“You have to see failure as the beginning and middle, but never entertain it as an end.” Jessica Herrin (Founder and CEO; Stella & Dot)
I maintain that one of the most used words in this generation is ‘Entrepreneurship’. At the same time, I suspect it is the frequently abused word. Whiles I think there is fairly an appreciation for the subject, I want to say there has not been an equal understanding of what it entails. In my attempt to share my two cents on this big concept, let me mention I in no way establish to be an expert on it. In this read, I will walk you throw the basics of entrepreneurship, we will explore what it means to be an entrepreneur, some important sign posts to observe. Enjoy the material.
Investopedia identifies an entrepreneur as an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. ‘Dictionary.Com’, shares a similar explanation and refers to it as a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. In addition to these definitions and for the purpose of this write up, I will like us to look at an entrepreneur as ‘a person who identifies a business opportunity and organizes, manages and assumes the risks of starting and operating a business.’
An entrepreneur is therefore a business person. Someone who sees opportunities in existing situations or rather creates opportunities in new situations. Such people understand that venturing into their idea can be very rewarding especially in the long run. At the same time, they are equally mindful that, the journey can be lonely, disappointing and unyielding.
To get the most of their experience, they put together resources in the form of human capital and logistics needed to get work done. They manage and allocate them for effective use. I must say most entrepreneurs are smart and excellent people, looking at how they harness their skills to turn seemingly impossible situations into award-winning projects.
Before we move further, you most likely can say that entrepreneurship is therefore the process of organizing and reorganizing opportunity and testing it on the market. The process includes gathering the relevant resources to attain good results in the business.
Africa has seen many entrepreneurs including Africa’s richest Aliko Dangote, Prince Kofi Amoabeng of UT Holdings, Mike Adenuga who as at March 2018 was estimated by Forbes to be worth $4.2 billion, Chairman of ‘Forte Oil PLC’ Femi Otedola, Folorunsho Alakija who in 2014 temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the word, Dr. Strive Masiyiwa of Econet.
When you consider entrepreneurs as we have just listed and many others who today have built huge business empires, it is possible to conclude that millions of investment is needed to set up your business to be a successful entrepreneur. On the contrary research shows that most of the world’s successful enterprisers started small, they identified a few business secrets and leveraged on them to be where they are today. I must say you are in good luck, as with my study of a few successful entrepreneurs, I have compounded their principles in the next few paragraphs of this material.
One of my mentees, Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh of ‘Role Model Africa’ initiative shares that small things are precursors of big things yet to come. What do we derive from this you ask? Planting a small seed today is an indication if a bug harvest yet to come. If you intend to become a big entrepreneur, the secret lies in starting small. Starting your own business is a big scary step into the unknown, but just by considering the option I must say you are one step ahead. You do not have to wait to have all the resources at your disposal before you start, make the most of what you have now. Don’t expect to have a million-dollar account before you launch out. Or are you waiting to have an office at prime locations in Accra or Lagos before you think you are ready to begin? Start small.
Deal with fear. There is always a scary feeling associated with starting anything new. Sometimes it is not necessarily the feeling that something will go wrong, but the thought of uncertainty. The feeling when you are new to something can be uncomfortable to deal with; it is blended with excitement and anxiety. How did you feel as a fresh person in the university or a new entrant on the job market? Staring off as an entrepreneur is almost similar to any new experience you can have such as your first time on a flight. It can be scary, but you need to be on it to get to your next destination. You only have to deal with the fear and in no time you will cross oceans and continents.
Most success teachers have explained the need for belief and self-affirmation. It is arguably one of the best motivating enhancers I have come across. It seems your mind believes you more than it does of anything and anyone else. Your mind accepts whatever you key into it. If you tell your mind you can make it, it agrees with you. If you conclude you cannot make it, your mind thinks you are right. I have developed a posture of not beating up myself with negative comments. Indeed, the roadmap of entrepreneurship is unpredictable, but; I can make it, I will win, my investments will not go bad, these should be the affirmations you make to yourself. Believe in yourself, no one can do that for you.
Most successful leaders and entrepreneurs for this matter admit that when you are passionate about something you pursue it. It is less stressful to do things that you are excited about as against those that you find as a drab. It is true that you want to be an entrepreneur, but are you excited about the products or services you are marketing? Until you find some interest in what you do or rather, do what you are interested in, you are likely to lose fuel on the road. Successful leaders and entrepreneurs do what they love and love what they do.
If you are telling yourself that with all the listed arsenals you are good to enter into semi-finals, let me alert you with this, get some information. Take the pain of studying from successful persons in the field you want to venture into. For most things you may want to do, chances are there are others that have succeeded or failed at them before. Why go through the pain to identify what can make you succeed or fail, without first observing and learning from the experiences of such entrepreneurial leaders? Watch videos on the areas you are passionate about, subscribe to an online magazine that sends you information on the current trends in your business. Wisdom is priceless.
It is important to mention that a lot of entrepreneurs fade out because they are not true to their brand. Authenticity is important in keeping your brand fresh and alive in the minds of your customers. Do not imitate others wrongly. Know your identity and find ways to grow and develop your products and services. In your attempt to compete your desire should not necessarily outdo your competitors, you have to outdo yourself!
Let me draw your attention to the fact that you will certainly experience challenges in accessing funds, hiring the right talents and strategic partners. But in all these keep your head up. Be innovative, develop effective customer skills, invest in yourself and team, and very importantly establish strategic partners with other startups and SME’s
Permit me to conclude with this quote I chanced on, in one of my studies, it says ‘I don’t care how many have failed before me, they are not me’. I want this quote to re-echo in your mind as you think of being an entrepreneur. Have in your mind’s eye that you are a successful leader. Leaders do not imagine themselves as failures, whiles they expect certain challenges along the way, they see themselves as victors and that is winning the battle mid-way already.