Alibaba’s Founder Business Success Secrets


Arguably the richest man in mainland China and Asia, Ma Yun, famously known as Jack Ma is a man with a pack of lessons especially for startups struggling to make a mark in the world of business. The company he founded, Alibaba, conducted a record breaking IPO in the USA that raised USD 20 Billion a few years ago. His life, ever since he started cultivating interest in the English language at a tender age, presents many lessons that we who are rising up in entrepreneurship can adapt and have guaranteed success.
Lesson 1: Treasure your Passion 

It is said that when a young boy, Jack Ma used to cycle for over 45 minutes to a hotel which was frequented by western tourists so that he can practice speaking English. Through the interaction, a young female tourist could not pronounce his Chinese name properly and she christened him Jack Ma. It has stuck to date.

Through his love for language, he was employed as part of a governmental team that went to Seattle in the USA for a government exchange and that marked his initial interaction with a home PC in a friends home. And it fascinated him that through the desktop box, he could get a lot of information but not for his dear country China. When he returned, he purposed to develop Chinas first internet commerce platform for local businesses. And hence, his love for language birthed his ecommerce business.

What can you do best? What are your talents? Purpose to discover and develop these by developing a passion around them. Utilize these special gifts you have to help solve a society challenge and you will be in business! History has proven that no business anchored on passion has ever failed. I call these passionpreneurs.

Lesson 2: Be objective about providing solutions

Despite him being wealthy, Jack Ma confessed during his inaugural Africa Tour in Nairobi that he had no intention to be rich. He did business to provide solutions. Africa, he said and especially Kenya, presented a perfect environment to launch enterprises due to the various challenges facing the populace. 

Let your business be run based on values. When you have a value system, you enable your clients build trust and loyalty towards your brand. Ma questioned the current business school model with the following: The business schools teach a lot of skills about how to make money and how to run a business. But I want to tell people that if you want to run a business, you have to run the value first, to serve the others, to help the others  thats the key.

Vision never follows money. The converse is true  money always follows vision. Let your vision be anchored on a foundation of values that concur with societys needs. Dominant brands learnt this secret and they build their brands on this and that is why they withstand time.
Lesson 3: Anchor your business on your dream

From his own narration of his entrepreneurship story, his dream was to enable Chinese businesses reach out to the world He wanted to open up the space for local Chinese firms to sell to the world. And there was no better way to do this by employing the power of the international World Wide Web also known as the internet. And thus, by creating passion on his passion, which was to pursue English language and employ it, he built his dream of opening up his closed country to the world and thus Alibaba was launched. 

Do you have a vision of where your business would be in a few years time?  What is your dream? Build your business on that!

Lesson 4: Be optimistic

He is known to be a failure, going by world standards. Sample this: he failed twice in his primary school exams. In his middle school exams, he failed thrice once again. When he applied for his admission into University to pursue a degree in English, his desire, he failed again, thrice! He later graduated with a degree and he unsuccessfully looked for a job as a teacher. His search for a job was equally punctuated by failure. He reckons he did a record thirty job unsuccessful applications in total. When KFC opened its franchise in China for instance, he and twenty-three others applied for jobs. The rest were accepted except his which was declined. He also applied for a job as a police officer with three of his friends. They were all taken and he was left out. The reason for his rejection was given that he was no good.

After getting frustrated in his quest for a job, he chose to entirely rely on his English skills to earn a living. And that is how he ended up in being an English translator and being absorbed by the government in its foreign missions. And that opened up doors for what we know him for today  Ecommerce.


They say tough times do not last but tough people do. Being pessimistic about a business situation does not help matters. Maintaining a positive attitude does. Successful entrepreneurs do not let setbacks get them down and they see both what’s impossible and possible, but the difference is that they focus only on the possible.

Lesson 5: Be crazy!

 He was christened Crazy Jack Ma by his fellow Chinese for his outlandish internet commerce idea when most could not believe in him. In contrast to his fellow Chinese corporates who are conservative in nature, Jack Ma loves to make fun of himself.

In the early 200s, Time magazine called him crazy for his out of the world ideas in a world that was conservative. He responded by saying the he may be crazy but not stupid. His ambitions would be seen to be too lofty but he was wise to always aim at achieving his life dream. 


His management style has been termed as unorthodox since he blends western and Chinese management philosophies to come up with a winning formula for entrepreneurship where he puts his customers first, followed by his employees and lastly, the shareholders interests last. To him, hiring a more talented employee than him is a bonus.

You need not get the approval of the world to make it in business. So long as you have a belief in an idea, and it can solve a world challenge or problem, go for it. Just be crazy about it and pursue it! 
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Does Past Accomplishments Guarantee Future Success?

vision

The past two months have been a depressing time for me, being a celebrator of local ingenuity in business. Indeed, nothing is as depressing as seeing a business entity, you have literally grown with it since childhood and now, when you are almost in your midlife, you see it gradually go down.

Nakumatt is one instance. I first encountered Nakumatt, then known as Nakuru Mattresses as a small store in Thika in Pilot Estate while still a pupil at Thika’s Kiboko Primary School.  Then, we would sneak from school during lunch hours to go and wander in between the shelves just to awe at the marvelous displays of commodities. It even made Pilot based pupils to puff up their pride since there was no other supermarket nearby that equaled Nakuru Mattresses.

As we aged further, the outfit grew in leaps and bounds to be East Africa’s biggest retail outlet by branch footprint. It opened over sixty outlets in number across virtually all of East Africa’s countries with a workforce of over five thousand employees with most of their branch outlets operating 24 hours daily.

success

Indeed, the conglomerate that grew from a tiny shop in Nakuru with a few sales calls, had gross revenues of almost US D 500 Million. Conservative estimates put their market share five years ago at 20% in Kenya with their Brand Equity Index hitting a high of 55%. With it came many accolades and awards. These include the Price WaterhouseCoopers East Africa Most Respected Service provider for the year 2006 and 2007, Planet Retail ranking as top retailer outside of South Africa for 2008, Planet Retail Award as Second Most Innovative Retailer in the World for 2009, East African Super Brand for 2007 and 2010, recognition by the East African Community as a pioneer East Africa Investor in 2011 and its CEO recognized in the Financial Times Top 50 Emerging Market Business Leaders for 2010.

With all these accolades lining their cabinets, it was expected that the enterprise would be much more stable and vibrant. However, beginning over two or three years ago, cracks started to emerge. Suppliers were paid late, eroding the creditor confidence of the firm. In a flash, stores in the home country and away started closing up as most stores within the domestic market and beyond, further eroding the public confidence that was celebrated before.

But then when did the rain start beating Nakumatt? Many theories have been put through and deliberated. From their strategy to compete their suppliers through their ‘Blue Label’ strategy to their ambitious expansion plans which choked their working capital outlays.

But I beg to differ. I guess the management realized like the iconic Titanic, the firm was too big to sink. And they became lax with time. Internal weaknesses in controls went haywire and losses started building up. Corruption, inefficiency and lack of corporate governance ideals took over. In a way, it is not external factors that brought down this beloved retail giant – internal ones did.

Which brings me to what I needed to communicate – we most of the times take pride in our past achievements to the detriment of forging ahead and firming up our strengths.  Do past milestones surmounted give us a guarantee that our future would be rosy and good? Not at all. The past belongs to where it should be – the past.

Past vs future

This is the main problem most of us have – looking back and taking pride in past achievements and forgetting that we have a life to live ahead. We most of the times blame the external environment – the economic situation, the government, etc. for our own-caused failures.

To avert this, we need to always focus ahead and be mindful of the red flags raised as we trudge along this journey of living. And as I said, ignore what is past. Let it remain where it should be – in the past. Future success is only guaranteed when there are solid plans and commitment to realize the future vision. For whatever achievements you made back then is not significant in the present times. It is history! So do not make the mistake, either as an organization or at the individual level, to glory in past achievements.

 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

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What Is Your Price?

I always wonder how premium brands sell yet they do not advertise neither are they cheaply priced. For instance, how many have seen an ad on television for Ferrari? But Toyota and other Japanese brands are a permanent resident on our screens. And how comes Ferrari turnovers are higher than Toyota Corporations? Or Apple being much more appealing to sell than let us say Nokia phones?

I bumped onto this analogy online as i was browsing, and i copy paste here for illustration purposes:

A friend once went to promote an new soft drink in a rich kids school. The drink was going for 10 bob (promotional offer) while Coca Cola was going for Sh. 40.

He realized very few were buying the soft drink at Sh. 10 and they were all flocking on Coke’s stand.

He quickly changed the pricing from Sh. 10 to Sh. 60 and the tables turned. People started buying the drink even more.

When sending bids, note that rich clients may NEVER even check your bid if you price too low. If a client is looking to pay someone Sh. 20 per 500 words. High chances are that he won’t even check the Sh. 2 – Sh. 10 bids. He’ll consider them desperate.

Therefore, NEVER bid too low for projects in bidding sites. Always check the client’s budget and bid either at their price or slightly lower. I’ve seen that even bidding slightly higher can work wonders. Aim to get to at least Sh. 10 per 500 words as soon as possible.

Are you surprised as i am? Yeah, i am sure you are. We expected that the cheaply priced items and bids would have a higher number of users than the premium priced but then, practically speaking, it is the premium priced ones that outdid the cheaper ones.

The secret herein lies:

People never buy the product for what it is. They buy the motivation behind the product. What touches the human soul of the potential buyer is what moved the producer to produce to manufacture the final product. That is what makes them buy. If it was pricing, we would be seeing the cheap products’ turnovers being much more than the cheaply priced ones. How then does Apple, premium priced as it selling more than Nokia, which is cheaper? The motivation for the manufacture of course!

In the same vein, we always reach a point that desperation make us to just accept what life brings our way. I always get so many inbox messages from people looking for jobs and when i ask them which job they desire to linked to, all they would answer is ‘any job’! And i tell them off that there is no job titled “any job”. You must know what you want and be psyched to go for it. That is what one who has a vision and is principled carries himself. Now worse off, are those who when they go for interviews, they quote a low amount of cash as monthly pay. What the interviewers see is that you are desperate and you have no intrinsic value attached to your skills.

I remember when i got employed, i had a perfect career development plan. That in five years, i should be made manager from being a graduate clerk. And yeah, i exceeded my expectations and was promoted in two years to be assistant manager and two years later, a unit manager. When i landed into my new position, i set a target to work and if am to move, my new employer had to add a specific amount of cash on my monthly pay if successful in convincing me to. I achieved that. And since the game was sweeter by the day, i purposed that my next employer would have to double my pay on poaching me out of there. And yes, when the time came a year later, they did exactly that. And how did i achieve all this? By building a track record and using it to sell to those who needed my skills and services.

Clients pay for quality. If you know you have something worth being paid for, do not undervalue it. Because the price you attach to a product or skills speaks much about the motivation behind the service or commodity you are selling.

So, what is your price? Let it reflect the worth of your WHY.
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

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Passionpreneurship Demystified


​If you want to learn how to achieve your dreams in life, be it in business or professional life, this is the book to have. 

I consider it a manual, for it not only inspires but also coaches on how to turn your passion to profit!
To order:

Email: mokindah@gmail.com

Text/Call: +254 724 774 479

Telegram: @Mokinda

#Passionpreneurship

#entrepreneurship 

Monkey See, Monkey Do Syndrome

When i heard of this idiom, i never actually appreciated what it  implied. Actually it holds much water for us who are still growing and finding our footing in life.

So the story goes that a group of pupils organised for a trip to a zoo and on the way, they each bought hats. When they arrived at the zoo, they were amazed at the different animals on display. One stand fascinated them – monkeys upon a tree. And they were so engrossed at enjoying their presence with them that a slight wind came and blew away their hats which the monkeys grabbed. They wore them on their heads just as they saw the kids do!

The kids got mad. They beckoned to the monkeys to go to where they were and the monkeys did exactly that. Whenever they did anything in an attempt to get their hats, the monkeys did the same. They realized there was a way to trick the monkeys, by making them ape them: they took their scarfs and tied them on their heads to look like hats. The monkeys did not copy that since the way they looked was alike to them – as if they wore hats. Then in tandem, they removed the scarfs from their heads and threw them into the air. The foolish monkeys, as was their character, did the same and pulled the hats from their heads and threw them into the air. The hats flew down to the ground and the kids took them back and ran away, laughing in joy.
Funny as the story is, it holds great lessons for us and is a clear mirage of how most of us live. How many of us have a clear vision of what we want in life? It is said almost 92% of people in the world today die before realizing their potential in life. It is therefore not a surprise that the richest place in the world is the graveyard as in it lies ideas that were never fulfilled.

I know of friends who purpose to do stuff but along the way, out of external pressure, they bulge and start aping their fellow men’s ideas. Of particular instance is  a pal whose passion was doing marketing. When a fellow came into town and he held an event, he chose to shift to doing events management. Well, he organised his and it never went down well. He lost a lot of cash and when i met him, he chose to go into environmental consultancy, saying that that was his forte. Well, i just sat back and analysed his adventure at self discovery and i pitied him. I have never heard of him since.

Like the monkeys in our analogy above, many of us never have confidence in what we put our minds to do, and get derailed when challenges come in. We are uniquely created with individual and specific strengths that make us to be who we are. No two people can therefore do the same thing likewise. If i was to write down my speech, and gave it to you to go present at a conference, trust me you would not deliver it as perfectly as i would even without the write up. Because we are totally different. That is the reason why anyone who apes fails in execution.
I always admire Thomas Edison, the great  American inventor. He tried 999 times to invent the light bulb. And every time he failed, he said he learnt one way not to do it. Were he to start letting his eyes wander off his purpose, someone else would have come along and did exactly that and take all the glory, plus the rewards!

They say the grass is always greener across the fence. But then, if you water yours, it would also be green. It is just a matter of effort and skill. Or better still, be greener and more attractive than the one across the fence. So, why cross the fence? Tend to yours!

 It is time we stopped seeing what people do and ape and start living our lives as we were created to, in business and in the workplace. You can only be the best version of yourself and not the other person! If you want to have a fulfilling business or work quality, just choose to be the best you can be of yourself. Because it is your passion that would power your life dream!

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

SECRETS OF DOMINANT ENTERPRISES

This week, Facebook announced that they had hit 2 billion subscribers. Facebook is urguably the world’s biggest media content provider inasmuch as it does not create any content of its own! 

Uber, the world’s largest taxi hailing company, also does not own a single cab of its own. Neither is Alibaba, the biggest online retailer as far as business inventory is concerned. Airbnb follows the same fashion, with no real estate of its own, despite being the world’s largest accommodation provider. 

Coming closer home, Safaricom Kenya Limited is the biggest telco in East and Central Africa. With its profitability hitting Kes. 45 Billion ($ 442 Million) this year, the amount alone is enough to finance Kenya’s Health Ministry for an entire year, going by the country’s 2016/2017 budget. 

However, Safaricom is not known for being a communication company alone. Its flagship product is MPesa, a mobile wallet value addition which enables subscribers to undertake financial transactions. Banks have in effect, rode on the platform to offer lending products. So far, it is estimated that over 27 million Kenyans are subscribers of this mobile money service making Safaricom to be Kenya’s and East Africa’s biggest bank, quite literally! Mark you it does not own a single brick and mortar vault! 

Peter Drucker, the infamous management guru, said that the main function of business is marketing and innovation. This therefore implies that the main purpose of enterprise is to create customers. And hence, it follows that a successful business is only one if it creates and builds its customer base. It is therefore be logical to conclude that a business’ growth is only measured by the number of its clientele. 
This is the secret that has alluded many  businesses that exist in this day and age. Most startups are established to churn out revenues and monetary payouts to their owners. But then, it also explains why a huge percentage of startups fail – due to lack of focus on growing customers. Jim Collins, another guru in management, postulated the Hedgehog concept in which passion, ability to perform and cash cows are factored to create dominance by a firm in a sector. A firm can never generate sustainable cash flows unless it has the numbers in terms of customer numbers. If you study all dominating firms, they have invested heavily on acquiring and maintaining their customers to realise the returns they have.

It therefore calls for the entrepreneur to study his intended clientele well enough to keep up with their tastes and preferences and in addition, changes if any. Firms that withstand the test of time are those that are able to mutate in tandem with the changes in their market niches. This is exactly what cost Kodak and Nokia brands  – rigidity in their product innovation in conformity to customer tastes. New entities came, adopted to the client preferences and took over their markets. 

It again demands that the core corporate values of a business entity have to be in tandem with values of the populations they target. Safaricom Kenya Limited, as mentioned, was not the pioneer telco in Kenya. Kencell was. It later changed ownership and became Zain and currently is branded Airtel. However, despite being the pioneer mobile telecommunications company in the country, it is still struggling to capture the majority share of the available market. Safaricom commands slightly more than 70% market share thanks to its Mpesa value addition on its service. Mark you it is not the cheapest hence the price factor is out of question!

Now for one to understand Mpesa, one has to appreciate the culture of the Kenyan people. Kenyans are a closely knit society which values sharing and blood relationships. As such, more able members of the family travel out in search of job opportunities and whenever they land a job, they would remit some of their earnings to their homes as a way to assist others. This sharing philosophy is what Mpesa was built on – to remit funds, albeit in small quantities. At the time of its launch, most banks had locked out most of the population by their stringent account opening conditions. For one to subscribe to Mpesa, one just needed an ID and a Safaricom line. And that is how the revolution started in 2007 with the launch of the service. Through MPesa, Kenyans could send cash, buy airtime, pay for goods, even borrow on short term basis through the click of their button. And that is how Safaricom wormed its way into the hearts of Kenyans, and assured its place into the Kenyan culture. Its value tag was “Get connected”, in consonance with the social connectedness of the Kenyan people.

Well, do you desire your business to live beyond you and post better returns? Then you have to think about your value system and match it to your clients’. That way, like Safaricom, Facebook and all the others mentioned, you will be assured of longevity of business. 

Customers feel their needs are met by firms whose values fulfil their needs. It is upon the business to craft its strategies around values that will give the potential clients assurance that their needs and preferences would be fully met. That way, one is guaranteed long term loyalty and growth. 
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

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Overcoming ‘The Square Pegs in Round Holes’ Syndrome

​In modern times, it is a common fallacy to insinuate that for one to flourish in business or otherwise, one has to conform to a given set of traits and mannerisms that have been assumed to guarantee success. These stereotypical domains have created two classes of people in any entity  the able and the unable. As a result, many of the people in the world have lived to consign their life to chance in conformity to these stereotypes. But then, does it mean that if one is not ably gifted as per their prescribed mannerism then they cannot make it?
Maybe it is time we review the history of past world changers. Starting with the most famous of all – Honest Abe. Abraham Lincoln was not known to be an achiever of any sort. He failed in his entire life a record thirteen times.  After twelve unsuccessful attempts at love, doing business, politics in various levels, he finally clinched the highest office in the land. The sixteenth President of the United States of America is the most popular of the American Presidents and renown for the execution of the Declaration of the Emancipation, the document that abolished slavery in the United States of America. 

The only billionaire writer of our times, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, famously known as J.K. Rowling, was a depressed pauper by any standards, living on social benefits from the government. Actually, out of her frustrations in life, she chose to do her first Harry Potter novel based on real life characters. She then took the manuscript to twelve established publishers who all declined to publish her book. The thirteenth one accepted, albeit unwillingly. He even pointed out that there was no way should would be able to live on her writings and children books for that matter. Well, the rest is history. She is the owner of the Harry Potter brand that includes multiple books, movies and screenplays. She was declared by Forbes magazine as the worlds first dollar billionaire writer in 2004 with gross earnings exceeding USD 25 Billionaire. She also has numerous international awards to her name.

Michael Jordan is a famed sports personality especially in basketball circles. It is said that when he was starting out, his coach could not see potential in him because he was of a lesser height. Actually, when the time for selection of his schools senior team came, he was left out and his friend, Leroy Smith was picked. He never gave up. He purposed to work more than norm, waking up early to go to the basketball court to practice his dunking even before the other teammates would call for morning practice.  He later perfected his play to the extent that the senior players would come watch him play and admire his style. Consequently, he was enrolled to the senior team from which he grew to be a superstar.  As we speak, it is said that Michael earns much more than all the workers who spend their entire week working at the Nikes factory in Malaysia, yet he has never spent more than eight hours on any day at the factory. How does he do this? Out of his stardom, Nike, the famous apparel company, manufactured a branded attire kit in his name and through his performances, popularized their uptake among his fans. And such, the young boy who could not qualify for the basketball team for deficiency in talent, is a now a Basketball Hall of Famer. Apart from this, he was also Forbes’ 20th most effective celebrity for the year 2010. 

Take the story of Jack Ma for instance, mainland Chinas wealthiest man alive today. Out of his love for the English language, he would cycle for over 45 minutes to Hangzhou Hotel to practice his dictum while translating for Western Tourists. With time, he developed a desire for the language and studied teaching as an occupation. It was during these encounters that he met a foreign girl who could not pronounce his Chinese name well and hence the nickname “Jack Ma” was coined. It is told that he failed in his Primary School exams twice. He again experienced failure in his Middle School exams where he flopped thrice before eventually passing. His desire to pursue English studies made him apply for admission to Hangzhou Normal University. He once again failed in his three attempts before finally being admitted for a Bachelor in English degree. Before graduating, his desire to master the English language made him seek employment as an English teacher.

Jack Ma’s life is punctuated with rejection. He made a record thirty unsuccessful job application attempts.   He thereafter chose to pursue a teaching career path after graduation, working as a teacher at Dianzi University on a monthly pay of US $ 12 a month. When the KFC franchise went to China to set up shop, he and 23 others applied for jobs. The 23 were employed and his application declined. He also applied for a Police Force job. Other three applicants were taken on board. His application was declined, once again. His reason for being left out was he “was no good”. 

After getting frustrated at getting formally employed, he chose to entirely rely on his English language skills to earn a living. He then started a translation service business to serve the Chinese when they needed to interact with foreign companies from the west on business matters. This offered him the chance to visit the USA in 1995 on a government project on the building of highways. At that time, China was heavily communist and Internet penetration was low if not nonexistent.

The story goes that when he landed in Seattle USA, he visited a friend who had this seemingly funny looking box in his study. On inquiry, he was told its called a “computer”. His first action was search “beer” on its search engine. The browser brought up many results and none was from China. On searching “china”, he realized no information came up. 

On return to China, he purposed to introduce the Internet to China. His initial two ventures failed, including one, China Yellow Pages that made him exit due to bureaucracy associated with government agencies at the time since he co-owned it with the government. On launching China Yellow Pages, he received numerous emails from interested people around the world that sought partnerships. Later on, he started Alibaba.  At the moment, Alibaba is one of the biggest electronic commerce networks in the world. It is only second to Walmart, the world’s biggest distribution business entity. Its worth is higher than Facebook, the world’s largest social network. It is on record that the platform processes more goods on a daily basis than eBay and Amazon combined!

All these and many others just drive home the point that one does not need to fit into any system of thoughts to make it in business. They are classic cases of square pegs fitting into round holes. They are people out to solve societys problems in a different way and deliver value due to the ultimate consumer. They choose to overlook their limitations and unfitting geometry in psychology or otherwise, to ensure common problems in society are solved in the best way they know how. What would we talk of Albert Einstein who was written off in his younger days as one who would not amount to anything, but lived to become a genius of repute? How about Walt Disney, who was dismissed as one who lacked creativity, but lived to build an entertainment company with its own brands of films and cartoon characters in addition to a fun themed park?

The secret lies in how they dealt with their lack of conformance to the hole. It all started with appreciating their squareness and need to fit into the hole.  I have had such an experience before, with many wondering how a First Class Biomedical Science and Technology graduate would deem it fit to pursue and excel in a banking and financial services career, and even perform exceptionally well! If we are to study the above personalities, including myself, several common denominating character traits are common.

As pointed out, square pegs are deemed unfit for certain roles in society, business and work related areas included. It therefore means that society has a mindset and behaviour set that if one has, they are assumed to be ones to excel in such areas. However, history has proven otherwise  the world changers are them that are considered misfits, as elucidated above.

How then can a square peg personality fit itself into a round hole, one may ask. The first step is to appreciate the weaknesses they have. The limitations are what makes the external environment fail to appreciate their relevance in society. Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and the others mentioned above realized that they had limitations and embraced whatever deficiencies they had. I have a firm belief that each and everyone has a drop of greatness in them and if harnessed, it can create long lasting and life changing value to humanity. Allowing the world to shape us would in effect, restrict us from achieving our life dreams. The world is the circular hole. We are the square pegs. It is upon us either to shape up and fit into the round holes or force ourselves to go through the holes and fit! It is all about going out there and kicking ass! And that forms the second step in customizing the square peg that we are  shaping up. Shaping up demands effort and time investment. It demands that we develop shock absorbers for pain for it is no easy task to train yourself to fit or adopt to a new environment or condition.

That is the spirit of achievers. Be it in business or at the work place, leave nothing to chance. Thomas Edison, the famous entrepreneur and inventor, failed more than nine hundred and ninety-nine times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. When he was asked why he never gave up, he responded that every time he failed, he realized he had learnt one more way not to do it! Which brings us to the last thing to do passion. Develop passion around whatever you want to achieve. Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, said that one can never do anything well unless they loved it. Passion is a core component of any undertaking. I always say, when currency fails in business transactions, gold becomes the standard for trading. And so is passion to success! For long it has always been believed that for one to succeed, their competencies and abilities were the determining factors. But the new order in the world is all about passion. Choose to start to develop a liking for what you aspire to be in future. develop a desire fruition of your objectives or ultimate dream.

All in all, the world needs people who would challenge the established system of thinking and doing things to help solve its problems. It wants entrepreneurs whose business is to provide solutions. It would be imperative to appreciate that business disruptors are not the ordinary, but the misfits, those considered unworthy but in them they harbor potential unexplored. These are the square pegs that need to fit into the round holes! The world is not waiting for your business idea to cheer you on. It waits to see if you will deliver on your promise. It is upon you to go out there and prove them wrong, by being the square peg that fits in the round hole.

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or professional a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

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