Entrepreneurship vs. formal employment

It is good to start businesses. It is even better to grow businesses that have already been started. We need to get some things

It is good to start businesses. It is even better to grow businesses that have already been started.

We need to get some things right. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. The definition of entrepreneurship is not someone who ‘starts a business.’ An entrepreneur is someone who starts and runs a successful business that continues even after his or her retirement or death. The best entrepreneur is the one whose business survives the longest after the departure of the founder.

One could say that when someone joins to works with an entrepreneur to grow the business is a founder as well. The next questions become at what time you start working with the entrepreneur. The earlier in the startup you join, the more the risk you share. The fact that entrepreneurship is about risk taking, joining a business that is a startup as key staff, you add a lot of value.

You need to recognize that some people who are born leaders. They can start something and nurture it.  But most of the time we have seen that however high you might be, you may need some minimum grounding to get insights on how to run a business. Either you have a mentor who is an entrepreneur or go into formal employment and learn from the best professionals. Or work with an entrepreneur and grow the business.

Why entrepreneurship?

The advantage of entrepreneurship is that you could cut a lot of time in your path to career success. The fact is all of us see entrepreneur success stories and few failed stories. So many entrepreneurs start new businesses with collapse. Few write about these failed businesses. The media loves success stories — the few outliers who make it get all the coverage. Formal employment may take many years to get to the top of the corporate ladder. To succeed in any given setting, you need to move through the ranks up until the Chief Executive. By the time you walk through the ranks to top management positions, it might take many years.  With an entrepreneur, you can start something, and it becomes outstanding. It is a breakthrough, and within a year, you are already a millionaire. That’s why many people will bet on entrepreneurship other than formal employment. The caveat is that there are few entrepreneurs because the work, effort, time, and sacrifice involved is a lot. Working smart usually comes after the company has succeeded.

So, what’s entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is all about identifying and making the most of any opportunity. Many opportunities appear as big problems, challenges and low quality work which are not attractive to anyone to do it. That is why the best entrepreneur finds the best way of solving a big problem. Uber solves a problem of many people with cars, which they drive alone to work. It solves this problem by connecting these people to customers whom they can pick along the way to their work or errands. Because of Uber registers all its users, it becomes easier

It is not enough to identify a problem. You need to identify challenges or issues in the community and find a novel solution like no other. You are in the know of the difficulties and pains of people.  Great entrepreneurs keep researching the industry to offer solutions that are better than those of competitors. Facebook came up with a social networking site to link University students to their friends. The result was families, friends, teams, colleagues, old boys, etc. to link and catch up. And today, Facebook keeps researching about the common problems that are related to their primary strategic foundation. They have invested in WhatsApp to fix the challenge of high SMS costs to link friends. Also, traditional SMS is expensive to create and communicate among groups of similar interest. WhatsApp enables sharing of videos, photos, documents, etc. on the mobile. It is the cheapest and most convenient application to communicate using the phone!

As an entrepreneur, you cannot bury your head in the sand. You must keep researching and doing market intelligence to update and revise your products to remain responsive to your customer needs.

When people work with entrepreneurs, they get the mindset of thinking about problem-solving — being proactive. Self-starters. In that case, get set for excellence. That is why an entrepreneur is a great resource. Research shows that people who join to work with entrepreneurs and have the mindset of starting things, they thrive and gain shares in the company and ultimately become owners in the same company. In developed countries, this is why people have a share option.

What it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship requires two things; (i) Health and (ii) time. When you are beginning a business, you need to commit a lot of your effort. Sleep late in the night and wake up early in the morning. You immerse yourself into the business so that it becomes part and partial of you. If you are not healthy, it could be a tough call to start out as an entrepreneur since investors want to see someone healthy. And staff what someone who is going to take the first step in running the business they have founded.

You need to put in time.  The time and effort is your capital for the business. Even if you got Ugx 1 billion, inject into the start-up, but you lack time and skill to put into your company, it may collapse. That is why when you approach a bank for a loan, the bank need your assurance and guarantee of your availability to provide oversight over the running of the business.

The fact is, you may not need a lot of money to become an entrepreneur. Find the pains and challenges of the people and provide the most compelling solutions and ideas. Find friends, relatives and other people who buy into your concept, bring them together as a community and make something outstanding.

You can become a great entrepreneur by starting as an employee.  Find an opportunity. We all need lifts and starting points. A great entrepreneur will identify you and join hands. So many people now continue running companies as owners yet such companies where founded by people who long died. That is why you must do your best every time, all the time.

When I completed University, I started a company which failed miserably. The fact is I lacked the skills to run a business. I had to go back and join a bank as an internal auditor. After that, I joined a big for the firm and then got exposed to governance.

Get a job. Do your best, and you will surely succeed. The world has 7.7 billion people, and not all of them are entrepreneurs. Many people work with entrepreneurs and live great lives. The job allows you to see whether you will succeed or not on your own. If you lack a sense of expense management, you cannot manage a small team of people in your department. You cannot focus on business development and cost management to make your team happy; chances are high; you are likely to fail miserably at entrepreneurship.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa 2019. All rights reserved.

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