In the final extract from his new book, Entrepreneurial Spark co-founder Jim Duffy explains what he means by creating something special:
Usually a scattering of hands go up. Then I ask: “Who wants to drive a Bentley Turbo?”
Some of the guys put their hands up.
Thirdly, I ask: “Who would like a big house in the country with a housekeeper and some stables?”
A sprinkling of hands pop into the air. Then I ask the killer question: “Who wants to create something special?”
It delights me when almost everyone in the room raises a hand with real purpose. A bit like at primary school when the teacher asks the whole class a question and your hand rocketed up as you knew the answer. “Miss! Miss! Miss!”
This is what thinking and acting like an entrepreneur is all about: creating something special. And I love that. Why? Well, let’s consider this sucker a bit more…
Special is a word that is underused. When I was a boy, a special delivery was just that. A courier would deliver a pressie and it would generate some excitement in the house (even in the street). But with the likes of Amazon we now get ‘special’ deliveries coming at us like confetti.
For me, special means exceptional, phenomenal, incredible. These are strong words. Your mum will always say that you are special, even though at times you drove her crazy. Think about what you consider to be special. This will put the word in context. Take a couple of minutes and highlight two special things in your life.
Awesome is an American euphemism for ‘bloody great!’ It’s very hip for everything to be ‘awesome’ in the entrepreneur world. When I visited the MassChallenge start-up accelerator space in Boston, I think I heard “That’s awesome!” about 50 times throughout the day.
The Founder and CEO of MassChallenge – John Harthorne – is one of the most positive guys I’ve ever met. He oozes positivity. He uses the word awesome every ten minutes.
For me, awesome is a great word. It means something that is imbued with the qualities of great, terrific, fabulous, tremendous and wow! I think Porsche is an awesome brand. I think Highland Park is an awesome malt whisky. I believe Muhammad Ali was an awesome individual.
What do you consider awesome? Again, take a couple of minutes and pick two things you feel are awesome.
Value is used in many contexts. But it’s safe to say we understand if something represents good value. If I buy a nice bottle of red wine in the supermarket for £6.99, I feel that is good value. It certainly feels good value after the second large glass. However, when I buy the same bottle in a restaurant and it costs me £24, I’m not so convinced.
Primark sells clothes really cheaply on the high street. I wear a casual shirt five or six times in a six-month period. Then it is out of fashion or out of shape (the shirt – not me). So, I pay £7.99 at Primark for a shirt that has, say, seven good washes in it before it’s done, and I feel I am getting good value for my money.
Awesome and value when put together are pretty powerful. In fact, they’re part of the equation that explains special. This is how to think about special as an entrepreneur:
SPECIAL = AWESOME VALUE
If you can create something special, then others will:
- be interested in it
- support it
- buy it
- invest in it
- tell others about it
- work for it
- cherish it
The awesome value you can create as an entrepreneurial thinker is something people want. If people – family, friends, potential customers, potential collaborators, suppliers, competitors, investors, politicians, neighbours, club members – perceive awesome value in what you’re offering, they will attach themselves to it. And to you.
Awesome value has magnetism. And this is exactly what you want.
Paying for something is just one way that creating something special manifests itself. Steve Smith of Poundland fame is a great example of that form of awesome value. You just know you are getting awesome value there.
Steve started on street markets and built an empire based on everything being a pound. No need to have sales. No need to haggle or negotiate or join a loyalty club. Everyone gets one thing and it’s communicated effortlessly: awesome value.
But awesome value can be something other than low prices. If you create products or services that people like, want to associate with, engage with, consider relevant or investigate more, then you are onto something.
That something is special. It’s awesome value. It’s what sets great entrepreneurs apart from all the rest, regardless of sector or geography.
* Create Special, Think and act like an entrepreneur to change your life by Jim Duffy MBE is published by Harriman House on 15 May (click on advert above right to order)