‘Once you know exactly what you want to do, Do it’ — Thurston Sebotsane
Some years ago a friend of mine (Mlungisi Mtshali) and I, visited the then CEO of iBurst, Mr. Thami Mtshali (Not related to my friend) at his office in Sandton. The idea was to seek advice on how to start a company and how to market specific products through it.
At the time of this meeting, iBurst had struck me as the David who was taking on the Goliaths of industry in the telecommunications space. They had a fresh perspective on bringing broadband connectivity to clients with impressive turnaround strategies. If there was any place for me to learn from, this was it.
I had expected Mr. Mtshali to dedicate at least thirty minutes to explain the ins and outs of starting a business and the related challenges; How to start and how to clear all hurdles on the track.
We waited patiently in his office under the watchful eye of his ever present PA. He arrived much later than when we were scheduled to meet.
We got down to business with me introducing myself and setting the scene for the meeting and asking how we could market our services to potential clients.
“Package it and sell it!”; came the answer from this giant who seemed to tower over my friend and me.
This was indeed a very short meeting, I did not get the insight that I had hoped for and I was really irritated by what had seemed like an attempt to dismiss us and not to share his knowledge about success.
The wisdom in his statement only came to me in June of 2009 when I was learning how to ride a motorcycle. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I believed in it fully, I had written it down and pasted some of the scraps of paper on my office wall to always keep me inspired. All that I needed was to draft a proposal that I would use to request sponsors to come on board.
All of a sudden, Mr. Thami Mtshali was like an oracle from the past, his words kept ringing in my ears so much that I could not ignore them any longer; “Package it and sell it”. I packaged my idea in order to sell it.
Never underestimate the relevance and importance of research. Read books, surf the internet, talk to people and ask a lot of questions. Not everyone that you ask for advice will be willing to share and some advice might be in a form you do not expect (like in my case with Mr. Mtshali). It is important that you should learn to get to where you need to be by doing the work yourself. Only after going through these motions will you truly appreciate the end result.
I take notice now that when I visited iBusrt to talk to Mr. Mtshali, I was also amongst those afflicted by the culture of entitlement and I did not even realise that. I had expected to be spoon-fed so I could just implement and enjoy the benefits of someone else’s hard work and intellect. Had Mr. Mtshali relented by giving me solutions to all my challenges, I would not have learnt to rise on my own.
I have met a lot of successful people, some in business and others are progressive professionals; I have approached a number of these people to enquire how I can be able to achieve like they have. I have noticed how this is such an uncomfortable question for most; the pain here is like trying to gain membership to a very exclusive club and you are just not of the desired pedigree. People who have worked hard all their life do not appreciate those that want to take short-cuts to success. This culture is not sustainable. The old adage still holds true today; “Give man fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”.
Closely linked to the culture of entitlement is the expectation that everything should come easy. I had expected easy answers from Mr. Mtshali; I had hoped he would load my solution on a silver platter which was supposed to be handed to me. Irritation and my refusal to see wisdom clouded me for over two years until my back was against the wall and I had to figure my own way out.
When you are faced with challenges and not enough answers and solutions; you should not be deterred but inspired and motivated to reach for your dreams. Like I had written previously; you need to believe in your idea so much that you should not be able to imagine life without it.
Many books have been written on the power and efficacy of positive thinking and people continue to preach about it. I am one of the converted, I believe strongly in positive thinking. That is why, even when the rich, the wealthy and the progressively successful will not allow me into their circle, I will never stop believing that I can be able to achieve greatness. I have also accepted that I will not be able to use a magic wand to conjure the life I desire, I will have to work toward achieving it; after all I deserve success.
Not everyone that you pitch your idea to will have the time to read your proposal. It is important to make it interesting and relevant to the reader and it is also wise to draft a two page summary to attach to the proposal which should ideally be read first before the full proposal.
I cannot over emphasise this point; RESEARCH IS VERY IMPORTANT. For example; if you plan to request sponsorship from a company; it is always prudent to find out all you can about that company, especially their policy on the subject. Once you have all the relevant information, you should be able to draft a proposal that addresses all the important aspects from your research.
Avoid long and bulky paragraphs, use bullet points if possible, include pictures and graphics that link to your subject. Most importantly, explain to the potential sponsor what they will be able to benefit from partnering with you. Once you have given proper attention to what you want to achieve and you have also researched the sponsor and what they stand for; it should then be easier for you to know how both you and the sponsor will be able to benefit.
Package it and sell it.
–Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)