Book Notesbillionaire-under-construction-dj-sbu-lessons

“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

These are the words from Steve Jobs I look back on after I read DJ Sbu’s new book, Billionaire Under Construction: The Mindset of an Entrepreneur.

DJ Sbu has lived up to those words: from working in a community radio station, co-founding a record label to being a celebrated artist. And then getting fired from one of the South Africa’s top radio station.

Then bouncing back by launching an energy drink brand and currently owning a radio station.

He has done it all.

With resilience. Patience and determination.

Billionaire Under Construction is one of those books you’ll read again and again — without getting fed up of it


It’s a book packed with what I call “entrepreneurial prudence”.

And it’s a must-read for every entrepreneur.

In Martin McKenzie’s own words:

“Sbu has given you a powerful insight into his world, from entrepreneurship and business ventures, to overcoming challenges and always keeping up the passion, the spirit and the determination to make it, to stay on top, to reach higher, and the importance of doing good — not just for oneself but also for the wider community. He encourages other to develop their own vision, build their own businesses and bring innovation, passion and creativity to their country and their continent”

If you’ve never had of DJ Sbu, he’s one man who I know has received the most when it comes to criticism.

A South African DJ. A Social Entrepreneur. A Philanthropist.

He has called by many as a chancer. Controversial. Fake. Down and out.

But one thing I can attest to:

He is not your ordinary entrepreneur. He has been through a lot of setbacks but he manages to bounce back. And In this book, he outlines his journey as an entrepreneur in an arresting manner.

This is not a book review, but rather an extraction of my top lessons that literally blew my mind.

So, shall we get started?

#1: On Being Flexible in Life…

We’ve to be like water: when you pour water into a container, it doesn’t resist. It simply takes the shape of the container. Or look at it another way. Think of a river, then think of a rock or other obstacles in that river. Think of how the water isn’t impeded in any way by the presence of the hurdles. It simply flows around and past them.

#2: On Being an Entrepreneur…

Being an entrepreneur means signing up for a lifetime of a graft. It means staying in to write proposals when everyone else has gone out partying. It means breaking up with partners who no longer have the patience for your long hours. It means missing out on milestones in your friends’ lives because you’re dedicating all your time to your business. It means getting up early every single morning of your life, never sleeping in, because you realize that every second count. In other words, every minute you spend not focused on your work is 60 seconds that diminish your success.

#3: On Friends and Family…

And don’t be surprised if your friends and family aren’t cheering you on while you’re running yourself ragged trying to manage your hectic schedule. Being an entrepreneur is lonely. You might often feel as though you have no one in your corner. You won’t have a boss to give you pep talks when you’re slowing down, or an annual performance appraisal to show you where you’re doing well and where you need to invest more effort.


dj sbu quote on Billionaire Under Construction

#4: On Having a Great Idea…

As an entrepreneur, you have to accept that no matter how great your idea, people aren’t going to clamour on your brand. You’ll have to work hard to develop and market it, and even then it will be some time before consumers take notice.


#5: On Being Called Crazy…

The good news for you is that you have all kinds of tools at your disposal. You’re allowed – make the encouraged – to be a little crazy. In fact, be as crazy as you can, or you won’t make an impact. You have to be a maverick. And, yes, you might be misunderstood, because creatives almost always are. But creatives have to create if they’re to change the world. We’re the master disruption.


#6: On Being Hungry as an Entrepreneur…

We’re forever hungry – and if you’re not, there is a problem. Hunger is one of the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Hunger is what keeps you on your quest to turn your dream into a reality and then makes you stay on course to ensure that reality becomes a successful venture. Hunger is what makes you take a risk on a new project, even though you’re still reeling from the challenges you encountered getting your last one up and running.

Just how hungry do you have to be? If you’re hungry, you’ll work for something even if it doesn’t pay. You’ll do anything in your power to keep it alive. You’ll keep your eye on the prize and refuse to get distracted by hunger ‘stealers’ like naysayers or plans that don’t work out.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Don’t let your hustle go on cruise control – turbo it up, Akulalwa baba! – @DjSbu”]


#7: On Being Misunderstood by Family…

Our families often can’t understand what drives us. They may enjoy the enthusiasm, but they don’t feel the same passion. It’s a double-edged sword, because it’s when you’re taking risks and facing setbacks that you’re most in need of support — but it’s at these times that you may find your spouse or your parents urging you to go back to employment because they don’t see the point of putting everything you have on the line. You may even find yourself facing an ultimatum, forced to choose between your family and your business.


#8: On Being Focused as an Entrepreneur…

It’s good thing we’re so focused because, truth to tell, there would be no story to share if we weren’t. You have to be wholly committed to your journey as an entrepreneur. You have to be in it, regardless of how difficult it gets or how many times you fail or how many people express their doubts about what you’re doing. You’ll encounter all these challenges and more, and if you allow them to distract you, you’ll be severely set back.


#9: On Ignoring Nonsense…

Ignore nonsense. Focus on what matters. Return hate with love. Kill them with kindness. And bury them with success. — This credo makes it easier to handle the criticism. It’s one of the things that keeps me going because it helps bring my mind to what is really important.

This is crucial for any entrepreneur. People will test you. Circumstances will test you. At times, you will be distracted, disappointed, angered, possibly even tempted to explore other career opportunities. But you have to brush off these emotions. You have to remain focused at all times, or you will fail.


DJ SBU Quote in Billionaire Under Construction book


#10: On Winning as an Entrepreneur…

You will not win as an entrepreneur by catering to the majority. Pick a niche you know a lot about and analyse the behaviour of the people in that niche, their needs and their way of life, then look at your competition and find out what they are NOT offering your niche and fine-tune your offering accordingly.


Final Words

Entrepreneurship is one of the most romanticized fields in the 21st century. It’s Ubiquitous. Almost everyone is starting a business. Everyone is a CEO.

But no one is unveiling the truth. No one is telling the real hurdles of being an entrepreneur. And that’s where Billionaire Under Construction comes in.

A priceless story of an African child who’s building something out of nothing.

So if you’re planning to get on the bandwagon of entrepreneurship; If you’re planning to jump; Buy this book.

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