I am headed to Uganda to speak to more than 8,000 attendees at the 2017 Youth Ablaze Conference. The theme for this conference is “Igniting Kingdom Minded Entrepreneurs.” What advice do you give 21 to 26 year olds who are hungry to learn, apply and grow their first startup?
Start a Company, Solve a Problem
I have been asking this question to entrepreneurs and their mentors, and I keep getting the same answer.
They say, “Encourage them to start a company that solves a problem which change people’s lives.”
An accomplished entrepreneur said, “Why solve a problem which is already solved? Find something which has never been done and get behind it as your passion.”
Another said, “To be dedicated to a company for the long-term, it must connect a problem in the marketplace to the entrepreneur’s calling.”
First World Thinking
My reaction to all of them was, “This is first world thinking!”
“The men and woman I’ll be speaking to come from economic oppression. They are trying to break out of the multi-generational poverty of their family and community.”
Then I would get the blank looks.
I have a friend, Gordon Hwang, who started a company to transform leaders. He was an upper-level manager in a name brand consulting firm. He was secure financially but uninspired. At 35 he knew it was now or never to start his own business.
Gordon and I have been meeting at my house every couple of months. I was helping him think through this big move. After all, he has a wife and two young children to consider in making this decision. The short answer is, he did it. He partnered with a very capable and fully aligned co-founder, and they started Thinqshift. It took off like a rocket.
Originally, Gordon was one of those entrepreneurs who simply said, “Start something meaningful.” But I pushed him. I said, “These people aren’t motivated by the higher end of the Maslow chart, self actualization. They are motivated to satisfy the low end of the chart, physical and safety needs.
“Think back to the practical steps you went through in planning your business. I have six presentation to give. So give me six topics that I should cover.”
Gordon’s Six Topics
1. Be clear on your identity. It is in Christ, not your business.
2. Find another tribe. You need to seek advice from the people you want to become. Do not seek advice from your current peers.
3. Build your business one customer at a time. Make money while doing it.
4. Say “no” to a lot of things. Know what you’re great at and only do that.
5. Be clear on your life priorities. Startups are all-consuming. Your business will become your only priority if you let it. Know your priorities ahead of time, and be true to them.
6. Get rest and find play time or your life will become just work.
Dear Reader, I Need Your Help
What are the six topics you would recommend I cover while in Uganda? Uganda is one of the most prolific third world entrepreneurial nations on the planet. These young men and women are hungry for your advice. What would it be?
Write your key topic or maybe even your six topics in the comments section. It will not only help me but all the readers of this blog start or build a great business. Not to mention the 8,000 people I’ll be speaking to.
Help me change the lives of these young leaders. Together we just might be part of changing a nation.
If God leads you to join me in supporting the 2017 Youth Ablaze Conference, you can donate here. The funds will go to providing sleeping mats, security, food, water and bathroom facilities for these young men and women for the week of Sept. 3rd.
Also published on Medium.