Being an entrepreneur is easier said than done, and having said that, being a successful entrepreneur sustaining your business, building up a strong and reliable team, managing your work life balance can sometimes be very challenging at times.
Are you happy with your startup? Are you planning to take your next big leap and grow your business? Are you ready to face the challenges that come with the changing time?
Here are the 4 key things you cannot afford to miss out to transform your business and take it to the next level:
If you are about to start a journey in an unknown country, you need to know your start point, your destination and you need to have guidance so that you can take action and successfully arrive at your destination.
Similarly you need to focus first on where you are now and where do you want to reach. All you need to do is to:
According to Albert Einstein, everyone is a genius - yes we all have it in us to become successful in what we are doing, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend the entire life believing it is stupid.
Once you have found your flow, discover your natural path. Figure out what kind of genius are you? Are you a creative person, a networking person, a servicing person, or a person who gets into detailing?
You can take our free assessment to figure out your genius here.
Once you have taken your genius test, you can now focus on bigger things which lie ahead. The 4 Genius are divided into eight different wealth profiles according to your personality. It helps to find your natural path, opening up massive opportunities to improve your business.
It enables you to figure out the perfect way to enhance your ongoing business, keeping in mind your strengths, weakness, challenges and opportunities. Find out more here.
The fundamental of being a successful entrepreneur is to know that you cannot grow alone; you need a team that grows with you, ensuring that your vision and business goals are achieved.
While you unlock your wealth profile, you will come across the importance of having a strong and reliable team who can assist you in your business in ways that you never thought possible. You will be stunned to know what one can achieve by having a team which completes the Wealth Box with all the eight different profiles under one single roof, allowing everyone to contribute to your success. This is your success formula.
Your success formula can be others’ losing formula and executing your goals with a team which completes your wealth box means, each individual in your team has figured out their own natural path and flow and are eager and happy to contribute to your success while achieving their own individual goals to.
Genius U is World’s largest e-learning platform by Roger James Hamilton for entrepreneurs to unlock their potential in their own ways, with over 500,000 entrepreneurs staying active everyday by connecting, collaborating and growing their business. You can be a part of our global platform too. Why wait, join us today!
If you think it takes many years to build a million dollar business, here's a great story from Darius Lukas, on how Sophie Howard achieved it with 18 months and the right mindset:
When Sophie Howard, a diplomat from New Zealand, went on maternity leave, she decided to put her spare time into launching an Amazon business. She never dreamt she’d be selling it for $1 million only 18 months later. So, how did a mother of two, with no experience in e-commerce, manage to become an Amazon expert with multiple seven figure businesses and mentoring programmes?
Sophie Howard didn’t see her maternity leave as a ‘break from life’ but rather as an opportunity to create a lifestyle she always wanted for herself and her growing family: “I had a good career up to having children and, on maternity leave, I was motivated to find something I could do at home to replace my income."
"My vision, however, was always freedom-based rather than having lots of zeros at the end of my bank account, it was about having options, being able to travel, having quality time and living well.”
She was looking for a business model that worked for her and came across the idea of selling on Amazon: “I liked Amazon as the best option from among many e-commerce models - I didn’t want it to be client-based or involve much face-to-face. I just wanted something that was a real business and not too gimmicky."
"Amazon ticked the boxes for being low-cost to get into and it suited my skills. I quite liked the idea of scouting around for products.” In no time at all, Sophie had joined a course on how to set up a business on Amazon and familiarised herself with its subtleties.
The next step was to figure out what her business was going to be and what she was going to sell: “Most other Amazon sellers were ex-internet marketing boys looking for hacks, following a blueprint, and all sourcing the same products from China."
"I, instead, ended up choosing New Zealand wool products hand felted in Nepal. I started about 400 products in that first year, rather than focus on one or two products as I was told to. I ignored a lot of the rules from the Amazon course I took, which was expensive at $4,000. I’m glad I did though - now I coach people who did similar courses and need retraining!”
Sophie’s business was profitable from the first month and within the first year she had made over $1 million. Enjoying the start-up stage of business creation, and certain that she didn’t want to turn it into an empire, Sophie began to consider selling it:
“I was talking to a friend of mine, a broker who sells digital businesses, and I’d just tidied up my finances for the year end tax. I showed him my numbers and he said: ‘I’ll get you seven figures for that tomorrow’ - and he did!’
Sophie had cashed in at its peak; she gave the buyer about 80% of the 400 products she had and kept 20%, seeding three new brands on Amazon.
Having achieved early success, Sophie decided to take a break to think about the next step on her entrepreneurial journey and moved to Bali for three months with her family. On the look-out for a mentor, it was here that she met Roger James Hamilton, a social entrepreneur and futurist: “I had time and money and didn’t want technical training; I wanted someone who would help me leverage my strengths and pick from my many business ideas. A friend referred me to Roger James Hamilton and, at the time, he was organising the Exponential Entrepreneur weekend at Vision Villas in Bali. I quite liked the idea of getting a different perspective on my business and meeting fellow entrepreneurs, so I joined the weekend and then his Crystal Circle.”
Crystal Circle is a high-level mentoring group for entrepreneurs led by Roger and Sophie shared the same values as its community: not only growing wealth, but focusing on freedom and creating a fulfilling lifestyle.
“Working with me, Roger really focused on how easy it is to slip back down when you’ve had a windfall and have some money in the bank. He told me: ‘You need to grow assets; cash for today but wealth for tomorrow.’”
Sophie began to see her Amazon businesses as assets and, with Roger’s help, she decided to focus on building another, faster stream of income - coaching, which would run in parallel with her Amazon business and cover costs such as her team, expenses and her salary.
Roger remembers: “Sophie’s Amazon business expertise was a value she could leverage. She was inspired by the Crystal Circle community and learnt how to become a mentor, put together mastermind groups, and provide VIP coaching, so she was quickly earning a six-figure consulting fee.”
Sophie then put together an online course comprising eight modules on how to run an Amazon business, and her one-to-one coaching fees soon went from $5K up to $10K.
Now she is moving from one-to-one coaching in favour of her new model - Product University: “My main focus at the moment is Product University, which is a membership site; members pay $97 per month for a live and recorded call. I get a good turnout - I had 60 people join last month - and I only started it this year. I charge $997 for the year and they get lots of bonuses if they sign up for the whole year."
"This is my favorite thing because it’s really scalable, and I get to justify learning from people all around the world, then I distil it and teach it. And I really love teaching.”
With a fast and constant cash flow, Sophie could continue developing multiple brands on Amazon. However, she couldn’t do it all on her own. Roger remembers: “She was running everything herself, so we looked at setting up virtual teams and other Amazon businesses that didn’t need so much of her. She had to gain time and freedom and start to think really differently about the impact she could have.”
By hiring a full-time virtual assistant, IT support specialist, researchers, a community manager, and a marketer, she freed up her time and was able to focus on growing her partnerships: “I’ve got a target - five partners each month. My first partner was a woman with a tea subscription box business, who approached me for samples - one of my Amazon businesses is selling organic teas.”
Sophie now runs multiple Amazon businesses, with her most successful currently hitting seven figures. She has just developed a herbal tea to rival the booming nootropic ‘cognitive function’ drug trend on Amazon, and has a partner project in Auckland - to create a platform, which puts artisans in touch with consumers. To top it off she’s developing a B2B Amazon course and is writing a book to help aspiring entrepreneurs through the challenging early stages of starting a business.
What is the lifestyle that you want to have and what business model should you consider pursuing to achieve it?
How could you secure a constant cash flow that would allow you to develop other projects simultaneously?
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. - Henry David Thoreau
In 2012, Terri Christine Billington quit a corporate coaching company to try and start her own business. Here's the 3 big steps she took to establish her brand as a nationally renowned Australian business expert:
1) DON’T JUMP THE BOAT TOO SOON
Seven years ago, Terri Billington held the position of No.1 global female coach for ActionCOACH, which at the time was a world leading business coaching firm. Despite her popularity among clients and $40,000 per month income, Terri was unhappy with not being able to communicate who she was authentically and having to follow the company’s franchised, ‘coaching by numbers’ approach:
“I felt like it was ‘ActionCOACH Terri Billington’ rather than ‘Coach Terri Billington’. I knew I had more to offer my clients, but I was being limited by the business model I was in.”
Seeking new mentors, Terri met Roger James Hamilton, a futurist and social entrepreneur. But Terri didn’t like the advice she received from her newfound mentor:
“Roger James Hamilton saw that I was rushing to leave ActionCOACH and I remember him telling me: ‘Don’t jump off that ship until you’ve got another ship to jump on to’. And, of course, I didn’t listen and decided to jump in with the sharks!”
The next two years saw Terri struggling with legal and financial battles that came as a result of non-compete clauses with ActionCOACH and a lack of clients of her own.
“I went from earning $40,000 per month to $2,000 per month. I stopped measuring the money, and I stopped looking at the numbers and projecting ahead. Everything that I was successful in teaching my clients, I stopped doing myself.”
Knowing the challenges Terri was facing at the time, Roger says “So many talented people end up missing their true potential not because of their skills but because of their mindset. I knew how talented Terri was as a coach, and if I could help her get in the right environment, she could quickly turn her situation around - while also being of great value to other coaches and entrepreneurs”.
Roger invited Terri to facilitate iLab - his business accelerator programme for entrepreneurs at Vision Villas in Bali.
Terri’s response at the time: “I thought, if I am going to leverage off a brand now, it’s going to be Roger’s. When I leveraged again, I really started to have success. Before that, I was swimming against the tide. But when I turned around and went with the flow, that’s when I realised that being an entrepreneur is all about partnerships.”
2) TAP INTO THE FLOW OF OTHERS
Roger remembers Terri joining iLab: “Terri went from being in a franchise situation, where she was having to be the same as everyone else and had no identity, to a place where she was now accessing the flow of everybody that’s part of the Entrepreneurs Institute community, and where she was rewarded for having her own identity.”
Terri used her time facilitating iLab to simultaneously define and grow her own brand:
“As a facilitator for iLab, seeing so many different entrepreneurs go through their process, I got to look at my own too. I began defining what my brand was and came up with www.tcb.rocks - my website.”
Meeting dozens of entrepreneurs every month at iLab helped Terri build up her own client base as well as discover her niche.
Roger remembers: “Terri asked herself, ‘What do I really love, what makes me stand out?’ It was coaching, but more so about helping other coaches. Through iLab she became known as ‘the Coach's Coach’, which as an identity is stronger and bigger than anything she partners up with.”
Having facilitated more than 17 iLab programmes herself, Terri has now moved on to training its facilitators and other trainers in the Entrepreneurs Institute community, consolidating her position as the no.1 Coach's Coach.
3) CREATE A STRONG MEDIA STRATEGY
With a strong identity, it wasn’t long before Terri started getting media attention:
“Roger told me: ‘Become an expert in your field in Australia’. The most leveraged way for me to get out there was to work with a top journalist to get me into the media as much as possible. We were observing what was happening in the world and commenting on that. We weren’t going to talk about business coaching - the media isn’t interested in that. We’d look, for instance, at kids finishing their exams, and the journalist would interview me on what they should do next in life.”
“Then she’d put that out to the media and they’d start contacting me immediately. TV shows, the radio, everyone wanted me to comment and, before too long, we didn’t even have to write the releases - people were simply coming to me.”
Terri was able to attract the media attention partly because of the credibility she had earned through partnering up with iLab and Entrepreneurs Institute:
“Stepping into the role as Global Lead Facilitator at iLab allowed me to build my brand as No. 1 Coaches’ Coach and then further move on to training other facilitators. Working at this level has allowed me to get a lot of media attention as an expert in the business world, which in turn has massively boosted my personal brand.”
In the last 24 months, Terri has been featured in The Australian, The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph for Sydney, The Herald Sun and many other media channels
If you are in a full-time job, what steps could you take today to create a strong foundation for your future business? What companies or individuals are aligned with your vision and values that you could be supporting?
"The key to your success isn’t how committed you are to your success, but how much you are surrounding yourself with others committed to you are success."
What’s next for Terri? She is continuing to grow both her brands and partnerships. She is now launching TCB Masterclass events along with Coach Dynamics Mastermind - her new online program specifically tailored for coaches, facilitators and trainers.
Seeing speedy growth of her TCB brand, Terri remains faithful to her belief that true entrepreneurship is based on partnerships and helping others succeed: “To be able to contribute back, that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about in my world. It’s not only about how we live the life of our dreams, it’s about how we help other people live the lives of their dreams as well.”
If you want to follow a path similar to Terri's, have a look at the Entrepreneur Mentor Certification we launched this week, where we're all going on a 12 week journey together to grow the Entrepreneur Movement: http://entrepreneurmovement.geniusu.com/enrol
What weakness do you have today, that could turn into your greatest strength? Kyron Gosse, who, at 25, decided to quit his well paying job as a chef on an oil rig to become a property investor, believed his weaknesses were his age and lack of expertise. How then did Kyron manage to become New Zealand’s leading young property investor just two years later? Here are three key steps Kyron followed:
1. BECOME A LEADING LEARNER
In 2012, Kyron was living in Australia, making $150,000 per year and working as a chef on oil rigs, but he didn’t feel passionate about his job. Like most aspiring entrepreneurs, he was longing for the freedom to travel and live life on his own terms. Having decided that property could help him achieve this, he joined property educator, Steve McKnight’s apprenticeship programme started reading books about property and attended Fast Forward Summit - one of the most popular entrepreneur events in the world. Meeting Roger James Hamilton, a social entrepreneur and futurist, helped Kyron figure out where to start.
Roger advised Kyron to position himself as a leading learner in New Zealand’s property market. Claiming to be an expert at the beginning of his career might have proven a little difficult, but presenting himself as someone who simply knew more than the average person and could lead the way in the field, that was easy. So he started his property career with a property blog:
“I called myself and my blog an Ordinary Investor. I wanted to showcase how an ordinary person could move into property and start investing. I had started blogging even before I bought my first property and it immediately secured my position as someone of authority. I was talking about what I thought the market was doing and sharing everything I was learning."
"That gained attention from other bloggers and gave me credibility when I started talking to people and interviewing them. For example, interviewing someone like Steve McKnight gave me more authority.”
Another important shift in Kyron’s thinking came about when he joined Roger’s Crystal Circle, a high-level mentoring group for entrepreneurs:
“Before I met Roger, all I wanted was to get paid to be a tourist backpacker drinking beer in different countries and having fun. Coming to the event and then joining his Crystal Circle mentoring group, I soon grew to a consciousness level where I realised the world works only when you focus on other people and help them. More importantly, I also realised that I could make a difference. What I dreamed of - to make sure that everybody in the world has a roof over their head - could actually happen.”
2. BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Having gained a clear sense of purpose and direction, the next step for Kyron was to align his environment and the way he was living day-to-day with his vision:
“Roger asked me why I was living in Australia when I wanted to be involved in the property market in New Zealand. It was obvious, but the obvious lessons are sometimes the hardest to learn. I was working on the oil rig from 7 pm to 7 am, there was three or four hours time difference with New Zealand, and I could probably only send about one email a day. I realised I had to actually be ‘on the ground’.”
Once Kyron relocated to New Zealand, he realised that people were already recognising him from his blog - he had established trust. His blog became even more relevant as he was now posting from New Zealand and sharing his experience ‘on the ground’. However, quitting his job meant that Kyron had become unfinanceable and his chances of getting a mortgage to buy property were slim. He found a solution quickly, making his young age his greatest strength:
“I joined Auckland Property Investors Association and started the Young Kiwis in Property group on Facebook. I wanted to bring together all the young Kiwis who were doing awesome things in property. By the time the group had reached 300 members, I had already met a third of them in person. That gave me enough authority to start finding houses and secure the funding to actually buy them.”
Kyron also sought out ways to team up with others; he joined an investment property agency iFindProperty.co.nz to help them find properties and spread their name in his network, which in turn gave a boost to his profile and cash flow.
3. MAKE IT ABOUT OTHERS
When Kyron was contacted by “New Zealand Property Idol” and asked who he would nominate for the award, he put the question out to his community:
“So the next thing I know is that organisers are calling me because everyone had nominated me! I wasn’t quite sure how would I stand in front of 150 property investors and talk about buying a house. So, I didn’t. I decided not to talk about myself. I talked about the group I had created and how its members were doing - I shared their success. That’s how I won the award.”
With the traction offered by the award, the media began to take note of Kyron. He was asked to speak about property on TV and even featured on the cover of Property Investor magazine.
“I was just in flow and doing what came naturally. I was out there really trying to smash it. And out of that, the right people showed up to help me. It came back to serving other people. I also studied with New Zealand’s Wealth Mentors and started helping them out at events. I wasn’t expecting anything in return, I just liked what they were doing. They eventually got me on stage and asked me to be a mentor. ”
What is the field that you should be positioning yourself in as a leading learner?
Where should you go to find and build your network?
How can you grow your business by focusing on others - your team, partners and clients?
Today, Kyron has grown from those beginnings to running an international property company Freedom Co - a concept of co-living, co-working, and co-ownership for location independent entrepreneurs.
Kyron reached his success by turning his weakness into a strength. You can do it too.
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength” - Michael Jordan #23
You can visit Kyron's company, FreedomCo Properties here:https://www.freedomco.properties
You can get the eBook "Fast Forward Entrepreneurs" featuring Kyron Gosse and 10 inspiring entrepreneur stories here: http://bit.ly/2qAK500
Who inspires you? Six years ago Ryan Cohen’s dog, Tylee, inspired him to launch a new startup, Chewy. Today, PetSmart bought Chewy for $3.35 billion - the biggest e-commerce acquisition in history.
How did it happen? In 2011 Ryan and his co-founder Michael Day were struggling with their startup - an online jewelry site. Nothing was working and that’s when Ryan thought ‘This jewelry idea - we’re not passionate about what we’re doing.”
That’s when Ryan looked at his poodle, Tylee and thought “She’s my No.1”. That’s when he realized he was a “Pet Parent” who would spend on premium food and products for his dog.
Surely if Pet Parents like him were willing to spend on the best products, they would also love the best service? “So I was going to the pet store and realized the market online was really under-penetrated. This is a much better opportunity.’
This was something he could get passionate about: “I understand the customer - because it’s myself. So we built the company.”
Ryan and Michael sold all their jewelry inventory at a loss, scraped together their last $50,000 and launch Chewy - as a “Zappos on steroids”.
As Ryan says: “From the beginning, we came in saying that we want to provide pet parents with the most amazing customer experience. Period.”
While the food they offered on their website was really no different from what pet owners could buy in stores, the difference was in the service.
The two answered customer calls themselves, and taking no salaries to begin with, they spent their money hiring “Chewtopians” - who they explained to their customers were “pet-loving, adventure-seeking, silly hat wearing folks whose sole mission is to enrich the bond between you and your pets.”
In February this year, People Magazine published a story of a pet owner, Sheree Flanagan, who told the story of what happened when her 15-year old cat, Thor, died. She called the Chewy service number to see if she could return her unused pet food.
Sheree ended up on the line to a Chewtopian, Ashley: “Ashley was amazing. She told me she had a cat put down and she really understood. I kept saying that I didn’t mean to bother her and she kept saying ‘No, this is important. Tell me more.’”
Not only did Sheree get a full refund, but the next day a florist van showed up at Sheree’s home with a large bouquet and a note of condolence.
Sheree’s husband wrote back: “My wife has been taking their loss especially hard, and when we received the flowers we decided it was enough for us both to decide to stop shopping around and give Chewy all our future business.”
Kelli Durkin, Chewy’s VP of customer service, said they created a WOW department that sends out cards to customers for life events from birthdays to weddings, to illnesses to deaths soon after the company started. She says “We don’t feel we’re talking to customers. We are talking to pets’ parents. We want to hear the good and the bad. We are feeding their children. We are part of their families.”
Today, every Chewy customer gets a handwritten thank you card in the mail. All get entered into a lottery to win one of 700 weekly hand-made oil paintings of their pet (Chewy now has 200 full-time portrait artists). The company also has a 40-strong TV crew with 3 sound stages producing pet-care tutorials for the Chewy YouTube channel.
As a result of their incredible service, Chewy’s sales have grown exponentially - from $26 million in 2012 to $900 million in 2016. This year, the company is forecast to reach $1.5 billion in sales, giving it over 50% of the online pet food market.
All this started just six years ago, when looking at his poodle, Tylee, Ryan felt he was more than a pet food shopper. He was a pets’ parent, and wanted to be treated as one.
How are you treating your customer?
As part of a company? Or part of a family?
Today, PetSmart is buying Chewy for $3.35 billion, making this the biggest deal ever in e-commerce - and showing that it pays to care.
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Within a matter of months, the centre of startup growth will shift permanently away from the US.
This week, CB Insights reported that a total of 91 startups outside the US are Unicorns - with values of over $1 billion. This is about to overtake America’s total of 98 Unicorns and this will be the last report where the US number is greater than 50%.
The number of new Non-US Unicorns overtook US Unicorns 2 years and has been a growing percentage ever since.
> In 2014, Non-US startups were 37% of new Unicorns
> In 2015, Non-US startups made up 53% of new Unicorns
> In 2016, the Non-US number grew to 58%
> In 2017, this year 72% of the 11 Unicorns are Non-US
The 8 Non-US Unicorns this year are:
* BrewDog in UK
* Avaloq Group in Switzerland
* ReNew Power Ventures in India
* Toutiao, NIO, Ofo, URWork and Zhihu in China
That’s good news if you’re in Asia, where 6 out of this year’s 11 new Unicorns are based.
As with all tipping points, this shift is already leading to a rapid increase in opportunities, resources, talent and capital. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to start your business, now is the time.
More startup stats from CB Insights: https://www.cbinsights.com/…/startup-unicorns-international…
We are living in a world of great change and great uncertainty - but also a world of great opportunity.
“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair.”
~ Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities
Which side you choose to focus on will determine your actions today and your future tomorrow.
This week Tesla overtook General Motors to become the most valuable car company in America - worth over $51 billion - Just one week after overtaking Ford.
This, just 10 years after Elon Musk saved Tesla from “A near-fatal financial situation”…
At the end of 2007, Elon (before he ran the company) had already sunk over $100 million in Tesla as an investor. That’s when he realized the Tesla roadster was still a long way from being finished, and the company would run out of money long before it was.
What did he do? In September 2007 he flew to Stuttgart, Germany to meet with Daimler executives, thinking if he could just find a big contract, he could get extra funding and pull Tesla through.
As a result of that visit, in November (a month before Tesla’s money ran out) Herbert Kohler, Daimler’s head of advanced engineering, said he would come and visit the Tesla factory in California.
Elon called JB Staubel, Tesla’s CTO and said “We need to make an electric Smart car in six weeks. Can you do it?” (Smart was made by Daimler).
The problem was, there were no Daimler Smart cars in the US. JB found the closest one for sale - in Tijuana, Mexico. So he walked into the Tesla finance department and said “I need $20,000 in cash in a bag right now. We’re sending someone to Tijuana to buy a Smart car.”
A Spanish-speaking staff member made the trip, and the Tesla team then worked for five and half weeks around the clock to replace the gas engine with a battery pack and motor.
When the Daimler team arrived, they asked how long it would take for Tesla to come up with a battery that could work with their Smart Car. Elon said “We’ve actually got something to show you”, taking them to the garage where the Smart car was waiting. “It’s electric”, he said.
Herbert Kohler said “What do you mean?”
“We put in a Tesla battery and motor.”
The two took the Smart car for a spin. Elon remembers "it was so fast you could do wheelies in the parking lot". JB called it "The fastest Smart car ever made.”
When they got back from the test drive, Herbert said “Let’s explore a partnership” - and that led to Tesla’s first development contract.
Elon said of the partnership "The Daimler partnership gave us credibility. If we haven't done that, Tesla would have died.”
Elon took over as CEO, and let go of 25% of the staff to keep the company going. By 2009, in the midst of the global economic crisis, both Tesla - and Elon - were down to their last dollar and he said “I had to borrow money for rent.”
He managed to pursuade Daimler to buy around 10% of the company in return for $50 million. (Valuing Tesla at $500m - Just 1% of what it is worth today). Elon says "We were bailed out by Daimler. Without that investment, Tesla would have been game over.”
If Elon hadn’t flown to Germany to create that partnership, Tesla wouldn’t exist today.
Are you more focused at your product, or your partnerships?
What partner could make the biggest difference to your success?
“If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Tesla listed on Nasdaq in 2010 and Daimler went on to sell their stake four years later for a $780 million profit (if they had kept the shares they would now be worth billions).
This week Tesla has become the most valuable car company in the US, and is on track to become more valuable than Honda in the near future, and then Daimler, the company that saved it from bankruptcy.
Sachin and Binny Bansal both had coding jobs with Amazon - but quit after just 18 months. Why? Because they thought they could beat Amazon at its own game.
The result? Today, they just raised $1.4 billion for their startup, Flipkart, which 10 years after it launched is now worth $11.6 billion.
Here’s three big flips that led to Flipkart’s success
FLIP ONE: Focus on the customer, not the competition.
Sachin recounts the story, “When we were working with Amazon we got bored… So we basically asked the question ‘can two people working from home compete with the bigger players?”
“We went and did our research and we found that the answer was yes.” How? By realizing that the technology players were not doing such a good job at service. And “If we could do a good job there, we could probably compete with them.”
Easy, right? No. They started in 2007 from a Bangalore apartment with just 400,000 rupees (US$5,900). Amazon began by selling books online. How hard could it be to do the same in India? Very, as no one was buying online at that time: “We used to stand outside Gangaram Book Stores on Church Street and hand over Flipkart bookmarks to the people coming out of the shop.”
The two persevered, knowing if people just tried their online store, “our business opportunity was to do better than everyone else in terms of service.”
FLIP TWO: If you can’t fix the problem, throw it out.
The biggest problem the two faced was the same one that all the other e-commerce companies were facing at the time in India: “How can anybody trust a new company with their money?”
Sachin remembers, "We tried to give them a better interface, we tried to build a brand, that kind of thing". But none of that made much difference.
The breakthrough came when they thought "If people won’t trust paying online, why keep trying to make them?"
That’s when they created their ‘Cash on delivery’ model, and sales took off. The entire Indian e-commerce industry then grew with the aid of the cash on delivery model that Flipkart pioneered. Then as trust grew, buyers got more comfortable paying online, and Flipkart launched their own payment gateway, PayZippy.
By sidestepping the problem instead of solving it, Flipkart began to grow: “In 2007 we were two people. By 2008 we were five people. By 2009 we were over a hundred.” Today Flipkart has over 30,000 employees and $2.2 billion revenue.
FLIP THREE: Beat Amazon by not being Amazon.
Flipkart began expanding into many sectors outside of books, just like Amazon, but Sachin saw what made the India market different from the US market. First, mobile first. Sachin focused on their mobile app and initially made Flipkart mobile-only, saying: “Consumers are showing us the way. If we don’t focus on mobile as the primary channel, somebody else will.”
Then, to beat Amazon they followed Alibaba’s minimal stock model, connecting sellers directly with buyers instead of getting caught up with all the stock challenges that Amazon had. Sachin now compares Flipkart more to Alibaba than Amazon, saying “Yahoo had invested the same amount in Alibaba in 2005. It was the inflexion point in China then, exactly where India is today.”
What could you do to flip your own thinking?
“Every side of a coin has another side.” ~ Myron Scholes
Every coin has 3 sides: A side, a flip side, and an edge.
To see both sides, live on the edge.
Today, Sachin and Binny’s gamble has paid off, as it announces a new $1.4 billion funding round from eBay, Microsoft and Tencent, valuing Flipkart at $11.6 billion. While this is lower than its last funding round, it's coming from global heavyweight partners and signals the beginning of India's next chapter in growth.
Talks are now underway for a merger between Flipkart and their rival startup, Snapdeal, and with this new funding Flipkart now takes over management of Ebay India. This comes just weeks after Alibaba invested $420m in another Indian e-commerce startup, Paytm. These big deals back up Sachin’s prediction that India’s tech growth is just five to eight years behind China’s.
Last month, amidst high profile cases of misbehaving Unicorns, from Oculus to Uber, Mara Zepeda & Jennifer Brandel wrote a blog “Zebras fix what Unicorns break.”
They said “The current technology and venture capital structure is broken. It rewards quantity over quality, consumption over creation, quick exits over sustainable growth, and shareholder profit over shared prosperity."
"It chases after “unicorn” companies bent on “disruption” rather than supporting businesses that repair, cultivate, and connect.”
They then say “A company’s business model is the first domino in a long chain of consequences. In short: ‘The business model is the message.’"
"From that business model flows company culture and beliefs, strategies for success, end-user experiences, and, ultimately, the very shape of society.
This new movement demands a new symbol, so we’re claiming an animal of our own: the zebra.
1. To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real.
2. Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.
3. Zebras are also mutualistic: by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in stronger collective output.
4. Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency, as long as conditions allow them to survive."
If you are striving to grow a Unicorn, you may succeed, although they are beginning to look rarer as VCs slow down their investing.
If, on the other hand, you are striving to rear a Zebra, you are in good company. After all, Zebras like to group together, and they are becoming increasingly common as entrepreneurs seek co-operation and sustainability over competition and monopoly.
When you seek size and scale, you may never reach success. If you seek purpose and profit, you can succeed the moment you start.
“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” ~ Minor Myers Jnr
If you like the idea of being a Zebra, you can read Mara & Jennifer’s “Zebra Manifesto” at http://bit.ly/
You can also visit https://
And because a gathering of Zebras is a “Dazzle”, you can also join the first Zebra gathering at “Dazzlecon” later this year:
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has just become South East Asia’s first self-made woman billionaire. And she has achieved it with one big rule: “I have always aimed big and done big deals.”
How has Nguyen built her wealth to over a billion in a country (Vietnam) which only has ever had one other billionaire in its history? Here’s the 3 step formula Nguyen has used for each of her 3 big wins over the last 30 years:
1) Make your best guess on the future, and then bet on it:
When she was a student in USSR in the 1980s, Nguyen bet on the USSR breaking up and international trade growing. So she started trading fax machines and latex rubber between USSR and Asia in between her economics classes, saying “When people were trading one container, I was already trading hundreds of containers.”
She began with no money, but scaled by growing her trust with suppliers: "I didn’t have much money. They gave me more and more products with longer credit terms."
Within 3 years she had made her first million by 21 years old.
2) Realise the best opportunities are always right in front of you:
Nguyen then took her earnings back to Vietnam with her, guessing that her country would soon follow the growth of China and India. Knowing that the early wealth in both those countries had come in banking and property, she decided to invest in both, despite having no experience of either.
She set up Sovico Holdings, named after her early Soviet success, and was the first to invest in Dragon City - an area of swamp land she guessed the government would turn into an economic hub. It did, and that bet is now worth $1 billion
3) Begin with a beginners mind, and learn from others
Her biggest bet then came when she realised that it was only a matter of time before the Vietnam government opened the market to competition against the state-run airline. Having no idea how to run an airline, she first tried to set up a joint venture with AirAsia. But when that failed, she decided to launch her own company, VietJet, 5 years ago.
Before launching, she studied other fast-growing airlines like Virgin and AirAsia in detail, saying “Some say that anything I put hands on will be profitable. But I don’t think it’s that simple. There’s no easy path to success. I studied and I did my research. It was a lot of hard work, and to be successful you need to be passionate about the business that you invest in.”
Seeing the power of stunts, Vietjet launched with all-female crews in bikinis as a stark contrast to the staid, state-run Vietnam Airlines. It worked. And while a lot of recent western media headlines have read “Hot Flight Attendants In Bikinis Made Vietnam Its First Female Billionaire” and “How Bikini Airline Helped to Create Vietnam's First Woman Billionaire”, the reality is today the crew only dress in bikinis as part of the promotional flights to new tropical destinations.
Nguyen’s response to the western media’s skewed view of her success: “We don’t mind people associating the airline with the bikini image. If that makes people happy, we are happy.”
Today Vietjet has 300 flights a day and has now set the ambition of being the “Emirates of Asia” - recently ordering more than 200 new planes worth $23 billion. Last month the company floated on the stock exchange, making Nguyen a billionaire.
Today, Nguyen is worth $1.7 billion. Asked what she thinks about her net worth, she says "I’ve never sat down and calculated my assets. I’m just focused on how to boost the company’s growth, how to increase the average salary for my employees, how to lead the airline to gain more market share and make it number one.”
Based on current growth, VietJet will overtake Vietnam Airlines this year after just 5 years in business.
Where will you be 5 years from today? And how can Nguyen’s journey be an inspiration towards your future flight plan?
“We all fly. Once you leave the ground, you fly. Some people fly longer than others.” ~ Michael Jordan