Being a professional writer has its perks, and one of those perks is that you occasionally get introduced to some interesting people that you otherwise might never cross paths with.
Recently I was privileged to get a look behind the scenes of the Reuben Singh business empire. In this article, I am going to share with you some of the most valuable advice I was able to pick up while delving into Reuben’s thoughts on entrepreneurship.
Singh, of course, is one of the Big Three names on the British entrepreneur scene, alongside Sir Richard Branson and Sir Allan Sugar. He was appointed as an ambassador for entrepreneurship by the Blair government and has since advised various governments on matters related to the interests of entrepreneurs in the UK.
Any time somebody who has been so successful is willing to share what they have learned along the way, it is a good idea to listen to what they have to say.
See Also: 7 Rules Very Successful People Live By
People are always talking about diversification in business, and that’s certainly a good idea. Putting all your eggs in one basket can lead to problems. Of course for most of us when we’re just starting out, diversification is not quite that simple. Often the closest a new entrepreneur can get to diversification is to keep their "day job" while getting their new venture up and running.
This, by the way, is not something I would personally recommend that you do. In my view, you need an "all or nothing" mentality, and starting up a new business is a lot of work (no, running a hotdog stand at the local market every second Sunday is not a business, even if your country’s tax authorities say it is... that’s just a hobby that you make a little pocket money from).
But regardless of how many strings you have on your bow, Reuben Singh’s business strategy requires each activity to have a very specific focus. This means you don’t try to do a whole diverse range of tasks, you find one thing to do and do that perfectly.
When discussing his AlldayPA call center business, he describes it this way:
We do one thing, and we do it very well. We answer your phone.
So this is a concept that you can apply to your own business venture as well. Identify what your business does, and do that. When you try to do too many things, it can be difficult to maintain your focus and you can get spread too thin.
McDonald’s is a good example. I don’t care if you love them or hate them, they are one of the best known businesses in the world, and until recently a pretty much fail-proof franchise to invest in. But lately things haven’t been going so well for the world’s favorite fast food restaurant. Part of the reason for that is almost certainly due to too much diversification.
They moved away from what they did best—making fast food—and went quite a different way, introducing healthier options, assembling food "fresh to order", and bringing in all those yuppie café options. They missed the point that their established clientèle didn’t care a lot about those things and the real health nuts don’t go to McDonald’s anyway. Since they took the "fast" out of fast food, some of their former customers are going elsewhere. You may already know their long-time CEO has stepped down recently, and I’d wager this fiasco has a lot to do with that.
So there you have a good example of Singh’s philosophy in action. If you stray too far from your main objectives and constantly try to reinvent yourself, you’re probably going to introduce new problems.
2. Be True to Yourself
This was quite an interesting and surprising maxim that Reuben Singh tends to repeat often when talking about business and how entrepreneurs should operate.
Such a simple statement, and yet it has complex layers of rich meanings. The first of these is the obvious literal interpretation that you need to be honest with yourself about who you are, what you are trying to achieve, and your own abilities.
On another layer, it’s about authenticity. You may have heard the advice to "fake it until you make it" but Reuben Singh is clear that this is very bad advice. You need to have genuine confidence in yourself, and if you simply fake confidence, people will eventually see through it. Even worse, you will see through it.
Beyond this lies still another layer. Being true to yourself also means respecting who you are, and being willing to commit to your individuality. Singh’s philosophy on this is basically that if you copy others, then you are in some way acknowledging that they are better than you, or maybe you aren’t good enough to do things your own way. He says that if you copy others, you are not being true to yourself.
You can read a more in-depth article on this topic from the man himself at this page on the Huffington Post. I think especially if you read the anecdote about his meeting with the banker, it shows very clearly how he came to the conclusion that authenticity is such an important asset.
3. Create Loyalty
This is probably the most important attribute, according to Singh. "I believe in loyalty above everything else," he says. What does this mean, though? Well, it refers primarily to the loyalty of the people that work with you, but, of course, it should be a two-way loyalty. You should also be loyal to your workers. It’s also about working hard to gain the loyalty of customers, and again you must give your loyalty to them in return.
By placing a high value on loyalty, you will be mindful of what you do and say, and also mindful of the actions of others. This will allow you the chance to observe and recognize instances of disloyalty, whether your own or of others, and take appropriate action.
Whatever you do, set a good example. If you’re doing some semblance of a good job, there will be people looking up to you. It’s important that they don’t get a distorted view.
4. Never Give Up
Of course, it is important to know when you are flogging a dead horse, but if your idea has merit you should not give up. If you are failing in your actions, you should examine them and find what you are doing wrong. If it is that other people scoff at your ideas and give you only put-downs, then it could just be that you are talking with the wrong people. Find others.
It would be a good idea to keep in mind that many successful people had to overcome failure to reach success. There is no shame in it. One of my favorite Singh quotes is:
Nothing anyone else says counts. It’s what you say and what you do that counts.
Persistence is a key factor in his success, and as he says, nobody will take you seriously unless you have failed. It’s an odd expression, but it makes sense. Failure teaches you, so when you are dealing with somebody who has never failed, how will you know if they have learned the necessary lessons to ensure continued success?
When your plan is a good one, and you know it is good, there is no reason in the world why you should give up. "First believe in yourself, then never give up," says Singh.
There are many reasons why Singh has been so successful. To summarize all of the above, you must make sure that your efforts are focused, you should strive for sincerity, be a good business operator and employer, and remain strong in the face of adversity. By applying these four principles to your own journey, you will give yourself a better chance of achieving your own success.