During the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in July this year, President Obama emphasized on the need to create jobs. Creation of jobs via start up enterprises that are focused on accelerated and sustainable growth is essential to the growth of the economy of Kenya and other developing countries. In 2006, Kenya unveiled a blue print of its vision to economic prosperity titled Vision 2030. Small and medium sized enterprises were identified as being pivotal to the realization of Vision 2030.
Unlike the previous generation whose career path was tethered on employment, the millennials and centennials are keen on creating and building their own enterprises. It is easy to do so based on a bubble made out of various assumptions. This compounds a worrying trend in which small and medium sized enterprises fail within the first five years of operation. Some of the most common misconceptions about entrepreneurship are:
- Entrepreneurship is a sure ticket to vast wealth
The problem with this assumption is that, a part of it is true, and a part of it is a lie. This qualifies it as a lie. There is no shortage of stories about entrepreneurs who have made a ton of money as a result of their entrepreneurial exploits. Mark Zuckerberg is listed among the billionaires in the world because Facebook is worth $ 200 billion dollars. Chris Kirubi, Manu Chandaria, Strive Masiyiwa, Aliko Dangote among other Kenyan entrepreneurs are also worth a fortune. What most articles fail to mention is that, none of the individuals with such fortunes have access to their fortune at the click of the finger. Their companies are run by boards that look out for the well-being of their companies. By the time an enterprise grows to the size of Facebook, billions have been invested into it and the investors expect returns for their trouble.
- Entrepreneurs can do whatever they want
Are you a lazy, incompetent employee who cannot take instructions? May be you are an entrepreneur, screams an online article on the profile of an entrepreneur. How misconstrued! The principles of employment are the principles of self-employment. Terrible employees make terrible entrepreneurs because in effect, human beings are what they repeatedly do. Contrary to popular belief, any entrepreneur is still subject to deadlines and instructions. The only difference between being an employee and being entrepreneur is that the title of your boss changes. An employee’s boss is called a boss. An entrepreneur’s boss is called an investor or a client.
Entrepreneurs are more invested in the vision of the company, hence they have to put in more hours than an employee. Entrepreneurs need to have the grit to turn the vision into a reality, an endeavor that is not for the faint-hearted.
Excellent employees seeking to be entrepreneurs need to remember this: you do not have to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial. You can be an employee who is entrepreneurial.
- Entrepreneurship is about creating jobs
That is partially true but there is more to it. Creating jobs and doing a terrible job of sustaining those jobs is pointless. It is quite common to come across entrepreneurs who do not work towards creating a conducive working environment. The end result is a high turnover rate which affects the product or service being offered by the company. Entrepreneurs who are keen on sustaining their enterprises look out for their employees. The customer might be king but the employee is the key to the success of any enterprise. Richard Branson recently made headlines by offering employees in management paternity leave for a year if they have worked for the company for more than four years.
- All you need to be an entrepreneur is a great product or service
There are a million great products half way across the world. How many smart phones do we have in the market? How many brands of computers do we have in the market? Most of the brands are great. The companies that remain at the top do not fold their arms and congratulate themselves for creating a great product. They have marketing strategies, solid financial plans, innovative supply chain systems and water tight distribution strategies. Any successful enterprise is dependent on a compendium of factors for its success. Neglect of any of these factors has detrimental effects.
In 1975, Kodak invented the first digital camera. It would take years before the competitors caught up with Kodak. Kodak moments revolutionized photography across the globe. Sadly, Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012 in spite of being one of the greatest enterprises in the world. Failure to keep up with the times became the death bed of Kodak.
Entrepreneurs reading the Kodak story need to remember that great products don’t make a successful enterprise.
Are you an entrepreneur? What misconceptions have you shed in your journey so far?
By Corazon Achieng. Follow her on LinkedIn