Everybody is a businessman in a sense that you have to run yourself as if a CEO runs a company with an important caveat that the stake is much higher to run yourself because the CEO can step down at the cost of shareholders, while you in the expense of your own precious life.
Therefore, we need to think both strategically and tactically, or to put in other words, we need to be both clear-headed and resourceful in steering the company of yourself.
Clear-headed means three things for me: first, the purpose; second, the threshold of growing; third, individual, people and social media.
First, about the purpose, we should not just follow the mainstream and operate as if we were a bolt or a pawn, only doing things told to do. Don’t take status quo as right or optimal. There is always a need in the society for somebody to close the gap between supply and this need. For example, Apple Inc. is the first to offer iPod to satisfy people’s need to condense an inventory of beautiful music into a gadget smaller than a palm size. H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara are able to close the gap between high-priced and low-quality clothing, Blockchain bitcoin is poised to eliminate the friction between money flow worldwide, such examples are numerous.
I am not encouraging you to not perform your daily routine job, but to divert from the habitual operations and apply the first principles approach – famously stated by Elon Musk – from time to time. Thinking in the first-principle perspective, you won’t be restrained by getting things done in a continuous incremental way, but gravitate to the core of the problem and come up with a solution to entirely change the direction of existing problem-solving approach, leading to a none-10% increase but a 10X reform. I am always awed by disruptors like Airbnb and Uber, their approach to serving the needs of hailing a taxi or finding a nice room is not to linearly increase the number of taxies or hotels, but to provide a fair-play algorithm allowing vacant resources to participate in this ecosystem and liberate the supply massively.
If able to offer a good solution to meet a need in the market, off we are on a good starting point. Next, we need to grow this business/personal value in an exponential manner. Why exponential? So you won’t have to be involved in a steep fierce competition, instead, you can focus on growing it into a big and prosperous business. Traditional business grows organically/linearly, for every additional output, a corresponding cost is needed. However, this is an antiquated notion workable in the industrial age. We are now in the internet era – maybe soon in the blockchain epoch -, what thrive now and in the future is “zero-marginal-cost”. Products/services are reproducible and disseminated at close-to-zero cost for an additional customer. Only this way, the organization can grow up fast. Uber, again, serves as a perfect example here: when the algorithm is established backed up by a growing network of drivers and customers, the cost of running is not expanding along with additional client base, quite to the contrary, the larger the user net, the more accurate and efficient it works.
Third, about the individual, people, and social media. It even comes to me as a surprise that the concept of “leadership” greatly measured by coaching and cultivating subordinates in modern institutions are becoming outdated nowadays.
The whole world is more and more flattened thanks to the internet web and prevalence of social media. Never in human history has it been possible for individuals to be so powerful without the need to secure the top spot in the hierarchy. A 14-year-old boy Jack Andraka can figure out a biomarker to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage by researching via Google. A youtube channel owner Pewdiepie gleans millions of dollar by broadcasting his video game clips because there are over 60 million followers. An anonymous author Satoshi Nakamoto created an unprecedented bitcoin mania by publishing a paper explaining the blockchain theory.
Another pragmatical and remarkable example is a lecturer named Fan Deng, created a reading salon couple of years ago, has now attracted millions of members and reached billions of dollar of income in such a short time. His business model is simple: he reads a book every week for 365 Yuan per member. The growth of both membership and revenue is exponential. Similar to Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, these companies don’t hire a large management and staff team, instead, they call up all the users/providers to fuel the expansion of business, treating them more like allies than a pure employee, or customers, or distributors. Therefore, I don’t deem it as vitally important as before to manage your social network and spend valuable time to know VIPs, thinking these VIPs can someday give business or promote you to an upper rung in company ladder. Instead, we should focus on the core competence and ability to satisfy the needs of the market, construct a social – media based “follower” tribe, they will be your allies and customers one day, and vice versa, you will help other strong individual/ business runners the same way.
I elaborated what and how “clear-headedness” is for being a successful businessman in above paragraphs, what is of equally important is “resourcefulness”, or approximately, “creativity”. A great idea doesn’t automatically convert itself to a lucrative business, there are numerous roadblocks on the way that requires not only a “clear-head” but also a “mastermind” to come up with solutions and move forward. I am especially inspired by some extraordinary business people’s small but effective approaches in doing their business. For example, if you are a member of Uber, and you referred a friend to use Uber too, your next ride is free, simple and cliche trick, but adopted universally and effectively to spread the service like wildfire. The devils are in the detail, paying attention to every element in business and keep learning, absorbing good practice from other people, everyone can be resourceful and clever.