There are so many different takes on what an entrepreneur is and what exactly they look like.
Some would suggest that a newspaper vendor is an entrepreneur, while others say that only the Richard Bransons, Elon Musks and Johan Ruperts of the world fit the bill. Each of these perspectives is correct in some way.
People like Richard Branson were entrepreneurs when they started their first ventures, and have since become “serial” entrepreneurs with huge success. But it is not only the success that makes them entrepreneurs; it is also their learning experience (their under-performing ventures, or failures) that contributed to their achievements.
So, what is an entrepreneur?
According to the English Oxford Living Dictionaries, an entrepreneur is someone who “sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”.
If this is true, which of the following people would you classify as entrepreneurs?
· Newspaper vendors They choose one site at the expense of another site. They forego formal work to earn commission through newspaper sales. The number of sales determines their income. How they remember and treat their clients may have an effect on their sales.
· Sellers of airtime or cell phone credit They take financial risks when buying the vouchers, and then hope to make sales in areas that they have identified as showing a big demand. They hope to make enough sales to generate a profit.
· Fruit and veggie vendors These vendors have also identified a demand for their products in the market, and take risks by purchasing stock for resale at a profit.
All of the above people risk something in the hope of making a profit. Their financial risk might be small in some cases, but is still a risk. They may not be Elon Musk yet, but they display many of the characteristics of an entrepreneur. They may have been forced into the entrepreneurial world but with the right encouragement and mentorship they could become the next Bill Gates or Johan Rupert.
It seems that entrepreneurial thinking is not encouraged enough in our homes and schools. Young people are more often applauded for attaining further education qualifications, and finding a respectable job. We should teach the youth that being an entrepreneur is also a valid career, and that a successful entrepreneur may, in turn, be able to create many other jobs.
The attributes of an entrepreneur
Every person boasts different characteristics and personality traits which make them unique and good at what they do, but here are a few common qualities which feed the entrepreneurial spirit:
1. They are passionate and motivated to make their business idea work.
2. They take calculated risks.
3. They have self-belief, they are hard workers and show disciplined dedication.
4. They are adaptable and flexible.
5. They know their product, and they see the need in the market.
6. They know the importance of money management, and make sure it is always under control.
7. They have a good plan.
8. They have good networking skills.
9. They are prepared to sell or close the business, when needed.
The Springboard Academy’s Terence Knott-Craig believes that all people are born with entrepreneurial skills, and if these skills are not developed or encouraged in young people, they are often lost.
Knott-Craig adds that certain entrepreneurial attributes can be learned, and with the right encouragement at a young age, entrepreneurs can be developed through effective mentoring and coaching.
As a result, new businesses will come about and these new businesses will create jobs to defeat unemployment.
“They will create opportunities that will correct the inequalities of our society and they will generate economic growth with resulting relief to the poor,” Knott-Craig explains.
“We need to develop entrepreneurs for a better South Africa.”