The other day, I went to a restaurant in Johannesburg, South Africa. As I sat down to eat, some of the waiters came up to me and asked me for the usual “selfie.” A while later, some of them came up again and said, “Mr Masiyiwa, we follow you on Facebook and we’re always inspired by what you write. We would like to be entrepreneurs. What advice can you give us?”
I looked at them intently at first, then I asked one of them to get a piece of paper.
“I want you to write down these 10 questions, and see if you can answer them next time I pass through here.”
1. How well is YOUR existing business doing?
2. How much money did you do yesterday?
3. What does it cost to run this business?
4. This restaurant you work for — what would you do to make it more successful?
5. Have you suggested any of these things to the owner?
6. Which of these other restaurants (around you) is your most serious competitor?
7. How many customers come and ask for you personally?
8. Which waiter does the owner value the most?
9. How much do you think it cost to set up and run this business?
10. What do you do with you own money?
As I asked each of the questions, I studied their reactions. I was looking for the entrepreneur amongst them.
How would you react if I asked you these questions about the business where you work? If you work in a restaurant like these guys, can you say to me:
# “We get about 50 customers per day, and they spend about R200 each. That means we make about R10,000 per day.”
# “Our costs are staff, rent, food, security…” (and so forth).
# “Customers have been going down because of the new guy next door. I think he has a better menu than we do…”
# “I saw some guys here the other day. I think they were from the bank. I think they gave us a loan…”
Do you actually know what’s happening in the business you work for, or do you think, “It’s none of my business; I’m just here to get my pay. I will think about those things when I start something on my own…”
When we meet, I want a business discussion with you. And it must show that you “see” as an entrepreneur, first and foremost. How long can you sustain a business discussion before you take refuge in politics or sport?
__But you said you want to be an entrepreneur, so let’s talk!
On Kwesé Inc., there’s a weekly show called “Restaurant Start-Up.” I first saw it when I was flipping through the channels whilst I was in the US; I then asked my people to get it. I have watched many of their episodes, not because I’m interested in owning a restaurant, but because I’m interested in entrepreneurship.
To be honest with you, entrepreneurship is my passion; I would rather watch something like that, than listen to endless political talk shows.
What about you?
A while back, I saw a poster somewhere that said: “You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”
Food for thought!