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The entrepreneurial illusion explained

Entrepreneur, entrepreneur, entrepreneur… You hear this word over and over again, yet few bother to look it up in the dictionary. Go on, prove me wrong, what is an entrepreneur?

Your definition should include both of these components:

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  1. Matters pertaining to business/profit
  2. A risk taker

So, are you a risk taker in matters pertaining to business? If you are, then you are an entrepreneur.

Now, go and ask this question to all the multi-millionaires you know: Is it better to maximise or minimise your risk in business? You’ll soon discover that the richer they are, the less risk they take. In other words the greatest, most sustainable businessmen in the world are not entrepreneurs.

If you can understand the entrepreneurial illusion, you may have a chance out there in a world where nine out of ten businesses fail. That is exactly why I have a golden rule for every business venture that I enter into: Before I begin, I make sure I have a market to sell to.

If I don’t have a database of pre-disposed people ready and willing to buy before I launch the idea, then I don’t launch. It is that simple. Sales must be the first thing, not the last thing on your mind. That’s why when I launched my DVD it paid for itself in the first 48 hours. I am so fanatical about this rule, that I won’t even meet with someone, no matter how lucrative their venture may be, unless I can sell it. Sometimes I sell through my own databases, but other times I go out and find people who already have the relationships that I need.

Don’t let the press fool you. If you follow conventional thinking, then South Africa is one of the worst possible places in the world to run a small business: CIPRO (Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office) is a disaster, the government is doing away with Closed Companies (CCs), you have to cut off an arm to get credit and SARS (South African Revenue Service) are absolute tyrants.

Not to mention that we are a very top-heavy economy: huge corporations and monopolies dominate our everyday lives. Follow the herd and you’re the fist to get eaten from behind.

However, think a little differently and there is a wealth of opportunity in this country. In fact, in my personal opinion, these are the top five products or services to be in for 2010/11:

  1. Green technology (or services)
  2. Internet marketing
  3. Rural property
  4. Organic farming
  5. NOT banking

I have been associated with the launch of at least 20 online businesses in the past decade. Never does my golden rule apply more than it does online. In fact, only 30% of the effectiveness of your Internet business comes from your website. The rest is email. Neglect your email, neglect your business.

Your email database is the single biggest marketing asset you will ever own. You need to collect names from 1) your home page, 2) referrals and 3) by leveraging other databases (ethically of course).

My advice: be fanatical about building an email database for your business.

Finally, follow the “Relationship -> Data -> Sale principle”. Build a relationship, generate information from each person and only then do you sell to them. In essence, the sale is the third step, not the first. Try not to sell, try rather to teach. You’ll win friends and influence more people that way.

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