I had the chance to chat with entrepreneur, tech strategist and leadership expert Alan Yong about what really makes a business last. I reviewed his book, Improve Your Odds: The Four Pillars of Business Success for this site — and wanted to learn more about his experience co-founding DNotes, a digital currency company that’s a promising alternative to Bitcoin. From the value of a company’s leader and ideas to the importance of having the right team, Yong had much to say about the best practices for tending any business.
What prompted you to write this book?
I have always been very passionate about helping other entrepreneurs – including my own family members – improve their chances of business success. This drive led to numerous suggestions that I write a business book — the best means for reaching many entrepreneurs on a global scale.
That thought reached a tipping point about a year after I co-founded DNotes, a Bitcoin alternative digital currency, in an emerging industry perhaps best known for its lack of central control or sound leadership. I had convinced the DNotes team that the best strategy for long-term success was to manage DNotes as a business without controlling it as one. To differentiate itself, DNotes has to shape and build a unified culture of trust, respect, and appreciation for all collaborative efforts to the benefit of everyone. I leveraged my forty years of business experience and wrote a business book as a blueprint for others to follow.
What are the four pillars of business success?
There are many – but there are four main pillars that matter most – for good or for ill — and they decide the fate of the enterprise and its employees.
The first pillar is you, the entrepreneur and leader of your business. Everything starts with you and evolves around you. The other three pillars are your big idea for a product or service, your employees, and your customers. Except for one-man enterprises, these four components are found in every business, and are so important that they warrant special consideration individually. Together we call them the Four Pillars of Business Success. If you drop the ball in any of these four areas, you will significantly diminish your odds of achieving business success.
Can you talk about the importance of the first pillar?
You are the founder. To succeed, you must start with a distinct and coherent vision for your business that is clearly articulated so others can understand it and buy in. With that, you lay out the most strategic path to take you to your ultimate destination, blazing the trail that your team members then work to turn into a navigable highway. As a leader, you create the most favorable and productive environment and inspire your followers to always stay on track to reach the destination in the most efficient manner possible.
The importance of your role simply cannot be overstated. You are the coach, star player, and creator of your business story. Your leadership and vision must serve as an inspiration for everyone in the company to work towards achieving common goals.
It is vital that you are truly passionate about what you are doing. This is not just another job, but a relentless commitment to make your dreams come true. Accepting that challenge and loving what you do will contribute greatly to your success.
What advice can you give to start-up entrepreneurs?
Do not start a business just because you believe you can do the same thing others are doing and still be successful. Statistically, 80% of those people have been proven to be wrong. Instead, focus on your strengths and pick a business you are passionate about, with healthy growth and profit potential. Ideally, you should love it enough to gain a deep knowledge of the industry and the competition. Understand and strategize to determine the level of commitment necessary to be equal to and ultimately better than the competition.
In most cases, you cannot do it alone. To grow your company, you need to recruit others that will fit that kind of company you envision. Those employees should align well with your values, culture, and leadership style.
Always be mindful that one or two areas of competency are not enough to succeed; the true measure of your competitive superiority can only be found in the total of all your scores in every aspect of your business.
And: In the highly competitive business world, being best in class in every category is always a winning strategy. To be the best in class, you must realize that everything matters, but most importantly, those four pillars: you, your great ideas, your employees, and your customers. Focus on those.
Where do you think cryptocurrency is headed? Do you think digital currency is going to replace flat currency?
I have no doubt that digital currency, with its underpinning blockchain technology, is here to stay. This is a natural progression of the Digital Age that started with the emergence of personal computers and wireless communication in the early 1980s.
We are now hyper-connected globally as well as wirelessly. Any two parties with an internet connection can pay one another directly with digital currency, without the participation of a central authority or a trusted party. Before long, anything that can be digitized will be digitized, including digital assets. That means everything will be represented as a digital token and stored in the blockchain as an immutable record with a time stamp. This will have many world-changing implications.
How do the lessons of the technology revolution apply to business today?
We are witnessing the greatest technological revolution since the Internet. Like the Internet, it will lead to massive job and wealth creation benefiting some more than others. It is important for businesses to gain an early and deep understanding of these innovative technologies if they want to position their companies to fully exploit its advantages before their competitors seize the field. Those who succeed in that effort will be able to improve their business competitiveness and enjoy even greater success.
Learn more about Alan Yong at the website for Four Pillars of Business Success