In plain English, when a fraction is equal or greater than 1, that fraction automatically becomes improper – just like what you have above or in the picture below.
When I first came in contact with and started learning “fractions” as a little boy back then in creche, sorry, primary school, the way my arithmetic teacher used to explain and drum into our little, still empty brains what an improper fraction was, in hindsight, I would say, was really witty yet instructive.
While pointing to the blackboard with her fat, fresh, Savannah forest cain, she would say, as if reciting the third stanza of a National Anthem: “When a big number is carrying a small number, it is called a proper fraction. But when a small number is carrying his mate or carrying a big number, it is called an improper fraction.”
So, I want to borrow my teacher’s way of explaining an improper fraction and then extrapolate a very critical issue that plays out in business as we entrepreneurs thrive daily to run and build our businesses.
Sometime in January 2016, a certain client signed up for our 3-months, 6-figure one-on-one coaching exercise with my company. Before we started out, we decided to sit down with him and do a diagnostic session in order to establish what exactly the deliverables and social contracts were in the said engagement. In the course of that preliminary session, we discovered one very important thing:
Left for him alone, he was ‘very ready’ to kickstart his business and just wanted to print many flyers and business cards and just hit the street!. At that point, as we would say, passion was driving him…but then his passion needed a knowledge support base.
So I said to him: “Holl’up! Holl’up!” “If you do that without first sitting down to design and set the right architecture in place for your business, that’s an ‘improper fraction’ and just like a house built on sandy soil, when the rain or storm comes, it will get washed away.”
Thank heavens he listened and today he is enjoying the consequence! See, when you are more operational in your business than you are strategic, that’s an improper fraction. When you are more fascinated by the beauty of your idea or product than you are about market relevance and agility, that’s an ‘improper fraction’.
When you’re more activity-driven than you are in constantly learning and developing new capacities, that’s an ‘improper fraction.’ When you focus more on raising and spending Angels or VCs funds than in ensuring a real market for your value proposition, that’s a very, very ‘improper fraction’.
What that means, therefore, is that using the very words of my math teacher, you are making a “small number to carry his mate or carry a big number.” The English man would call this “putting the cart before the horse”.
Look, in growing a business as an entrepreneur, your foundation must be stronger than your edifice – otherwise, things would turn belly up. Your foundation shouldn’t be equal to your edifice, it has to be stronger than it. What makes you thick as an entrepreneur is mostly addressed at the foundational level. So don’t be too focused on building a BIGGGGG business that will be making BIGGGGGGG money when you have not first taken care of the basics at your own backyard.
So I need you to pause for a while now and ask yourself this very simple question: “What particular aspect(s) of my business am I currently functioning with an improper fraction?”
If you find it, it is wise that you make a switch, FAST! Let me hear your thoughts.
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