When chas­ing a dream and a job are the same

Gulf News - - Comment & Analysis -

I’m start­ing a new busi­ness where I’ll be farm­ing and sell­ing lo­cally grown quinoa. There are a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties and costs associated with this en­ter­prise. My ques­tion for you is: What would you do if the busi­ness you wanted to launch had so many vari­ables that you needed to main­tain an­other sta­ble job to sup­port your­self? Is leav­ing my job and start­ing my busi­ness a re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion? My girl­friend once told me that what the world needs is more peo­ple who love their jobs.

Gon­zalo, first and fore­most, your girl­friend sounds like a keeper — I ab­so­lutely agree with her. Most peo­ple spend more time work­ing than on any other ac­tiv­ity. If you don’t en­joy your work, that’s a lot of hours of your life that you’re wast­ing away.

And if the world is to con­tinue to im­prove, then it needs more workers who love their jobs. These would be happy, healthy peo­ple, en­gaged in the work and ideas that mat­ter to them most.

Just imag­ine, for a mo­ment, a world full of peo­ple do­ing work that they love. It would be so dif­fer­ent — and con­tinue to be ab­so­lutely trans­for­ma­tive. Lov­ing your work tends to lead to more suc­cess, which, in turn, leads to more job cre­ation. When you build a busi­ness, you’re cre­at­ing some­thing that has the room to grow, thrive and in­no­vate.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that en­trepreneur­ship is such a pos­i­tive force in the world, since en­trepreneurs are peo­ple work­ing for them­selves, do­ing what they love. So, when you ask whether start­ing your own busi­ness is a re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion, I think you know my an­swer: You should pur­sue your dreams.

You must be sure to pro­tect the down­side. Con­sider the dif­fi­cul­ties and costs that you men­tioned, and ad­dress them one by one. Cre­ate a sim­ple list: each dif­fi­culty, paired with a spe­cific strat­egy to over­come it. Once you’ve done this, the var­i­ous fac­tors and their in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents will seem more man­age­able.

Then make an­other list of all the growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for your quinoa busi­ness, and be sure to spend as much time on this pos­i­tive, fu­turefac­ing task as you did on the risk-management list you just com­pleted. Af­ter all, this is sup­posed to be fun!

Ques­tions

You’re farm­ing high-qual­ity pro­duce that’s lo­cally grown. Ask your­self: How can I best market this in­for­ma­tion and cre­ate de­mand for my prod­uct? What other busi­nesses have ex­panded from a sim­i­lar po­si­tion, and how did they do it? What will I do dif­fer­ently from my com­pe­ti­tion?

Are there other re­gional mar­kets beyond quinoa is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar?

Those are the sorts of ques­tions we’ve been ask­ing our­selves at Vir­gin for five decades. Here’s an ex­am­ple: Vir­gin Mo­bile — our cell phone com­pany that started as a pipe dream on a piece of paper — now op­er­ates in many coun­tries around the world, in­clud­ing Chile.

When we first thought about the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a mo­bile busi­ness, we also had all sorts of dif­fi­cul­ties to over­come. The main ob­sta­cle was in­fra­struc­ture: We cer­tainly couldn’t com­pete with the in­dus­try gi­ants who al­ready had net­works in place.

And they were more likely to see us as a threat to their market share rather than as a part­ner they could work with to cre­ate some­thing fresh and new. What’s more, we had lit­tle ex­per­tise in the sec­tor, and our team was jug­gling lots of other busi­nesses al­ready.

But rather than worry about the neg­a­tives, I fo­cused on the up­side. The mo­bile market was one of the fastest-grow­ing on the planet, yet cus­tomers were being well and truly ripped off.

The in­dus­try was ripe for dis­rup­tion, and I be­lieved that Vir­gin was the brand that could do it.

We could see op­por­tu­ni­ties to part­ner with an­other com­pany to cre­ate a new busi­ness model. And I knew I could find peo­ple better than my­self, with rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence and a hunger to cre­ate some­thing new, who could run the day-to-day busi­ness.

We were re­jected by ev­ery po­ten­tial network provider un­til One 2 One said yes. We launched a pay-as-you-go service, cre­at­ing the world’s first mo­bile vir­tual network op­er­a­tor. It was a truly unique mo­bile com­pany, and our model is still being used around the world.

While we see op­por­tu­ni­ties where oth­ers might see in­sur­mount­able ob­sta­cles, we don’t dis­count the risks; we em­brace them and face dif­fi­cul­ties head-on. Then we try to bring a com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­ence to the market and go about our work with hu­mour and by tak­ing care of our cus­tomers. Put sim­ply, we reach for the stars, but keep our feet on the ground. There’s no rea­son you can’t do the same. Chile where

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