Entrepreneurship 101: Going From Good To Great
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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The answer to 'why entrepreneurship?' can be a complex one ranging from wanting to chase your passion to not wanting to be an employee or taking charge of a family business. Whatever the reason maybe, it is worth the plunge since there is no safer place than the UAE to own a business. According to a study by the Dubai SME body as well as the Dubai Statistics Centre, SMEs account for 95% of the enterprise population, employ 42% of the workforce and contribute up to 40% of the emirate’s GDP.
However, starting a business and running one ‘successfully’ are two different things. Let us look at four broad categories of entrepreneurs:
1. The Passion-preneurs They get into it following their ‘passion’ but soon realise that passion and running a profitable entity are two different things. Here the entrepreneur may feel a sense of despondency, experience burn out or fail to scale up, leaving them second guessing this decision.
2. The Copycat entrepreneurs This, often, is the most dangerous type. The prevalent thought process here is, if it works for someone else, why not for me too? Ideally, the process, passion, and purpose have to be aligned for a business to be successful. Having said that, the mindset and resilience of the entrepreneur contributes to the success of a business.
3. The Redundant-Reluctant-preneurs They were the least likely to consider entrepreneurship. In many cases, these are people who got laid off and didn't find another job or did not want to return to the rat race. Many entrepreneurs belong to this category. However, except for a handful of success stories, most are a flash in the pan.
4. The Legacy-preneurs Often, in a business that has been running successfully for generations, either the older generation is afraid to hand over the reins to successors or the younger generation feels a lack of interest or ownership posing a threat to the longevity of the business or the business model.
It is not unusual for entrepreneurs to face anomalies to address and work around. It is relatively easier for a business to go from base to good, but what makes it great?
1. Always start with the business plan As basic as this may seem, a sound business plan is never overrated. Forecast it for at least three years and ensure that you have funds for at least two to survive even if you don’t make a single dirham, time and overheads included. What if you did not have a business plan to start with? Write one and revisit it periodically when markets, priorities and focuses change. A plan may not be fool-proof but is a key yardstick to keep you on track.
2. Money and time Keep debts low for money saved is money earned. If you can delegate or hire someone to complete a task, then do so. Collaboration gets better results and frees up your time for more strategic endeavours.
While this is relevant for a first-timer, what about the mid-life or seasoned entrepreneur aiming for greater heights? The key here is investing in people and reinvesting your time in other important things. Choose between a person or process approach. In the long run, the process approach works as you are not dependent on the person, but on the robustness of the process itself.
1. Slow and steady If you are fortunate to take over a family business, remember to honour the legacy. Be the agent of change by focusing on making small, incremental changes instead of changing the entire face of things overnight. This way, you get to learn from the wisdom of the old while not compromising on the freshness and innovation of the new.
2. Find a coach It is always helpful to have someone with experience and insight to assist you. The world’s best athletes, business and world leaders have a coach or have undergone coaching at some point in time. It is an investment that may seem unnecessary or expensive in the short run but think of it as a bamboo tree. With the right coach, guidance (seed) and interventions (environment) in a few years will yield the bamboo tree to stand the test of time.