How To Become A Businessman: Tips and Success Strategies
With ninety-per-cent of the population estimated to be online by 2030, there has never been a better time to learn how to become a businessman.
Now, you may be thinking that I am only talking about being a businessman online, given the above sentence, but I am only making that point because of the huge shift to the digital business world, compared to when I started out in business nearly forty years ago.
We have been in a digital world for decades, so there is nothing new here and this is why you need to ignore the people who tell you to get “prepared” for digital transformation and then hit you with fees to prepare you and realize that we are talking specifically about how the Internet has changed the way we live, work and play.
Physical boundaries have been slashed, time is now almost instantaneous, and you only have to look at the rise of online gaming and use of social media to see how our “playing” lives have changed.
But let’s turn out attention to business for this article and look at how easy it is to get started today, compared to when I started all those years ago.
There is a huge difference and I think it’s good to cover a little history now and then, but I will keep it brief and use it to show you the path of how we got to where we are today.
Business and Entrepreneurship
There is in my opinion, a huge difference between the term’s “businessman” and an “entrepreneur.”
In simple terms, an entrepreneur is someone who relies on instinct, who will sometimes take huge risks because they are passionate about what they believe and do, rather than focus purely on the business elements of profit and loss.
“An entrepreneur will jump off a cliff and then try to find a way to make a parachute.”
Entrepreneurs are disruptive in nature; they challenge the status quo, and they are driven by a deep desire to see their ideas turn into action…and it’s not always profitable or successful.
Many entrepreneurs, me included, fail many times during their careers, but will never give up and would rather sleep rough than take a job!
A businessman, however, will focus on the business elements of what they do and it may not be in line with their passions – they could, for example, have come out of business school, landed a good job, and then worked their way up into senior management before breaking away and setting up their own companies.
I am going to extremes here and of course, there is the middle ground and everything else around it.
It doesn’t matter which category you fall into, because either way, there is a huge opportunity to start and run a successful business, especially an online business.
Why Set Up an Online Business?
In simple terms, it is much easier – you can start with very little capital, work from almost any location and reach a global audience almost instantaneously, as I said earlier.
You can also run various types of business, such as being a broker, selling your own knowledge and expertise, setting up an online store, establishing a marketing agency, and a host of other opportunities that were not possible before.
Here are some key reasons why you should start an online business:
- Cost – As I said you can start with very little capital and all you need is a website, a hosting company and some learning! Check out SeekaHost where you can get all three and it’s where I host my own website.
- Time – You will have a tremendous amount of flexibility regarding time. You can work the hours you want and run your business 24/7.
- Location – You can work from anywhere as long as you have a good Internet connection and you are not tied to premises (unless you want to be), as well as having the flexibility to travel and work.
- You can scale — Your business can grow at the pace you want it to, and you can work with freelance specialists to do so. Outsourcing is a great way to do this and thanks to the Internet economy, there are a ton of freelancers out there who are able to help you.
- Opportunity – As more and more people get online opportunities will increase, and it is just a matter of hunting them down and taking them.
The online world is expanding rapidly as well as the technology that powers it.
My Business History
Now it’s time to go back a bit and look at when I started out in business.
I was a natural entrepreneur, simply because I wanted to challenge everything, and I always had ideas when it came to business.
I was not a great academic, so the traditional job roles were out of reach for me and I was literally “unemployable.”
In those days, I used to look at the physical telephone directories, such as the Yellow Pages to see what companies had taken out the largest adverts had, because I thought they must be the most successful.
I eventually started a direct marketing agency, but you must remember, there was no Internet, no social media, no email and everything had to be built from scratch.
Setting up a company name involved getting letterheads and business cards printed, finding an office, getting a telephone system in (there were no mobiles at the time, and you were billed for each call).
All of this cost a small fortune and for me, it meant borrowing money from my mother, which I eventually lost and simply because I had all of the business ideas when it came to generating sales and getting customers, but I had absolutely no business expertise.
The lesson was hard to learn and experience, but nevertheless, it helped me to shape my business career.
Today, you can produce everything on a laptop and even a smartphone if you wish, plus you have all you can eat data plans at your disposal, social media to reach people and tell your story and you can effortlessly connect with potential customers…so for me, it is a “no brainer” to start a business online.
The Language of Business
Whether you are a true entrepreneur or a well-educated businessman, you must understand the language of business and this is where the pure businessman has the edge.
I wish I had paid more attention to my academic education because I could have learned so much more at an earlier age – most of my learning was done after I left school and college, and although it was good because I wanted to learn, it was tough as far as time went.
I had to devote time out of the working day to learn about the basics of accounting, finance, business law, operational procedures, etc.
My advice to anyone who is considering starting a business is to learn as much as you can about these aspects…it will only help you achieve your success.
Selling is the lifeblood of every organization and in my current role as a coach and mentor, I see many people who advertise themselves as “salespeople,” but to me, they are missing a huge chunk of selling and that is the business aspect.
So, if you are a salesperson today, then please make sure you understand the business aspects and implications of what you are selling.
You have to become a businessman.
The way to bridge the gap between sales and business is to understand the term “commercial awareness.”
The definition does it the correct justice and before you assume that all salespeople, especially in the corporate world understand the business, let me tell you that most don’t, but this is a little “side dish” to the article as I am a salesperson as well as an entrepreneur and like the scorpion…
You simply cannot have enough commercial awareness and if an MBA is a way to learning at the very least, the “language of business” (it is far more than that of course, but I like keeping things simple), then practical commercial awareness is the vehicle to get it out into the world of commerce.
In some ways, I was extremely lucky in being forced to be a businessman, but that is also down to my personality, so let me give you a little advice here:
You may be the most flamboyant entrepreneur, the most successful salesperson, and run a hugely successful enterprise but let go of any thoughts to “outsource” the components of the business to your employees, you must get that knowledge yourself, no matter how basic it is.
Force yourself to learn, just as I am now forcing myself to learn the intricacies of Internet Marketing. It is torture for me at 57, but I know that I must do it and I have a great mentor by the name of Fernando Raymond, who quite frankly, gives me hell!
Heed these words.
When Things Go Wrong
It is critical to understand that things can and do go wrong in the world of business…and in the world of everything for that matter.
It’s simply part of the circle of success and failure and for me, I would rather replace the word “failure” with learning.
When we get things wrong, we learn and hopefully, we don’t make the same mistake twice.
In the late 1990s, we were in the biggest technology boom that I think existed – nobody would talk about anything else other than how it is going to continue.
However, there were some people saying that it was time for a “correction” and that correction came fast and furiously, it hit us like a bomb.
The downturn of the early 2000s saw a dramatic decline in the need for technology staff, which was the backbone of what we did, and our clients were reducing their workforces’ by up to 50 percent and to add to the misery, they were extending payment terms up to six months from the receipt of the invoice, if they were paying us at all.
Many of the famed start-ups at the time had gone bust and things were looking very poor.
At the time, I had just spent a fortune on refurbishing our offices in London and also signed a huge lease for $1m in Dallas, Texas.
Here is another thing – I had just bought a restaurant because as a businessman, I wanted to expand my empire and although I loved to cook and eat, it was always from the “customer side.”
I was ill-equipped to run a restaurant and I will tell everyone now, if you are going to go into a business that is not in your area of experience, but you are at least an experienced businessman, then make sure that you spend all of your waking hours in that business so that you can learn first-hand.
I did not and it resulted in me having to close it because I had to get my company and employees out of the trouble we were now in, because of the recession.
Take a leaf out of an old-school and extremely successful businessman, who has now sadly passed away, Jack W00elch who once ran the GE corporation and his mantra for non or underperforming business divisions:
- Or close
I had to take the closing option because for sure, nobody would have bought it and I had no time to fix it.
For the next ten years, I worked hard to restructure the debt we had in the company and the easiest thing for me to do would have been to drop the lot and start again, but that is not my style.
So how do you become a businessman?
The easy answer is to do everything I didn’t do!
In all seriousness, if I were looking back on my career, I would have spent far more time paying attention in school. Also, I would have probably taken some form of business course alongside to compliment my entrepreneurial and sales natural abilities.
There are many such courses available today and it’s never too late to learn, but a lot easier to do it sooner rather than later.
Also, I would have gotten into the online world in a much bigger way, I was there at the start of the online business revolution, but I didn’t understand how enormous the future opportunities would be and for those of you who think you have “missed the boat” and are too late, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
The industry for me, is just waking up and yes, there is far more competition than before, but that should motivate you to be and do better – competition is good, it keeps markets active and it should also serve to keep you on your toes and to get ahead of the game.
Once you have learned the business language it is time to put it into action and if you want to be a businessman in the true sense of the word, then I suggest working for a large corporation to learn about each business function and more importantly, how they interact with each other.
You will have plenty of opportunities to start a business now and in the future, so don’t rush into it – it is like learning any language, you have to get the basics and then practice daily.
The divide between entrepreneurship and business is shrinking and many entrepreneurs like myself will have to spend far more time learning about the language of business and business people will have to adopt entrepreneurial thinking if they want to differentiate.
But you have to take the first step and get started…today!