The biggest secrets for turning your small business into a big business (Part 1)

__Your business must have a life separate from you!

Years ago I shared with you the sad story of an old man who had a supermarket at a popular location. He boasted that he started his day at 4am and left at 12am. His business never grew because two of the Ps were missing:

# People: He did not hire people with management and leadership skills to run his business.
# Process: He did not invest in the processes that would have allowed him to run multiple locations with lots of time to spare.

You don’t ever need to visit a business if these two P’s are in place!

When your business is small, you obviously must work every day and every night to make it a success, with energy and passion, and with a deep desire to make it bigger. Now I know some of you are working your hearts out just to make ends meet every day, to feed your kids and get their school fees paid.

Still in your entrepreneurial hearts I know you are working towards a future where your business grows from a small business to a big one… Keep at it, because no matter how small your business is right now, what I am going to say applies to you, too.

The three Ps. For the past several weeks I have discussed the importance of:

# People
# Product
# Process

If you’re dreaming of building a business that grows very big, I want to give you another perspective and share a few important secrets on this same topic. Let’s talk.

You have heard the expression “get a life”?

__Your business must also have a life!

It’s important to allow your business “to get a life of its own,” separate from you. It must be a separate living persona that has its own needs, separate from you. You are not the business and the business is not you.

Imagine you run a cash business like a supermarket and a dear relative comes in with an emergency asking for money. Can you say to that person: “I’m sorry I have no money; what I have belongs to the business”?

People who run big successful businesses never treat the money of the business as their own. If this surprises you, then you are not yet ready for the big league!

A friend came to me once and asked me to lend him some money and I said I didn’t have any. I could see the bitterness in his face as he said, “Everyone knows you have money because your business is really doing well.”

“The business is really doing well, but I’m not the business,” I replied. “The two of us are different from each other.”

Now if you’re new to big business, you will not accept this, but if you went to Bill Gates or Patrice Motsepe they will tell you the same.

Let me tell you, if you cannot do that, you will never be able to own a truly big business.

#Tough talk? You better believe it!

Similarly, you cannot take the money belonging to the business to build a house for your family or buy a new car.

You are only entitled to your salary which should be fixed and taken only when others get paid. You are also entitled to a small portion of the profit, taken only from Year 4 of successive years of profit. Cap it at 25%.

I have known some absolutely brilliant, innovative entrepreneurs in Africa and yet they struggled with this one thing: They would not allow a business to have a separate life from them.

The entrepreneur who allows the business to have its own life is the one who builds a big business.

To be continued. . .

Image credit Technites: Kwesé gets serious in Nigeria!

by 23 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

23 thoughts on “The biggest secrets for turning your small business into a big business (Part 1)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Someone sent me the picture from Nigeria where thousands of people have been buying and installing Kwese Tv decoders. Thank you to all our friends that have joined the revolution!

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    When I start a new business I do not take more than 25% of the profit. And I only take that money after a minimum of 4 years of consecutive profits. It is a principle I learnt from the Bible more than 20 years ago whilst studying The Laws of Moses. Try and see what happens!

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Paschal asks,

    How do you know the exact time to separate your self from your business?, how do you scale and know how much reasonable enough to be paid to your employee? When you are not sure how much you will be making monthly

    My reply,
    The moment you decide to set up a business you must begin to practice this important discipline. And if you have not been doing it, start right away!
    #1. Draft a contract for yourself as an “employee”, even if you are the only employee!
    And for everyone else including the little cousin who is cleaning the flows.
    #2. Find someone who has book keeping or accounting skills who will look after the books, and also pay the salaries.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    When I left Zimbabwe in 2000 I had already taken my local company public and it was worth over hundred million US. Despite this wealth I lived in a middle income area of the capital Harare, called Vainona. It was not the wealthiest suburb by any means, as any Hararian will tell you!
    After leaving I directed that the house be turned into a center to help orphans. I did not own a Mercedes Benz, even though I could have afforded an entire fleet.
    It is not that I have anything against those things, but as an entrepreneur I play a long game…so should you if you want to build a big business for Africa.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    When you watch THE PROFIT on Kwese Inc, you will see that the investor first asks the entrepreneur to open their books before investing. Even those on Shark Tank will do it before investing.
    The investor will study how you spend money. If they see that you do not have a proper salary which is the same every month, they will NOT invest!
    Also if they find that you spend more money on yourself than the business can afford they will NOT invest!
    If you do not build a business that can attract serious investors you will always be small!
    Now is the time for you to start.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Thozamile asks,

    Is it going to be available in SA to compete with Multichoice?

    My reply,
    We are putting final touches to the launch of Kwese in South Africa. It is going to be huge in South Africa. I think by early September you will have your decoder.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Phillip asks,

    How can I get Kwese Tv decoder?

    My reply,
    There are actually 3x you can get a Kwese decoder in 16 countries now!

    Kwese does most of its sales using an e-Commerce model. All you need to do is to go to Kwese.Com:
    1. You can order directly online from anywhere in the world. We will have it delivered to you or a relative in Africa in matter of days, and someone will come and install.
    2. You can find what we call an “e-dealer” using the website. They will come and install if you call them.

    3. Traditional dealers: in each of the 16 x countries that are now selling decoders you can also buy decoders from traditional dealers that are busy stocking up.

    4.Most of the mobile operators like Vodacom (Ghana, Tanzania), Tigo (Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana), Airtel (all countries), MTN (most of their countries) and Safaricom; have started to stock decoders in some of their stores.
    You can check with them to see if they have them. Within weeks there will be thousands of outlets with decoders.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Dau Dau writes,

    I lost my job when my employer started building his house because all the money from the business was funding his project, finally the business failed and the house was left unfinished.

    My reply,
    Africa will have thousands of huge businesses if entrepreneurs take heed of what I have said in this post.
    A house does not generate revenue neither does an expensive car bought for the entrepreneur’s own use.

  9. Tapiwa Zimudzi

    Thanks for all this. I got your biography eBook compiled by one Geophry Tenganamba. there is no copyright or IP information or foreword from you. is this something you have authorised sir before I start reading it. thank you

  10. Oscar Ekponimo

    Dear Dr Strive,

    Thanks for your online mentoring which I constantly glean and learn from.

    I faced hunger and food deprivation growing up as a child and decided to turn my childhood experiences into a social enterprise that tackles food poverty.

    My Social Enterprise called Chowberry which leverages food at risk of reaching end of shelf-life to feed disadvantaged groups in Nigeria facing food poverty and was recently featured on Time Magazine :

    I also recently received support when I won the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, being 1 of 3 Africans in its 40 year history.

    Please pardon the intrusive nature of my comment, prior attempts to reach you via your company emails were unsuccessful.

    Sir, I write you because Rolex Philanthropy asked me to suggest who I believe should be on their 2018 Jury to select the 2018 cohort of Rolex Laureates for the Rolex awards for Enterprise.
    Jury members in the past included Nobel Prize Winner Wole Soyinka, Astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry Stephen Hell.

    They have been trying to reach you and asked if I had a way to connect with you. The awards has been active for 40 years and they would be absolutely glad to have you as a jury member.

    Thanks for inspiring us all to higher and greater ideals.

    Oscar Ekponimo

  11. Ronald Shumba

    One word is enough for a wise man. #Seperatelegalentity#.For the unwise the whole library will not be enough. Reminds me of Christ- Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

    I am learning and practising

  12. taffy

    Thank you Mr Masiyiwa for such words.It’s quite an essential aspect for the growth any business,separating the business from the owner.Thank you

  13. Ian

    Thank you for the wonderful and powerful lessons you’re giving us Sir Strive Masiyiwa

    I’ve heard of 1$ salary. How is an entrepreneur/business owner able to pay him/herself 1$ and yet afford transport expenses, health, school fees, rent etc and yet separate from business?

    Again, I’ve heard on the advantage entrepreneurs have on using non-tax income on expenses as tax is charged/imposed on what remains. If you pay yourself first (big bucks) this means you’ll be taxed first then consume what remains.

    Thank you..!

  14. Theresa Kuuya

    I am interested in the kwese TV, is it available in Zimbabwe..????
    Secondly, I intend to empower amd motivate children and the youth in Southlea Park Harare… you have a ‘plan’or a successful module that I can use other than the ‘word’….

  15. Nathan Smith

    Yes, every business owner wish thickening his establishment at a certain point of time. Truly, everyone has a desire to see his sphere at its well-fed potential. Here, you have disclosed some unrevealed. I really liked the whole article. Moreover, I can say that if a business owner desires a growth, then he should consider expansion, utilize the benefits of modern technology and also care about discrimination, so that he can find himself among better people and no doubt better people always grasp maximum from every opportunity and this is what will reshape his business with new limit and also with new scope.


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