By: Dr. Brian Reuben
Business people have probably killed more people than any atomic bomb anywhere.
Business failure is more serious than many people realize. Most people have no idea what it means for them personally for a business to be successful even if they never get to use their product or service. Even more troublesome is the fact that most entrepreneurs also lack clarity on what their showing up in the market means. If they do, everything will be different.
Take Eastman Kodak for example, on the 19th of January, 2013, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. This was not only an economic tragedy for a corporate giant, but devastating for New York which had over 60, 000 of its citizens under the employ of Kodak. So 60,000 people took the blow. But it’s beyond that, think about those that depended on this 60,000 and what this meant for them. A child could be out of school, medical bills could become a luxury and they might even loose their home. But all of that happened because Kodak forgot the spirit of their enterprise and began walking the path of fake entrepreneurship.
On a visit to the White House, Bruce Barton, American businessman and politician told President Calvin Coolidge, “Business is the hope of the world. Give it a free hand under proper supervision and it will bring in the millennium.” What did he mean by that?
Many of the problems in the world are the results of lack of clarity on the fundamental ideas of life. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English defines an entrepreneur as a person who makes money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks. That’s a definition based on the modified character and disposition of the subject being studied rather than its nature because entrepreneurship is not primarily about making money. Money is a result of authentic entrepreneurship and never the motivation.
Robert Kiyosaki described an experience when he bought a fake Rolex wristwatch for five dollars. The fake Rolex wristwatch looked so real that nobody could know except of course Mr Robert. But his mentor was not happy. He insisted that only fake people buy fake things. Robert was shocked but his mentor will not stop until he eventually handed him the watch and he crushed it!
Fake entrepreneurs exist and they make fake products. They steal the brand of other people and make money from it. Like real entrepreneurs they take financial risk too, including risk of being arrested. You find fake entrepreneurs in every industry everywhere in the world. It is a mega-billion-dollar business.
But they are not fake because they make fake products. Rather they make fake products because they are fake. The problem is in their thinking. They lack understanding of what entrepreneurship is really about. Their motivation is wrong, so making fake products is simply justified for them. Fake entrepreneurs are in business for the profit of it willing to take advantage of any and every opportunity that shows up. For them values are okay until they stand on their way for making profit.
As there are fake entrepreneurs so are there fake managers. Neither is good. We know of companies that manipulated their financial books to look great with the hope that everything will go well. When they eventually failed the world felt the impact. We know of companies that sold their assets and reported them as a profit in their books. I know of the head of pharmacy in a major hospital who will buy fake drugs made by fake entrepreneurs in order to keep part of the money allocated to him for drugs. People came to that hospital, got treated with fake drugs and of course people who could have lived died.
So you now have some idea of who a fake entrepreneur is and what he does. So now let’s look at the genuine entrepreneur and who he is. A genuine entrepreneur is first driven by a purpose. He understands that entrepreneurship is about stepping up to lead. It’s a commitment to serve. It is taking responsibility for the problems in the society. Authentic entrepreneurship is leadership.
According to Peter Drucker, there are only two duties of the entreprise: innovation and marketing. Innovation means finding new solutions to problems or finding a new process to solving a problem. Marketing is letting those for whom the solution is designed know about it. If this business must continue to exist, then it must be able to recover its cost and make profit. So, authentic entrepreneurship is creating sustainable solutions to society problems with a profit model. The focus is on love not money.
Am not thinking solo. The President of the Argentine Republic responding in answer to the question why South America is so far behind in development with all of its natural resources and wonders, than North America in terms of progress and marketing said,I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish who came to South America in search of gold, but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who went there in search of God.
So one was in pursuit of God and his ways, the other was in pursuit of profit. Same applies between the authentic entrepreneur and fake entrepreneur. While one seeks to invest for the purposes of taking from the people, the other invests for the purpose of lifting the people. One only takes value, the other offers value. The acts of the fake entrepreneur have left many defeated, wounded, disillusioned and dead because his motivation is gold not love!
Dr Brian Reuben is one of the most sought after thought leaders on the subject of Strategy in Nigeria. He speaks at business events globally. He has written over 150 articles and facilitated over 200 strategy training programs for senior executives in diverse industries.
He has advised and mentored senior executives in several organisations including Africa-Reinsurance Corporation, Savile Energy Luxembourg, Department of Petroleum Resources, Trident Energy United Kingdom, BusinessDay, Dolphin Telecom among others.