Being in business is an interesting, exciting and rewarding venture for one to undertake. It would emerge as important to find out what it takes for one to be successful in business. Luck and the tendency for one to be a hard worker always surface at the centre of all discussions and debates. Luck in business can be described as an outcrop of consistency in persistence. Ancient wisdom suggests that the goddess of good luck favours those who are persistent. What about hard work? Without undermining its importance, boy you can strain all your physical, mental and spiritual muscles climbing up a larder of perceived progress only to realise that you`ve been climbing and going up the wrong way. Awful as it might sound, one might then inquire, how can one avoid this? Can knowledge solve such problem and guard me against wasting my precious and otherwise constrained resources? You should be familiar with the saying, work smart not work hard.

For me working smart means making use of all the possibilities available and useable knowledge towards the realisation of the desired goal. But what is this knowledge and why is it important for anyone who is or [wants to venture] into a business. The statement, knowledge is power, should ring a bell. But why is that so? Tendai Dara in his book, The Success Pyramid, talks of how knowledge is one of the important blocks in climbing up the pyramid of success. This is important to understand, especially among a generation brought up with the advice that, work hard son it all shall be well. I am sure these were some of the motivating words Daniel Chingoma would repeat to himself while piecing together his “helicopter”. I don’t know how long it took him to build a machine but certainly, it took some worthy time to a point that it pains to see all his efforts lying dormant tantamount a white elephant. Remember when the country heard of it towards the agricultural show, I don’t know which year that was. Curious children were made to pay so they could feel this wonderful “creation”. Arguably, in some sense, it was a business for Chingoma.

Today we wonder what might have possibly gone wrong with that “plane.” Why is it that the helicopter could not be developed further into a national brand or better still, a national innovation? It turns out that, among other things, some of the equipment used was inventions made by someone else, Chingoma did not manufacture the engine. He never secured the rights to use the engine in his “invention.” I wonder if he knew of such needs before devoting time towards his “innovation.” The fact that his ingenuity is lying dormant suggests that he never knew the important steps to make. Such steps as acquiring licences and rights to use the whatever equipment he wanted to use for his “creation.” Some would argue, how on earth do you expect that he would have secured the financial resources to acquire these licences among other things. But come to think of it, our Zimbabwe is blessed to the extent that we have individuals who are comfortable showcasing their wealth on social media staging contestations of who is richer. Wouldn`t it make sense if Chingoma crafted a good proposal and approached either of these individuals for partnerships or something? What emerges from this, I would suggest, was the lack of and therefore the importance of knowledge.

This knowledge which I`m talking about can be defined as the total of information and ideas you have stored up in your mind. This can be information concerning an existing problem, how to arrive at a solution. Information about funding opportunities and chances for partnerships. Now, our ability to obtain this information is largely based on our capacity to absorb and utilise information virtually daily. For the 21st century, it has been argued that those with higher chances of success are those who can learn, unlearn and relearn. This entails a process of continuously acquiring information and putting it to practical use. To this effect, entrepreneurs should make it their task to be constantly reading and acquiring new information. Schumacher, in his book Small, is Beautiful Economics, talks of how reading in general aids to our development by constantly giving us ideas. Depending on the type of books one would read, their quality always result in the quality of one`s ideas.

Some ideas which make up the total of knowledge possessed by one also comes from the associations we have in our everyday encounters. This speaks to the realisation that each individual is the total of the people he/she spends most of his time and days with. Rarely does one reach the success levels out of bounds for his social circle? This suggests that one should be wary of who he/she surrounds him/herself with. Imagine, you could be desirous of establishing a business venture and the people you surround yourself with only know so much about business. What kind of advice do you think you will get from such persons?  You know that with your friends and accomplices all you do is discuss spending the most, what do you think will be the answer to your question, how can I expand my business? Of course, you would want someone to direct your attention to literature about business growth and/or saving. Sure, you would want someone who will advise you to lookup online for Startupbiz and find a good business plan to use in setting up your business venture. Remember, your thoughts and subsequent actions can be no wiser than the ideas already contained your minds. Consequently, the quality of your ideas can never surpass the quality of your source of information. Being a business person, it is highly encouraged that you guard the doors of your mind jealously and with due diligence because the information you let in builds your knowledge base.

There is a sense in which one might be quick to enquire if they should change the people they spend time with or even the books they read. Well, this is a personal choice which should be decided individually. However, it stands out as important that knowledge of yourself is the first thing to be cultivated before one can think of success in business and life in general. For the sake of emphasis, there is the story of one man who sold away land containing acres of diamond for a meagre amount. I learnt of this story in my early days of maturity and as narrated to me, a man with a huge underutilised farm learnt from a friend that they could venture into mining in far off lands and return wealthy men. They needed to have enough capital of some US$150 000. The man quickly conceived of an idea to sell his farm, after all, it was some piece of land he could not put to good use, thanks to his knowledge. A certain man in need of land for horticulture and investments in agriculture approached him and bought the farm for US$200 000. Some months down the line, the new farm owner discovered some shiny pieces of stones on the river bank cutting across his new farm and these were diamonds. The farm turned out to be a rich piece of land with diamond deposits worth millions of dollars yet the initial owner sold the farm for a mere US$200 000. Had he taken the time to explore his farm in its entirety, imagine the wealth he would have come across, sadly he sold it all away and his fate afterwards remained unknown.

Knowledge of thy self thus becomes important in so far as you need to identify skills and talents which can aid you when venturing into business. These could be skills in planning, identifying needs, speaking in public or simply the ability to network and discover value in others. These skills and more are of importance in business in so far as you can be good at identifying unmet needs but cannot come up with a solid plan to create a sustainable business around that unmet need. Better still, you could have the ability to identify needs and come up with a concise plan to address that need yet you lack the skill to network and talk to your prospective market or even potential funders. However, if you have the knowledge and understanding of yourself, you will be aware of the need to find people or other means that would cover up for your weaknesses so much so that you can efficiently exploit an opportunity laying ahead of you.

Plato, an ancient philosopher proposed the parable of the cave which seeks to elaborate further on knowledge and its importance. A group of men were locked up in a cave since their childhood and their situation was such that they cannot turn to look at what is behind them. In front of them was a huge wall while behind them was the cave opening which would let in light in thus project their shadows on the wall. Now the light would also project on the wall whatever that was behind them which they, unfortunately, could not see.  Having been made to grow up in this cave they had no sense of reality to a degree that they were fully convinced that these shadows on the front of them were real and living things. Interesting to them was how these shadows would mimic their gestures without talking back. Imagine the level of ignorance which has its hold on these unfortunate individuals and this could be you in your line of business.

It is only when one man managed to escape the cave, thanks to his inquisitive mind. He marvelled at his first sight of the sun, the objects around him and not to mention the colours of trees, flowers and the butterflies too. Although confused at first, you can imagine the joy and thrill which comes upon the realisation that here now you enter a new world of independence where everything is brightly coloured.  To this man, what they would see daily was some form of deceit which impaired their judgement and perception of reality. Such a man, upon realising the new knowledge he has acquired, if he so chooses to go back and enlighten his fellow friends left behind, don`t you think he will be regarded as a ruler, the pacifier and possibly the true leader? What good do you think then you will gain if you so desire to be inquisitive of all that you have been told and hence commence of finding the truth? Don`t you think you will emerge on the cutting edge where every action is properly defined and configured?

You need to be knowledgeable of the business you want to venture in. At StartupBiz Zimbabwe we walk that half mile for you in giving you comprehensive business plans. If correctly used, you get will get all the necessary information and knowledge as well as facts about a particular industry, this should be enough to get you started. Having secured your business plan, however, there is a sense in which one might think, success in business is what is left. Yes, you will be correct to think so but only if you go the extra mile in acquiring more practical information about the area of trade you have chosen. George S. Classon talks of why one needs to seek practical knowledge and advice from people already established in the trade which one might want to venture into. Ignorance of this fact will open one to incidents where he/she will make grave mistakes which would have otherwise been avoided.

Mistakes such as that of a man entering the phase of adulthood, seeking ways to be financially independent as soon as he could. Investing was his childhood dream and always hoped he will find that opportunity to invest and say ‘hie’ to financial freedom. He came across an instant friend whom he chose to confide in his dream in investing. He told him of an exciting opportunity to invest in horse racing where he had a 110% chance of obtaining exponential profits in the shortest of all time. With not much knowledge about the venture, he was quick to like the part of exponential profits and went ahead to invest. The only knowledge he had about this seemingly good opportunity was that the horse in which his investments were going towards had never been beaten since the beginning. Its owners were however in need of a partner who would invest towards securing more feed and medications for it to ensure its good health. What a promising investment this is, the young man thought to himself and the thought of exponential profits aroused in him the sense that his future had now arrived. The boy invested only to be disappointed by the sight of the so-called horse becoming fourth in line. Worse still to his woes, he never again saw the friend who had told him of this opportunity to invest. This was his loss, and as unfortunate one stemming from the absence of the urge to enquire more before parting with his hard-earned money.

Had this young man sought advice from those wise enough to understand investing, I am sure he would have been quick to see this as a fraud which it was. One of the pieces of advice he would have gotten was that in investing you will lose your money if you so try to make it earn unreasonable profits. Such losses come from one`s desire to earn exponential profits from so little an investment.

Due to lack of knowledge, a nation always perishes while those with relevant and working knowledge emerge as powerful. Without the proper knowledge, resources are often abused and underutilised while a lot of effort is spent on unproductive endeavours. The importance of knowledge in business should never be underestimated. Where you want to start a business, at Startupbiz we have made the effort to gather up information about selected industries and this should ease your burden to acquire knowledge. You will need to cultivate the personal initiative towards finding more knowledge especially from the people who have been in your selected industries. You will be told of what works and what doesn’t and this should save you some awful amount of time, energy and resources. Most importantly, the knowledge of thyself is key in as much as you will want to know the things you want as an individual. This knowledge of self will ultimately lead you towards getting those things you want. Earl Shaouf says if you do not know the thing that you want, how then do you expect to get it?