By Paul Oberschneider Entrepreneur, private equity investor, business startups and emerging market expert. My new book ‘Why Sell Tacos in Africa’ pre-order:

24 years ago I boarded a flight from the New York to Tallinn, Estonia with my last $400 in my jeans pocket, and landed in a city where I knew nobody. My plan was never to go there to start a business, but somehow, over the course of the next 18 years I would build real estate businesses worth $200 million that would employ more than 850 people across 35 different offices.

My background was as a Wall Street floor trader, so at that time I knew very little about the real estate industry. I didn’t know the local market, and I barely even spoke the language. However, I was an entrepreneur, and when I came up with my vision for what I wanted to achieve, what I was good at was finding the right people and inspiring them to help me make that vision a reality.

Whether you’re trying to get a start-up off the ground or you’re leading a more established business, you can only really go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ by inspiring others. That is why so often you find really successful business people are great storytellers – they share their passion and it inspires their teams and their customers.

The key is, you need to make your thing their thing, and here are some tips for how to achieve it:

Dare to dream

Don’t be afraid to have a big goal. In order to inspire others, you need to conjure up something original, different, new, bigger or better, but you also must really believe in it. The sky really is the limit, and you are capable of more than you have ever even imagined.

Turn to your old friend, paper

When you work in technology, your natural instinct may be to reach for a high tech solution, but a simple pen and paper can be a powerful way to sketch out your goals. It may feel strange, as you’re essentially mapping out a fantasy at this stage, but the process of writing it all down will start to make your ideas more concrete.

Writing and storytelling are powerful tools and key skills for anyone who wants to build a company. You are telling the story of the future success of your business, so make it exciting!

Refine your vision

Try to simplify your written draft, so that you can explain it in a way that others can understand quickly and easily. Being able to share your vision with other people effectively is going to be critical for your success. It will enable you to build the right team of employees, investors and business partners, and ultimately, persuade customers to buy your service or product.

Write your ideas out again and again, and even add pictures to show how it looks in your head. It may feel silly at times, but writing is action, so the plan will become stronger in your mind with every rewrite.

Get set… GO!

By the time you have finally managed to get your vision the way you want it on paper, your brain will have gone through an amazing process, considering any number of issues, opportunities and potential hurdles. Now you are ready to kick things off and see where your vision takes you.

Of course, the path to your vision is never going to be a straight line from A to Z. Inevitably, obstacles are going to get in your way and you will have to think creatively, be flexible and keep revising your plan. You will keep getting new information and advice, and your circumstances will change every day, but with a clear vision of what your end goal is, it will be much easier to overcome the challenges and inspire others to help you find a new path to your goal.

Paul Oberschneider is a successful entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and the author of new book, Why Sell Tacos in Africa? It is due to be published by Harriman House in January 2017 or is available as an ebook on Amazon now. For more information or to download four free chapters go to

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