Entrepreneurs for Ethiopia

In the madness before Christmas I squeezed in a few hours at the hairdressers yesterday and amongst the usual array of UK “Hello” and “OK” magazines (do people really live in mansions that big?) I found an article in Next magazine about the plight of women in Ethiopia.  The ironic juxtaposition of this story against the incredible opulence of the celebrities in the Brit mags was not lost on me.  In Ethiopia girls can be married off to men as young as age 10 (although the legal age is 18, this is rarely enforced).  Many have babies in their early teens.  Many have serious complications as a result of their immature development or from giving birth without the medical assistance we in the Western world take for granted.  Still born births are common.  Terrible damage to critical body functions are also rife.  When such things happen, these woman and often their babies too are rejected by their husbands and families.  Husbands by law are only obliged to pay three months financial support to the wives they abandon. Many women are forced to beg on the streets, along with their children.  Large numbers of abandoned women become sex workers, where they are abused and fall prey to the HIV epidemic of the region. Others seek employment as servants where they are exploited further.  Some are grateful to find employment as construction workers where they work 12 hours a day doing heavy labour work for minimal wage. 

When I came home I was still thinking about these women, and others in the world who suffer similar plights.  I did some research and as well as finding statistics such as this …

‘A nationally representative survey of 14,070 women age 15-49 and 6,033 men age 15-59’) ‘81% of Ethiopian women believe their husbands have the right to beat them if they burn food, refuse sex, or go somewhere without their husband’s consent’.

Ethiopian women are not only lacking personal security but also social security. Seventy- five percent of all Ethiopian women are illiterate, and consequently bear the heaviest burden of poverty. Maternal deaths from childbirth for Ethiopian women is among the highest in the world. High HIV infection rates, child marriages and the devastating health consequences associated with them and many other risk factors have left Ethiopian women in a state of misery and despair facing a daily ordeal for survival. With one of the highest birth rates in the world, Ethiopia’s population is projected to increase by 20 million in the next 10 years and double to 160 million by 2050″

… I also came across the Hamlin Charitable Fistula Hospital Trust. The trust operates five hospitals in Ethiopia, where Ron and Catherine Hamlin moved in 1959 to work as gynaecologists. Their patients were women with fistulas – a hole in their bladder or rectum caused by extended (up to 10-day) labours that left their children stillborn. Many of the victims were teenage girls who lived in remote villages. The incontinence resulting from the hole meant they were abandoned by husbands and became outcasts from their communities. “Some were hidden away in sheds or even starved to prevent waste from leaking out”, Hamlin said, “They broke our hearts, they were so sad and pathetic and needed help”

The Hamlins were determined to make a change and the husband and wife team pioneered surgery which cures 93 per cent of fistula patients.

Ron Hamlin passed away a few years ago but at 84, Catherine Hamlin was still performing  a couple of operations a week, living in a traditional mud house. “It’s making a new life for a woman. To be like this she is just discarded. The joy of curing them is magnificent. They give you nothing but their gratitude.”

You can find about more about the Trust and the work they are doing at www.hamlinfistula.org.nz

Why would I write about this in my business mentoring blog?  Because I believe that the more successful we are, the more power we have to give back.  As entrepreneurs we should look around the world and see what moves us, and be willing, able and empowered enough to try to make a difference.  Catherine Hamlin appeared on the Oprah show.  Oprah wrote out a personal cheque for US$500,000 for the Trust and donations of US$3 million flooded in from viewers straight after.  Oprah is a successful entrepreneur and celebrity who uses her wealth and power to make a difference. 

We can only aspire to be successful enough in our own fields to be able to contribute in some way.

Why is an exit strategy so important?

Ask any business owner what their plan is to exit their business and chances are that they will look at you blankly. Ask the same business owners why they started their own business and they will tell you that they wanted to work for themselves, they want to be their own boss, have a flexible lifestyle doing something they love. The sad fact for the majority of business owner operators, however, is that they end up with the exact opposite of what they dreamed of. They work longer hours for less pay, take on more stress, have more sleepless nights and take fewer holidays. I always joke when I’m working with business owners that if they should take a personal grievance out against themselves for such terrible working conditions!

Not that there is anything wrong with working hard. In fact when you start a business, you should expect to work like a demon for the first few years at least. But at some stage your business should start to pay you back for all your hard work. With an exit strategy in place, you know your blood, sweat and tears (yes, you know what I mean – women in business, there’s got to be tears!) will all be worth it when you begin to reap the rewards.

A planned exit strategy is the single most important business requirement. It’s also the most overlooked. That’s why I felt the need to create liber8yourbusiness – a mentoring programme that will help small business owner operators become wealthy entrepreneurs instead

What is passive income?

When I’m mentoring – either in my online programme or one on one, I talk a lot about ‘passive income’.  This to me is the ultimate goal in life from a financial perspective.  No matter what you do, there will come a time in your life when you no longer want to do it.  Work wise, I don’t care how much you love your work, one day you will want to stop.  And even if you don’t, the true freedom is being able to choose what you do with your time.

Passive income is the goal.  Here’s the simple definition… its the income that comes in from sources other than your own physical input.  Passive is as passive sounds… passive!  You don’t do anything, you just sit back and the income still comes in.  Or you might choose to fulfil your life’s dreams and passions, sail around the world, visit the seven wonders of the world.  And the income still comes in.  Or you might choose to turn your energy and time towards things in the world that really upset you, the areas you feel you can make a real difference.  Help people, fix problems, turn broken worlds into better worlds.

The great thing about passive income is that it gives you the freedom to be who you really are.  To fulfil the deep yearnings in your soul.

This is a business blog.  But remember the fundamental philosophy behind liber8yourbusiness is that your business is your pathway to financial freedom.  Passive income sets you free.  To be free to do what you really should be doing.

To plan your business so that it will one day feed you passive income, either by selling it for a lump sum that you can invest, or by leveraging yourself out of the daily workings of the business.  These are the only true goals you should be working towards.

What’s your plan?

Traits of the Rich and Free #9 – Wealth Positive not Money Negative

Having a good relationship with money and believing in your right to be wealthy are critical factors for very successful entrepreneurs.  Business is about wealth creation. It is about building an asset that will ultimately feed you passive income, either when you sell and are able to wisely invest the capital gained… or by building a business that generates great returns for you the owner, above and beyond the salary it feeds you.  One of the things I ask clients in the liber8yourbusiness programme to do early on is to question their own attitudes towards money.  Many of us today grew up in environments where working hard to get a good job were the primary motivators.  We were not taught to think about money, investment, building wealth. I was very fortunate to grow up in an entrepreneurial environment, where I saw us go from a realatively poor family to a wealthy family as my father’s business became more successful.  I don’t recall my father ever talking to me about business or his beliefs about money, but following his example became second nature to both my brother and I – neither of whom have been employed by anyone but ourselves for most of our working life.

It is important to understand your attitude to being wealthy when you are in business. You have to want to be wealthy and feel that there is nothing wrong with having a lot of money.  The reality as I see it is that it is those with wealth who have the most power.  And if that power is used well it can be of great benefit to others, not just yourself.  You can make a bigger difference to the world if you are not struggling to pay your bills each month. Wealth buys you freedom and the ability to give back to the world without worrying about your own survival.

Robert Kiyosaki defines wealth as the number of days forward you could maintain your current standard of living without working.  How many days is that for you?

Turn yourself into a product

If your business is depending on your talent and skills to create income on a daily basis, it could be time for you to start thinking about how you can generate income in other ways.  What can you sell your clients that doesn’t require YOU to charge out your time?  How can you turn yourself into a product?

You are a mine of knowledge.  Whether you are a consultant, a coach, a practitioner, designer, a gardener or a builder… you have information in your head that can be shared in other ways, not just by you being there in person.  You are an expert in your field, so how can you share your expertise in the form of a product?

Education is one key way.  Take your knowledge and find ways to teach what you know.  Writing a book or created a DVD have been popular ways to create ‘leverage’ for many years.  And now with the internet, it has never been easier to share your expertise.  Check out these two sites: www.speeches.com www.buildeazy.com

Both are sites created by New Zealanders with very specific talents.  The first – speeches.com was created by David Slack, a very good speech writer and author.  Realising that writing speeches for people was a talent for him, he built a site whereby people can source and download a speech for pretty much any occasion you could think of.  The speeches were all pre-written a while ago and they now provide an almost passive income for David as people all over the world pay to download his speeches.

Buildeazy.com was created by a New Zealand builder with a passion for DIY.  He began posting is DIY plans on a website for free as a hobby.  Last year he was featured in a national newspaper, stating he was earning $30,000 a month in advertising from his site.  If you have a look at it you’ll see why… the site has become a media source for everyone in the building industry!

With my own talent and passion for teaching business owners how to create a business for sale or passive income, I had to walk the walk and do it in a way that didn’t require me exchanging time for money (you will never get rich charging by the hour).  The liber8yourbusiness programme features pre-recorded video seminars, interviews, articles and exercises all hosted in an online seminar room.  I get to share everything I know with as many people as possible, without having to be there.

These are just three examples.  I share them withyou to get your thinking.  How could you turn yourself into a product?

New Zealand’s next gazillionaire

Just came across this competition from ASB Bank,looking for New Zealand’s youngest, cleverest business brain. It’s for kids aged between 7 and 14 who have a great moneymaking idea or invention – like a BMX lawnmower, or solar-powered cat clippers .  To enter kids have to enter a 60 second video and could win a share of over $20,000.

I love the idea.  Getting kids thinking like entrepreneurs early on in life – using the internet, making videos.  Check it out, the website’s slow to upload but worth the wait I think.


Owner operator or wealthy entrepreneur?

What is the key difference between an owner operator and a wealthy entrepreneur?  Simply put it’s this:

When planning out their business, the wealthy entrepreneur builds an asset.  The owner operator builds a job.

An entrepreneur in my view is someone who creates a business to build long term wealth and therefore start out with the view of their business as an entity that is separate from them.  They look from the beginning to build a business that will become independent of them and as such will feed them income when they are no longer working in it.  The owner operator builds a business that is dependent on their skills, talent, time and energy.  They in effect build themselves a job.

The wealthy entreprenuer understands that it is necessary to put their own time and energy into the business in the early years, but that the game is to decrease their input over time.  The owner operator will often believe their input is the lifeblood of the business  and thereby the create a dependency.  This feeds the ego, but does not build passive income.

Often it is the mindset from the outset that makes the difference between a wealthy entrepreneur and someone destined to work in the business like a job.

What is your mindset?  How are you looking at your business right now?  Do you have a goal and a plan for decreasing your businesses dependence on you?

To ensure you don’t remain tied to your business forever, the time for thinking about your exit strategy is NOW!