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Date: February 17, 2019, 03:32:20 PM


Enterprise Lessons From A Shepherd Boy – 1: Metro : - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum


Enterprise Lessons From A Shepherd Boy – 1

By: Adenosine (M) |Time : July 09, 2018, 08:24:09 AM
On Saturday 14th July, the people of Ekiti State will go to the polls to elect a successor to the incumbent, Peter Ayodele Fayose. One can only hope and pray that everything would go smoothly and peacefully. However, with the purported deployment of 30,000 policemen for the election, I am tempted to ask why half of that number could not be deployed to the flashpoints of violence in the Middle Belt. Perhaps we would have been rid of the national dilemma the imbroglio is proving to be. Now to our subject of discourse.

It is indeed true that diamond comes wrapped in dirt. When we first meet the shepherd boy from whom we will be learning some lessons over the next few editions of this column, he was a non-descript, understated and underrated shepherd boy literally sentenced to the boring routine of keeping his father’s flock while his siblings were engaged in the elite occupation, the national army. One fateful day, he was sent to the war front by his father with provisions for his brothers. Arriving there, he met a scenario that riled his nerves. A giant by name Goliath had for forty days, harassed the entire Israeli army with no one, not even the Commander-in-Chief King Saul, having the nerves to confront him. Goliath was a nine-footer with an intimidating body frame and no less intimidating war gear. It took another soldier to carry his shield! As David, the young teenage shepherd boy took in the scene, he was so upset by it all that he volunteered to confront, fight and kill the giant. Coming from a teenager who had never been part of any battle and had little or no exposure outside the sheepfold, his proposition left everyone not only befuddled but concerned. This brash display of naivety was taking foolishness too far. And his brothers promptly and sharply rebuked him for his foolhardiness. So did the king. Brushing aside every discouragement, David resolutely made up his mind that he was taking on Goliath. To cut a long story short, by the time it was all over, Goliath was history and the Israeli army won its victory through the ‘foolhardiness’ of an ordinary shepherd boy.

The full story is found in 1 Samuel 17 of the Holy Bible. There are a few essential lessons to learn about life, leadership and enterprise from this story. Let’s dive in.

The first lesson is that whether in life or in business, the fiercest battles are usually around territory. Opposition comes against you for a position that you hold. No one ever fights the man who has nothing to lose. The Philistines came to confront Israel in a territory that originally belonged to a tribe in Israel. In business, market share is the critical core and basis of competition. Every race in the market is for control of a critical segment of the market even if it means displacing every other competitor for the space. Have you noticed that competition is fiercer around a product or service that is significantly succeeding? This is why, in any business, all you need to attract attention is to have a good product. It is guaranteed that even if you started as a monopoly, you cannot sustain that for too long before an industry Philistine notices and decides to give you a run for your money. If you become careless with your present sphere of influence, it is only a matter of time before you are overrun. The market is unforgiving of vacuums. Whatever space you leave open, someone else will fill. Whenever you create a good product and you have a strong market presence and spread, never rest on your oars. But for David’s timely intervention, the Valley of Shocoh would have been lost to the Philistines.

Competition is usually of no serious consequence until it assumes an intimidating dimension. For forty days, Goliath stood on one mountain above the valley and challenged the army of Israel to a fight. Each time King Saul and his army heard the words of the giant and saw the intimidating presence and carriage, their hearts melted and self-preservation became more important than facing what looked like their Nemesis in battle. To significantly succeed in business, every entrepreneur must know that intimidation is a potent weapon of competition especially when it has what looks like an edge. The proposition becomes scarier when it has the advantage of size, resources, and a well-oiled media campaign that gives it a presence that consistently makes life miserable. When confronted with an intimidating competitor, you are faced with a fight-or-flight option. While Israel chose to flee, David chose to fight. By so doing, he saved an entire nation from what would have been a national disgrace and captivity. In life’s marketplace, you don’t deserve a space you are not willing to fight for!
Goliath did not challenge the entire Israeli army all at once. His proposition was simple and direct. “Let the strongest man in your army come and fight me. If I succeed in killing him, then we will overrun your entire army and you become our captives. If on the other hand he succeeds in killing me, we will also become your captives.” (my paraphrase). It is called the selective confrontation strategy. The logic is simple. Get the best and you’ve got the rest. Whatever is attractive in your product or service is the target of attack because that is where the threat to competition lies. So it is usually of significant interest. However, to fight your entire enterprise would be a waste of precious resources to competition. Trust me, when it comes to fighting for survival, your competitors are extremely calculating and strategic. They simply pick on what is working so well for you and strategize on how to make it your albatross. Sometimes, this is done by simply reproducing the product or service and infusing it with an upgrade that makes yours less attractive. It could also be by demarketing the product by creating and amplifying a scandal around it. A recent example of this is in the report that recently gained traction on social media about a particular airline being unsafe to fly. This is calculated to put the airline on the defensive. While it is frantically trying to put out the fire of that, it is capable of losing market share, a vacuum that competitors are glad to fill, and promptly too. By the time it has spent huge resources trying to defend itself and prove that the allegations against it are untrue and unfounded, significant damage may have been done. In the age of social media, that can prove to be very costly!

Whatever is currently working for you in the market, don’t rest on your oars. Innovation and continuous improvement are the keys to sustaining your winning edge. It is instructive to note that even when David had never fought in a war, one of King Saul’s army commanders referred to him as a man of war!…continued.

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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