It is nearly impossible to be on social media each day and not remark a friend, family, or acquaintances selling something. It almost feels like everyone is selling something nowadays. There is a plenitude of reasons behind this sudden uprising of small businesses these days. These reasons vary from economic hardship, the necessity to increase sources of income, the availability of capital, to the desire to be an entrepreneur.
Yes, entrepreneurship is one of these words or concepts that we hear every single day in the media and this Heated Pundits article focuses on this concept of Entrepreneurship. What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Who qualifies to be an entrepreneur and what the key traits that anybody needs to have before venturing in entrepreneurship, taking into consideration the African climate in which we live. Let’s look into the nine (9) traits that make the entrepreneur.
Starting a business is one of the energy-intensive activity ever, being a starting entrepreneur or not. There are many steps in the business creation process, both at the idea stage and implementation. Being a novice entrepreneur, these various stages and the activities will be new things to you and bring their dose of challenges.
If you cannot motivate yourself and take on every little bit of energy you have each day to get up and work on your dreams, it will be impossible to make them happen. In the early days of your business, you will mostly be alone. So you need as an entrepreneur to find ways to self motivate yourself, to push your body and your mind beyond new horizons.
Moreover living in Africa, self-motivation is key, because we as Africans do not have a long history of creating businesses and making them successful. Therefore anyone taking the road of entrepreneurship needs to have a great deal of motivation,` something inside so strong` that will push you not to mind the many naysayers and overcome laziness, procrastination and any other element that can hinder do from succeeding.
2. Be passionate and visionary.
You need to have a vision and most importantly something bigger than the mere desire to make money. This is important because in the first days of your business there will be little or no money coming in. Therefore, if you are going in business for the sole purpose of making money, you will quickly throw to towel. There needs to be something bigger than the money that gets you excited every day.
It may be the desire to build a great company that will employ thousands of people in your community or maybe solve a particular problem that has been in your society for a long time and that you feel connected to. For Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, it was the desire to put a personal computer in every house. For Dangote, it was the necessity to help build houses on the continent, therefore venturing into cement. What is your vision? Or what are you passionate about? And what are you trying to achieve?
This is one of the most important factors in entrepreneurship success. Every entrepreneur needs to have the ability to organize and execute plans by himself or with the team. If you are not disciplined as an entrepreneur you cannot serve the customers well, you cannot motivate your team members to be disciplined as well.
Discipline allows you to set goals and consistently execute them. It calls out the need to overcome feelings and do the job. Being disciplined means, whether you are happy today or not, you get out of the bed or your comfort zone to get the job done and push your team every day to do the same as well. This leads us to the next point.
A business or any organization aspiring to lasting success needs great leaders. Leadership is your ability to put in an efficient way, human capital at work, to achieve your organizational goals. Being a good leader goes beyond the ability to give orders.
The real leadership challenges come from periods of low performance when you will need as the head of the organization to look for the non-performing human capital of the organization and determine what needs to be done to improve that performance. A good leader as it mostly said, eats always last. That means you need to make personal sacrifices all the time for your business and its people.
5. Tenacity and love for challenges.
Entrepreneurship can be compared to military work. You are always in a war zone, where you need to save your people while making sure the competition does not eat you up. Entrepreneurs must be ready to confront challenges every day from both inside and outside and have the willingness to keep on fighting or pushing each time they encounter challenges.
An entrepreneur only gives up when he has tried everything and given his best, with nothing more to do. Such a mindset is impossible to have or even keep up when you do not have a love for challenges. Meaning that you see every problem as a challenge, not as a problem as most people do and panic. Every challenge for an entrepreneur is an opportunity to learn something new.
6. Love for learning.
There are so many variables involved in business success, varying from one industry to the other. For a young entrepreneur, the experiences gathered during the previous positions in organizations, might not be enough for you to deliver your value proposition to your customers. Therefore you need to have a passion for learning new things. Thankfully, we live in the internet age and information is everywhere. There cannot be any excuse for not being able to keep up-to-date with one’s industry.
Also learning for an entrepreneur is mostly informal. Informal because you need to learn from your customers to know how to improve your product and services, you need to learn from your employees, from the competition, from consultants, mentors, etc. All these never happen in a classroom but rather always on the field.
7. Being able to sell.
In the words of real estate giant Grand Cardonne, ‘sell or be sold’. Every day you have the choice between being a seller or a buyer or finding the right balance between these two. Great entrepreneurs understand that balance and realize they need to sell more than they buy. You need to know how to present your products and services to customers in a way that appeal well-enough to them and that will push them to make purchasing decisions. Selling requires a lot of tenacity as well and the ability to accept rejection and not be demoralized by it. Based on studies, it averagely takes three calls or meetings before one makes a sale. As an entrepreneur, you must at all cost know how to sell and there are many books as well as videos available on the internet to help you master this valuable skill. Maybe one of these days we will make a special article or video on selling for start-ups.
8. Understand Social Media.
Social media for a couple of years now has become part of our daily lives, which means independently of your industry you must find ways to leverage social media to improve your sales.
As a new entrepreneur you have very limited resources, but yet you need to find adequate marketing tools to prevail and thrive in the face of the competition. Social media falls right into that framework. With very little or low capital you can easily set up a great social media marketing strategy that will great results for your business.
9. Be versatile.
Starting and running a new business is mostly done with little resources. The entrepreneur has little or no money and has to make sure that for the first two years at least any money made is sent back into the business. Also, you are limited by the number of people you can hire at the beginning, as more people means higher cost of business. In this perceptive, the starting entrepreneur must be multi-skilled, be able to do a lot at the same time. Versatile people are usually good at business. They love and enjoy doing a lot of things. It does not have to be an inborn skill but you must be ready to be versatile.
In conclusion, we are living in very interesting times and Africa’s greatest businesses are yet to be built. Entrepreneurship being infantile in our continent, it may be hard for us to know where, as young entrepreneurs, we need to start from. The huge amount of information out there about entrepreneurship can also be overwhelming.
Nevertheless, there is no need to rush into entrepreneurship if you do not have any of these characters or skills and are unwilling to learn them. Peer-pressure will be the wrong motive to venture on such a journey. The life of an entrepreneur is not what most media portray as cool and full of luxury, etc. It involves a lot of sacrifices and challenges. There will not be anything more important than making a sincere self-retrospection and ask yourself: Am I really ready to be an entrepreneur?