[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!

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[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!

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

Adopting a marketing system that works 

By Louise Lee

Entrepreneurship journey is likened to the wilderness experience of the Children of Israel. The principles gleaned from their experience might be ancient, but when we begin to apply them in the 21st century start-up, they can become powerful tools that keep your business thriving and growing.

I have covered so far two aspects of “the wilderness” implication and application like the Manna supply and the never-worn-out clothes. In this article, I am going to expound on the third principle “the never-worn-out shoes” principle, that is to identify a sustaining marketing system or one business model that works for your start-up.

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First, let’s look back again at where these principles originate and have a little overview of the background of the “wilderness experience”.

“Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.”  Deuteronomy 29:5, The Holy Bible (NIV)

Back to the Bible time where the Children of Israel just left Egypt. They have stepped out from a system of which they made a living. Sad to say it was a slavery system, where they laboured hard as a slave serving the Egyptians. They had been in this system for the past four hundred over years before they stepped into the wilderness. They might have left the system behind them but its influence was still in them.

Old system versus new system

Since I am using the wilderness as an analogy to a business start-up, then the Egyptian system is the 9-5 work life that you left behind. What the system did was to condition you to believe that working a full-time job is the only way to gain wealth.

This mindset will constantly pull you back when you are starting out on your own without consciously building a new system. With this pull, you need to establish a pushing system to get you going in the right direction.

This new system ought to be a new belief system and in the business sense, it is the marketing system or a business model that is different from the 9-5 model (one that causes you to sell your labour and time in exchange with a pay cheque of a fixed amount).

A new system was introduced to the Children of Israel shortly after they stepped into the wilderness. The new system is a God-appointed system stipulated in the Ten Commandments, the Sacrificial System, Priestly system, Festivals, Year of Jubilee, etc. These are permanent system for them to follow as a nation, yet there are also some temporary systems that only applied in the wilderness like Manna; the never-worn out clothes, and the never-worn out shoes, pillars of fire and pillars of cloud.

Temporary systems are for training purpose so that the old system (from Egypt) can be eradicated from your mind.

Application of the principles of never-worn-out shoes

After you have defined your personal branding, you need to get going.

Ultimately, a business is set up for making money and to be more exact making profit. You will need a system that helps you to bring in businesses that makes profit consistently without fail.

In short, an effective marketing system is all you need. Take another look at it is the business model that works to bring in profit.

Marketing in the 21st Century

What is marketing? Every business needs marketing. It is so especially in today’s world. You can’t keep quiet about your business and expect people to buy your products or engage your service. What is the marketing system that works? You probably have learned the five Ps of marketing (price, product, promotion, place, people), these are the backbones of running a business. Today, when applying marketing to your business, there is a need to upgrade and modernise its concept.

The concept of business has evolved into different models. The internet has transformed the way we do business today; this provides the 21st century entrepreneurs a wider platform, a greater potential as well as challenges. And today, marketing methods have evolved into a plethora of approaches.

I have done a little research on marketing methods, the varieties available are mindboggling. You might have heard of the following as you go about trying to figure out how to promote your business: e-mail marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, outbound marketing, multi-level marketing, referral marketing, network marketing, TV marketing, niche marketing, affiliate marketing. content marketing, contextual marketing, user experience marketing, animated marking, video marketing, podcast marketing, FB marketing, etc.

Besides, there are many who claimed to have devised some new business models that help others to make money without prior experience, or marketing knowledge, you just need to be coachable and follow the system that works for that person (the coach).

The promise is that the method is duplicable and that will allow you to make as much money just like them. To understand more, you can just start subscribing to one of these free email or newsletter, you will then receive many of these modern gurus telling you how their system works for you.

Pick yours and get going

Now what? What are you supposed to do? Which one to adopt? There is no harm to try out some of these and especially those who offer 30-day money-back guarantee. Some even offer a 3-months guarantee and up to one-year money back guarantee.

Clickfunnels offers a 14-day trial, which by far serves a wide range of business needs for local businesses, financial planners, MLM marketers, affiliate marketer, retailers (online and physical stores), etc. there is no harm checking it out!

If you are adventurous enough or you have time and money to devise your own marketing methods by combining various approaches, you should go ahead with them. There are many success stories to learn from, why reinventing the wheel?

The key is to watch out for the one that get your business off the ground and running. By the way, teaching people how to do marketing has become a lucrative market and a new business model. The logic is once you are successful in what you are doing (like marketing your own business), you will gain many followers!

Sustainability is the key of “the never-worn-out shoes principles”. Once you have experiment enough, you are likely to develop one hybrid approach that works well for your start up.

Be innovative, be open-minded, and learn as much as you can, there should be at least one system that works, and remember not to go back to the old system (9 to 5 fixed pay exchange system), keep going on with your “never-worn-out shoes”. Bon voyage!

The next article I will be writing on “the pillar of clouds” principle.

Stay tuned!

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