This is the second part of a two part blog reviewing extracts of Felix Dennis’s book “How to Get Rich”. In Part 1 we went over Felix’s view on the 5 most common start up errors. Now the bad news is out of the way we can move onto the Cardinal Virtues of the Entrepreneur. Anyone who is a long time reader of my blog will recognise many of these “virtues” as themes I’ve touched on before – let’s face it there can only be so many virtues. First up is:
· Persistence. Felix has a different view on this from most writers of business books. Basically his view is that you need to be terrier-like in persistence when it matters but with an ability to stop being stubborn when all the evidence shows that you’re on a mission to nothing. So – you should try harder than you think you can for something that’s worthwhile but you should also remember that quitting is not dishonourable. The skill comes in recognising when you’ve crossed the line from being persistent to flogging a dead horse – and that’s the difficult bit.
· Self-belief. This is the big one. Without it you probably won’t start on the journey to become an entrepreneur anyway. As Felix says, “self-belief is a priceless asset” and he’s right. One of my very earliest blogs was about a lecture I’d attended given by Dr Dennis Kimbro. Dr Kimbro researched 150 very successful African Americans as to why they were successful & self-belief was one of his 4 pillars. The example Felix uses in his book is a wartime Winston Churchill but every successful entrepreneur has self-belief. If you don’t believe in yourself it’s unlikely that you’ll convince anyone else to believe in you so get used to trampling on doubt (after you’ve confronted it in a sensible way – not at 3am in the morning!). Dr Kimbro also talks about this at length – especially the doubt caused by your family and other friends and well wishers who seek to “advise” you.
· Trust your instinct. This one is necessary but tricky as it’s about knowing which horses to back in terms of all the opportunities that you encounter. There is no easy way to get into a place where you’re able to trust your instincts. You have to put in the long yards, kiss a lot of frogs and make a lot of mistakes along the way. Eventually you find it becomes easier and your hit rate has improved. Entrepreneurs aren’t managers – they go with their gut feelings and often make decisions on the spur of the moment with inadequate information. It’s impossible to trust your instinct in a deliberate, considered manner.
· Diversify. It’s worked for Dennis & other legendary entrepreneurs like Richard Branson. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Launch products that compete with each other so that you own the whole market – think about it for a minute – strangling your baby in order to grow your business is more common than you might at first realise. This virtue is tricky. Other business gurus tell you that laser like focus is key to success. Which of them is right? What I can tell you is that things change (terrifyingly quickly) all the time and in business you need to be ahead of that curve and ready to adapt. When your business is in start up phase you need to focus with all your heart and soul but when things start to get easier and money is flowing in, start a few new baskets. Felix claims it was his 20th basket that made him super rich…see number 1 above – persistence!
· Listen and Learn. The last of our virtues. Felix says that listening comes in at number 3 after self-belief and persistence for the entrepreneur. If you’re not listening you’re not learning and if you’re not learning it’s time to get out of the kitchen & let someone else do the cooking. I’m fortunate enough in my position to meet a lot of people. Not as many as Felix Dennis of course but as many as I can keep up with. I love to meet people and listen to their stories and help them kick around opportunities they may be considering. I enjoy it and I also get business benefit as sometimes it keeps me in touch with what’s going on in obscure corners of my industry. Time is a precious resource but spend some of it listening to others who present themselves to you – you’ll be amazed at the things you find out.
I’d like to add another quick virtue of my own – be as generous as you can be with your time and with your advice to others – make sure you put something back – karma is important too. That’s the end of the book review. As I said at the start of blog No 1 – it’s not your usual business book & indeed it annoyed me immensely the first time I read it a couple of years ago. It’s worth a read if you’re interested in becoming rich as there are a few nuggets of advice in there. Having said that – I predict that most people will find Felix’s advice distinctly unpalatable and they will decide their comfortable existence rules ok for now!
As always – interested in your comments and thoughts. I’m in southern California on holiday this week so expect a few blogs in the next week or so on far more frivolous subjects…