Dissecting the Fearful and Big Word – Entrepreneurship

The world is presently at a crossroad now due to the prevailing economic crises which is not about to subside. Many companies have gone under including those that seemed too big to fall. A lot of people are out of jobs and the burden on governments to revive the economy of their respective countries is huge and one that might take many years to rebuild. All the same; it has been proven that when there is a crisis – it is mostly also a time for new opportunities.
Most of these opportunities will make more sense to countries dominated by goods and services from the developed countries. I believe that this will be a good time for African economies to wake up to the reality of the present situation and find ways to keep the money within the continent. Effectively what I am saying is that a lot of global big powers will crash due to the fact that consumers in the heavily affected super powers like the US and the UK lack the cash flows now and an example is Woolworth. Woolworth UK has officially closed but the Franchise in South Africa is still doing business and I doubt they will go under.
Isn’t it time for Africans to rise to the challenge now and stop waiting for the Western world to provide expertise and businesses for the continent? This brings me to the topic of today – Entrepreneurship.

According to Wikipedia.com – “Entrepreneurship is the practice of starting new organizations or revitalizing mature organizations, particularly new businesses generally in response to identified opportunities”

I love this definition so much because it gives a broad view of what it represents. Many flinch at the mention of this word because in Africa people attribute to a bleak and unknown future. Lets look at the key points in this definition to better appreciate how a paradigm shift in our thinking to Entrepreneurship will change our fortunes for good.

1. Practice: People don’t become entrepreneurs just by sitting down and complaining. Someone once said that you have to wake up from your sleep first before realizing your dreams. Entrepreneurs are agile people who dream but also take time to articulate and actualize their dreams.

2. New: One of the desires of an entrepreneur is to engage herself/himself in innovation. Innovation does not necessarily mean doing something that has never been done before but maybe finding better ways of doing them. Entrepreneurs most likely starts new businesses to address a need they discovered.

3. Revitalization: The ability to say no to status quo and the affinity for improvement is another hallmark of the entrepreneur. These are people who can turn around the fortunes of an ailing organization in a bid to make it more competitive and profitable. So this means that an entrepreneur is not only someone who starts a new company but someone who can revive or improve existing businesses.

4. Sharp Eyed: Most people walk around with their eyes closed to the happenings around them. And entrepreneur’s eyes are trained to key into all the details in a bid to analyze them. It takes an entrepreneur to be angry with the states of taxis in Lagos and decide there is a business in there. It takes an entrepreneur to be dissatisfied with the fact that the shopping experience for Nigerians is still woeful compared to other parts of Africa. An entrepreneur is always on the lookout for ways to improve the quality of life.

5. Responsive: Entrepreneurs do not just spot needs but go all the way to meet them. They are not used to sitting down to blame governments for not doing enough; they either teach the government how to meet those needs or go about it themselves. They are very energetic and sometimes people see them as being over excited.

6. Opportunities: Even in the midst of the present global economic challenge; some special set of people are forming new companies and generating new ideas to help humanity out of this problem. These people are not fazed by the negativity but are constantly identifying new markets.

I have laid a premise in defining who an entrepreneur is and I know you should be asking yourself if you are one. I am going to make the following points to help you determine if you are, will be or not.

1. Motive:
The main purpose of being an entrepreneur is not in the money gained but in meeting a need. Though history has proven that those who meet needs are also rewarded for their efforts which means that it is not a bad thing. If your main focus of starting a business is to gain money then it will most likely fail because that is not a novel idea as anyone can think of making money. Most of the World’s biggest entrepreneurs started with a clear idea of solving a problem or meeting a need. A good example is Richard Branson who started Virgin Atlantic as a result of his bad experiences flying traditional British airlines. Every other company he formed were done to address other needs and most times that leads to profit.

2. Model:
Our world today is faced with numerous challenges especially poverty, HIV Aids and other diseases as well as environmental challenges. An Entrepreneur is thus not necessarily a man who sells and buys goods but someone who takes on a special cause to make the world a better place. The world needs men and women who are passionate about helping our world to conquer the numerous problems it faces today. Men and Women with ideas of how to stop poverty, stop or reduce the HIV debacle and also find ways of rescuing our planet from the depletion of our Ozone layer. The concept of Social Entrepreneurship is now getting popular and we now know that even those who are not prepared to touch traditional business model can also make a difference in their world.

3. Integrity
It is so sad to see that a lot of business personalities in Nigeria are traceable to former government officials and even heads of governments. Most people even believe that one cannot be a successful entrepreneur without huge deposits from a corrupt leader and then serve as his/her front in running those businesses. That is not the characteristics of true entrepreneurs and integrity is the number one thing they hold on to.

4. Dissatisfaction With Mediocrity:
When an entrepreneur enters a restaurant; he notices the service he gets and if he is dissatisfied – his next thinking is how to provide a better service to people for their money’s worth. Many new businesses started on the basis of that. Africa is a ripe place for this as most service companies are so badly managed and if we have people who can turn this around – they are in for a good time.

5. A People Person:
If you are someone who cares about the growth of those around you – then you have the quality of an entrepreneur. A lot of companies fail because those who run it are not bothered about the people who work for them. Sustainable businesses will evolve when these new group of people evolve.

You can start today by looking around your work place for ways to improve service delivery. Note the points and see how you can exploit such avenues. Also look around when you travel abroad and see things you don’t have in your country. If you are the research oriented person – think of a way to turn around the problems inherent in your community and country as a whole. Then you are on your way to becoming an entrepreneur.

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