Last year, my friend Christian and I were having a conversation which as you would expect from two people with a wealth of experience (his admittedly more than mine), found ourselves skimming the simple surface to taking a deep-dive into the bastions of inner-space. From what I remember, we were discussing what people do in business, how they do their business and why they do their business in the way that they do and although our chat experienced it's fair share of bumps as we navigated each other's core principles, strived to regain conversational balance and find the common ground (which my nature felt there was one to find) and even though I may have found it extremely difficult to articulate as I fumbled clumsily around trying to evangelize and shift his powerful moral compass in a new direction - alot of what he said resonated with me and I realise now, although our points of reference were different, there was a shared point to be made.
With that same logic, maybe I haven't and I've missed the mark completely, but still today's piece is a by-product of our conversation I'd like to share with you today about what people do in business, how they do business and why they do business in the way that they do and I think seeds that were planted in that conversation, might have now come to bloom.
The oxford dictionary defines beliefs as ‘an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof’. They are an important part of human life as they play a crucial role in influencing life all around. So much literature has focused on how beliefs shape our reality; from how they influence our behavior to how our beliefs influence the behavior of others. Basically, beliefs influence how we make sense of life and the world in general. We wouldn’t be doing justice if we do not mention that some beliefs are true and they set us free and protect us from ourselves and the negativity around us, while some are false and they make us slaves to those who instill them as well as our mindset.
On the other hand, entrepreneurial ventures are activities related to developing, organizing, and managing a new business. The starting and managing of business takes a lot of effort. Idea conception on its own may seem like an easy task but if that was the case, anyone who can afford to own a business would be running one. The whole entrepreneurship process involves coming up with a viable idea and implementing it. There are always risks involved and in some cases, challenges too.
Why do you need to align entrepreneurial ventures with your beliefs?
As mentioned previously, beliefs determine our behavior and that of others. They also determine what is wrong or right, thereby setting boundaries for us in a way. Unless we are psychologically ready to go against our beliefs, an entrepreneurial venture that does not align with them will most likely be more of a burden or challenge. As an entrepreneur, you will be filled with guilt and also not enjoy the journey if your ventures are against the person you are or believe you should be. As an example, if as an entrepreneur you value human life and peace, selling equipment that is used for human torture will tear you inside and most likely affect your relations with your customers. What is then likely to ensue is more effort and risks to be taken for you to change into a new venture that will give you more peace.
More to that, if your entrepreneurial ventures do not align with your beliefs, it could have a bearing on the culture of your organization. Often, beliefs determine the culture of one’s business. That is, they determine the way things are done including how workers relate with each other and with customers. On the contrary, when your ventures do not align with your beliefs, you will be forced to draw organizational values and culture from a viewpoint that is driven by the need to make money and survive. This also means that you hire workers who are aligned with life promoted by your business. In such cases, you may feel like an alien in your own company unless you then choose to abandon your beliefs. On the same hand, abandoning your beliefs is bound to eventually change your personality as well as get used to breaking your rules. In light of this, it is safe to conclude that entrepreneurial ventures that do not align with your beliefs can cause loss of one's true identity.
Apart from psychological effects and influences on organizational culture, ventures that are not in alignment with your beliefs can make your business less profitable as you try to be careful to stay within your limits. For example, a person who does not believe in burdening people with loans if they are likely to struggle to pay back or ‘taking advantage of the needs of the poor’ would face difficulties in running a business that loans out money to people. It would require the lender to be extra careful with regards to who s/he lends money to. In most cases, lenders do not care how much they give a person for so long as they receive collateral as security for the loan, which often has monetary value that is more than the amount that is applied for. Without measures to ensure that the business has ways to get back the money, the lender would run a loss. Also, the lender is more likely to struggle with debt collection as s/he is more likely to be sympathetic to customers.
This is closely related to the story told by Royston Guest. A certain top salesperson outsold all the other salespeople in his area by a mile. To his manager’s surprise, he could not sell a single credit card when the department store chain introduced a store credit card and the sales team was tasked with signing customers up. When the manager sat him down after six months to find out what the problem was, he discovered the salesperson had been raised by his parents on a core belief to never have debt, which made selling cards a difficult task for him.
You may be wondering right now if people do put themselves in such positions. It may not make sense to someone who has not been there yet. But, sometimes we start businesses as different people and change as we learn and experience more about life. As we experience such changes, our view of the world changes too. In some cases, desperation pushes people to do things that are out of character. Moreover, sometimes we learn that a certain business venture is the most profitable at a particular point in time and we decide to give it a try so that we do not want to miss the opportunity. All these things can be avoided by being patient with ourselves and taking time to learn more about ventures that are likely to work without us losing a part of ourselves.
However, some beliefs may need to be challenged for the sake of your entrepreneurial ventures and growth. These include beliefs about your abilities as well as instilled beliefs on what can be done or cannot be done. We need to also remember that we do not stop learning. Where possible, we need to change even some of our core beliefs that do not make us better people in as far as morality is concerned.