Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The T3 Principle

Wisdom for Today

·       Every business will require a certain degree of sacrifice in order to succeed in the long-term.

·       Every one of us has been endowed in varying degrees with three valuable assets: time (24 hours a day, 365 days a year), talent (e.g., math, science, music, marketing, writing, speaking), and treasure (various material assets, money, real estate, or other possessions). The combination of these three assets (T3) allows entrepreneurs to leverage growth and creativity. It's important to note that if you're short on treasure, you'll need to depend more upon time and talent in the beginning of your venture.

·       The benefit of making the T3 investment is that you can create a system in which one asset bolsters another. By pursuing a particular venture, you may gain more treasure (e.g., money, profits, enhanced net worth).

·       The increased treasure, if invested correctly, could free up time to be with family, while the transaction could mean gaining additional marketable skills, which could then translate into more business.

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The You Don’t Have Because You Don’t Ask Principle

Wisdom for Today

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·       Many times entrepreneurs will go through the process of researching a customer's needs, developing solutions to those needs, documenting and presenting findings to the customer, and then will walk away from the table without asking for the business. This principle makes it clear that whatever outcome you desire, first be diligent about mastering the technical requirements, then ask for what you want in order to get it.

·       This principle applies when an entrepreneur is in need of help. When you find yourself in need of help, you must first admit it and then seek out people who can help. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many busy people are willing to help others if they are asked.

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Principle of Managing the Ride

Wisdom for Today

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·       Successful entrepreneurs recognize that business is just like life-it runs through cycles. Businesses grow and they shrink. They are profitable one year and lose money the next. Your staff performs in an exemplary fashion on one contract and bombs on the next. How you manage these swings is directly proportionate to the company's long-term success. 

·       Average entrepreneurs adjust their emotions to the swings in the cycle, but successful entrepreneurs calibrate their emotions at midpoint between the highs and the lows. They manage to maintain this equilibrium throughout the entire business journey, despite the changes and vicissitudes of the external environment. 

·       Even though the external environment continues to move through the cycles, successful entrepreneurs maintain a steady and constant reaction to those changing external events. This steadiness minimizes the emotional and psychological effects that changes can cause, and helps entrepreneurs perform consistently and efficiently over the long term. Steady consistency is indeed a great way to manage the ride. 

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

Wisdom for Today

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·       There have been many intelligent minority and female entrepreneurs throughout the history of America who have helped make our country the beacon of light to the world that it is. Certainly, the names of Madame C. J. Walker, James Forten, William Whippet, Stephen Smith, Reginald Lewis, C. Michael Gooden, Nathan Chapman, and Christopher Williams, to name a few, will go down in history as outstanding entrepreneurs. But alongside the many accolades they will receive will be the fact that their business accomplishments were not realized merely from their raw intelligence. Like every successful entrepreneur, they were forced to rely upon their own brainpower plus that of many other people. 

·       Individuals do good things. Groups of individuals do great things. 

·       Entrepreneurs must perfect the skill of allowing smart people to grow and prosper within their organization, and they must understand what it will take to retain these individuals. 

 

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Principle of Decision-Node Intelligence

Wisdom for Today

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·       The principle of decision-node intelligence is related to a science called decision analysis. Decision analysis teaches how to analyze business options logically and then to assess which option to choose. Every decision we make provides a single entry into the next decision node, in that one idea relates to another until we reach a point of understanding. Typically, the output side of a decision node contains multiple choices from which to choose. Although entrepreneurs are free to pick any option as the next branch in the decision tree, they must exercise great diligence and caution in choosing. Failure to make a good choice or the “right" choice could result in a significant setback or even failure. 

·       The key to enhancing your decision-node intelligence and thus increasing your probability of consistently making good decisions is to learn from those who have already gone through those same decision nodes. A good mentor can provide anecdotal data a experiences to assist you in choosing the right branch and helping you to avoid the pitfalls and the painful waste of precious resources. The principle of decision-node intelligence can be related to the principle of mentoring. 

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Boomerang Principle

Wisdom for Today

·       The boomerang principle is synonymous with the biblical principle of “as a man sows, so shall he reap.” As an entrepreneur, you will find that everything you do comes back at you in similar fashion. For example, if you give to customers, they will give back to you. If you pay people compliments, they will ultimately repay you with a compliment. 

·       A corollary to this principle is that when you “throw the boomerang"--when you initiate an action (either positive or negative) that may impact one or many people-when it comes back at you, the return impact will be manyfold that of the initial action. For example, if you help someone in business (for example, extend a business loan to someone everyone else has turned down), and then years later you find yourself in a similar predicament, your help will come, but it will far exceed the help you initially provided. Conversely, if you are dishonest and unscrupulous in your business dealings, at some point you will become the victim of numerous business attacks of increased severity and intensity. 

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Principles of Playing Dumb

Wisdom for Today

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·       The principle of playing dumb is all about balance and instinct. The balancing happens when you want your customer to acknowledge and appreciate your high level of accomplishment and competence in your area of expertise without appearing threatening, condescending, or arrogant. The sad fact is that a few white males are still threatened by an articulate, highly educated, and ambitious women or minority professional. Some feel so threatened that they may not even engage a minority-owned business in contract opportunities.

·         Playing dumb does not mean belittling yourself or not using all your skills. Instead, it means putting the need of your customer fist. For example, when helping your customer fist. For example, when helping your customer to solve a problem, put your best resources on the problem to solve it quickly, understand the politics of your customer's environment and his predicament, present the solution to your customers (make sure the solution is through), then step back and let the customer lead.

·       The wisdom in these situations is that you must learn when to let people know how smart you are and when to "play dumb," not "be dumb."

Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Principle of Bidirectional Intelligence Flow

Wisdom for Today

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  • Most companies, governments, and organizations in general have a hierarchical structure that is used to manage the entity. Each position in the company, though varied in size and function, plays a critical role in allowing the organization to meet its stated mission and objectives. Every person in every position in the organization has value. The organization or company is as stronger as the weakest of its links.  

  • Successful entrepreneurs know that because everyone in an organization is valuable and contributes in a unique way, they must seek out and make allies of as many of these people as possible. These people could be as low as janitors or as high as CEOs, but whatever their position, they can either help or hinder your progress. Typically, these people will have access to or be privy to important facts that could determine one's level of success or failure.  Likewise, entrepreneurs should work to provide information to other members of the organization that may need help. This bidirectional intelligence flow serves to benefit everyone involved. 

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Principles of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

Maintaining Congruence of Business and Values

Wisdom for Today

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  • The almighty dollar isn't. Many entrepreneurs send too much faith, time, and energy trying to appease the money god. Wealth can be either a blessing or a curse depending upon whether or not you must compromise your values to earn it.  

  • Entrepreneurs must factor their value system into business decisions. For example, don't open a video store that rents adult videos if that conflicts with your moral values.  

  • Although the object of being a marketer in the marketplace is to gain, remember what can be lost in the process and protect that which is important to you. Each individual is only an event or two away from disaster.  

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The Principle of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Grand Canyon Principle

Wisdom for Today

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  • Over time, water is stronger than rock. A steady and relentless stream of water will eventually wear away the strongest stone. Likewise, entrepreneur who are confident of their mission and who persist and persevere, even though the most trying of times, will ultimately wear down all obstacles 

  • When you're in the Grand Canyon, you may climb many smaller mountains and hills, but the fact remains that you'll still be in a hole. Successful entrepreneurs must recognize that it is not enough to win the "little battles" in their journey to canvass the canyon or achieve their major goals in business. They must become proficient at scaling the smaller mountains as they keep in sight the larger and grander objective 

  • You cannot jump over a canyon with a series of small bounds. When you leap you must make it count. An entrepreneur must take great care in planning and determining how to commit time and resources to achieve the objectives that really count.   

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Principle of Entrepreneurship Maintenance

The Hannibal Principle

Wisdom for Today

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  • Don't look at the bars but instead look beyond them. All of us have paradigms that dictate how we view our world and ourselves. Unfortunately, some of our paradigms have been built on inaccurate data and often become psychological bars that tend to incarcerate our minds and disrupt the creativity of thinking. Some of the obvious bars we construct include racism, sexism, classism, physical attributes, perceived wrong, past injustices, or lack of education, to name a few Our tendency to focus on the bars serves only to empower them, thus diverting valuable human energy from more productive entrepreneurial tasks such as defending our market niche, developing a winning business plan, and identifying sources of capital for our ventures.  

  • Learn to expect great things from yourself and others. The starting point for any human achievement of value is your belief in and desire to achieve the object of your dream. You become what you think about. If you think that all is lost and that you cannot win, you will achieve what you focus on.  

  • Assume full responsibility for your economic well-being and prosperity. Whenever you disown a problem, you relinquish all power to solve it. No one in America has the desire or conviction to fix the economic problems of the minority community but its members. Although the economic quagmire they find themselves in today is not totally of their own doing, the solution and dedication to resolving their perplexing issues must and will come only from within that community. 

  • Aggressively seek to build win-win relationship with other minority firms and with mainstream firms. Very few companies today can stand by themselves for long. Some experts predict that the successful companies for the new millennium will be those that develop strategic and mutually beneficial teaming relationships with other companies.  Minority and women entrepreneurs must not limit themselves to teaming only with businesses of similar ethnicity and gender. They should instead follow a parallel track and develop partnerships with any groups that seek to achieve common goals. Above all, make sure that the relationship is a win-win one so that becomes a lasting and rewarding experience for both parties.  

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

The Roach Principle

Wisdom for Today

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  • The bad news for minority and female entrepreneurs is that like the roaches, they are constantly under attack and must fight for their business lives every single day. Many will become casualties of these efforts to reduce their ranks, by the good news is that a critical mass will survive and become even stronger by going through this weeding-out process. The secret here is to survive the screening and become a member of the critical mass.  

  • As businesses and industries go through the natural process of survival of the fittest, the key to being a survivor is to know your business and the industry and to do what you do extremely well. Maintain a passion for success and master your trade.                    

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

The Focus on What Matters Principle

Wisdom for Today

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  • Too often entrepreneurs focus on details that do not add value to the process of realizing business opportunities. They pay too much attention to the type of suit they wear, the type of briefcase they carry, the type of car they dive, and the type of neighborhood they live in, believing that these factors will determine their level of success of failure.  

  • Such items may have a bearing on someone’s impression of you, but it is doubtful that they will dictate your level of success. Your time and resources are better spent focusing on matters that will add value to your entrepreneurial process.   

  • Value-added tasks might include spending more time on market research, hiring a number cruncher to help you hone financial projects, or investing in a quality color laser printer so that your proposals are cleaner and crisper. It could mean investing in a state-of-the-art phone and teleconferencing system that shows your client and prospects that you are a professional, sizable, and well-run company with which they can confidently do business.  

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

The Principle of the White Angel

Wisdom for Today

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  • Business in Americas is conducted through relationship. There are exceptions to this rule, but new entrepreneurs must learn to leverage relationships with established members of the business network they are trying to break into. Someone with an inside track will frequently sponsor a promising entrepreneur.  

  • Some say that “power is never given; it must be taken.” Conversely help can be given only when it is accepted. Learn to recognize when you need help. Be willing to accept it. No one is a self-made success. We all benefit from the support of others throughout the ventures we take on in life.  

  • Minority and women entrepreneurs cannot ang must not restrict themselves to doing business only with other minorly and women business people. You must be the white business commentary. A win-win business proposition exists for those brave enough to change to and who change the status quo.

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

Wisdom to Take Away

The Principle of Diminished Expectations

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  • The term “glass ceiling” is often used to describe to resistance to advancement that minority and female executives experience as they work to advance in and organization. The world of entrepreneurship has a “concrete ceiling.” I use the image of concrete because, unlike glass, concrete offers no chance to see what could be achieved. This resistance is often in the form of diminished expectations. Some decision makers, unfortunately, still have a preconceived view that businesses owned and operated by blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and women are not of the same quality and do not have equal capabilities as firms owned and operated by white males.  

  • The key to benefiting from the principle of diminished expectations when you’re faced with this situation is focus your resources on dramatically exceeding the expectations of your client. If your client insists on lowering the bar, you’ll find it that much easier to far exceed the expectation and score points for you firm.  

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

The "No True Meritocracy" Principle

Wisdom to Take Away

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  • Many Americans believe that our country is a true meritocracy-that the best and brightest always rise to rise to the top and earn their just reward. This view fails to take into consideration the effects of racism, sexism, and classism. These “isms” act as brakes, slowing down the recognition and rewards that should be realized by talented minority and female entrepreneurs.  

  • If you are a person of color or a woman, you no doubt understand and appreciate that America is not yet a true meritocracy. We have no true system whereby true meritocracy. We have no true system whereby the talented are chosen and moved ahead solely based on achievement. Leaders are not always elected or appointed based on abstract intellectual criteria. The meritocracy principle dictates intellectual criteria. The meritocracy principle dictates that minority and female entrepreneurs must work twice as hard and become twice as intellectually agile as their counterparts in order to realize the fruits of their labor.  

  • By working to be twice as good, entrepreneurs will accelerate the time frame required for them to receive their just reward and position themselves for even more exciting entrepreneurial opportunities.

Wallace, R. (2000), Soul Food 52 Principles for Black Entrepreneurial Success, New York: Perseus Publishing    

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Principles of Building Entrepreneurial Success

The Principle of Trustworthiness

Wisdom to Take Away

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  • Trust is one of the most important qualities in business. In other words, entrepreneurs must be worthy of someone’s confidence and trust.  

  • Many theories exist about how to build trust and confidence, but there are some common themes that an entrepreneur would be wise to remember: 

  1. Stay in touch with your skill set. 

  2. Do not oversell yourself. It is better to undersell yourself and exceed the customer’s expectations  

  3. Manage the customer’s expectations. Constantly assure that what the customer is expecting and what you are delivering are the same. The customer’s expectations can be managed by maintaining frequent and open communication.  

  4. Deliver. Do what you say you’re going to do, consistently.  

  5. Never, never lie to the customer. Lies always come back to haunt you.  

Wallace, R. (2000), Soul Food 52 Principles for Black Entrepreneurial Success, New York: Perseus Publishing    

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