Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 26: The 10-Fold Path to Becoming Rich and Wealthy

Part 26: The 10-Fold Path to Becoming Rich and Wealthy

By K.C. See

My business partner Patrick Liew came up with an interesting study, which I find intriguing. There are many reasons why I would pay attention to him and his ideas: being an accomplished entrepreneur, having listed three companies and building numerous successful businesses. Aside from that he was the Chairman of HSR Global, a listed property agency in Singapore as well as the co-founder of Success Resources, a global seminar company. He gave me the go-ahead to share this.

Patrick believes that every rich and wealthy person has developed his own unique path to success. He discovered that there are generally ten major pathways, called the 10-Fold Path to becoming rich and wealthy. These pathways can be correlated to psychological models such as the Five Factor Model (FFM). The FFM covers the big five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (OCEAN).

If one studies Greek mythology one will realise that the ten different pathways have been depicted in the lives of the mythological gods and goddesses. It goes to prove that discoveries of the modern age have been in existence since the beginning of time. We have merely affirmed truths of age-old wisdom. This is Patrick’s 10-Fold Path to becoming rich and wealthy.

1.1 Game-changer (“Aphrodite”) The Game-changer becomes rich by identifying problems, finding gaps, and developing disruptive solutions. Eg. Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos
1.2 Inventor (“Hephaestus”) The Inventor becomes rich by creating and innovating new models, products and services. Eg. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson

2.1 Governor (“Athena”) The Governor becomes rich through leading people and managing limited resources. He develops structures, systems and processes to make things work. Eg. Steve Ballmer, Jack Welch
2.2 Guardian (“Demeter”) The Guardian becomes rich through acquiring, value-adding, leveraging on, and growing assets. Eg. Warren Buffet, Amancio Ortega, Sheldon Adelson, Lakshmi Mittal, Paul Allen

3.1 Power Broker (“Hermes”) The Power Broker becomes rich by selling, trading and brokering deals. Eg. Carl Icahn, George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump
3.2 Ruler (“Zeus”) The Ruler becomes rich by targeting a market segment or niche and developing dominance over it. Eg. Harry Triguboff, Eike Fuhrken Batista, Li Ka-shing, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Walton, Aliko Dangote

4.1 Hero (“Apollo”) The Hero becomes rich through making people like, trust and respect him. Eg. Oprah Winfey, Michael Jackson, David Beckham
4.2 Master (“Hades/Poseidon”) The Master becomes rich by being the leading expert in a significant domain. Eg. George Lucas, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, J. K. Rowling,

5.1 Problem-Solver (“Artemis”) The Problem-solver becomes rich by resolving problems that can cause major gains or losses to the customers. Eg. Charles Schwab, Michael Dell
5.2 Politician (“Ares”) The Politician becomes rich by developing schemes and maneuvers to influence organisations, communities, and society. This could be for his personal or partisan advantage. Eg. Silvia Berlusconi, Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Thaksin Shinawatra, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

It would therefore be interesting to determine which path may be yours and thus set you on a more guided journey. Patrick suggested that you can do three things to make this happen.

There is no absolute path to being rich and wealthy. As a start, you need to choose the path that is most appropriate to you, one that will optimise your edge, advantage and growth. The choice of the path depends on the following 5 “P”s:
1.1 Purpose. It serves your purpose in starting a business.
1.2 Personality. It leverages on the strengths of your personality.
1.3 Passion. It should invoke meaning, fun and excitement.
1.4 Performance. It should be a path that can help you perform well and better than your targeted competitors.
1.5 Priority. It should be a path that is relevant and significant at this time and in your current situation.

You need to retain different talents to cover your weaknesses. In addition, you need to build organisations, systems and processes to support you and enhance your business model and operation.

As you work on your path, learn to develop a targeted, holistic and balanced set of competences so that you can choose different paths and have more options to grow your business. In that way, you can survive any turbulence and exploit the silver lining in every storm.

Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 25: Starting It Right

Part 25: Starting It Right

By K.C. See

The initial starting point for any business is typically the most challenging phase. A new entrepreneur has to grapple with numerous issues and particularly if you are working all by yourself. You ended as the CEO, the CFO and the CMO all rolled into one.If you are smart entrepreneur, you would have done extensive research and craft out a plan backed with a Plan B and may be even a Plan C. Even then business is dynamic and the real world will not always follow in accordance with your plan. You will need to change directions and strategies, as the market changes.The less experienced entrepreneur may crumple under the pressures and make decisions that might only further deepen the initial crisis. I have seen that happen too often and while the business idea might be a good one but the implementation falls short. Not only the market might not to react to your product or services as you expected ; you might also get internal problems ranging from partners disagreements to staff retention issues to  suppliers non-delivery to cash flow problems. They seems to come all at the same time.
After you read this paragraph you begin to wonder it is a good idea to quit that job and “do your own thing”. May be I went too much in one direction; the pessimistic outlook. On the other hand if you get it right, starting a business is exciting and especially if you are doing what you love. It gives you a high and its a lot better than going to work every day to a job that you have no passion for or that  you find is not meaningful and you dread going to work every day. You will enjoy the freedom and the ability to put your creativity into play. You  become your own boss and that is the ultimate dream of many young enterprising person.But you have to start it right.
There are a number of things you need to do to start it right and here are three of the many suggestions I can give you;

Get an experienced mentor or a partner into your business.
You need one if you have little or no experience. However how to go about getting the right person to guide you is another issue. It is essential that you take time to list down what you want and the quality of the person you are looking for. Once you know what you want you need to go out to the business world, explore, network and connect with people to enlarge your options. You are not likely to find that person in your present circle of friends if you are a new entrepreneur and you don’t mix around with business people much.
Of course the next question is how to get the person to be interested to want to into a business with you or to mentor you. As I have always share with my students; nobody will do anything for you unless doing it meet their own needs. Don’t get me wrong; I am not talking about materialistic needs. I know a number of experienced business people who are willing to help young entrepreneurs just to fulfill their need to contribute to the betterment of others.
What you need to work on is how to get the person to want to work with you. I believe you must have a compelling vision that would excite him, and enthusiasm that would infect him, a personality that would he would be comfortable with and a willingness to learn and that requires humility.

You need to do sufficient research and have a plan.
It may not be necessary that you write up an extensive detailed business plan, unless you are vying for funding or an award. I am more inclined toward  business modelling as a must-do for any new business.
What kind of research do we need to do, you may ask? I am not suggesting that you engage a research company to do that although that would be nice if you have the funds. It could be the basic “go-out-there-and-talk-to-people” type of research. However you need to talk to the ‘right’ people and you must word your questions correctly. You should talk to the people who are your potential target market. Recently I was working with one of my mentee who wanted to start a confinement home. I help him craft out a simple research questionnaire and he got 65 respondents who has either themselves or their spouse given birth or about to; to give him feedback. The information he got is invaluable to crafting his business model and plan.
Talking about research; a good friend of mine, Teoh Poh Yew shared this joke with me; ”Copy one thing is call copy. Not a good thing. Copy many things is called research and that might be good.” Steve Jobs do a lot of “research” in the early years of Apple.

Build the right team of people around you.
The key word is “leverage” and that means “finding people who have what you don’t have”. I got my students to use my R.I.C.E formula; Resources which refers to Time and Money, Ideas, Contacts and Expertise. You need all these five components to increase the chances of success. It does not mean that you have to have all them become your business partners. Some of these contributors can be your outsource “partners”. Some you can employ and some of these components could possibly be provided by your mentor. Once again; it is unlikely that your present circle of friends would be able to cover all that. The solution is obvious; network and make more friends.

This three ideas are just something to start with and it is by no means complete. However it would be food for thought before you jump in.

Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 22: Deciding on Your Niche Area; The RIM Process

Part 22: Deciding on your Niche Area; The RIM Process.

Helping people find their niche is one area that I work with when it comes to training entrepreneurs. It is also one of the ways I use when I help trainers whom I coach to make decisions on which area of expertise they want to choose as their niche area and especially if they have more than one option.

I get my students to use a decision matrix which involves evaluating each option base on the following criteria; Readiness, Interest and Marketability/Viability. I call this the RIM process. They first go through a process of listing down their experiences and expertise. The next step is to list down their interest and areas that they are passionate about. From these two lists they then list down their possible subject/areas of training (when it come to trainers) or list the business options they have. Then they evaluate each of these options against the three criteria.

Part22_RIM Process

This criterion matches their possible options against their present capability, competencies or experience. If the option is some thing they can start doing tomorrow then they could give themselves high points for readiness. If they are not ready and it would take some time then they would need to put a lower score for this. Low score does not necessarily mean that this option will be eliminated. It just means that more work, research and thoughts need to put on to this idea.

It is therefore possible that we might want to do something that we are not ready for but we are very interested in. In which case we need to put efforts to develop the area. We will need to talk to people in that field or study existing successful models.

When we choose areas we want to work on, interest and passion is definitely an important consideration. The exception is if you are ‘hungry’ and you need to make it work fast or if income is a concern. In which case you may choose to do what you are not interested as a temporary endeavor. However some people might tell you that they don’t really know what their passion is. Not surprising although if you are in that situation, it would be quite ‘tragic’. I would suggest that you would require to go through self-discovery process and you may need help from a coach. Evaluating interest level would help us determine future possibilities.

Marketability/ Viability:
This criterion would best be evaluated with help from experts or coach. I always tell my students that when you are hooked on to an idea it would always be a good idea. Simply because it is YOUR idea. Must be good. Getting a second opinion from the RIGHT person is necessary. I emphasis- the RIGHT person. Some of us may choose to consult our friends. Nothing wrong with that except that some people have this ability to talk as if they know some thing when they actually don’t.

Once the evaluation is done; putting points on each of this criteria saying 5 point for high level and 1 for lower, it is can be assumed that the one with the highest score would then be the best choice. However this is an indicative exercise not conclusive. The other point to note is the assumption that all criteria are equally important. Of course this is not necessarily the case. If there is no weightage given that the assumption is as such. However if it is not the case e.g. if Readiness is more important than Interest because you are hungry then we should assign more weightage to Readiness by putting a multiplier.

This RIM process is at its best help to provide directions and guidance It is certainly not a magic answer to entrepreneurs with too many options to choose from or a trainer looking to find niche area.


Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 19: So What Really Works?

Part 19: So What Really Works?

The Crown Plaza in Shanghai was crowded but we have a nice pleasant room in a quiet part of the hotel. A group of CEOs, senior managers and a couple of directors gathered for a morning session to discuss management issues. They come from a wide variety of industry ranging from chemical and manufacturing to construction and consulting. I was leading a discussion on “ What really matters in management? “  With reference to a research carried out by Harvard professor Dr. Nitin Nohria. The central question which is “ What management practices actually contribute to performance? ” was the subject for the group.

We had a rather energetic discussion on this and although there was no complete consensus but three factors came out as being important factors in the China scenario; “Low Cost Operations”, “Well defined strategy” and “Having a great Leader”.

The first point was quite easily agreed to as China is often regarded as the factory for the world. However most of the participants agreed that this advantage will be fast disappearing as labour cost escalates. The general agreement is that low cost can no longer be relied on in China for organizational performance in the future, in entirety and has to be supported if not replaced by Quality and Customer Satisfaction as a key determinant.

Most of the participants agreed that Clear Strategy is another key factor and we went on to discuss Asian companies that has clear well defined strategy and those that don’t. It was pointed out that Asian companies are generally opportunistic and especially family-owned companies traditionally  has a tendency to jump into a great variety of businesses with no clear strategy and “as  long as it makes money”. On the other hand we have organizations that appear to have clear strategy if you ask them but it resides mostly in the minds of the management. The challenge in most Asian organizations is communicating that strategy in a clear simple way to the rest of the work force so that the organization would be aligned in terms of directions and efforts. Otherwise it would be tantamount to the scenario of the head of an animal moving forward but having to drag the rest of the body to follow.

The discussion on leadership in Asia produces a wide variety of opinions. The agreement is that the charismatic and the authoritarian leadership style are common in Asia. However the more effective consensus-building leader and the team-building leader is required in today‘s fast moving business environment which requires the fast responses that the traditional hierarchical companies are unable to produce.

I suggested that leadership today is really more about bringing the work force from a compliance state to a committed state. So the question raised by the group is “How do we get a committed work force?”  and if getting a committed work force is about empowering them, “Can Asian workers be empowered?”We seems to agree that unlike the  western work force the Asian workers generally are less receptive to being empowered and tend to be content to be told what to do. But then we also agree that the Gen Y workers today  is unlike the previous generations and would want to be given more freedom and are more vocal. The change obviously comes from the different ways in which the different generations are brought up. Today’s managers have some challenges in managing the GenY work force because of that difference.
We went on to explore Dr. Nitin Nohria’s extensive research on 220 management practices across all 160 companies in forty different industries over a ten years period. His findings came out with 18 key factors that contribute to organizational performance; the key measure of performance being total returns to shareholders.
Professor Nohria outlines the primary and secondary factors that winning companies have in common. His findings provide a template of practical and useful tools for getting ahead in today’s competitive business environment.
His research provided four primary factors and four secondary factors. He suggested that having the four primary factors are critical and having two of the our secondary factors would b significant ion becoming a winning company.

The Primary factors are
1.    Clear, focused, well-understood strategy
The emphasis is on clarity of strategy not only to the work force but also to the customer and that it should be shaped by the external market rather than internally generated.

2.    Flawless Execution that consistently meets Customer Expectations
The challenge for organization is how to consistently deliver the value to the customer. There is also a need to empower the frontline to respond quickly to the changes and to eliminate wastages.

3.    High-performance and high-values culture
Organization need to establish and religiously follow its core values. Work culture need to align with the values of the today’s work force; fun challenging and satisfying.

4.    Simple organizational structure that is easy to work with and work in
Simplicity of structure seems to be the answer and promoting synergy and alignment across the whole organization is important.

The Secondary factors are
5.    Extraordinary talent throughout the firm
An organization is only as good as its pool of talents; and the challenge is to recruit, groom and retain.

6.    Superior board and leadership team
Two things came out as critical; ability of the leader to connect with this work force and the ability to see things before others do.

7.    Transforming innovation
There is no doubt that in a fast changing market place; innovation and technological advancement are key determinants for success.

8.    Disciplined Mergers & Acquisitions capability
This is a surprise but the research shows that this competency is significant although rare and it is known that M & A that are mismanaged could destroy an organization.

Although the research is American-based., the forum agreed that the factors discussed are generally relevant in a changing Asian business environment. We finished with lunch in an American hotel franchise crowded with a multi-cultural patrons served by largely Chinese workers.

This article is based on a management forum discussing Professor Nitin Nohria’s book “What Really Works, William Joyce, Nitin Nohria, and Bruce Roberson”, and the notes of his lecture on “What really matters?”