Ernesto Sirolli says the business help entrepreneurs actually want is for us consultants to ‘shut up and listen’.
Watch this video of a talk Sirolli delivered at TED – it’s refreshing and we fully endorse what he says:
Who is Sirolli?
Sirrolli got his start doing work for Italian NGO’s in Africa, specifically in Zambia, Kenya and the Ivory Coast. He was frustrated by the epic failure of all the nations who were involved in helping African nations to develop sustainable and profitable businesses. The reason for these failures formed the basis for Sirooli’s epiphany regarding how any kind of help given to entrepreneurs would fail when it was based on the typical NGO model.
What is this model? Forcing entrepreneurs to abandon their own culture to adopt another culture’s way of doing things. In other words, forcing your preconceived ideas in situations where you, as an outside consultant, have absolutely no understanding.
The kind of business help that doesn’t work:
He relates a story of how, as a young man working in Africa, his Italian NGO brought in Italian tomato seeds and Italian methods of agriculture into the lush Zambian environment and literally forced the local farmers to assist and plant the crop. The Italians were astounded first by the virility of the crop, the size of the yield and the ease of cultivation. They were equally asstounded and frustrated by the local farmers lack of enthusiasm and lack of diligence in showing up to work even when they were paid to do so.
Soon the first crop of gorgeous tomatoes was ready and the Italians couldn’t wait to harvest them. Overnight, the hippos came up from the river and ate the lot.
Amused, the local’s informed the Italians, “This is why we don’t farm that way”. The bewildered Italians asked, “So why didn’t you tell us?” to which the locals replied, “You didn’t ask.”
Moral of the story, it’s the same in business anywhere at any time in the world. You can’t go barging in and ‘lay down the law’ telling business owners and managers how to do manufacturing, selling, marketing or even managing their finances without understanding their specific situation and their specific market culture. If you do, you’ll find that the businesses simply won’t buy into whatever you propose and they won’t really be behind whatever initiatives you begin… and when these efforts fail, you’ll be the one looking like a fool.
The kind of business help entrepreneurs want:
This is why, when it comes to any business activity – whether it be lead generation or customer relationship management, manufacturing or distribution, it’s essential to understand more than the ‘best practices’ theory.
Sirolli’s approach is to get to know entrepreneurs at a grass roots level. To find out what they want to achieve. What their dreams are. What their local culture is. And then to help them pull together the elements necessary to make their vision become a reality.
According to TED, Sirolli founded
“the Sirolli Institute, an international non-profit organization that teaches community leaders how to establish and maintain Enterprise Facilitation projects in their community. The Institute is now training communities in the USA, Canada, Australia, England and Scotland.
In 1985, he pioneered in Esperance, a small rural community in Western Australia, a unique economic development approach based on harnessing the passion, determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness of the local people. The striking results of “The Esperance Experience” have prompted more than 250 communities around the world to adopt responsive, person-centered approaches to local economic development similar to the Enterprise Facilitation® model pioneered in Esperance.”
Sirolli points out that all of the most successful businesses and entrepreneurs have one and only one thing in common:
they all became successes because of a team. He explains that no single individual on earth has ever been able to be equally good at producing, marketing and financial management.
We can certainly agree with that, and we’re pretty sure, so can you!
Most businesses are started by someone who has a skill in doing something. Usually in creating a product or performing a service. They’re not experts in lead generation or online marketing. They’re not experts in direct selling. They’re not experts in finance and funding. They’re often not even expert in managing a team as they grow.
This is why you’ll find many businesses once they begin growing beyond the skill level of the founder, either end up going out of business because of lack of skill in a crucial area, or they’re bought out by a larger concern who has the human resources to provide skill where necessary to further leverage the existing success. Often, the original owner is forced out of the business entirely even if they were initially a partner in the new ownership. This often creates a huge bitterness in the owner. After all, it was their ‘baby’.
Steve Jobs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs is a well known example when Apple kicked him out and he went on to found Nexus. Later Jobs was asked to return, but in most cases this doesn’t happen.
The reason for this is that the new owners manage a team with skills in diverse areas. They have not only the vision to grow but also the skill. They recognize that the original owner is often ‘stuck’ in a limited vision boxed in by their own limitations and, because the business was their ‘baby’, it’s really hard to let go and accede to new management initiatives.
As consultants in online lead generation and both online and offline marketing, we understand that you often need resources beyond the level that you currently have. If your vision is to grow your business and to move beyond the current limitations, we are that rare breed of consultant who will actually take the time to listen and to strategize with you to achieve your goals. We’ve always subscribed to the belief that we’re on your team and in the trenches with you.
If you need your phones to ring – if you need new business walking in the door and you’re not sure how to make it happen, call us at 1.604.556.7184 or email us – we’d be happy to chat with you, on our dime.
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