’s true. Some of the world’s biggest and brightest ideas have come from solving everyday problems. You don’t want to leave the house to buy stuff – shop online. There’s too much darkness around you at night– invent a lightbulb. Our very own Veronica Bucket is still proof that a great idea can still be a very simple one from our everyday lives.
3 questions about your idea
Is there really a market for your idea?
Don’t be a victim to misleading market demand. Let’s take rice for instance, simple rice. It’s a staple, it’s not hard to understand, and it’s literally everywhere, in every home. Everybody is eating it. So, if you were to import quality rice, people would buy it, right?
The answer is not an outright yes. Nonetheless, yes there is a huge demand in the current market for rice but how much of that market is truly YOURS? Misleading demands could make you think all is simply there for the taking. Without the proper business setup, you’d find everyone buying rice, but not yours.
Who can you share your journey with?
While developing your idea, it’s always best not to do it alone. Statistics show that companies that have co-founders grow a lot more faster than those that are run alone. Don’t separate yourself from the world with your trillion dollar idea. Find people you trust who can help you with your idea and guide you to focus.
Is it scalable?
To ensure your idea is easily scalable, imagine if you were doing a million times more of what you’ve started. Will you still be able to make profit after increased operational costs? A scalable business can maintain its performance levels as sales increase. Don’t be one of those people complaining to clients that you have a lot of workload so they have to understand why you’re failing them. People get that a lot with new businesses.
The current times we live in might make it easier to go global, but also easier to become obsolete. Markets are changing very fast and innovation is the word of everyday. Getting people with whom you trust to develop your idea, who share your passion for the journey, is also important to growing your business.
Running a Business
The most common notion of an entrepreneur involves running a business of some sort. If you want to run your idea as a business, then regardless of the nature of the business, you need to fundamentally understand these simple steps that complete a cycle.
→ Invest funds → Get Customers → Sell Goods/Service → Get Paid → Reinvest Funds… then the process restarts. Again, very oversimplified.
- Inject Funds: An idea is not a business. Once you get a viable idea, you’d need to raise funds to turn that idea into a real business. A good idea for a business is one that fulfils your target customers’ exact needs.
- Get Customers: It is important to have target customers clearly defined in your business plan. Effective business strategies should be adopted to build brand loyalty while selling your goods or service.
- Sell Goods/Service: This is where you satisfy the customer by offering to them the goods they want or that service they need, with the hope that they’ll return for more business with you so you get more sales.
- Get paid: Payments from the customers should ideally be enough to cover all operational costs and some extra: that extra is the profit. It is important to keep your business profitable for easy growth and expansion.
- Reinvest funds: To keep going, payments to the company are reinvested back to cover increasing costs towards bigger sales. Growth and Expansion happens as the whole process restarts and repeat itself over and over again.
Now let the idea evolve outside your head
The moment you act on your great idea, it’s showtime! It’s no longer virtual reality. Extreme care should be taken so as not to start off on the wrong foot.
Know your peers. Don’t be looking for ideas concerning meaningful healthcare by talking to a taxi driver. He might say something smart every now and then but that’s not his field. It is important to find likeminded people in your sector that you’ll have discussions with.
Know your customers. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! Research a lot about the sector you are looking to get into. Remember what you read on misleading market demand earlier. Always ask yourself, ‘how much of the current market is MINE?” Don’t be too optimistic.
Prepare a business presentation. Continuously improve upon your pitch. A PowerPoint presentation presented to a friendly and frank audience will tell you if you have successfully gotten your idea across. Don’t forget, nobody is in your head; only you know what you know.
Learn to present your ideas concisely through practice.
The paranoid outlives the oblivious. Always assume you have a long way to go. After all, you just started, or you’re not there yet. The typical starter will not be able to get up after a few falls, even after one fall. So continuously remind yourself that “the paranoid outlives the oblivious”.
Trust in yourself. If you don’t already have the stomach for it, business can be very intimidating. If you’re creating or extracting extra value in whatever you do, then you’re probably doing something different. Change is always difficult. Making that change permanent will require you going out of your way to do what you normally wouldn’t do. You will do things that are out of your comfort zone, and essentially re-evaluate what it means to be you to be an entrepreneur.
You also need the trust of your target market. A successful entrepreneur is trusted to deliver. Maybe you’re extracting extra value from an accounting job; you’d need to be trusted to deliver to get that promotion, or that extra work for extra pay. If run an e-commerce website, you’d need to be trusted to literally deliver on purchase orders. Some business men are not liked but trusted to be as their reputation narrates. Trust is essential to being an effective entrepreneur.
‘Entrepreneur In You’ Podcast – where you’ll find real value all year round
This year, my outlet of choice will be the ‘Entrepreneur In You’ column and podcast – audio and video. I will be sharing articles, funding offers, job opportunities, trade deals, mentorship programs, while also having conversations with famous and successful people we all know and read about. We will discuss their journey, how they got their spark, what drives their inner entrepreneur, and how they’ve been ‘creating or extracting value’ in many ways than we know. All these are in an effort to share ideas, offer real help and demonstrate life hacks that equip our audience with the proper tools needed to bring out the Entrepreneur In You.
Maxwell Ampong is an Agro-Commodities Trader and the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group. He is also the Official Business Advisor to Ghana’s General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of TUC Ghana, the largest agricultural trade union in Ghana. He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.