Mar 20 , 2021
By Million Kibret
Irrespective of geographic locations and periods in time, the essence of entrepreneurship is being voluntarily caught between a rock and a hard place to realise dreams. Energy, thick skin, the courage to take calculated risks, and a hunger to put a dent on the planet are ingredients.
With unclear regulations, ambiguous procedures and irregular practices, the entrepreneurship path is even fuzzier and hazy in developing countries such as Ethiopia. Handholding is a better way to guide novices than formal handbooks on doing business. The best approach for getting entrepreneurs started can be the formation of teams composed of novices and veterans.
A complete newbie entrepreneur would draw her business plans in a well-crafted manner. She would also identify the project locations and prepare applications to submit to the relevant government bodies. She would expect – given that her project is a win-win for the country and herself – the officials to fight tooth and nail to host her venture.
She would also outline sources of finance and list the good names of the local banks and financing institutions. She will assume that for such a lucrative project, the banks should strive to prove themselves if they deserve to be the preferred financier, which will be rare and a credit for the nation and the world.
She will go down this rabbit hole only to learn that she had been naive after a few attempts with the would-be stakeholders. She would then become philosophical.
What does the government need if not a winning, hiring and taxable project? How do banks survive without well-crafted, well-intentioned and well-thought-out companies?
This is where the veteran team players neatly fit in. These folks are rare breeds, more practical than vocal. Their languages are more seen than heard. Deaf as they are to the rhetoric on the stages, they are all eyes on practices. They do not just read formal regulations and policies but deeply understand from the source and background why these rules are in place and how the formalities are translated and applied on the ground.
For instance, the novice may eagerly wait for the morning following the evening news of incentives for entrepreneurs. Veterans, however, may put restraints on such hasty moves until they understand if there were other stories behind the incentives, which look too good to be true. The novice watches commercials run by financial institutions and jumps for project funding requests. But the veterans' investigations can be more profound as they need to know the persons and the stories and may look for connections before knocking on the doors.
When the novice stares at fronts, the veteran focuses on back offices. The veteran digs to know the depth of basements when the beginner counts the number of floors. When the novice rushes to apply international standards, the veteran considers local practices. This healthy tug of war between the duo calls for reconciliation, paving the way for practical paths.
Both the novice and veteran ingredients and outlooks are equally crucial for the entrepreneurship journey. The novice dreams on a white, blank paper undeterred by current bottlenecks and local twists. She energises the move and gives the whole venture color and texture. The veteran fights to tame the dream into a practical shape and realistic path. The novice strives to bring innovation, and the veteran seeks to translate creative initiatives into practical solutions.
Not all the elderly are veterans for business though. Search tirelessly for those who were at ground-zero of the battleground in the war of business. Look for those who were actively present in the formation of companies from scratch to stardom. Theory is a great base for practice, and theoreticians are the pillars of the planet. But novice entrepreneurs shall fight for veteran practitioners who were tested on the ground in many failures and little glamour.
Novelty is seeing the future; moving with speed and leading with passion. Being a veteran is managing reality to reconcile it with dreams. They are the perfect couple for the war in business.
PUBLISHED ON Mar 20,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1090]
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