Are entrepreneurs born with certain characteristics that influence their successful ventures? Or is it that early exposure to viable business opportunities spurs on their inherent entrepreneurial streak? EMMANUEL MWENDWA explores
Time and again, questions abound on the criterion used to decipher whether an entrepreneur is self-made or inherits their business acumen.
Research studies for instance, indicate average entrepreneurs tend to share strong personality traits. These include an innovative mind, extreme self-confidence, uncanny ability to trust one’s sense of judgment, restlessness and independence.
The distinctive tendencies develop gradually into an inborn genetic make-up. This implies that an entrepreneur is either born with business acumen; they ‘work smart’ or their way up to establish successful ventures.
Frida Owinga, who runs Passion Profit venture, points that “an entrepreneur is any individual able to recognise and pursue opportunities; besides having the ability to find or raise capital and build a management team”.
In her view, a must-have commitment to the innovation is all it takes. She spells out the disciplines of success in the acronym PASSION:
P = Persuasiveness: An entrepreneur must acquire the skill to persuade others to buy their idea and products.
A = Attitude and Aptitude: A positive attitude is an absolute necessity to counter discouragement and also overcome obstacles/difficulties. But, good attitude is not enough; aptitude in business skills is vital.
S = Strategy: An entrepreneur must have a plan and action steps to actualise the outlined projections.
S = Stickability: The ability to stick on with the business plan is the key to nurture success. Any required changes must be specific; appropriate without straying from the vision.
I = Innovation: An entrepreneur has to consistently add value and inject freshness to an already existing idea and business.
O = Opportunist: The ability to recognise and pursue opportunities is crucial. Often, opportunities arise in form of challenges, and those able to solve the problem gain profit.
N = Networking: An entrepreneur ought to nurture and cultivate relationships for mutual benefit.
There are perceptions that one’s entrepreneurial intention is predictable on basis of interaction between individual physical perceptions, values, background and environment. This argument anchors on the premise entrepreneurs pursue opportunities no matter what it takes. Qualities such as determination to succeed and taking risks are not learnt, but vary from different case situations.
Incidentally, the word entrepreneur is derived from the 17th century French entrependre – in essence as reference to individuals who risk setting up new enterprises. Likewise, success accrues from transforming potential ideas into a viable business plan, getting a venture started and sustainably growing it.
However, savvy entrepreneurs hinge success on tolerance to potential risks – compared to peers’ preference for employment. Entrepreneurs inducted to trade/enterprise of their choice early, get off the starting blocks fast enough. Frida advocates looking out for opportunities and seizing the moment if one has what it takes to pursue it. “There is no perfect time to invest; all our experiences, good and bad, can shape us for the next season,” she remarks.
In her case, she quit a well-paying job to set up Passion Profit – a school of entrepreneurship training, whose operations began within a month.
“My spark of inspiration was the realisation that most people are in jobs they don’t like; others train for jobs that hardly exist. I decided to work with a few willing to create job opportunities,” she explains.
An individual’s entrepreneurship streak can be identified by the ability to solve challenges and attract others to utilise the skills to solve a similar problem. Ideally, few ventures are embarked upon on impulse. “Most clients have thought about their business idea for a while. Starting a business is a risk that requires courage,” counsels Frida.
It takes varied risk factors to nurture a sustainable venture whose core productive asset is not the founding entrepreneur’s skills, contacts or efforts – but entails making a long-term gamble. Most durable businesses produce consumer goods, thus require consistent investment before profit margins trickle in.
Also, entrepreneurs may be compelled to advertise to build their brand name. The sometimes hefty advertising capital can be raised by re-investing profits or bringing on board equity investors as partners.
Small-scale entrepreneurs in pursuit of lifestyle ventures encounter and endure more risks. Would-be investors are averse to enterprises without stocks options or have limited growth options. Such entrepreneurs work longer hours to reap tangible profits. But the cash streams only begin flowing upon risk levels reconciliation.
Experts advise if initial investment reaps limited gains or additional revenue injection is required to sustain venture – then it is time to bail out. Or re-set targets focused on outlining a realistic, profits-generation strategy.