Zimbabwe’s Richest Man Strive Masiyiwa Talks on $40Bn Uber and ‘Being Business Minded’ (Part 3)

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ENTERPRISE54 – In the last post, I made a comment, about what I called a “changing dispensation”, and many of you were quite intrigued by this, and asked me to explain. Whenever I share a little story, my key objective is to help you extract one or two principles that you can apply, when you find yourself in such a situation.

For instance, I gave the story of Blackberry. Until they came along, our business model as a Mobile Network Operator was to buy phones in bulk as cheaply as possible and sell them to our customers. Our business was not to sell phones but to get people to use them; our business was “airtime”.

Now here was a new manufacturer (Blackberry) who did not want to just sell us phones, but wanted a share of the airtime revenue… actually they wanted the majority of the airtime revenue! I realised very quickly that they were not selling a phone but a service. Blackberry is not a phone, it is a phone used to access the Internet. It was the first real “smartphone”.

The game had changed! New dispensation!

Companies like Nokia, and Motorola, who had dominated the game, until then were in big, big trouble, if they did not see this “change in dispensation”. Nokia, failed to see this change, and were taken to the cleaners. Giant companies like Ericsson of Sweden , Siemens of Germany, shut down their cell phone manufacturing businesses and fled at the coming of the “smartphone” boys like Samsung and Apple! Others just became small time players in an industry they had once dominated.

Changing dispensation.”

I also realised at that point that we would have to change quickly and turn our attention to things like Mobile Money services. Now we would have to hire bankers, and insurance people, even doctors (yes we have medical doctors developing products). This was at a time when there was no Google, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Alibaba, or WhatsApp. We would have to reach out to these new players, and find ways to work with them, or get rolled over!

Photo Credit: Strive Masiyiwa

Photo Credit: Strive Masiyiwa

Extract a principle now.

It does not matter what industry you are in, or how well established it looks. Somewhere, somewhere, there is someone working on something that will completely turn it upside down!

Uber is changing the public transport industry of taxis. Amazon took on the distribution of books. Netflix and similar services, will smash the traditional TV broadcasters, and Pay TV companies. Being business minded, is accepting this reality. It is something that should actually “excite” you. I get goose pimples…I love it!

Another principle.

In 1900, if a young man or woman, went to the most successful person around and said, “what business should I be in to really be successful?” The answer would not be the same when asked in 2000. And it would not be the same, if asked in 2050. These are different dispensations.

You should not be dreaming of being a rural bus operator! It is not a business of your dispensation. There are new industries, being developed every day, at an ever increasing pace.

To be continued…

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Facebook page of Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s richest man and Econet Wireless founder.



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