25 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Take the Initiative - Create Your Own Future

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People are successful because they have made a clear, unequivocal do or die decision to be successful. People are unsuccessful because they have not made that decision. -- Brian Tracy

There are 270 days left for the World Tourism Organisation's General Assembly that is to be held jointly in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe and Livingstone, Zambia next year.

I was reminded of this event in two ways. First, ZTV is running a daily countdown. Secondly, an ambitious young entrepreneur told me how he is going to make a killing supplying a certain commodity at the event.

I have heard several such stories of making killings at big events before: The 2010 soccer World Cup finals in neighbouring South Africa; the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and many other events which have come and gone. Unfortunately very few of those who plan their big breaks around other people's events succeed.

Decide where you want to go

Every success story starts with a conscious thought in the mind: the future you want to create.

The great entrepreneurs who have built global computer companies, successful banks, big construction companies and revolutionary communication firms, all decided in their minds that it was what they wanted to achieve. Without a great goal, there is no passion, motivation or resilience.

You can decide to work and grow in a bank, or you can decide to build your own bank. The bigger the goal, the more likely that you will achieve something great. Jim Collins noted that few people attained great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.

(Good to Great -- Random House Business Books). Do you have a big, hairy and audacious goal? If not, take time to create one, or your future will be just ordinary and boring.

Plan how you will get there

Every successful achievement needs a plan of execution. Planning is not just for new entrepreneurs who need to get investors or financiers.

Those definitely need written plans so that potential financiers can see and analyse their new ideas. But growing businesses need to plan even more. When you are running a one-person business, you can usually have the plan in your head, taking the necessary actions as and when you can.

However, as the business grows, you will need to plan together with other people in your business. These are the managers and heads of departments who will help drive your business to the big future that you desire. Most businesses are struggling, not only because the economy is difficult, but because they do not take time out to plan. Many challenges can be overcome if people put their heads together, plan and think of new ideas.

Make a difference in the lives of others

One mistake that some entrepreneurs make is to want to make money first. Truly successful people do the things they love and that make a difference in the lives and work of others. The desire to help others is the mark of the most successful entrepreneurs. Henry Ford decided to make cars that an ordinary person could afford, at a time when cars where only for the extremely rich.

Bill Gates and IBM made personal computers available and affordable to ordinary people, when the focus of IT firms at the time was on systems for big firms. Similarly was Steve Jobs, who wanted to bring joy and entertainment to people though convenient and aesthetically beautiful gadgets like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Building a business centred around your own benefit and profit is a recipe for failure. You can make a quick buck, like some business owners did during the unforgettable economic crisis of the past decade. The majority of those hyperinflation "dealers" have disappeared. Survivors had to change their approach to business.

Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning consultant who works with entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

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