[8 of 8] Ancient Principles for the 21st Century Entrepreneur – Reaching Your Financial Destiny

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough

Break camp and advance into the hill country…

See I have given you the land, go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give it to your fathers-and to their descendants after them.”Deuteronomy 1:6-8, The Holy Bible

At this point in history, the Children of Israel has wandered in the wilderness for over forty years. Their hearts were well tested and they had experienced the miraculous supply of ‘manna’, never-worn-out shoes and clothes, pillar of clouds by day and pillar of fire by night. They have accustomed to this miraculous way of life in the wilderness for the past forty years.

But, wilderness was not their destiny.

Wilderness was just the learning ground of how to worship their God in His terms. Once they got these right, they needed to move on. Their God was leading them forward, out of the wilderness just like the manner they were led to go out of Egypt.

Where were they heading? The Promised Land was where they were heading. They were brought out from Egypt to enter and possess “the land”.

Now the early generation has gone, new generation has grown up, they were ready to enter the land their fathers were set out for. They were entering a land that was fertile where they could settle in. They could own a portion of the land, where they could plant seeds and reap their harvest in due seasons. It was the land filled with milk and honey – a good land that yields good things – a totally different place as compared to the wilderness.

The Bible describes it this way: ” … a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” Deuternomy 8:7-9, The Holy Bible 

The Promised Land for the Entrepreneurs

With this context in mind, what now is the Promised Land for the entrepreneurs?

It is the place where entrepreneurs find the business model that works with the right products. It is like when Jack Ma discovered the online platform, Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc., Asa Griggs Candler devised the Coca Cola formula, Richard McDonald pioneered the fast food chain business model, … the list goes on.

Now, the effort they put in building their business is no longer futile, but it produces much. They are in the place where the business environment is favourable and the success is sustainable. “Harvesting” will soon become a regular activity in their business.

Wilderness experience is a teacher for the entrepreneur. You have adopted a disciplined life. You knew there were unpredictable and divine opportunity along the way. You have learned and known about yourselves much better now. You have learned how to ride on the wave of opposition. You have learned how to manage risks. Unknowingly, wilderness experience has made you, the entrepreneur, a ready candidate for success.

The next course of action for you (the entrepreneur) is to break camp and advance into your destiny.

Break Camp

Break camp means to break away from the inhibition. It means also to roll away the negative effect of the prolonged living in the wilderness.

Weariness, apprehension, insecurity, reservation, discouragement could well be the side effect of wandering in the wilderness. The longer you stay in the same environment, the more you might feel disheartened.

Likewise, while trying on various products and models, you may be staying too long in the testing mode, subtly you might be beginning to lose sight of the purpose of why you left you 9 to 5 job in the first place.

Why did you choose to pursue the life of an entrepreneur?

Consider again: isn’t it for financial freedom? Isn’t for satisfaction? Isn’t for a more purposeful work-life balance? Whatever your reason is, it is time to break away from all the inhibitions and realign your path with your purpose. Get ready to advance into your success.

Timing is everything in an entrepreneur’s journey. A time to wander and a time to settle; a time to plant, a time for the seeds to grow; a time to sow and a time to harvest.

When it is time to move, do not stay at where you are. You have stayed at the same place for too long. It is time to move on.

The next question: how to make a move?

Advancing in the Right Direction

Advancing is the next course of action. Advancing means to have a breakthrough. Breakthrough involves breaking away from inhibition, advancing brings you to the next level of competence and success.

But, it does not mean that there will be no more obstacles and no more hard work required.

In fact, the next step towards the higher calling means there will be more heights to reach, more rivers to go through and even giants to fight with. Taking possession of a land of good things is no easy task. Before you can take possession of the land, you need to drive out the giants (the inhabitants) in the land.

What giants likely are there? Power, sex, money is all by nature neutral things but if you could not manage them with integrity, they will become the giants that hinder your success. In the “land of good things”, these giants can still cause you to walk away from your purpose. When this happens, your success will not be sustainable. Your position is the land is not secured.

Time in the wilderness is the trying times you had, if you endure and overcome the dry spell with integrity, you will reach your goals: be it a financial one or spiritual one, your wilderness experience is the foundation for your success.

So, it is important to have a strong sense of calling and missions before you get to the Promised Land or the success you hope for.

Now, you understand why wilderness must happen before the Promised Land. You need to be certain that you can handle riches, power and success while you spent time going through the wilderness.

Settling for the Best

We should only be settled for the best – the best is settled in our memory with the engrained experience in the wilderness, where marked the faithfulness of God.

As a believer, we learnt that “it is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth….”, remember not to forget all His benefits, and be very careful to obey His commandments in all your business dealings.

Do not worship other gods in the Promised Land – do not be led by the love of money, pleasure and immediate gratification. Then you will do well and continue to do well, your place in your success is then secured. This is to ensure that you will not be destroyed in your success.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as we have come to the eighth ancient principles gleaning from the experience of the Children of Israel in the wilderness, we can see that divine wisdom is always applicable despite today’s ever-changing world.

Business models, products and people’s needs may change, but Biblical wisdom is always relevant and timeless. We ought to pay attention and keep coming back to them to regulate our business’ directions.

Above all is the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God who is worthy to be worshipped and praised. As we commit our business to Him, we are in His safe hands.

May all glory to God, our Heavenly Father in all our past, present and future success. Amen and amen!

 

[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”!

 

 

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

The Manna Concept – Don’t Get More Than You Need

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

By Louise Lee

“The “Manna” concept in the start-up journey represents 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, sharpens your skills and boosts up your confidence” ~ Louise Lee, Ancient Principles of the 21st Century Entrepreneur

The environment for the new entrepreneur might be harsh, but there is a divine supply of opportunities (Manna) along the way; the start-up experience is likened to the wilderness experience of the children of Israel as recorded in the Holy Bible.

In this article, I will carry on with the manna concept and its application in the start-up journey. If you recall, there are “dos and don’ts” regarding the collection of “Manna”…

1. (Do collect everyday) 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.

2. (Do not collect more than you need) There was no use to collect more, the extra manna would breed worms and stink.

3. (Do collect more when there is a double portion supplied) The only day they would have double supply was on Saturday.

4. (Do not work when you need to rest) There was no manna to collect on Sundays.

I would like to focus on the don’ts in the manna concept in the following paragraphs.

Passion First

The first few years of your start-up are crucial as they determine how far and how long you will go in a certain direction. It is important to set it right from the start. It is also important to make corrections if it does not align with the main course, or what you set out to do.

Did you know that if you do not have a vision or a long-term plan, your needs will drive your business? You might be ended up like a hamster running on the wheel, or running the same rat race, the one that you hated most when you were an employee.

Do you have a plan? How long is your plan? One year, two year, or six months…? It is essential to have at least a five-year plan, and maintain a flexible one year plan and review it every six months. If you haven’t gotten any of these yet, please find time and set them in place before you go any further. You will not regret doing this because this will save you a lot time and effort, as it helps steer your business towards the right direction. Write your plans and your goals down and paste them somewhere you can see every day.

Frist, your plans should align with your passion, your vision, and they shall become your motivation when the going gets tough.
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“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” -T. S. Eliot

I find this quote a powerful illustration to describe passion. If passion is light to the blind, you would need to have a passion in what you are doing in your business. Passion helps you prioritise your opportunities, make the right selections, and keep you on track with your goals.

Passion with vision is a powerful team to bring you success. Vision is about the future of your business; it is somewhat like a goal but it is visual. It is also the big picture that guides your goal setting. In this sense, your goals are the lamp posts that lead you along the way towards the big picture. Passion ignites with vision makes your business a powerful rocket. The profit you make from your business will surely be put into good use if you have a vision, or a cause or a solution you see to the problem you felt strongly about.

Does “a passionate entrepreneur of … ” describe you? If your answer to this question is yes, congratulation! You shall see your success. If you have no answer for this question yet, spend some time to find that out because it is the key to your success. Only then the rest of the effort will make sense, it is also the only way to get you out of the hamster wheel!

Ploughing of Ground

Whatever you do in the early stage of your business is an act of ploughing, the ground could be hard and it might be harder than you have imagined. Ploughing is different from planting seeds; the key distinction is that you do not expect a harvest when you plough the ground. Like it or not, you are only ploughing grounds in the first few years of your new business. That is also why your opportunities come in piece and pieces and they are small by nature. They are not significant in the sense of value but they are significant in the way that they can help to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, if we look closer at this ploughing stage, the ground is not anywhere outside, but inside your heart. Each opportunity shows up to confirm what you have in your heart, and only those stay on and became the seed for your planting later. So, when opportunities come, make it a time to differentiate your passion from your needs.

Answer this question honestly: Is it your passion or your need(s) that drive you?
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Managing your needs

What do you need? Recognition, a sense of significance, respect, money, freedom, success, a sense of achievement are all legitimate needs, but if these are all that drive you on the path of entrepreneurship, you are only running on the treadmill. Likely, you are not going anywhere significant. You may have wondered why you live a life that is not much different from being an employee; or now it is worst because the stress level is much higher that you must constantly look for business opportunity, rather than waiting for the month end pay check.

How is the life of an entrepreneur different from that of an employee anyway? Why did you take a step out doing what you are doing right now?

Don’t be surprised that what set you out might not be what drives you now. So, constantly we need to have a conversation with ourselves. If you are honest enough, you will have some answers. Make sure your business is fuelled by your passion, and you are here for the long haul.

Do not take more than you need.

Now, let us get back to the “DON’T”s of entrepreneurship: Do not take more than you need. What is your business’ basic need? How much business or profit you need to survive? How much do you need to sustain your business? All these determine how much opportunities or jobs you should take on at the minimum.

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You need to be selective. Choose what brings you satisfaction and happiness. Once you get your hands in doing some of the new jobs (opportunities), you should know if that aligns with your passion or not. If it is not, do eliminate them in your future endeavours. Nevertheless, there is no hard and fast rules to tell what jobs guarantee satisfaction, but if you like, you might work on the guideline of three: Work on maximum three niches at one time and spend some time working through them, and to identify one that brings you the most satisfaction, then focus your energy to develop that niche. Be open and prepared to work hard, and prepare for changes. You might be one of be those talented individuals that could manage three niches and be successful in all of them, but it might be rare! So, stay focus on one or two but not more than three at one time.

Why should you be selective? Consider this: if you are not, you might end up getting too much to do that you are working around the clock and making very little profit or progress. Remove some of the unproductive jobs that bring in the least profits. Remember to keep your work-life balance as the entrepreneur’s journey is long, you need to reserve your energy. Remember to set your five-year plan, and set goals to achieve it. Any plan that is shorter than that will not be sufficient to steer your entrepreneurship journey right.

Do not work when you need to rest.

Six days you should work, and give yourself at least one day to rest in a week. It is kind of strange when we worked for people, we demanded from our ex-employer overtime pay, annual leave, sick leave, benefits, bonus, etc., but when we start on our own, we become very lenient on ourselves concerning worker’s benefits. Let’s face it, you are the only worker in your start up, do consider the benefits in a reasonable term. Then, when your company grows bigger, the principles you apply on yourself will expand to those who work for you in the future. Work within your means and that includes your time, and your mental and physical capacity, remind yourself that you are no transformer or superhero. So, don’t be too lenient in demanding yourself an employer, and don’t be too hash on yourself as a worker. Rest well and it will benefit you for the rest of the work week, work years and the rest of your entrepreneurship journey.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ancient advice in handling our entrepreneurship journey is wise and helpful. They are gold and still applicable today in the 21st Century when knowledge is available from all directions that provide plethora of opportunities. The “DON’T”s guide our process of selection and decision making. Ultimately, no one can be a superhero because we all have limits. We are limited by our mental capacity, physical capacity, experience and resources, do work within these limitations and not to overstretch at the early stage of entrepreneurship. Of course, passion and vision is the team that will help you overcome your limitations and give you the breakthroughs your need, do recruit them early in your journey!

Coming up next is the personal branding principles – inspired from the never worn out clothes of the Children of Israel.

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