Build your business with a long term perspective
I overhead the conversation between some men some time ago and it made me laugh because it seemed to reflect some people’s perception of what business is about. They were talking about a business deal and one of the men exclaimed ‘shey we go make money sharp sharp?’ I have seen a lot of business owners put themselves under pressure because of this ‘sharp, sharp’ mentality. You hear stories about how someone just started a business and ‘suddenly’ hit millions. These stories engender a sense of urgency and desperation and people begin to find short cuts to build success and make loads of money.
I am a big proponent of value driven entrepreneurship which simple means building a business with a mind to add real value to all your stakeholders which includes your employees, customers and shareholders from the start. This is different from doing corporate social responsibility when your business is successful. You can be successful from hurting people; mistreating your employees and selling inferior products then turn around and say you want to give back to the society. You don’t create value when you defraud the society to give back to the society.
When you build with a long term perspective however, you derive the following benefits:
- Better decision making: when you have a long term perspective to your business, you think long term before you do anything because you would be concerned about how the decision you make today would affect you in the next 5, 10 or 20years. Decisions like who to hire, what to products to sell and how you treat you customers would be taken very carefully.
- Reduced pressure to conform: when you have a long term perspective, you would not put your business under pressure to cut corners on things like paying taxes, levies and duties. You would also not be in a hurry to declare big profits or spend your business profits on material things so you can also show that ‘you have arrived’. You would be patient with the process and not try to keep up with the joneses.
- A more concrete foundation: have you noticed that when a 10 storey is being built, more time is spent building the foundation than when a duplex is being built? When you build with a long term perspective, you take care of your foundation properly. You spend time building your team, building your products or services and building your brand reputation.
- Solid brand reputation: when you work into a supermarket or shopping mall, do you notice how you naturally gravitate towards brands that you are familiar with? It takes a few adventurous people known as early adopters to try a new product or brand. The majority of people rather go for what they know. The truth is; a good brand takes years to prove and build. Yes in these days of social media, we seem to be able to produce overnight stars, but the truth is you might be able to build buzz in a short time, but it takes years of consistency to build a solid brand reputation.
- Build a legacy: I listened to the advert of one of the oldest banks in Nigeria some time ago and they have been in existence for over 100 years! That is a legacy business that has outlived several generations. When you have a legacy mindset, you would take the 4 points I have made above very seriously and you would work towards building a business that would outlive you and probably your children.
Ambition and drive is good in healthy proportions, but I would like to challenge ‘would be’ and existing business owners to build with a long term perspective and if you are looking to start a business this year, check out our bootcamp HERE