A business culture attaches great importance on value for money, which is the ability to identify an opportunity, snap it and make money out of it.
In every country, there are those simple-looking individuals who are prospering. They are very down-to-earth, behaving rather well with very simple business strategies. They do not actually struggle like most prosperous people do. These just have the right instinctive formula that baffles business scholars.
Business schools around the globe end up developing new business theories when they get into contact with these entrepreneurs. For many prosperous men and women, I have met, success is as simple as tapping a knob of electricity to switch on power. They do not even lobby for business with politicians and yet opportunity knocks at their door.
I met a businessman who, apart from his other strong business attributes such as passion, dedication, work discipline and focus, he knew how to identify a financial opportunity.
I observed him hold an interesting round-table discussion with managers from a financial institution. The businessman kept his focus on the bottom-lines as they discussed the business proposal. His business judgements during the discussion were all based on mark-up, that was all he was interested in. If it did not make business sense out-rightly, he would not proceed with the discussion.
This quality alone defines an entrepreneur. It simply means that if he did not make the money on a calculator, nothing else would give him money.
For every option the businessman had, he quickly worked out the figures.
He would look at the numbers and then announce the results. “Well, this would give us U.S $500,000 a month. It is not very bad.”
He uttered financial figures with simplicity and without apologies. Anyone listening without familiarity to this kind of figures would have thought it was rather too bullish, unrealistic and too simple.
He was a seasoned entrepreneur and had gotten used to financial figures with several accompanying zeros! In fact, entrepreneurs must first learn to pronounce the word “million” without perspiring!
My encounter further reminded me of a Jewish entrepreneur I had met who constantly worked his mind into calculating mark-ups for every sentence he uttered. Boardroom executives not familiar with the simplicity of business will wait until the financial director has released the quarterly reports to decide on the next strategy.
That is if they decide to make a decision at all. In fact, they will not raise the alarm until they begin to experience liquidity problems. Our sense of money should be trimmed down to the very basics of our businesses.
The Jewish entrepreneur had turned himself into a human calculator and had thorough knowledge of the exchange rates. He would convert money from one currency into another in an instant and then shake his head saying, “It’s not worth it.”
I told my friends that this Jew had succeeded because he did not divert from the simple business acumen of mark-ups. He conducted business affairs the same way one sold fritters on the street.
What matters in business indeed is not the complexity you attach to your business but the simplicity and your value for money. This is business acumen. It simply means the individual has sufficient knowledge and ability to quickly make profitable business decisions.
There is nothing wrong about having business schools. At least they help students understand business principles in a conventional way. But natural entrepreneurs hardly learn about money. They experience it instead.
They make very informed judgements to exploit opportunities that arise in every situation. Business acumen is an entrepreneur attribute that requires its separate point of emphasis because it has various components to it.
The interest of entrepreneurs is to make money and they will look to professionals to be part of their business empire as managers and employees. All successful companies embrace the values of acumen, opportunity and simplicity as the driving forces to profitability. This should be a combination of entrepreneur values and the values of all those that are part of the business.