Why Arsenal Football Club is my Model for Business Success


Let me say in the very first sentence of this piece that I am an  unapologetic fan of Arsenal Football Club.  Now that we’ve taken my bias out of the way let me tell you the fact that makes that club my model for sustained long-term success in a challenging and very competitive (business) League.

aresenal

Of course we have to start by congratulating Leicester City Football Club on winning the Premier League in 2016.  I saw a list of the clubs that have won the Premier League in the last 20 years and of course Manchester United dominated lots of those years under  Sir Alex Ferguson,  Chelsea was about the next dominant Force and then Arsenal and Manchester City.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.

So many people who in life and in business prioritize winning; and by winning I mean at the very front, being the top most, the most successful,  then probably Manchester United will be your cup of tea. However when I think in terms of success I see that 2013  and the end of the Ferguson era has been the last time United ever matched it’s performances of usually been the first or second in the league and they even dropped down to 7th at a time, I wonder.  

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.  Manchester City is the new kid on the block,  the jury is still out on the team that will be led by the world’s most expensive coach in the next season. Arsenal however has stayed between the 1st and 4th positions consistently  for 20 years. In my technical field of quality assurance, we will say that it has been the club with the least process variation or the one with the most precision.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.  Not the boom and burst of Chelsea,  unsecured leadership transition of Manchester United,  and the sudden artificial financial boom that currently makes Manchester City a competitive club, let’s hope the oil price does not affect the Sheikh’s ability to pump money into the club..

wengar

Football aside,  I choose the  Pursuit of consistent, replicable, sustainable success  over any kind of boom and burst  wins.  While the road to initial success in business is hard and actually breaks many,  even at that stage (of starting and building) one needs to set up and position oneself for long-term success,  such that 20, 30,  40 years from now,  the business exists and and it’s sustained and perhaps has the potential to outlive its founders.  When you are in it for such a long run as  I am describing,  you think differently, you plan differently,  you seek long-term wins,  long term relationships,  sustainable business models.  You may not be the first,  but you will be at the top end of the game for a long long time.

Back to football,  I am cross with  Arsene Wenger,  Arsenal need to be back winning the league.

 

Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg and 9 reasons why Kanye-like people do not succeed in Business


Kanye West is clearly one of the few people of the rap genre who always finds a way to make it to the headlines of mainstream media on a regular basis. The last one was, as I checked both BBC and CNN as part of my daily rituals, I was surprised to see he made the headlines on both websites for asking Facebook founder and billionaire to invest 1 billion in Kanye West fashion ideas. Apparently the very successful rapper has been trying to gain access into the fashion and design industry and has met with significant failures and financial losses but based on his personal self-belief he is determined to crack that industry. In his very noble pursuit, he apparently has now acquired over fifty million dollars of personal debt. Poor Mr Kanye West! So he took to twitter to ask Facebook founder, whom he claims to be a fan of his music to invest 1 billion dollars in Kanye West’s ‘fashion/design’ ideas.

The pursuit of even more money will always make you think that building a school for some 400 kids in Africa who might become the next winners of Nobel prizes is not as good an investment as helping an already successful rich man, achieve his next dream; if we were to accept the poor tasted tweet that Kanye West targeted at the Silicon valley moguls who he asked to help fulfill his dream

First his plea helps us to understand the difference between a multi-millionaire and a billionaire. Most people will perhaps pray to have as much money as Kanye West and cannot probably think of him needing anything that he cannot afford; but here we face the reality. Money does not solve all of our problems and you can never have enough of it! The pursuit of even more money will always make you think that building a school for some 400 kids in Africa who might become the next winners of Nobel prizes is not as good an investment as helping an already successful rich man, achieve his next dream; if we were to accept the poor tasted tweet that Kanye West targeted at the Silicon valley moguls who he asked to help fulfil his dream. I will however focus on the business lessons that lie in the Kanye West state of affairs that everyone can learn from.

 

Sometimes, when we know or are related to someone who has a bit of money, we have this sense of entitlement, expecting them to ‘invest’ in our business. No it is their money, you need to respect it, if you want them to invest, then make them an offer that represents a win-win for you both.

mark zuckergerb

  1. That you are successful in one field does not guarantee success in another. Success is not directly transferable. You have to do the first works! You have to do the graft in a new field to excel and rise to the top of it.
  2. Do not borrow money to start a business. Borrow money only to grow a successful venture. We have definitely been hearing a bit about this man as a supposed designer. Now we know that all we have heard is simply from money he himself has spent on publicizing it. Probably over 100 million; his own money and borrowed money. One success though along the way was his collaboration in making sneakers, called Yeezy’s. My business head tells me Kanye West would have benefitted more investing money in growing the Yeezy sneakers brand than an idea that he seems to have tried and tried 50 million dollars deep without success. He should have stopped after the first 5 million.
  3. It will be even sadder if the debt is in his personal name- He seemed to suggest that this amount is a personal debt. I.e. if you went into Kanye West account log you will see outstanding loan of $50 million and he will probably be paying back like $20,000 every month. All smart business people trade and borrow as a company, limiting the liability to themselves. If all that money is borrowed in Kanye West’s name then he sure had better send his begging request to Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook to get Marks’ ears; otherwise we will soon be reading of another bankrupt star.
  4. Business can be a killer; you need to respect it and take the time to learn it with humility- Most people including Kanye think that business is just something they can take on anytime; maybe after they retire or simply when they are tired of being bossed around. Business is a craft; you need to learn it like you learn a profession, to learn you need to have the humility to be taught. When you are not taught about business; even when you have a failed prospect you will continue ‘investing’ in it. Most of us would have gotten broke earlier than Kanye, hence we do not even get to take our non-viable ideas as far as he seems to have; but now we know that it is all on the wings of debt.kanye west
  5. Listen to the market- If the market place is not buying your products. You will not be successful. Your business should be able to sustain itself organically from the sales that come into it. If your sales do not sustain your business, you need to make adjustments fast and realise it early enough and have the business head to identify the point at which it ceases to be a viable proposition.
  6. No one owes you nothing– I am certain that when Mark Zuckerberg purchased his Kanye West albums, he paid the appropriate price for it. That’s the transaction done. Mr Zuckerberg owes him nothing for being a fan. Sometimes, when we know or are related to someone who has a bit of money, we have this sense of entitlement, expecting them to ‘invest’ in our business. No it is their money, you need to respect it, if you want them to invest, then make them an offer that represents a win-win for you both.
  7. You need to make your business investable– I am very certain the Facebook founder will have no qualms in investing in the music of Kanye West, after all; he has millions of record sales to justify that and he is still marketable and Zuckerberg will definitely make profit from it. But what this man doesn’t get is that he simply does not have an investable, marketable entity in this fashion design field. I have only seen one picture of him standing with his models; the clothes looked like super sacks; even in this world of crazy fashion, I do not see how they can sell. If they could sell, investors would have come to him before he needed to ask.
  8. There is a way to seek investment– I wonder if this man ever reads the newspapers, he would have found out that David Beckham is planning on starting a new football club including building a stadium. It seems David had good advisers because what he did was to set up a consortium of rich folks, with him being the brand ambassador. He looks to me that he is smart enough not to have invested even 1 dime into the project, because he knows that he as a brand is the real draw and he brought the investors in to monetise his brand. What Kanye West has done is the equivalent of David Beckham, building the stadium and running the team with his own money. The ability to leverage other people’s money to achieve profit for all stakeholders is the ultimate sign of financial intelligence.                                                                                                  david beckham
  9. Stop asking the wrong question– I will be surprised if Mark Zuckerberg gave him any money. If I were in Kanye West’s shoes, I will be asking Mark Zuckerberg to come on board without a dime of his money but as a mentor to provide me the advice and business acumen to penetrate and be successful in an industry I am not traditional to. It was an opportunity missed. If the success of Kanye west’s ideas was about money, $50 million dollars would have made the ideas successful, unfortunately he seemed to be caught up in a battle with his ego and financial ignorance; which is true for most people who start out in business.

 

If the success of Kanye west’s ideas was about money, $50 million dollars would have made the ideas successful

How I gained the confidence to go into business


Starting out in business can be a scary thing, at least from where I was coming from and I believe there might be somebody there who could be sometime near taking such a decision. This is no advice, just a quick version of how I gained the confidence to start out. While I am a person of faith, I believe that threading new waters, especially when there is a lot at stake- like your family’s sustenance; it is imperative that we test out our ideas before launching all out and especially where you do not have a direct ‘push’ to do it, like I had. Let’s know if you find this useful.

I had always planned to set up in business in some form at some stage in life. In 2011, I reasoned I was some 5 years to when I will start up my own business and so I began a gentle push towards gaining more insight on what is involved. As I Have grown I have become a very selective reader of books and therefore did not go to books primarily for information about starting business. I was lucky a part of my job then, was auditing businesses and so I dealt with owners of small and medium businesses and senior managers of the larger businesses from time to time; I reasoned this was a God given opportunity so no matter what we talked about during the audits that would usually last for a minimum one day; I got them to tell me the stories of how they started; those many stories are material for another post.
Come the end of 2011; the head of the company I worked for took ill with a long term illness and could not continue; a new management structure was put in place and it was clear from the start that their approach was at odds with that of the previous head. She was focused on growing and gaining new markets; the new guys are about consolidating existing markets and stripping down to the core competence. I was brought into the organisation to grow a new competence- therefore I knew that I was an ‘at risk species’.

Along with my many ‘interviews’ with business leaders, I had also heard the oft repeated phrase, ‘think big, but start small’. I worked out a way of testing the waters as a business person. I realised, I needed a product. I had no money to put into some product, so I thought I would make a product that did not cost me much money- and so I decided I would make hand-made greeting cards. Now the gift of art and design in our family fell to three of my cousins; it didn’t come too much near my direction. But I visited hobby craft- a shop that provides various art and design material. I saw that in this shop you can simply buy various pieces, pictures and stuff that you can attach to a card to make up the full design, you do not even need fancy writing skills as you could buy key words like ‘happy birthday’ and ‘happy anniversary’ as sticky labels. I purchased materials, made a few samples and bought the plastic film pockets in which cards are enclosed in and put my cards in them- they didn’t look bad; because they were professional pictures on a professionally cut card in a professionally designed envelop in a professional plastic pocket- all I did was glue them together.

I went on the internet goggled all the card shops in Preston. I placed over 70 calls, got about 7 appointments and went to all seven and succeeded in selling my cards to 3 stores! I had created a previously non-existent product and successfully sold it- this was January 2012.

The important thing was not the amount I sold, but that I made a product and could sell it at all! The jinx was broken; the fear of the business world was removed. If I did the right things, I can make it in the brave world of business. Six months later as it was time to leave my job as I had foreseen, due to the new direction of management; I spoke to a competitor about doing some associate work with them as I set up on my own; on the day of the meeting; I was greeted with a much warmer smile by the team than I expected- as we began to speak; the manager said Yemi; “ just before we proceed with our discussion, I need you to know that a position is now available in our organisation due to someone leaving the role for you to do exactly the job you were doing with your previous company”. I thought it was interesting, we talked about 5 minutes and then I asked how much I might earn on the role- he told me the amount, it meant I could earn about a third more than I was earning with my soon to be previous employer- it sounded fantastic; I politely said “I’d discuss with my wife and get back to you”. I got to Shimona on the phone right at the car park- she said “that’s sounds fantastic, what do you think”? I said, perhaps to her disappointment, “I believe I can make it in business”! “That means the decision is made then, we’ll tighten our belt” she said.

I had tried it out on a small scale, now my income would have to depend on it; but I knew I could make it on my own in the big world of business. We’re six months in, no regrets yet! I’m working hard to ensure a brilliant sequel to this piece…how I became successful in business!

Learning Business….I seek a mentor!


English: James Caan, British businessman

English: James Caan, British businessman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I began to review the business plan for our business in December following some learning experiences I had in the last couple of months in 2012. I had gone to London for a business start-up event; apart from hearing leading business persons speak live like James Caan ( renown investor from TV series Dragon’s Den), Steve Bolton (UK real estate guru) and Caroline Marsh, star of ITV’s Secret Millionnaire TV show. I had the opportunity to chat and question several businesses and explore the support services they provide start-ups and small businesses. Among the many things I gained from this visit including one new client through a secondary contact, perhaps what I gained the most was the realisation of the urgency of the need to have a mentor.

Listening to these various successful business people I believe has taken my business some six months forward. I have seen the reasons why some plans I had were unlikely to work and I have seen where slight changes in my plans could potentially yield greater results.

I hold membership of our local Federation of small businesses and had realised just as soon as I had paid the initial dues that it was an organisation that was pretty laid back and the average age of attendees at the meetings were closer to my mother’s than mine. I did not do much talking during the meetings as I reasoned I was there to listen and to learn, but there is this guy, that every time he opened his mouth, there was always a fresh insight you never meet those kinds of people all the time. I took the time to get to speak to him and realised he has interests in several businesses and had run some national and multinational operations at CEO level and was simply now winding down with a consulting business. If I was going to have a mentor, I wanted it to be him!

I made him know I wanted him to mentor me; as that was what he did in his consultancy now, I would have to be charged a fee for it; when he told me how much it cost, I couldn’t afford him just yet. But I told him about a government supported mentoring scheme I was exploring, he was aware of it and apparently had been brought in by the private sector partners into being a mentor on the scheme; as the scheme was government supported, I could just about afford it I have applied on the scheme and specified who I want to be my mentor hopefully that should get closed in January; it runs for a year. And I am eagerly looking forward to how much I will learn about business from this man. I will hope to learn about his errors and mistakes and make sure  I don’t make them; I will listen to his advice and build it into my business, I believe he will save me up to two years of wrong judgement as I am new in this game.

As I write, I am on the train returning from London having just had a very fruitful 1 hour meeting with someone whom until today I had always only read of in the papers. You ask how I got the appointment and my simple response is that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. I discussed with him some of my plans and without mincing words, he told me what I had to do. I had secretly hoped he would be impressed by my plan enough to invest; but no he will not be investing. But…the next stage is quite an extensive market research I should let him know when I hope to start, he would support by providing any human resource support that I needed and he has mandated his trusted staff to arrange access for me to at least two key personnel I will need to speak with in the course of the research folks I would not have had access to if I were doing things on my own.

The humility to submit oneself to advise and tutelage by those who have successfully gone ahead, I am realising could be a secret weapon to succeeding in business. And perhaps this applies in most other areas of life too; it was the model that Christ used to raise people into ministry (discipleship); it is the way the world’s leading manufacturers develop their future talent (apprenticeship); I am ready to serve a business apprenticeship and I am very hopeful for positive results.

How I gained the confidence to start out in business


English: self made

English: self made (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting out in business can be a scary thing, at least from where I was coming from and I believe there might be somebody there who could be sometime near taking such a decision. This is no advice, just a quick story of how I gained the confidence to start out. While I am a person of faith, I believe that threading new waters, especially when there is a lot at stake- like your family’s sustenance; it is imperative that we test out our ideas before launching all out and especially where you do not have a direct ‘push’ to do it, like I had. Let’s know if you find this useful.

I had always planned to set up in business in some form at some stage in life. In 2011, I reasoned I was some 5 years to when I will start up my own business and so I began a gentle push towards gaining more insight on what is involved. As I Have grown I have become a very selective reader of books and therefore did not go to books primarily for information about starting business. I was lucky a part of my job then, was auditing businesses and so I dealt with owners of small and medium businesses and senior managers of the larger businesses from time to time; I reasoned this was a God given opportunity so no matter what we talked about during the audits that would usually last for a minimum one day; I got them to tell me the stories of how they started; those many stories are material for another post.

Come the end of 2011; the head of the company I worked for took ill with a long term illness and could not continue; a new management structure was put in place and it was clear from the start that their approach was at odds with that of the previous head. She was focused on growing and gaining new markets; the new guys are about consolidating existing markets and stripping down to the core competence. I was brought into the organisation to grow a new competence- therefore I knew that I was an ‘endangered species’.

“I had created a previously non-existent product and successfully sold it- this was January 2012.”

Along with my many ‘interviews’ with business leaders, I had also heard the oft repeated phrase, ‘think big, but start small’. I worked out a way of testing the waters as a business person. I realised, I needed a product. I had no money to put into some product, so I thought I would make a product that did not cost me much money- and so I decided I would make hand-made greeting cards (hand made cards in the picture are not mine). Now the gift of art and design in our family fell to three of my cousins; it didn’t come too much near my direction. But I visited hobby craft- a shop that provides various art and design material. I saw that in this shop you can simply buy various pieces, pictures and stuff that you can attach to a card to make up the full design, you do not even need fancy writing skills as you could buy key words like ‘happy birthday’ and ‘happy anniversary’ as sticky labels. I purchased materials, made a few samples and bought the plastic film pockets in which cards are enclosed in and put my cards in them- they didn’t look bad; because they were professional pictures on a professionally cut card in a professionally designed envelop in a professional plastic pocket- all I did was glue them together.

“…he told me the amount, it meant I could earn about a third more than I was earning with my soon to be previous employer- it sounded fantastic!”

I went on the internet goggled all the card shops in Preston. I placed over 70 calls, got about 7 appointments and went to all seven and succeeded in selling my cards to 3 stores! I had created a previously non-existent product and successfully sold it- This was January 2012. 

The important thing was not the amount I sold, but that I made a product and could sell it at all! The jinx was broken; the fear of the business world was removed. If I did the right things, I can make it in the brave world of business. Six months later as it was time to leave my job as I had foreseen, due to the new direction of management; I spoke to a competitor about doing some associate work with them as I set up on my own; on the day of the meeting; I was greeted with a much warmer smile by the team than I expected- as we began to speak; the manager said Yemi; “ just before we proceed with our discussion, I need you to know that a position is now available in our organisation for you to do exactly the job you were doing with your previous company”. I thought it was interesting, we talked about 5 minutes and then I asked how much I might earn on the role- he told me the amount, it meant I could earn about a third more than I was earning with my soon to be previous employer- it sounded fantastic; I politely said “I’d discuss with my wife and get back to you”. I got to Shimona on the phone right at the car park- she said “that’s sounds fantastic, what do you think”? I said, perhaps to her disappointment, “I believe I can make it in business”! “That means the decision is made then, we’ll tighten our belt” she said.

I had tried it out on a small scale, now my income would have to depend on it; but I knew I could make it on my own in the big world of business. We’re six months in, no regrets yet! I need to bend my head in hard work so that you will be interested in reading the sequel to this….How I became successful in business!

Have a pleasant day.