In our post on ‘Personal Tribe’, we discussed the evolution of tribal groups and the need for an entrepreneur to have a ‘personal tribe’. The features, benefits and composition of ‘personal tribes’ were discussed. Here we will discuss the need for an entrepreneur to have a ‘business tribe’ as well.
Business Tribe: The personal and business activities of an entrepreneur are diverse, many, and varied. From starting your venture to growing it and selling a part or all of it, you will need to handle millions of minor and major ‘events’ and ‘transactions’. These events and transactions all build into each other and affect ongoing as well as future results.
To survive and excel, the entrepreneur must be good at two things:
- Building relationships: In the course of your business activities you will need to develop formal relationships as you handle ‘transactions’. Your ability to develop and nurture these relationships will go a long way in creating growth and further opportunitions for your businesses. Your ‘business tribesmen’ are a key component of these relationships that will help you achieve your business objectives.
- Continous learning: I was a senior executive in a very large conglomerate in Nigeria. We continuously imported several million dollars worth of equipment, which I was responsible for clearing, for one project or another. Our boss, a quintessential entrepreneur, asked me and a particular project engineer to jointly visit the shade where some of our imported equipment were awaiting clearing at the port. An argument ensured between our boss and the project engineer as to what a particular equipment (a specialised tank) was. The boss mentioned what he believed it was whilst the engineer mentioned that it was something else. I had fun watching the boss (with absolutely no formal engineering education) and the (professional) engineer engaged each other. Finally, the boss asked me to check the packing list which I held to confirm what the tank was. From the mark, it was clear that he (the boss) was right. He then went on to ‘teach’ the engineer how to distinguish between the two different tanks! It is the mark of successful entrepreneur. You need to not only understand the commercial aspects of your business, but also the technical aspects involved. It is absolutely necessary that the entrepreneur continoulsly learns and understands what is happening around them. From social and political issues to economic and technical developments. As regards their particular businesses, entrepreneurs must be sufficiently in-depth in understanding issues and how environmental changes affects them. This is necessary if you hope to establish an edge and retain it. Your business tribesmen will help ‘educate’ you further in various specialised fields as your business grows into unchartered territories.
A ‘business tribe’ therefore refers to the core group of professionals an entrepreneur keeps to support the entrepreneur in running and growing their businesses. These professionals are part of those relationships the entrepreneur cultivates, develops, maintains and pays. In return, they advise, educate, support and executes actions necessary for the commencement, stability and growth of the enterprise.
How do entrepreneurs build a group of ‘business tribesmen’?
Identifying the services you require: First, establish the services, competencies and expertise that you require to start and develop your business. Once you establish that, set out to identify professionals who fit your requirements. Generally speaking, you will need the services of accountants, lawyers, bankers etc. Depending on your specific business, you may also need the services of engineers, Public Relations professionals, etc.
From the onset, it is important for you to select the ‘right’ professionals who will support you. And the right professionals come in all shapes and sizes. Whilst, you will need to minimize your costs associated with these services, you must not compromise on quality, professionalism and service. No matter your size and the fees you will be paying, ensure that you get good value.
Engage the right professionals: Having establish those that fit your requirement, you should set out to engage them. Some might need to be employed on full time basis whilst others will provide their services as external professionals. In whatever mode the professionals will provide services to you, you have to negotiate all details and document same in a contract.
Beyond the contract: An interesting reality about your business tribesmen is that you will over time develop a relationship that goes beyond formal contracts. Invitations for both official and private events will frequently be exchanged. Make the best use of such invites to further cement your relationships as well as spread your network of contacts. Unanticipated business opportunities often emerge out of these relationships if nurtured properly.
Composition of a Business Tribe: The composition of your business tribe should include a number of professionals such as:
- Legal adviser
- Investment Banker
- HR Professional
- IT professional
- PR consultants etc.
It is the reality of your business, such as size, location, rate of growth, capitalisation etc. that will determine exactly who you need now and later. No matter, it is important to project into the future and develop relationships with some professionals whose services you do not require now but will do in the future.
As with personal tribe, there is no ideal number of business tribesmen you should have. It depends on your needs and stage of business growth. As your business grows, your plate will begin to get full. Whatever the size of your business tribesmen, it is important you maintain a cordial relationship that is built on integrity, competence and mutual respect.
Benefits of Business Tribe: Your business tribe offers you several benefits such as:
- Makes realisation of business ideas,
- Provision of ongoing professional services,
- Saves time and money for you by getting things right the first time,
- Creates business opportunities,
- They become friends who are able to understand your business vision and goals, and support you, etc.
Features of a business tribe:
- They are a group of professioanls in various fields around you,
- They are competent in their various fields,
- They have a formal relationship with you and your business,
- They may be your full time employees or professionals on retainer, etc.
Entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges are enormous. You therefore need the right people to provide the professional as well as emotional support you will need to effectively seize the opportunities and handle the challenges. Your personal and business tribesmen are key to these. Choose, therefore, the people around you wisely.