(4) Problem-first, not product-first logic
By solving importers” and exporters” problem of poor service, Simon Cohen’s company, Henco Logistics, has become one of Mexico’s largest freight forwarders and is expanding its presence across Latin America. As the prominent venture capital investor Vinod Khosla famously remarked, “To me, any big problem is a big opportunity. It’s very simple. Nobody will pay you to solve a non-problem.
(5) No” is something waiting to be turned into ?Yes?
In much of today’s business world, there are processes for this, procedures and systems for that, and for good reason, too. But the best entrepreneurs sometimes must cut to the chase, as did Thomas Knobel when he got stiffed by a supplier that went bankrupt. Knobel began a campaign.
Every day, he left at least one voicemail message on every phone at his supplier’s offices. I would call and leave a message on extension 101, and then I’d call back and dial extension 102, until there were no more extensions to dial. It was a fight for survival,” he recalled. I?m a student. You?ve taken away my business. I hope your sons and daughters aren?t ever treated in this way. After only a week, the lawyer called back and said Knobel would receive his money if he stopped the voicemails. His money was returned.
For today’s best entrepreneurs, breaking the rules of “how things are normally done is part of the landscape and No” is not an acceptable answer. They find a way to turn No” into ?Yes.
(6) Ask for the cash and ride the float
Rud Browne, a Vancouver-based entrepreneur, built a thriving business dealing in refurbished mobile computing devices, like the ones every FedEx or DHL driver carries. These devices go through technology cycles, with old versions and their accompanying software regularly being updated to newer-faster-better versions.
Browne financed his company’s growth by asking for 90 day terms when he bought used no-longer-needed equipment and by getting his customers to pay him on delivery, even sometimes in advance. Riding the float between when he received his customers” payment and when he paid his suppliers enabled Ryzex, with no outside investment, to reach $75m in revenue, with five offices around the world and 360 employees.
Does riding the float by getting paid on delivery (or even in advance) and paying suppliers on generous terms make more entrepreneurial sense than giving up a stake in your business to access investment capital” Surely, it does. And it’s vastly cheaper capital, too!
Entrepreneurial mindset made, not born
The good news is that great entrepreneurs are almost always made, not born. Just as Arnold Correia learned to repeatedly do what his company had not done before, and Thomas Knobel learned from a college classmate the power of persistence, so, too, can you
Can you do new things and assemble but not bother to own the resources you?ll need, and not take No” for an answer” Are you targeting a narrow target market having a compelling problem that you can solve Can you ?ride the float” and use your customers” funding to bootstrap the start of your business” Yes, you can!
John Mullins is an associate professor of management practice at London Business School and author of “The New Business Road Test: What Entrepreneurs and Investors Should Do Before Launching a Lean Start-up.
When looking to grow your company, it’s important to consider new opportunities that can be driven through evolving existing products or expanding it new markets.