“We are self made……or never made.” – Dr Sidney Newton
Are you an entrepreneur or you are intending to be one? Do you want to succeed in life and business? What if I share with you my personal blueprint for success, will you act on it? If your answer to the last question is yes, then read on.
I have written a lot of articles with respect to starting a business, developing business ideas, raising capital and the rest of it. But never have I written an article about my personal life and how it affects my business. Discussing my personal life is something I shy away from but this year 2012, I made a resolution to be more open. I made a resolution to give away everything in my knowledge base; from my ideas and strategies to my personal experiences and business moves. But I won’t be revealing income figures, business ideas and moves that have legal restrictions. Now back to the issue of the day.
On several occasions, I have been asked to reveal my personal formula for success. It’s also funny to note that those who asked this question expect me to spill out a holy grail of some sort. Now the truth is this: there is no secret to my business success. Why, you may ask? Well, the reason is because the secret code for success is no longer a secret. It has been used and revealed by the likes of J. Paul Getty, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Aliko Dangote, Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson, Larry Ellison, etc.
But irrespective of how universal the law of success is, I still believe that the success path of every successful individual is unique. Meaning, every successful individual has his/her own story to tell and lessons to share. So in this article, I will try as much as possible to squeeze out the lessons and the codes I have worked with to get to where I am today. So without wasting your time, below are seven codes that shaped my success in life and business.
My Personal Secret Codes for Success in Business and Life
“I wasn’t born a success………I was made a success…………on the streets.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
1. Work Hard in the right Direction
Most successful entrepreneurs and employees attribute their success to hard work but what they don’t tell you is this; “hard work is useless without a strategic direction.” On several occasions, I have had people complain of how stressful their day job is and the need to find a new job because they are not making headway. All I do is wish them good luck and take my leave because their mind is already clouded with the illusion that getting another job will ease their pain. One truth I often fail to tell them is that my job is also stressful and I sometimes work twice as hard as they do. But the difference between us is that we are working hard in different directions. While I am working hard building a business, you might also be working hard building your career but our resultant end will never be the same.
“The richest people in the world build networks; everyone else is trained to look for work.” – Rich Dad
So what’s the point I am trying to stress? The point I am emphasizing is that hard work in the wrong direction is useless. Don’t work hard building someone else’s business; don’t work hard making your boss rich. Instead, work hard building a business; work hard to acquire assets that will produce enough cash flow so that you will never have the need to work again. And most importantly, even if you are building your own business, don’t work hard trying to do everything yourself. Don’t be a solo player, work hard alongside your business team; work hard forging strategic alliances with other successful businesses. Work hard in the right direction; this is my first code for becoming successful.
2. Believe in Yourself
“You are nuts and you should be proud of it. Stick to what you believe in.” – Hawkins
If there’s any code I will emphasize repeatedly; it’s self belief. Without it, you will achieve nothing. My entire business success was a product of self belief and I am not alone in this. The greatest enterprises in the world were built by men and women who believed in themselves; thought for themselves and acted without giving a damn to what the critics say.
“Remain true to yourself; and your personal philosophy.” – Giorgio Armani
Whenever I sit back and analyze my life and business; I wonder where I would have been if I hadn’t believed in myself. I wonder what would have been my financial status today if I had lived in the fear of what people would say. I wonder where I would have been if I had followed the advice of family and friends without thinking for myself.
“It pays to trust your instinct.” – Donald Trump
I recall how my dad made efforts to get me to the US. I made it clear to everyone that I want to make my wealth here in Nigeria and that stance really caused a lot of chaos because my dad couldn’t understand the bases of my stance. I recall how I bluntly refuse to travel to China to oversee the family business over there because I wanted to stand out from my father’s shadow. Most unforgettable was my decision to drop out of college. Family and friends thought I was crazy but I still went ahead to drop out and focus on my business. It was a painful decision because of the effort, resources and time already invested but I thank God because I have no cause for regret.
“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.” – Larry Ellison
I can never over emphasize the importance of self belief. I can never over emphasize the need to stand tall in the face of stiff criticism. Don’t live in the fear of being criticized; don’t put other people’s opinion before yours. You are you and no one can better understand your ideas and philosophy than you. So don’t be afraid to take a stand, don’t hide in other people’s shadow; stand out. If you have an idea you strongly believe in, shun the critics and go for it. The end will justify the means.
“You have to act and act now.” – Larry Ellison
3. Be Persistent
Nothing good comes easy. The world is not going to spoon feed you to success; you have to fight for what you want and it takes persistence to win a fight. Your first blow or shot in business may not make the kill; so you just have to keep trying. Success is not an overnight venture; it’s something you attain over time.
“I was relentless even in the face of total lack of encouragement because much more often than you think; sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.” – Donald Trump
I did not build a business overnight; I wasn’t a success on my first trial. Becoming a successful entrepreneur was a product of repeated trials and learning quickly from every mistake made.
4. Live a Balanced Life
“In your quest to becoming a billionaire, you have to sacrifice literally everything – completely shut off everything else in your life (hobbies, interests, free time, friends, family, even love) and resolve to do nothing but work as hard as you possibly can to get a billion dollars as soon as humanly possible, not doing/thinking/caring about anything else, never giving up no matter what; until you have a billion dollars.” – Anonymous
The statement above is an extract from an email sent to me by a reader in response to the article I wrote about my goal to become a billionaire. In as much as I appreciate his effort to write me, I must point out that his perception is wrong. My reason for setting the goal to become a billionaire is not about the money, I am doing it for something higher than money.
“Becoming the richest man in the world is not championship; it’s all about competence.” – Carlos Slim Helu
Secondly, sacrificing everything in your life just to make a billion dollars is a foolish perception. There are things that are more important in life than money; things such as your friends, family, hobbies and your relationships. There are also free gifts of nature that cannot be bought with money; for instance spirituality is not a material thing, it’s a thing of the mind. So when you give up everything in pursuit of money; that means you’ve made money your god. Now what’s the essence of having a billion dollars without family, friends and interests to spend it on? Remember, life is short. That’s why Jeff Bezos said: “Work hard, have fun and make history.”
As an entrepreneur, I am strapped for time because I am always on the go. But despite my tight schedule, I still give time to things I value. I still make out time to spend with my family and friends. I give time to spirituality; I try as much as possible to attend social events and I also find time to read, listen to audios and attend seminars. It all boils down to time management and prioritizing your tasks. No matter how committed I am to my business, I try to balance my act and I think you should do the same else; you will end up like the multi millionaires and billionaires with broken homes, marriages and a failed health.
5. Embrace Team Work
“Business and investing are team sports.” – Rich Dad
I have started and built several businesses from scratch. I have had successes and failures as well. I have bounced back from several failures and leveraged my successes. I make money even while I sleep. In fact, I make more money while on vacation than when I am active. What is my secret? Well, the open secret is that I am not a solo player; I am a team player. I love team work and that’s why I invest in people. I hire and partner with people who are smarter than me. I work with people who understand the technicality and have the ability to get things done. So if you are going to be a successful entrepreneur, then you must embrace team work. It’s as simple as that.
“My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person; they are done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
6. Your Personal Values
“Sometimes, what is right for you at the beginning of your life is not the right thing for you at the end of your life.” – Rich Dad
“Waste of resources is a mortal sin at IKEA.” – Ingvar Kamprad
What do you hold dear to your heart? What do you attach importance to? What are your personal values? Do you know that your personal values can be a stumbling block on your way to becoming a success? Yes, what you believe in can make you a failure. I wrote an article about my goal to become a billionaire and this single write up attracted a lot of criticism. Some people challenged my rationale for setting such a goal and some labeled me greedy for wanting to make a billion dollars to the detriment of others. I had to respond by telling them why I want to become a billionaire. Now before I move on, I want you to analyze the opinions below:
- Money is evil
- The rich are greedy
- You have to sell your soul to become rich
- I need a steady paycheck
- Go to school so you can find a secured job
- Money is scarce
- Life is not fair
- I can’t work for free, I need to be paid
- I want to get rich quick
- Government must tax the rich and give to the poor
- The government must take care of our needs
Are the statements above true? If your answer is yes, then it’s your own opinion but I want you to know that the statements above are from people with a poor perception. If you have such perception, then you might not become a success; not to talk of being rich.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; rather, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
Money in its true sense is not evil; it is simply a medium of exchange and a legal tender. Rather, I will say the love of money is evil and people who inflict pain on others just to make money are also evil. As an entrepreneur, money is simply a way I keep score; money is one of the ways I score my achievements in the business world.
Now for me, I attach value to things such as time, freedom, control, work and relationships. I value my time and that’s why I have people working for me and this in turn leads to freedom. I want to be free to travel or do what I want; when I want it. I don’t want to be stuck in a job where I just do as I am told; while living in the fear of being sacked. I am an entrepreneur and I love my work; that why I worked without pay for three years just to get my business off the ground. In fact, I still work for free today. Now let me ask: would you rather work for free for five years and live the rest of your life without ever having the need to work again or you will still to a steady paycheck for the rest of your life? I leave that for you to answer. Most importantly, I value my relationships and I will do anything to maintain them.
7. Keep Moving
“The height attained by great men is not by sudden flight; for while others sleep at night, they toil.” – Anonymous
No matter the situation I find myself, no matter the setback or business challenge I encounter; I make sure I keep moving towards my goal. Most people imagine successful entrepreneurs as overnight successes but the truth is that, it’s not so. The path to success is not paved with gold.
“The Rich Dad Company is an overnight success; but it took us ten years to get there.” – Robert Kiyosaki
The quote above is the truth in its entirety. Using my life as example, my position today is not by sudden flight. I have been in the trenches, I have walked through fire and I have been through storms but I always make sure I keep moving. I have started and lost couple of businesses and investments; yet, I keep moving. Regardless of whether I succeed or failed, I will keep moving.
“If you are moving, even fire will not hurt you. If you are standing still near the fire, even though you are not in the fire, the heat will eventually get to you.” – Rich Dad
I remember the early days when I made up my mind to become an entrepreneur; what most people don’t know is that I took that decision without a dime in my pockets. Being penniless wasn’t the only problem; I was also inexperienced and had no business skills. But rather than remain stagnant and daydream about my goals, I did some menial jobs, raised some capital and first invested in myself by attending seminars on business idea development, marketing and investing. Rather than remain stagnant, I signed up for a network marketing company; where I developed my leadership and sales skill. I kept bouncing and moving until I found my place.
“I’m not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don’t have time for dying.” – Ingvar Kamprad
Fast forward to today, I haven’t stopped moving because the world is changing rapidly and if I don’t keep moving; I will be left behind. Rather than pile up cash in my bank account, I am always on the look for good investments and business opportunities. I am still building businesses regardless of whether I fail or not and when I am not busy, I pick up a book and read or listen to an audio recording on business. And most importantly, I never stop attending seminars. The reason is because I don’t want to stop learning; I don’t want my cup of knowledge to be full. I want to keep up with the moving trend; else, I will be overtaken and left behind by the new fast moving competitors.
“A cup that is full is useless.” – Chinese Proverb
“Life is a journey, not a destination. So also is business; your objectives keep moving.” – Thomas J. Burrell
Another reason I am emphasizing the need to keep moving is because people think becoming a millionaire or billionaire means having a million or billion dollars stashed in your bank account. I will never keep a million dollars in savings; it’s financial insanity to me. Don’t pile up cash in the bank; keep your money in investments. That’s what I do. I keep moving my money from one investment opportunities to another; a bulk of my cash are also tied up in businesses in the form of inventory and fixed assets. The lesson here is this: don’t be stagnant; keep moving forward.
“IKEA is not completely perfect. It irritates me to hear it said that IKEA is the best company in the world. We are going the right way to becoming it but we are not there yet.” – Ingvar Kamprad
In conclusion, I want to state clearly that I am not there yet. Despite my successes and failures as well; I am still far from my goal to become a billionaire. There’s still a lot to learn, businesses to start, products to create, investments to finance, wealth to re-distribute, friends to meet and competitors to fight. But I want you to bear this in mind; whether I hit the goal to become a billionaire or not, whether I lose everything tomorrow or not, no matter how many times I succeed or fail; I will stick to the process. I will keep moving until the day I bow to death. What about you?