Guided Missiles: The Lonely Path of Entrepreneurship

Reflecting on the first half of the year 2018 and taking stock of the year 2017, there are contrasting findings in the number of entrepreneurial startup as well as existing firms’ success and failure rate. A situation that lends credence to the fears most corporate people have whenever the thought of going ‘solo’ (entrepreneurship) comes up: the thought of that “lonely path.”

It comes with uncertainties: risk of losing the rather scarce capital, getting the right team with the requisite know-how and attitude, lack of support from family and friends and ooh the most dreadful one – lack of self-confidence because forfeiting a regular paid job and chasing your ‘good ideas or passion’ does not guarantee having food on your table, clothes on your back and paying your bills. Whether you are a student about to complete your current level of education, an unemployed graduate or salaried worker, the transitions associated with every decision you make has consequences. We all desire for change but who drives the change taking cognizance of the inherent risk?

A validated idea supported by a strong desire or passion is a fine starting point but then a well fashioned out plan and vision with enough savings and a spending plan (supportive family and friends) to sustain you in your activated survival mode is a step in the right direction. This is best actualized by establishing if you are an ‘opportunity’ entrepreneur or ‘necessity’ entrepreneur and getting the right team after identifying your strengths and weaknesses (key resources).

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Market dynamics sometimes demands adjustments to suite the time and this may slightly alter the vision and business plan but do not lose sight of the bigger picture as entrepreneurship is a process. The 21st century entrepreneur challenges the ‘normal’ by doing away with outmoded models through innovative means that affords leverages by employing impactful tools and technology which aids the brand demand drive. The business model canvas is a great tool to use in structuring an effective and viable business.

The question often asked is ‘Why do entrepreneurs with great (innovative) ideas fail with some even quitting completely to end up in the corporate world when they have had some forms of funding, training and coaching?’. A recent visit to some beneficiary businesses support this line of questioning.

What brings about these situations? Do budding entrepreneurs have the requisite knowledge and skills to venture into their identified ideas? What training and funding or financing options are there to assist them? Is it that due diligence is not carried out by donors or program managers?

What warrants for ‘serial’ entrepreneurs who are found at almost all donor training and pitching sessions? Are the training programs offered tailored to suite the various industries? How credible are institutions and programs targeted at different categories of entrepreneurs? How competent are the facilitators, coaches and mentors of such programs?  What post training sessions are instituted to assess proper application and implementation of the skills acquired during such trainings? Where such post training care exist, which evaluation methods are used to ascertain its effectiveness?

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