[7 of 8] Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur – Internal Risk Management for Start-up

Into the Wilder{ness}with the children of Israel VIII

By Louise Lee

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” Exodus 13:21, The Holy Bible

‘Pillar of Fire’ was the provision of God for the Children of Israel to go through wilderness by night, the purpose was to protect them from risk (potential danger), so that they could continue their journey onto the Promised Land (success).

We have established in the previous article that ‘pillar of fire’ principle represents ‘risk management’ for the start-up. And so far, we have covered the external risks that start-up may face. In this article, I am applying the ‘pillar of fire’ principle to the ‘internal risk management’.

What is ‘the internal risk’ for entrepreneurs?

I would like to define internal risk as anything that is potentially hindering YOU as a person.

Internal risk is anything that is potentially hindering YOU as a person.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective; internal risk can be interpreted as ‘personal crisis’.

Personal crisis if not managed properly will result in failure or collapse of anything you built, that include your family, relationships and business. It is especially critical in the start-up stage when ‘YOU’ are the key person. The logic is simple, when the key person is in crisis, your start-up is shaken, the impact is great.

When personal crisis hits you as a person, it can escalate quickly to become a risk for your start-up, which in turn risking your success. When the driving force behind your organisation is at risk, how can it move forward? The next question is: how to ensure this engine (YOU) is not overrun or is not getting into crisis mode?

Let’s look at some of the potential areas or indicator of internal crisis/risk. Personal crisis often appears in the form of ‘lack’: Lack of knowledge, lack of discernment, lack of confidence, lack of vision and lack of resilience; these are the hollow points in YOU.

Personal crisis often appears in the form of ‘lack’: Lack of knowledge, lack of discernment, lack of confidence, lack of vision and lack of resilience; these are the hollow points in YOU.

Do not let them hinder you but manage them before they hurt.

Manage Your Lack

How to manage your lack? These ‘lack’ are hollow points, the best way to manage it is to fill them with the right material and right actions.

What to do when you lack knowledge? You need not to be very knowledgeable before you can get your start-up on track, but you need to have some basic knowledge of many things. They are your trade or industry, accounts, law, finances, marketing methods, technology… etc. Acknowledge your lack is the first step, fill the lack with “know-how” is important.Be an all-rounded person, this can help you along the path to success. If not, engage the help of experts or more experienced individual if you can afford. If you can’t afford, just learn the bare minimal of everything essential to your business. Read up, take up courses are some low-cost way of becoming knowledgeable.

The most effective way could be finding yourself a mentor or join a community of like-minded people.

“In a company of three, you will find a teacher you can learn from.”A Chinese Proverb

What to do when you lack discernment? You may want to listen to your wife/husband or counsels you tend to ignore. For believers, listen to the inward witness and the voice of the Holy Spirit and ask for discernment.

The ability to discern about timing and what action to take is critical for start-up. Missed opportunity is one of the results of lack of discernment. If you lack discernment, surround yourself with mature and reliable counsels. For believers, ask your Heavenly Father for wisdom. Do know that discernment is one area that you need to work on and pay close attention to.

What to do when you lack confidence? Acknowledge your lack and check for its root. Don’t be surprised that even into your adulthood you may still be seeking approval from authorities that you did not get while growing up.

So, be very careful to check your motive: why you are doing what you are doing. Are you doing these out of fear, insecurity or approval seeking? Try your best to uproot them before they get into your way of success.

Beware! Do not ignore the sign of lack in confidence. The collapse can be great if its roots are to discover later than now.

What to do when you lack vision? You may ask if it is important to have vision. The answer is a definite yes! You need to see at least 2 to 3 years down the road where you see yourself and your start-up, you will then know the next series of action to take.

Once you’ve established your vision, write it down, draw it out, make it bold, hang it somewhere at your work area and look at it constantly. If you can, look a little further about 5 to 10 years ahead, adjust whenever it is necessary.

“Without vision, people perish.” Proverbs 29:18, The Holy Bible

 What to do when you lack resilience? Are you the type that is easily discouraged? Do you find yourself always like a punctured balloon?

Watch your self-talk. Perhaps you are talking to yourself too harshly or you are allowing other people’s words to discourage you.

Be in the accompany of encouragers. Stay away from the negative people.

Refine your purpose and tighten the loose ends. Affirm yourself the purpose and tell yourself you can overcome. Practise your self-talk that affirms and be flexible.

A nugget for the lack of resilience: Be flexible otherwise you will break.

Next time when crisis hits, you can bounce back easily.

Turn your ‘lack’ into arches

Managing these ‘lack’ is critical during start-up especially you can’t see results immediately.

Imagine if you build a structure on top of a hollow ground, when pressure comes, the collapse is great.

Managing your lack is like turning the hollow space into an arch, which allows it to support the pressure from on top.

Bridges are built on arches joint below, which can sustain great pressure above with thousands of cars coming through daily.

You are the architect of your start-up, spare a little thought over your ‘lack’, turn them into arches by applying the principle of “Pillar of Fire”.

In application to entrepreneur’s start-up journey, identify your ‘internal risk’ or ‘lack’ before you build anything on top. This step is important, remember the ‘pillar of fire’ lights the way in dark, this allows the Children of Israel to identify the potential danger, this safeguard their journey towards the Promised Land.

Last but not the least, be well-versed of your own lack, work hard to turn them into strength, you will see success rather than unexpected collapse along the way.

Stay tuned for the next and final article in the series:

Ancient Secrets for the 21st Century Entrepreneur: “NO TURNING BACK”!

 

 

Advertisements

[6 of 8] Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur Risk Management for Start-up

Following the Children of Israel into the Wilderness VII

Risk management for start-up is an important issue to consider for the entrepreneurs.

First thing first, let’s refer to the Biblical context again.

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  Exodus 13:21, The Holy Bible

So far, we have been following the Children of Israel into the wilderness. As they went on their way, there were pillar of cloud and pillar of fire to lead them. Pillar of cloud was for the day, pillar of fire was for the night.

What would you expect when if you were wandering on foot in an uninhibited land?

It spells DANGER… especially at night when the vision is not clear.

Like you, the Children of Israel was probably expecting ‘potential danger’ when they wandered in the wilderness (an uninhibited land).

But the good news is that they were protected. They were not alone because the LORD led them by a pillar of fire, so they can travel by night in safety.

Other than guidance, fire drives away potential external danger at night: wild animals would stay away from them.

Fire also provides warmth; sudden drop in temperature at night could be life-threatening. Fire provides light for a clear vision.

External danger for the entrepreneurs

‘Pillar of Fire’ signifies a protection from life-threatening risk for the start-up. No entrepreneurs should expect a risk-free journey towards success, but risk should be properly managed or anticipated at every turn.

Risk = potential danger at night

What are the potential dangers (risk) for entrepreneurs?

The nature of risk is largely not within our control, but we can manage the magnitude of its impact on our start-up today and make way for its future.

First, environmental darkness poses great risk that is totally out of anyone’s control.

Natural disasters, war, political instability, poverty are some good examples of this kind of risk. In the natural, these situations could be damaging for some, but at the same time they generate opportunity for entrepreneurs that seek to meet the needs of the people in crisis.

If you live in an environment that are prone to these kind of risk, consider shifting your approach to a social enterprise. It is one of the most meaningful form of businesses, instead of starting a charity, you are providing business solutions to address unmet needs.

If you are one that can identify emerging social needs and gaps, you should explore starting a social enterprise. A social enterprise has a great potential in making a difference, create value and help solve social challenges in sustainable ways.

Economy downturn/meltdown

The second type of risk is largely a financial one. It is for those who live a stable economy, where financial services and all of kinds business flourish. Be prepared as there is no guarantee that economy continues to grow.

In affluent societies, the biggest financial risk for entrepreneurs would be bankruptcy.

Since there is no guarantee that all business start-up will succeed, the risk of losing your investments is present. As an entrepreneur, mental preparation of financial failure should always be in your plan B. Before you invest in anything, understand everything have its risk, always keep an alternative plan (or diversify your approach), you can minimise the damage if you meet with a financial crisis in your country or in the country you invested in.

Be prepared for the worst, if you are prepared, you have a chance to be those odd ones remain standing when economy took a down turn. Even if you lose everything, you can still stand up again and do something different.

Territorial Risk/Cross-border Risk

Third, when your business expands internationally, beware of the law in the country you are going into. Work with reliable local entities to ensure compliance in your respective industry. In this sense, you can minimise the cross-border risk.

The success or failure of a business in their international expansion is determined by how well one understands their host countries. The risk could lead to debt or even law suits, in some cases, it risks also your professional licence.

Be diligent in knowing your host country inside out before your venture out!

Human Factor

Lastly, the most unpredictable risk is rooted in human weakness that include fraud, mismanagement of fund, bribery, short of labour, mismanagement of all kinds and many more.

Human error leads to collapse of empire, business is no exception. However, the ability to amend from one’s mistake is wisdom. Learn from the industry guru is important, it is not necessary to revamp the wheel if successful examples exist. Experience from a mentor can save you from detours to your success.

Furthermore, human factor is not totally undetectable. It can be studied, understood and managed. If you envision to build a company of certain size, you should be endeavour in becoming a people person. Managing people requires great wisdom.

People are your assets; they are your customers, they are your staff and overall “human” is the key element of a successful business. Learn to build people, not to use people. It is a healthy practice to your business.

When crisis hits, it is the people you built who will stick with you.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. “ Eccl. 4:9-12, The Holy Bible

Conclusion

Are you a risk taker? Entrepreneurs are risk takers.

There is no perfect timing to launch out into the deep, but you should consider the likely risk in the respective environment before making a move.

Overall a word of caution: never start any business in Isolation, be connected, be knowledgeable, always be teachable and learn as much as you can.

Risk are to be identified, assessed and managed but it should never be something that freeze you from action.

P.S. ‘Pillar of fire’ provides light so you can see in the environment that is dark. Anticipate risk is possible when there is light, it serves as protection as well.

Next article will be on “Internal risk management”, stay tuned!

[5 of 8] Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur

5 Directional Signs Not to Miss

Into the Wilder{ness}with the children of Israel VII

By Louise Lee

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.” Exodus 13:21

Entrepreneurship requires constant direction.

It is especially true in the start-up stage when most of your setup are not conclusive and subject to change. And because of the start-up nature, entrepreneurs are always looking out for opportunities for business development, at times open track might lead them into a rabbit hole or even danger; while there are times opportunities lead them to a wide-open field which allows the business to grow in leaps and bounds.

What set the direction for the entrepreneurs? How to look out for signs of genuine opportunities? How to avoid illusion or traps?

Just a recap of some earlier principles we gleaned from the wilderness experience of the Children of Israel in entrepreneurship. We have covered so far “Manna” or divine supply of opportunities from the Manna principle, branding from the never-worn-out clothes principle, effective marketing/business system from the never-worn-out shoes principle.
In this article, I am going to share “The pillar of cloud” principle.

The pillar of cloud in context
In the context of the wilderness journey of the Children of Israel, the pillar of cloud was for direction. The Children of Israel were going towards their destination – the Land of Canaan. Before they reached there, they had to go through the wilderness. For a group of slaves who were residence of Egypt, how would they know the way to Canaan?

They needed external help.

Signs from the nature was a strong indication for their guidance. Since it is their God who called them out of Egypt, they were dependent on Him to lead them.

“The Pillar of Cloud” is the divine guidance provided for the Children of Israel. Their LORD went before them and led them with the pillar of cloud.

The shade under the cloud
Wilderness is an uninhibited land where no man has developed. Unlike trade routes, there is no known path in the wilderness. It is directionless by nature with no signs of direction.

What makes matter worst is everything inside the ex-slaves (the Children of Israel) are from Egypt – a very developed country with a long history of human inhabitancy.
Naturally, it is not possible to go through the wilderness and reach Canaan Land on their own.

They needed external help.

The only direction the Children of Israel can get is from the cloud and the shade it provides. Now, the external help is visible and it makes them feel cool and this encourages their hearts.

Application of “the pillar of cloud” principle
1. Entrepreneurs at this stage need to look up and towards the purpose of their journey, that is all the “whys” before they started out.

The “whys” provides a visible direction when the going gets tough. By checking back to the purpose of starting a business is important. This is the biggest direction sign you can get. It is good to literally make a big sign and place it at your home, your office to remind yourself.

For the Children of Israel, they left Egypt was to worship God and that was why they set forth to go to the Canaan Land. They have faith and they have hope for their future.
The moving sign was huge to direct them.

Can you imagine how big the cloud can be to lead a group of over 600,00 men together with their wives, children and their herds?

How big is your directional sign?

Your primary purpose of starting this entrepreneurship journey ought to be big enough to be directional. Your why should be big enough to set you move in a certain direction even it suffers detours and oppositions along the way.

2. The moving shade
Shelters or shade typically provided by static objects. In this sense, a moving shade is a miracle. The directional movement of the shade is a miracle upon miracle. Weather is a natural occurrence that do not provide direction, so the directional moving shade is a miracle upon miracle.

Entrepreneurship is a journey involves miraculous signs.

Opportunities are not static and they often have a divine nature. The provision of God supplies the seeds of opportunities. Opportunities open only when you move. Stepping into an opportunity makes you feel good, it is like coming under a shade in the wilderness.

You may enjoy the moment of success, you may make small money here and there but you know this is not your destiny, the best has yet to come!

Study the sucess stories of others can certainly help you towards your success. Learn from their sales funnels (also known as a revenue funnel or sales process) and apply to your own business generates opportunities, check out the Funnel University and see how this works for your business: https://goo.gl/WgHc5D.

3. Do not follow the signs of mirage
Mirage is optical illusion that takes place in desert when the ground is very hot and the light refracted with images of water from another location. Optical illusion is appealing to the sight and to the senses. A mirage is a distraction appeals to your needs. Beware of your unmet needs and don’t let them be your guide.

The swift moment of success and the sight of get-rich-quick promise might be just a mirage. Beware of appealing opportunities that sets itself up as a trap, especially those investment opportunities that demand only financial investment with no requirement of skills, hard work and patience.

Don’t allow your sight to lead you. Don’t allow the get-rich-quick illusion to lead you. Don’t allow the present pleasure to lead you away from the long-term blessing.
Beware of the opportunities without substance. Golden opportunities are those align with your purpose and destiny.

For believers, the opportunities ought to be in line with the revealed will of God or God has spoken to you clearly about your future and life calling.

4. The coverage principle
The cloud was big enough to cover entire camp where the Children of Israel was.
The pillar of cloud principle talks about also coverage. The directional sign is not only big but with a wide coverage.

In application, at any given market there is a spectrum of services one can get into. It should not be one single thing you get yourself in. Be diligent to understand the width and the length or the radius of the coverage of the industry you set your foot in.

In other words, it is the shape of that industry you need to be familiarised with, that allows you to be flexible and not breakable. Be versatile in all that you do; you should not put any limit on yourself.

The principles of three is useful: get involved in three services, three aspects of your industry and three products. The three will provide you with a shade that is big enough to cover you along the way.

5. The Earth Orbit Principle – be a student of your market (subscribe to Funnel U: https://goo.gl/WgHc5D) and the overall economy situation in your country and the world. Just as the earth rotates and overall it moves around the sun, your business has its own movement and overall it move towards a direction.

Don’t be distracted by the detours and minor movements, look at the big picture of moving around a long-term goal and a noble purpose.

After all, look far at the signs and you shall move in the right direction.

I hope you are blessed by this article. Coming next will be on risk management (The Pillar of Fire Principle).

Stay tuned!