Business isn’t just sales – first of all, it’s a type of creative work. From this point of view, inventing a product, creating it, building a sales network, and promotion are not as far removed from other common types of art as novel writing or film directing.
It’s worth highlighting an important analogy here. It’s difficult to imagine a writer writing a new book without a thorough understanding of the topic to which the given book relates. Similarly, when making a film, the director must thoroughly study the topics related to their work. The same is true when building a business. As in the case of film production, you must have all the scenes written out, a well prepared budget and, of course, good actors who will bring the vision to life.
Business is constant contact with people
You can’t be a good seller and dislike the company of others. You can’t be an introvert not interested in the surrounding world. If you get upset by someone who doesn’t want to buy your product from you, you can forget about being an entrepreneur.
First of all, you should be aware of the fact that the entrepreneur is a seller in a broad sense. They sell services, goods, and their knowledge – irrespective of the industry in which they operate. It’s worth remembering this before deciding to become an entrepreneur. If you don’t feel a calling to be a seller, you shouldn’t follow this career path.
Thorough observation of reality
The entrepreneur must observe reality very carefully. Without noticing all the anomalies and market fluctuations, it’s difficult to create a business idea. We must carefully observe market deficiencies and human needs, and constantly perform calculations. On the other hand, in addition to synthetic thinking skills and the ability to link certain facts, it’s necessary to use analytical skills needed to define potential problems and methods to solve them. Analytics will also prove useful when estimating potential costs and revenues.
In practice, in conducting private business, the widely known and popular intelligence (sometimes referred to as mathematical and spatial intelligence, which is measured by IQ) is not necessarily much more important or more valuable. As a rule, people who have an extremely high intelligence quotient – above 160 or 170 – do very poorly in life. This is due to the fact that they usually have big problems with interpersonal contacts, and their emotional intelligence is often relatively poor. In business, however, people who perform better don’t necessarily have the highest intelligence quotient measured by the Menst test, but have a high level of emotional intelligence. This doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs are usually unintelligent, but in business, the ability to establish interpersonal relationships, empathy, and discerning people’s moods and needs are more important than an IQ of, say, 150.
Why? The answer is very simple – business is done with people, business is done for people and business is done thanks to people. This is so little and yet so much, so if we have problems in interpersonal contacts, conversations, or identifying what’s important to others, it’ll be difficult to create a product that will reach the market. On the other hand, it won’t be easy for us to gather a group of good people – employees – who will be willing to work with us or even for us. It’s quite a common belief and the idea that the entrepreneur is the one who drives a luxury car, when in fact, entrepreneurs are incredibly hard-working people who constantly try to be as close as possible to the needs of the market and other people.
Leadership and selection of people
The ability to recruit and later effectively manage employees is one of the most important features that define entrepreneurs. Business is a team sport and like in a football team, one (even the best) player won’t win the match alone, and a company won’t succeed without a close-knit team. Entrepreneurs should infect the environment with their ideas and have the ability to attract people to implement them. In addition, on the one hand, it’s good to have natural authority, on the other – a “coach” attitude is more effective than that of a tough “boss”.
Building a company that will go on to bring market success is no accident. Many things have to take place at the same time to achieve success. However, even in a situation where all seemingly necessary success factors are certain, we can’t ever be certain of success. We should always be aware that we’re moving within the limits of probability, which can be increased to some extent, but not to one.
The probability of success increases when three conditions are met, and they must all occur simultaneously. And although they’re not of equal importance, if even one is missing, this basically rules the project out. The issue of the significance of the condition mainly concerns the difficulty of meeting it, not its necessity. All three must be met at the same time. These three determinants, without which no business venture can succeed, are: a good business idea, good implementers of this idea, and financing.
In a company or by yourself?
Another problem that we often need to consider at the start is the issue of the various partners and companies. Young entrepreneurs are full of fear and anxiety. Will they manage? Will they succeed? There are so many things they don’t yet know or understand, so wouldn’t it be safer to look for a partner? In my experience, I can say that the popular opinion that partnerships often don’t work out and that you can only count on yourself doesn’t necessarily have to be true.
I think that the success of my first company – Przedsiebiorstwo Techniki Alpinistyczno-Nurkowej TAN – was largely thanks to the fact that I was lucky enough to meet a great man, Wieslaw Kacaper, who became my partner.
Are science (formal studies) and knowledge needed in business?
For many years, I’ve been meeting with young people starting their own businesses and with students at universities, and I often get asked about the point of studying. Young people aren’t sure if it’s worth losing years at school if you can be successful without it. Will the acquired knowledge and experience be useful in any way later on when they’re running a business?
The answer seems obvious, because learning is always worthwhile, and knowledge is a value in itself. It’s always better to be wise and know a lot than foolish and know nothing. It sounds like a truism, but it’s a crucial principle, and after deeper reflection, you can draw many conclusions from it: that education, learning and better understanding of the world around us are a value in itself.
However, if you reverse the question and pose it differently: “Is education necessary to succeed in business or in your job? Is it necessary to study economic sciences to become an entrepreneur?”, my answer would be: education is useful, but not absolutely necessary. A formal education confirmed by a diploma is unnecessary. However, every future entrepreneur should have knowledge. They should be perceptive, observe the world around them and be able to associate facts. To think both synthetically and analytically. All entrepreneurs must understand the business and industry in which they operate. However, this knowledge doesn’t have to be acquired at school; we know many people who have achieved great success without having a formal education.
Idea for a book
The idea for this book came during my meetings with students in 2008 – 2010. The lectures and panel discussions – which were also attended by outstanding representatives of Polish economic life – showed the extent of the demand for seemingly basic knowledge of how to build and manage a company. Young people asked about literally everything: who can be an entrepreneur, where can you get ideas, and how to find financing for projects. They also asked about legal and tax issues, and many others.
“Simply Business” is not intended to be a technical guide for entrepreneurs containing solutions to all nagging problems. It shows the main risks associated with running a business: both professional and personal. It’s more a record of my personal thoughts and experiences, which are primarily meant to stimulate discussion and encourage reflection rather than providing ready answers to specific problems. I think that the book also shows entrepreneurs from a slightly different perspective – as normal people with their fears, mistakes made and huge ongoing stress. Because stress and crisis management is an important and inseparable everyday part of business life.