During a networking event, I was once asked why the most successful entrepreneurs seem to be heartless or just completely stone-cold wheeler dealers.
It is very easy to see why most people have that perception about entrepreneurs; particularly successful ones. I once had that perception.
I have since understood a few truths about people in business. One common trait of successful entrepreneurs is shrewdness – which in other words mean ‘showing sharp powers of judgement, astute or shark’ very easily translated to being insensitive. The richest entrepreneurs in the world possess powerful instincts, are very astute and are sharks. They roam the waters (business environment) and once they smell blood (business opportunities) they pounce (strike a business deal) and move on to the next one.
It is the case with ALL of them – Sir Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Aliko Dangote etc. They simply have that unmatchable (killer) instinct. They take no prisoners, but this astuteness can sometimes be perceived as insensitive.
You will not hear Sir Alan Sugar speak without using the phrase “Its a Dog eat Dog World” making you understand that in the business world, you either kill or be killed. But is it really?
Here’s my take on it, the business environment differs, but as we have already established, successful entrepreneurs are shrewd. Observers, followers and aspiring entrepreneurs have over time held on to this belief that in order to succeed in business you MUST be an insensitive and cold hearted bastard.
The business world is an open ocean, filled with sharks with very little food; you need to be able to kill other sharks to survive right? Wrong. You need to be cleverer thats for sure and you simply need to match (or even surpass) the skills and power of the biggest shark. That is the only way you can survive. You don’t need to step on others to get ahead.
Of course, you can be successful too if you manage to kill some of the other sharks, but is that how you want to be known? The entrepreneur who will do anything to be successful? Is that what entrepreneurship is about?
I have seen entrepreneurs resort to the unthinkable in order to gain competitive advantage over their competition. Negative press release, bad comments on comparison sites and even sabotage are just a few dirty tricks employed by entrepreneurs these days. “Integrity is dying a very slow death in business these days”
Some successful business men (and women) display a hardened outer body, but some are just plain gentle but are equally as successful. Take Sir Richard Branson, widely considered a gentleman businessman; he is of a different ilk from Aliko Dangote or Alan Sugar, but he’s a shark nonetheless. He spots opportunities and take them. But he didn’t step on others to get there. Not suggesting Dangote or Sugar did, but do you see the difference? They are the same but not the same!
Michelle Mone – Founder of Ultimo bras seriously questions integrity and general attitude towards business. She created an empire, is a multi millionaire but didn’t sell her soul to get there.
Succeeding in business is only about being smarter, sharper, more intelligent, the better marketer, the one with the best instinct and MOST IMPORTANTLY the luckier. So, its not about working hard to completely destroy your competition.
They will always be there, even if you kill some, others will appear. So live with them but be smarter than them.
Entrepreneurs (established and aspiring) thinking they ought to display a kill or be killed attitude in order to succeed need not bother starting a business. They can try soldiering.
The message is simple: Rather than kill or be killed, all I’m saying is: “Don’t kill but try not to be killed”