Bend The Rules: 10 Tips For Entrepreneurs To Make It Big In The Business World
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There is no age limit to becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, I believe that the younger one starts to contemplate about their entrepreneurial capabilities, or even try their hand at starting their first business, the better.
This is because most people with an entrepreneurial mindset are often seeking flexibility and are enticed by the idea of being their own boss. Starting early thus allows for more time to explore, grow, fail, and do it all over again.
My own journey down the entrepreneurship route began in high school. Shortly after the launch of the first iPad, I started my first business of selling iPad stands for cars. It wasn’t successful, but it did give me exposure to the process of trying to solve a genuine problem with a creative solution.
In my opinion, entrepreneurs generally fall in two categories. The first type go and do a market scan to try and find a need to solve. The second solves a problem deeply personal to them that they have previously directly experienced.
I fall into the second category. My current entrepreneurial endeavor, Crimson Education, wasn’t conceived out of an active decision to find a problem to solve, but instead came about quite organically from my personal experience.
At the age of 17, I applied to a wide variety of the world’s best universities -Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge etc.- and I was accepted into all of them. No one from my country, New Zealand, had seen such success with the global university application process. As a result, there was a groundswell of parents and students reaching out to me to seek advice on how to build a strong candidacy for the world’s best universities.
This surge of parents who wanted the best global opportunities for their children coming to me for advice, combined with my personal belief that no one should be denied access to a world-class education if they have the motivation to go for it, is what eventually formed Crimson Education. Today the company is valued at NZD400 million and is considered to be the world’s most successful college admissions company. In the GCC alone, we achieved US$1 million in revenue, and expect to achieve over US$1.6million for 2021.
With the entrepreneurial journey that I have had, I do think I have some insights that can be of help to others who are considering starting businesses of their own. Here are ten things I’d suggest entrepreneurs to keep in mind as they chase their dreams:
1. Don’t finish your plate You don’t have to see things through to the end if they’re not beneficial. Systematically focus on ways to maximize your outcome, rather than trying to finish it all.
2. Burn up tail risk Tail risk is a small probability event that can have a big impact. Figure out what tail risks can throw you off the course, and minimize them.
3. Prepare and practice Playing games, such as Call of Duty, for example, require one to understand how to use resources, time management, and strategic coordination, and it also allows one to simulate high-stake decisions in an environment that has no risk. Having the experience of doing such things under pressure (but in a secure environment) will help you, when you are running your own business.
4. Know someone before you meet them It is always better to be prepared than to wing it, as the latter often does not work very well. Our prepared self is far more effective than our improvised self, even if we think we’re pretty good improvising. If you are going into an interview, research about the interviewer, their views, and standpoints. When you do this, you’ll have context on why they say and do things, and this helps to better your responses.
5. Compete like China Tutoring is usually used as a method to help you catch up when you’re falling behind, but in China, it is just a basic part of their educational life. No matter how smart you are, if someone is working twice as hard as you, it is almost impossible to keep up. You are competing in a global marketplace, so you need to work with the intensity, discipline, and aggression of China, with every company you create and every campaign you run on social media.
6. Ask! Ask, bang down doors, for those opportunities, because they’re not just going to land on your plate. Being an entrepreneur is all about finding opportunities and pathways that never existed previously, and unless you ask, nothing really happens.
7. Treat rules as cost-benefit decisions, not restrictions Every individual should have a code of conduct and series of rules to stick by and never break them. While this will help you stay consistent with your actions, not every rule in life aligns with your code of conduct. Many of the world’s best innovations come about through the idea of breaking through archaic rules. Uber built their company on a controversial way of a taxi service, and they rebuilt the rules by doing that. Keeping that in mind, when you see a rule, analyze the cost, the benefits, and then the risk of breaking it.
8. Don’t disclose your strategy until the time is right Short-term gratification is all well and good, but it destroys your ability to create long-term strategic value. The more you tell people your game plan, the more competition you create for yourself. Keep secrets around your strategy.
9. Perception is reality When something rises in value temporarily, like a reputation or a company’s stock value, that artificial rise can drive real value creation, and make it go higher. If you are perceived to be a high-quality person in a business context, then you will gain value.
10. Timelines are fictional Timelines are often given to create structure in an otherwise chaotic world. Ignore the timelines, bend the timelines, break the timelines, and let everyone else live by set timelines, while you innovate and play your own game.