Principal Consulting & Coaching Executive
WHEN USED AS A METAPHOR, the art form of dance is a very apt and effective means of discussing the subject of Entrepreneurship especially given the fact that the elements of distinctive skills set, creativity, responsiveness, resonance, choreography, flow, and the ability to attract and satisfy the right audience (target customers) are critical success factors that every Entrepreneur must develop in order to be highly-competitive and successful! However, it is critical to emphasize the point that the story of dance is never complete without the acknowledgment of the fact that it is always a direct bodily-response to the specific music that invites, guides and sustains it. As a matter of fact: It is the music that is played that dictates the exact dance that can do justice to it in terms of style, movement, pace and flow and Nothing reveals the sheer artistic profundity and sophistication of dance as clearly as the dancer’s ability to accurately interpret, respond to and resonate with music that is rich in language, lyrics, poetry and philosophical nuances! Since the art form of dance is usually performed in theatres, carnivals and other open-air festivals, the prelude to unveiling the Entrepreneur’s three-legged dance is to identify the place where it is performed. Quite expectedly, the market-place is the sole venue where the Entrepreneur stages his legendary three-legged dance. The Entrepreneur is a market-place dancer. There is a lot to be learnt from the information that the Entrepreneur’s three-legged dance is exclusively performed in the market-place especially because it gives us an idea of the specific kind of music that this special dance responds to and who the musicians are. At this juncture, it must now be clear both that the Entrepreneur dances to the music of the marketplace and that the key members of the Market-place Band include the five forces of competitive markets that Porter identified as: (1) Suppliers; (2) Customers; (3) New entrants; (4) Substitute products and; (5) Rivalry between existing competitors! However, given the competitive nature of the market-place environment that is occasioned by the continuous jostling for positions of advantage by all market actors who are equally guilty of remaining both unapologetic and unrelenting in their hard-nosed bid to shift the balance of power in their favor, what is the Entrepreneur’s means of harmonizing their opposing interests and discordant tunes into danceable (profitable) music? Has rivalry ever held any promise of harmony? What genius can unite arch-rivals into either a Band that can consistently render great music or a Team that can consistently play a winning game?
How much success can a musical band that is populated by arch-rivals achieve? How long can a musical band that is made of arch-rivals last before it collapses like a pack of cards? Well, we can simply conclude that the Entrepreneur is the conductor of the most complex orchestra in the world! In any case, the reality is that Entrepreneurs both routinely have to deal with contradictions and complexity and are greatly-helped by circumstances that confound and stretch them beyond their limits! Thus, in one sense, the Entrepreneur’s three-legged dance is a metaphor for his tenacity of purpose that is proven by his willingness and ability to go the extra mile (as often as it is necessary to do so) to achieve his set business goals. The Entrepreneur’s possession of a mythical ‘third leg’ is proven by his ability to frequently navigate complexity and deal with contradictions to the point of finding the opportunity to earn profit at a time when ‘twolegged’ players are thanking God for sparing them bankruptcy! But, there is definitely more to the Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance than his ability and willingness to go the extra mile especially for the purpose of surmounting obstacles, navigating complexities, dealing with contradictions, handling adversity and staging impossible come-backs after major setbacks! This is the Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance! This promises to be The Reveal of the Year! The Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance is a metaphor for profitable entrepreneurship and so it is a reference to the most important Entrepreneurial action that thoroughbred Entrepreneurs are known to take towards ensuring, growing and protecting their profitability in the best and worst times! The concept of profitable entrepreneurship is especially important because the reality is that no matter how otherwise creative, innovative and productive an Entrepreneur may be, if he does not know how to make his outstanding creativity, innovation and productivity a repeatable and sustainable means of profit-making, it is obvious that he has not yet learnt the Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance and as a consequence, it is only a matter of time before he will go out of business. Thus, the most important lesson that the riddle of the Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance teaches is that profit-making capability is the main difference between successful Entrepreneurs and unsuccessful Entrepreneurs as well as between successful enterprises and unsuccessful enterprises! Whether an Entrepreneur is operating as a sole proprietor or doing business by building a small, medium or large enterprise, the fact remains that entrepreneurship rises and falls on profit-making capability. Again, whether an enterprise is a start-up or a mature business, its success and continuance are inextricably tied to its profitmaking capability. An Entrepreneur is best known by his profit-making capability! Now that we have learnt that the Entrepreneur’s three-legged Dance is a metaphor for profitable entrepreneurship, the next step is to identify how the Entrepreneur’s three-legged dance is performed (that is, the identification of the high-value activities through which Entrepreneurs are able to ensure, grow and protect their profitability). Profitable entrepreneurship is likened to a three-legged dance because it mainly involves Trilateral Entrepreneurship that is targeted at the three most important profit-impacting groups of business activities which include: (1) Operating activities; (2) Financing activities and; (3) Investing activities!
The Business Dictionary defines operating activities as ‘An activity that directly affects an organization’s cash inflows and outflows, and determines its net income. Cash inflows result from sales of goods or services, sale of shares, and from income earned on investments. Cash outflows result from equipment and inventory purchases, interests and principal payment on loans, salaries, dividends, and various other costs and expenses.’ Simply put, the operating activities of a business are its primary revenue earners or revenue generators. Financing activities mainly involve the financial transactions through which the operating activities and expansion of a business are funded. The Business Dictionary defines investing activities as ‘Deals or transactions involving sale or purchase of equipment, plants, properties, securities, or other assets generally not held for immediate resale.’ The definitions of these three profitimpacting groups of business activities make it clear that they are the inseparable trinity of profitable entrepreneurship. While on paper, all that it takes to excel in the operating, financing and investing activities of any business is to develop and deploy competitive-edge business, financial management and investment skills, the reality is that the key to profit-making is Trilateral Entrepreneurship which requires thorough grounding in the profit potentials of these three groups of cornerstone business activities. Trilateral Entrepreneurship facilitates profitmaking by targeting operating, financing and investing activities as the critical sources of profit that must be optimally tapped on the basis of the entrepreneurial knowledge that: The main plot of entrepreneurship is to develop and maintain a three-dimensional view of business that is based on the recognition of operating, financing and investing activities as the cornerstones of business through which profit is made The crux of entrepreneurial management is to devise new and better ways of performing the operating, financing and investing activities of a business towards ensuring, growing and protecting its overall profitability and The crux of entrepreneurial strategy-making and execution is to devise creative ways of continuously strengthening and increasing the alignment between the operating, financing and investing activities of a business especially through activities such as innovation and improved organizational, process, product and service design! It is the tapping of operating, financing and investing activities as critical sources of profit through Trilateral Entrepreneurship that is the actual performance of the Entrepreneur’s threelegged Dance! It is instructive to note that Trilateral Entrepreneurship requires the best combination of entrepreneurial knowledge and entrepreneurial discipline. Thus, an Entrepreneur seeking to strengthen his profit-making capability through Trilateral Entrepreneurship must both have a good command of entrepreneurial knowledge and be high on entrepreneurial discipline. As a matter of fact, Trilateral Entrepreneurship is deeply-rooted in entrepreneurial disciplines such as ownership, tenacity of purpose, personal sacrifice, delayed gratification etc. The evidence is that ownership is the discipline that determines the quality and outcomes of entrepreneurial management as well as strengthens entrepreneurial strategy especially in terms of enabling the Entrepreneur to profitably perform operating, financing and investing activities under challenging circumstances such as paucity of funds and inability to attract investors!
The importance of Trilateral Entrepreneurship As the most effective means of ensuring profitable entrepreneurship, Trilateral Entrepreneurship (which works by creatively targeting operating, financing and investing activities as the most important profit-impacting groups of business activities) is especially important because in a real sense, all identified causes of business failure such as poor leadership, poor decision-making, lack of relevant industry knowledge and/or experience, poor financial management, uncompetitive product offering(s), poor customer relationship management, sub-optimal business processes, and aversion to change are symptoms of poor profit-making capability! The crux of this argument is that profit-making capability is the most important requirement for successful entrepreneurship. The logic of this argument is that: The bigger an Entrepreneur’s profit-making capability, the more profitable he will be and The weaker an Entrepreneur’s profit-making capability, the less profitable he is bound to be! The validity of this argument is proven by the evidence that despite the fact that superior quality can act as a source of competitive advantage, the provider of a low quality product who has strong profit-making capability can be far more profitable than the provider of a product of much higher quality who is low on profit-making capability! The validity of this argument is also proven by the evidence that despite the fact that customer base growth is one of the key measures of business growth, an Entrepreneur with a small customer base who has good profit-making capability can be much more profitable than an Entrepreneur with a far-bigger customer base who is low on profit-making capability. It is hard for anyone to demonstrate meaningful entrepreneurship or prove entrepreneurial capacity in the absence of profit-making capability. Conclusion 1. Entrepreneurial success is impossible without profit-making capability 2. The development of profit-making capability is the crux of entrepreneurial education and capacity-building 3. The proof of profit-making capability is the ability to demonstrate thorough grounding in the rudiments and practice of Trilateral Entrepreneurship that facilitates profit-making by targeting and tapping operating, financing and investing activities as the most important profit-impacting groups of business activities and 4. Entrepreneurial management, decision-making and strategy succeed best when they are focused upon and channeled into the practice of Trilateral Entrepreneurship! Whatever your business may be, and in whatever industry you may be playing, my best wish is that your three-legged DANCE will be most profitable in the weeks, months and years ahead!