The first question I get to ask business minded persons (entrepreneurs) like myself whenever I meet them is this: “why do you want to go into business?”
I seldom ask myself that question every time I’m starting a business, because I have come to understand that motive is very important in whatever we want to do, especially starting a business. Taking a cue from the famous quote of the great and late Myles Munroe: “when purpose is not known then abuse is inevitable” Business will be abused if it’s purpose is not known.
I was a business student back in the university and I saw the joy and excitement in my folks in class about being an entrepreneur – everybody wants to be successful entrepreneurs. Well, that’s good – everybody becoming successful entrepreneurs, starting a venture and sustaining it means we are on our way to economic revolution as a country. I can forget also hearing my folks say stuffs like: I want to be an entrepreneur because I can’t say yes: “sir” to anybody, some will say I don’t want to achieve other people’s dreams, yet another will say I do not think I can cope with a 7am-5pm job cycle, and many other reasons – those reasons are what really gets me concerned.
Back to my initial question; why do business? Could it be just to make money, Status, Power, Fame? Or you just like being in charge or being the boss? And so many other answers you have in your hearts. Friends I encourage you ask yourself this question and answer yourself genuinely – it is very fundamental to building a successful business that will remain in the market for a very long time. Before we waste too much time on these questions and answers, let’s consider few successful business men, perhaps we might find something useful to learn from them.
The first is WARREN EDWARD BUFFETT. This business guru has a net worth of 64.6 billion USD. Warren is an American business mogul, investor, and philanthropist – he is said to be the greatest philanthropist that has ever lived, he was also generally believed to be the most successful investor of the 20th century. He is the primary shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, he was the world’s wealthiest person in 2008, third wealthiest person in 2011, named by American Magazine Time as one of the most influential people in the world in 2012. The most interesting thing I want you to note about Warren is that he gives 99% of all his fortune to philanthropic causes, mostly via the Gates Foundation. Warren showed interest in making and saving money as a child, he sold chewing gums, Coca-Cola or weekly magazines from door to door, he was also said to have worked in his grandfather’s grocery store.
Secondly: DENNIS BAKKE – Dennis is an American CEO, entrepreneur, president of Imagine Schools – it is said to be the largest commercial manager of charter school in USA. In 1981 Dennis co-founded AES Corporation; a global energy supplier that earned up to 8 billion USD in revenue, this company employed over 50,000 employees using a decentralized business model. Dennis is a Christian evangelist and an advocate of corporate social responsibility, he wrote his business and entrepreneurial philosophy in the 2005 best-seller “Joy at Work”; a book that illustrate a revolutionary approach of fun on the job. Also note that Dennis gives 90% of his fortune as tithe.
Thirdly and lastly, ALIKO DANGOTE: Dangote has a net worth of 12.4 billion USD, He is a Nigerian CEO of the Dangote Group that has interests and invested in daily commodities, this company operates in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa including; Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Zambia and South Africa. Dangote is currently ranked as the 43rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa by Forbes Magazine. Dangote was born into a wealthy Muslim family. Dangote had strong passion for business, so he studied from the Al Azhar University, Cairo in Egypt. The Dangote Group started operations as a small scale enterprise back in 1977, but today is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate. Report has it that Dangote has given away 100 million USD to charity in recent years, with focus on flood relief, healthcare, and poverty reduction.
A critical study on these three business Tycoons gave me a clear understanding of what business really his. It will shock you to know that a handful of people involved in business do not really know the purpose of business, despite not knowing – some of them still make money while many others fail.
Then I ask myself; could Warren’s reason for going into business be to make just money? If it was he wouldn’t have given out 99% of the money and live on 1%, could it have been for fame, prestige or status? Then he should be on media every day, he should have been seen wearing the most expensive cloths and have the most expensive house in the world. Dennis is a Christian evangelist that gives 90% of his income as tithe. There must be more reason behind them going into business – not just to make money and give it away.
I wonder long on: why our own Dangote would struggle to give a fragment of his money out to charity before I got the answer from one of his quotes: “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (sugar boxes) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
From the quote it was so apparent he went into business to make money despite the fact that he was born into a wealthy home – reason why he won’t give his money away anyhow. Someone who should have made the list of business men I highlighted earlier on this article would have been Bill Gates – another influential man the world just must reckon. Has it ever occurred to you or wonder why Bill will leave his country and continent to Africa to fight malaria and also HIV, when there is a Dangote who is the richest man in Africa doing nothing about it and they are both listed on Forbes? For Warren, Bill, and Dennis, their idea for business must have been to use it as a tool to touch the world, it must have been a means to solve a problem in their heart or to fix a brokenness of the world they have seen, that could have been the only reason they can give all of their fortune away, after working so hard to get them.
We have lost the concept of business, which is why there are still 2 schools of thoughts on whether Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) is a must for business or they are two parallel lines. This is my take: CRS and business cannot be separated, if separated the essence of business is gone – business is just basically abused.
Dear reader, I’m glad you could read to this point, this is my concluding note: business is not an end in itself, rather a means to an end. Any entrepreneur who wants to do a business that will outlive him and remain for generations, must firstly ask himself and settle the purpose of the business, only then can that entrepreneur stands a chance to succeed. Business is tool to fulfill an AGENDA. Narrowing AGENDA down to Africa and Nigeria; Economics is basically the solution to our problems and is the only revolution we have sought for with a passion. Irrespective of your field of study or sphere of influence, if that activity is not entrepreneurial inclined, then it can’t go far.
So, I’ll suggest we start thinking of how to build our land, build structures, and create systems, all through economic feat. I’ll advise we start thinking how to start a business, learn entrepreneurship, small business ideas, take personal development courses, and so on.
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