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

Getting your Supply of “Manna” Daily

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

“The analogy is that the wilderness journey is comparable to the start-up journey for all entrepreneurs; you have left your full-time ‘slavery’ job, now you are free and looking forward to your financial freedom. What is next? There is some distance between where you are now and the success you see in the future. What are you going to do?”

~ Louise Lee, 8 Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur

Let’s recap what happened to the children of Israel in the earlier article 8 Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur”.

Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt and ended their slavery, they were starting their days in the wilderness. How then should they live? There was no food, no plants, no groceries store, and no market in the wilderness, and there was absolutely nothing out there.

Wasn’t that kind of expected in the wilderness?

However, by divine arrangement, the children of Israel were having a supply of manna daily that was sustainable for the entire journey in the wilderness.
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To have their fair share of supply of manna, the children of Israel had to collect them every day – early in the morning after the dew laid on the ground. Each one was to collect as per their needs. There was no use to collect more, the extra manna would breed worms and stink. The only day they would have double supply was on Saturday because there was no manna to collect on Sundays.

Adopting a new lifestyle of small things in the wilderness

Here I see a change of lifestyle into the wilderness or the start-up journey of entrepreneurship. Instead of waking up to a life of slavery, now the children of Israel were awakened to the lifestyle of discipline. The discipline of going out of their tent (the comfort zone) to the open field of wilderness (opportunities). How much opportunities one could obtain was entirely based on their needs.

It is a fair deal, isn’t it?

The lifestyle of discipline tells a lot about being on your own. There are no more 9 to 5 drudgery routines, no overtime, no boss demanding you to perform, now how you use your time is entirely your call. However, the transition could be drastic to some, if a new entrepreneur does not maintain a different lifestyle of small things, they are heading for disasters.

Why do I say that? It is true that there is a great danger ahead of your entrepreneurship journey!

The danger is that the under-disciplined start-up will turn to relying on a wandered mind that filled with images of the bare land of the wilderness; it could be scary to realise that you might have made the biggest mistake in life. There would be moments of doubts, moments of negativism, the tendency to make complaints against the Heavens. You are likely to look back and then make a U-turn back. The worst-case scenario was like the children of Israel: the generation died in the wilderness, never managed to get back to Egypt (as the Red Sea wasn’t open to cross back) and never entered the Promised Land (the desired success).

Don’t estimate the small beginnings

So, now what? To ensure that we do not share this tragic end of some, the best thing to do is to cultivate the discipline of small things on a daily basis. The small things or habits include collecting ideas, fine-tuning ideas, looking out for opportunities, consolidating them and consuming(or executing) them. Morning by far is the best time to do all these small things. Timing is everything; have a structured plan daily, weekly, monthly for your future and have the end in mind when you plan. No plan is planning for failure.

Manna, Manna, what are you?

What is this “Manna” thing anyways?

Manna was a substance, as small as frost, left on the ground after the layer of dew lifted. It looked like a coriander seed. Its taste was like wafers made with honey. And to be exact, the children of Israel did not know what it was, so they called it “Manna”, meaning “What is it” in their language.

Whatever your belief may be, Manna is a divine supply of bread for the journey in the wilderness; it is like the supply you have in the early stage of your start-up. For your start-up to take off, other than your own effort, there is a whole spectrum of the economy and the world situations to take into consideration. The fact that you can consider a start-up, the divine opportunity in a broad sense is in your favour. However, l am not applying the principles at a macro level but on the personal level of what are within your control in your unique situation and environment.
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Manna, Manna, where are you?

The manna (opportunities) out there are made up of the capital(s) you have when you started this journey. It is not necessarily only financial, but also about ‘who you are’, ‘whom you know’, ‘what you know’ and ‘what you do not know’.

1.     ‘ Who you are’ sets you in a right direction

Often experienced entrepreneurs would advise the newbies on finding their niche in the early stage of start-up. Your passion would give you a good hint of what brings you satisfaction, joy and that can keep you going even in face of great obstacles. Along the way, instead of consuming you, your passion will inflame you and hence steer you to the right direction.

2.      ‘Whom you know’ would help you to get to where you want

Finding mentors is another top advice given to newbies in any business ventures you are going into. Study the success stories, learn from these gurus and learn from their mistakes as well. Networking with the community of the like-minded people would bring you on to the path to the Promised Land. Never go alone and be reminded that ‘in the company of three you will always find a teacher’ (A Chinese proverb). A community shares your concerns and might have already found the answers for your problems. Remember: “There is nothing new under the sun” Ecclesiastes 1:9 (The Holy Bible)

3.      ‘What you know’ is your knowledge and experience that would help confirm if the opportunity is for you.

Your knowledge and experience should form the broad base for your first start-up business venture. If you need to be dependent on your business partner for knowledge and contacts, this opportunity is likely not for you. Your knowledge and experience will attract the right match for your business venture. If not, it is better to be a sole proprietor for a start.

4.      ‘What you do not know’ tells you what new skills you need to acquire to succeed.
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Invest in yourself. Don’t allow your lack to limit you, but instead rise to the reasonable standard of every essential skill required in running a business. If a full-time position has set delimitation on your life, now it is time to take a step out to upgrade your skills and expand your horizon. Basic business and finance management is a must for all entrepreneurs. For the 21st century businesses, online marketing skills are essential.

I always admire my father when he started his own business in the 1980s back in Hong Kong. He did not have formal education due to WWII, but he strived to upgrade himself in literacy and financial knowledge. He learned by reading newspapers daily simply because he knew that one day he would need to write invoices and manage his business. His effort paid off; He successfully started and maintaining a growing manufacturing business for over two decades in his lifetime.

In application, the “manna” concept in the start-up journey is the small but just enough opportunities that get every entrepreneur going. The origin of these opportunities is divine, but you need to work hard to consolidate and make good use of them. The discipline of doing small things every day enriches your experience; it sharpens your skills and boosts your confidence. After all, you will discover that opportunities are not entirely external, there are more stored up in your DNA than anything else. Start-up journey is your personal brand-building path, it is too critical to enter carelessly. Continue stepping out helps you to step up. The most amazing effect you will discover is that it helps distract you from the harsh wilderness conditions and keep you going. It simply encourages you not to give up too soon. Success is not immediate but it requires hard work and well-executed short-termed and long-termed business plans.

Lastly, “Manna” experience does not end here. There is yet another layer of insights I would be sharing in the next article “Don’t get more than you need on Sundays”.

Stay tuned!
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