By Edwin Dande, CEO of Cytonn
The lack of an entrepreneurial spirit is one of the biggest problems we face in this country. We are more interested in tenderprenuership, where we make money as quickly as possible and with the least effort, as opposed to entrepreneurship, which is really about designing and launching a new business idea that makes an impact. At its best, entrepreneurship is about an inner drive to right a wrong in the marketplace.
So, in your quest to become an entrepreneur, what are the things you need to keep in mind?
- Solve a pain point: A common mistake people make is to start businesses because they want to be their own bosses, run away from employment, or to make money. While these are all by-products of entrepreneurship, at the core, the driver has to be solving a painpoint for society. Starting a business focused on the society, not yourself, dramatically increases your chances of success. A good example is Equity Bank, they solved a pain point for the unbanked segment, which had been ignored by the mainstream banks, and not only did they focus on the unbanked, they gave them class and dignity by calling them “members”.
- Build a team: Once you have identified the pain point, you need to build your core team to take advantage of the opportunity. As Steve Jobs said, “Great things in business are rarely done by one person, they are done in teams.” A team is not necessarily made up of people who agree on everything, but those that see the same opportunity, have a shared vision, and a unified commitment to pursue it. Actually, the members of your team don’t even have to like each other; they just have to be able to work together.
- Formulate your strategy: Once you have your team, you need to think about strategy. How you approach building your business to address the pain point depends on your unique resources and capabilities. Do you have the skill set? Will you depend on technology? Do you have the capital? Your strategy should be designed around your competitive advantage. If, for example, you don’t have the technological know-how and you can’t afford to buy it, then you can’t build a business model based on technology.
- Execute: A good idea that is poorly executed is useless. You need to wake up every day knowing what you want to achieve and then work towards that. Entrepreneurs should shy away from too much debate; it is better to execute an imperfect strategy than to have a perfect one on the shelf. In addition, create a culture that is intolerant of excuses. You will never miss stellar reasons for failing to deliver, but unfortunately, the market just wants goods and services that work. It does not accept great excuses. Good entrepreneurs deliver against all odds.
- Learn to be a leader: Having considered everything else, now you have to deal with the soft challenges, which begin with you. To manage people, you must first manage yourself. Understand that you are human. You will doubt yourself, want to quit, and be fearful about losing your life savings and your reputation. Competitors will spend a lot of time and money trying to bring you down. You have to be incredibly resilient – emotionally and physically. After managing yourself, you now have to manage other people, which is in itself a whole other challenge. An entrepreneur has to be a lifelong student of management and leadership.
In conclusion, entrepreneurship in our country is not even an option, it is a national necessity. It is the only way through which we can strengthen our currency, cure joblessness and uplift our standards of living