The Paradox of The 10 Commandments of Entrepreneurship

Follow them and flourish

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard said “…… man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.” Sometimes we have to turn things on their head to succeed. Find the paradoxical 10 commandments of entrepreneurship:

#1 – Don’t start a company for the money. Start a company for the mission and the money will follow.

I remember when I first started BNI India, I didn’t have a clear mission. Rather I just had a goal that I wanted to build a 100,000 strong network. I loved the idea of helping people and I saw this as an excellent way to help entrepreneurs.

After 18 month the results were painfully slow – just 2 chapters and 48 members. I dug deeper and started to really explore WHY I wanted 100,000 members? After a few weeks I got clear and I was able to articulate my WHY: “I wanted to help 100,000 entrepreneurs to become corepatis (millionaires) and help them create 10 more jobs each so that together we could develop the nation and impact 1 million families.” This was the kind of BHAG that Jim Collins talks of. It excites you and at the same time it scares you a little.

I was so excited about this mission that I shared it with everyone I met. It created incredible passion, commitment and meaning for me. It helped me attract people that were excited by this mission. The next year we saw massive growth as the business grew to 350+ members and we started our first franchise in Bangalore.

“When you make “mission” your end goal, instead of a career or entrepreneurship, you not only become more resilient to failure, but you also open up so many more possibilities to find meaning, fulfilment and passion in your life.” – Vishen Lakhiani

#2 – Don’t think small and start big. Thing big and start small.

Have a big mission, but start small. When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, his focus was the 10,000 students at Harvard University. He managed to get a 60% market share in just 10 days. He then focussed on the other universities. Soon they had all the Ivy league universities covered. Things began to grow from there.

My initial focus in the early days was getting to 100 members in Mumbai. I had 4 chapters running and it allowed me proof of concept. Starting small allows you to test ideas and then improve. It gets your product ready for the bigger market. It gets you to understand your clients better so that you are able to deliver better products that they need. This prepares you for faster growth. It also avoids costly mistakes.

#3 – Don’t sell to people you don’t love, products they don’t need. Find people you love, and serve them what they need.

Who is your favourite client? Who is your ideal client? Wouldn’t you like more clients like that? You love serving them. You are able to tailor your offering just for them. You love to go the extra mile for them. They pay better rates. It makes being in business fun, right? However most entrepreneurs don’t take the time to really get to know their clients. I’m talking about deeply understanding the demographics and more importantly the psychographics of your best clients. How old are they? How much do they earn? Are they married or single? What’s their income? What sort of shows do they love? What sort of holidays do they take? What are causes they care for?

Once you are clear about these things then you can develop an ideal client avatar. Every time you are thinking of developing a product or marketing a product you will do so with this ideal client in mind. Your products will better be able to satisfy their needs and you will attract more of these type of clients.

#4 – Don’t ask “how can I make money”. Ask “how can I help others make money”.

Focus on your Unique Serving Proposition. How do you add value to your clients? How do you help them do things quicker, easier, or cheaper? Articulate how this helps them save cost, time and be more profitable. When you are focused on the question “how can I help others make money?” It gets you to think more collaboratively. It aligns you with what’s in it for them. Your product or service will more effectively help your clients.

#5 – Don’t find a team to work for you. Find a team you want to work for.

The bigger the dream, the more important the team. Hire people better than you. People that inspire you. People you love being around. People who share your values. If you have all of these things then you’ll want to be part of such a team. You won’t get lonely at the top.

#6 – Don’t ask “what do I need to do”. Ask “What do I need to help others to do.”

As a leader, your most important job is to support and develop your team. Your job is to empower them. It is your people that produce results. Grow your people and your business will grow. Develop an entrepreneurial culture and help people succeed. Mindvalley for example has funded multiple new businesses with former employees, all this because they nurtured talent.

#7 – Don’t measure your wealth by quantity of money. Measure it by quality of time.

Do you have time for what truly matters? What use is the money if you don’t have time to enjoy it. Set experience goals as rewards along the way as you hit key milestones. This will help you get the balance in life. After all it’s not the million dollars we want, but the experiences and freedom that a million dollars can buy. If I asked you to remember how much your bank balance was last month you are unlikely to remember, but If I ask you to remember your last holiday or fun experience you will be able to describe it in detail, right?

#8 – Don’t have an “exit strategy” where you win when you end. Have an “enter strategy” where you win when you begin.

Most people have the success formula backwards. They believe they will be happy when they achieve a particular goal. I will be happy when I have sold my company for 100 crores. They achieve to be happy, while there are others who happily achieve. Learn to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Become aware of who you become as you take this journey. These things are as important as the destination.

#9 – Don’t set a goal to achieve a goal. Set a goal so you can be the person you need to be to achieve that goal.

Who you become by undertaking and achieving the goal is what’s important. A worthy goal will stretch you as a person. It will help you become more skilled. It will develop your commitment and resilience. It will grow you as a person. If you are not growing then you are dying. Growth is essential for meaning in your life and it is a deep fundamental human need.

#10 – Don’t climb mountains so the world can see you. Climb mountains so you can see the world.

Your legacy is the person you become. Climb your mountains so that you become more. In the process you will grow, you will experience and you will contribute beyond yourself. I believe that if we consistently meet these human needs of experience, growth and contribution then we will live a fulfilling and passionate life! 

I’d like to thank Dharmishta Bhatia Shah for sharing the original list.
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7 thoughts on “The Paradox of The 10 Commandments of Entrepreneurship

  1. Dear Neeraj,
    All the above points and justifiable. The problem is that people don’t understand their purpose of being born as a human being and not as any other creature. Life is lived in its true sense if you make difference each day in each persons life whom you meet. If you don’t than you are living life of an ordinary creature and God will ask boss I gave you birth as a human being but …….?

    Always connect with people who think like you and help God manage his world. He has kept faith in you and given a Job profile like a Manager. If you perform you will be upgraded and given more responsibilities and better Job profile with promotion. If not, you will always get a 10% promotion as per market standards.

    It’s always in our hand to become God’s favorite or be an ordinary creature.

  2. Very inspiring, Neeraj!
    I am particularly impressed by this thought- Don’t set a goal to achieve a goal. Set a goal so you can be the person you need to be to achieve that goal.
    The journey is as important as the goal. In fact the journey of our transformation is the greatest goal.