EntrepreneurshipGlobal & Business StrategyLeadership Development

The habit of taking all routes makes all rivers and some men crooked – African proverb

A Swahili folklore talks of a hunter walking home after killing a dear. A hyena started following him to try and steal the meat. The hunter hurried on ahead and when he came to an intersection went a few steps on the wrong road and then turned back and went home before the hyena could see him.

When the hyena came to the intersection he couldn’t make up his mind which road to take and so he tried to walk both paths at the same time two feet on one and the other on the other. He finally got torn in two, died a senseless death because of his greed and confusion.

As human beings, we are limited in resources within and outside ourselves. We can only focus properly on one thing. Even women who can multi-task can best do it in one environment at home or in the office. Trying to do everything at once means you are spread too thin. Your resources; be it ability, time, finances or people, will not be enough.

A millionaire or billionaire's success is often confused for what an entrepreneur should be doing. But even the most diversified of them started in one industry with one business focusing 100% on it until they became successful. They then replicate their success, learning new skills and developing a network of new industries over time. They also employ experts who focus on only one particular industry, while they now focus on one thing; relating with and picking the best CEOs to run their businesses.

When one tries to take two options in business, or life in general, they are in the hyena’s path and headed to a painful torturous death even if they could have succeeded. Often such situations may lead one to compromise in ways that can be very detrimental in their life. Great guys gone crooked always have compromised either in their values or another area.

So how do you decide what path to take? What do you let go and what do you pursue. You most likely have come to this point because you are multi-talented and want to explore your potential to the fullest! The most important aspect of a leader is being decisive. To be successful, you will need to convince some people to come along with you and you need to know where you are leading people. So decision making is really the first sign of whether you will be a success or not. A couple of things that can help you be decisive;

  • Your values; which opportunity can you pursue and not feel guilty. This may not be as easy to see for some as you may think initially. It is not simply looking at what is right or wrong but what is the right thing to do for who you are at the moment in your life. A young person with no responsibilities for elderly sick parents may not have the freedom to pursue the same things as a young person with parents that can take care of themselves. A father with a young family may have to make different choices than a father with grown kids almost leaving the nest.
    These different positions in life make a simple value like family very complicated especially in a society where the extended family is very important. And even in societies where it is said not to be so, it still can influence what decisions we make because we are human beings who want to do right.
  • Money; another factor that will help you make a decision is what you can make out of the opportunities. Don’t be cheated a hungry man is an angry man. If you cannot pay your bills and have a hungry family life will not be easy and love easily flies out of the window or is strained in such circumstances. This does not simply mean which will give you the most money but which option gives you the money you need to handle your obligations and live a decent life.
    Even money gets to a level of diminishing return in that doing something you hate may be possible for a while but eventually, you may want out. So, with that mind sometimes you may find you choose an option that may not give you more money but gives you enough money to do what you need to do but possibly you would find ways to expand its return in the long run.For example, choosing to run a school in a poor neighbourhood knowing it will not pay you all the money you need but with the intention of looking at future partnerships to expand the services the venue will offer to the community may be more satisfying than having the school in a rich neighbourhood where you can charge whatever you want but have to deal with egocentric youth and parents who may not share your passion for the needy communities in the same city.
  • Capacity; Capacity influences our decision making because it is not just our talent that is required in business but to be successful, the skills of others will be required. In bringing a new product to market, it may not be just your skills as an innovator that are required but those of a marketer and their specialisation in marketing has a great influence on the success of the business.
    However, the beauty with capacity is that it can be bought so skills you may not have can be hired however the cost will vary with level of expertise required For example may be initially the legal services you require may just be in registering a company even a legal student may be able to take you through that. However, following this you may need a legal expert in licensing and patenting the cost for these may be prohibitive. If you are not able to find a partner who can bankroll the start-up costs or raise funds you may have to pursue a different route for a while as you make the money to build the capacity you need to. Partners who share your values, vision and with whom you can work well with may be hard to find.
    Capacity also puts into consideration your own ability mentally and physically. If you cannot put in the hours because of old age, for example, it may be difficult to get into a business which requires your personal involvement in working several hours. You may have to hire younger people who can put in the long hours and use technology to replicate your personal expertise. However, these will be determined but what you ca afford to do. It is also these unique factors that may give you your USP

  • Finally, commitment is crucial. What can you commit to? The choice between making two decisions is down to what you can actually act on day after day. Now it is not simply what you love to do…. Remember you could hate it if it doesn’t put food on your table or kills you slowly. It is a balance between return and investment. How much time money, time and effort can you put into the venture if it gives you x amount of money and satisfaction?

"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans."- Peter F. Drucker

All these combined are the difference between the choices you make that will make yours a successful business venture, a paying hobby or a total failure that leaves you bitter. There are many more things you may want to look at but by the time you get to number 4, you most certainly will have come to a decision of what is the right thing to do.

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