by Francis Ndeme (MBA)
posted on April 14th,2020
1.1 Definition of an entrepreneur
Mohanty (2005) quoted Peter Drucker to have defined an entrepreneur as “a person who persistently searches for and responds to change by taking advantage of the inherent business opportunities” and further explained that the word entrepreneur came from a French word entreprendre which means a person who does something. A more or less similar definition of an entrepreneur is that of “a person with the ability to identify and evaluate opportunities and who readily gathers necessary resources and initiates actions to seize the identified opportunities” (International Labour Office, 1982). In these definitions, three outstanding aspects exist. The first is the willpower that stirs in a person to start scanning the surrounding environment in different perspectives. The second aspect is about the process of selecting a good idea from the different perspectives that exist in that person’s surrounding environment. The third aspect is on the deliberate steps that are taken in regard to the mobilization of resources to ensure the selected idea is of value to other people.
1.2. Definition of entrepreneurship and its application to economic development
Entrepreneurship is defined as a process of mobilizing resources with an intention to create something new which can be a product or a new method of doing some work that has value to a particular category of people for rewards or risks in case there is a failure (Hisrich, Peters & Shepherd, 2005). Nyarotso (2010) cited Peter Drucker stating that the concept is a discipline that can be learnt and argued that in all spheres of life, people are required who can recognize opportunities to create value and take the necessary action in regard to the opportunities. This implies that whether its is in information technology farming, manufacturing, religion, fishing or formal sector, entrepreneurship concept is applicable. The concept was found to be an important factor to economic development and researchers expanded it to collective entrepreneurship in 1990’s as they reviewed its application to the agricultural sector to address market issues (Chambers, 2007). Collective entrepreneurship has, however, been defined in different ways by many authors. One of these definitions look at the concept as an experience that takes place as a result of collective action aimed at economic and social betterment of an area on the principle of the transformation of some social norms, values and networks for the production of goods and services by an enterprise (Connell, 1999).
Illustrations on how collective entrepreneurship has been applied exist. In Spain, The Basque Model indicates that a number of innovative ideas in the automotive, machine tools and domestic appliances came from a number of people from both public and private sectors who shared their ideas on the basis of the country needs and by so doing, came up with practical solutions that firms implemented for mutual benefits in 1980s and 1990s (Morgan, 2016). Although it is not explicitly explained as collective entrepreneurship, this concept has been in practice in different ways. In Japan, for instance, quality circles are popular where small teams of workers spare their time to brainstorm on how they can improve operational procedures or the quality of the products they handle (Steers & Nardon, 2006). Steers and Nardan (2006) further explain that in California, Silicon Valley is a hub of firms and institutions that closely work together to create a unique supportive environment.
In many developing countries, however, there is an indication that the practice of entrepreneurship and the expanded concept of collective entrepreneurship is inadequate and economic conditions in these countries have been described as dissatisfying. As it has been observed, about 800 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger and 2 billion are affected by micronutrient deficiencies with the implication that there is need for appropriate actions to address the challenges lest 653 million people would still be undernourished by 2030 (FAO, 2017). FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (2019) stated that majority of the people that suffer from hunger are in Asia (500million) and Africa (260 million) with the result that in 2018 undernourishment in Sub-Saharan Africa was found to be 22.8 per cent while in Southern Asia it is 15 per cent and Western Asia 12 per cent. Similar concerns on the suffering of communities and the need for leaders to formulate and execute policies that encourage conducive environment for collective action on practical solutions have been expressed (Maathai, 2009; Masika, 2016).
1.3 The influence of culture on entrepreneurship development
Culture has been defined as “a collection of traditions, values, beliefs, and attitudes that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think in an organization” (Wilton, 2011; citing Mullins, 1993: 649). More information indicate that the level of entrepreneurship in a particular area is determined by the culture of the community members who reside in that area because of the inherent people’s mindset that, in a great way, promote that region’s entrepreneurial activities (Huggins, & Thompson, 2014). As it concerns culture, Robbins, Judge and Sanghi (2010) stated that it refers to tribal customs that serve as guidelines in regard to how members relate with their fellow members. This argument has similarities with what some theorists advanced about entrepreneurship which, as they stated, is a product of culture and that entrepreneurial talents are a result of a conducive cultural environment that make it possible to nature such talents (Mohanty, 2005).
In the United States of America (USA), cultural practices have influenced entrepreneurship development a lot. In early 1980s, the level of the public attitude on entrepreneurship was raised a bit high in USA when high tech-entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs, were recognized nationally with a positive result of many nations emulating the gesture which enhanced the promotion of conducive entrepreneurship environment (Boone & Kurtz, 2000).
In their study on culture, entrepreneurship and uneven development in Great Britain, Huggins and Thompson (2016) concluded that policy makers and implementers face challenges because, in some regions, the practice of communal and collective values is high with low rates in entrepreneurship while in other regions that are more developed, residents exhibit individualistic and diverse cultures. In the same line of argument, co-operative societies exhibit the application of collective entrepreneurship concept in many developed and developing countries. Some of the co-operative societies have succeeded in improving the livelihood of their members; but many others have failed miserably. Similar cases also exist in both public and private companies.
In order for organizations to flourish, be they public, private companies or small scale enterprises, an enterprise culture must be developed and nurtured by all the people who are involved in their operations (Nyarotso, 2010). Wilton (2011) postulated that culture can be deliberately constructed rather than unconsciously developed and stated that human resource management has a key role to play in shaping a desirable culture for competitive advantage. These views, therefore, point towards the conclusion that entrepreneurship is either developed or depressed by cultural practices.
2.0 Qualities that an individual person can develop to be an entrepreneur
Different authors have tried to simplify entrepreneurship concept by focusing on the characteristics of a person who practices it-the entrepreneur. The general understanding is that entrepreneurs are not born. They are developed. In various books and research documents that have been written by different authors such as International Labour Office (1982), Boone and Kurtz (2000), Hisrich, Peters and Shepherd (2005) and Mohanty (2005), among others, the qualities that any person can develop and practice in order to be a successful entrepreneur, are well documented. It is appreciated that tremendous success is achieved by people who exhibit these qualities in their daily practices in whichever field regardless of whether they are employed or self-employed. The qualities include; but are not limited to: vision; creativity; positive attitudes; risk taking; failure as a step forward; hard work; smartness in work; and internal locus control. Numbers 2.1 to 2.8 give an explanation on each quality.
A vision has been defined as the ability to identify needs of potential customers and what can be done to satisfy them (Boone & Kurtz, 2000). More information indicate that a vision is a long-term strategy focused on how to achieve specified goals (Robbins, Judge, & Sanghi, 2010). Oxford University Press (2010) defines vision as the ability to think or plan about the future with great imagination or
intelligence. In addition to a vision statement, a mission statement is prepared to indicate the purpose of an organization, in particular, what products or services are provided in order to actualize a stated vision.
Well formulated vision and mission statements guide employees in implementing strategies with a view to achieving organizational objectives no matter the type or size of an organization and regardless on whether it is public, private, profit or non profit, multinational or just small and medium scale enterprises (Taiwo, Lawal, & Agwu, 2016). In most cases, documents are prepared that contain vision and mission statements, which may be in the form of strategic or business plans which spell out all the relevant internal and external elements inherent in starting and running the organization or business unit, including goals and strategies for different areas such as marketing, finance, manufacturing and human resources (Hisrich, Peters & Shepherd, 2005). However, some entrepreneurs are known to implement their ideas as they plan and some don’t even have documented plans at all as they implement ideas directly from their heads. Nevertheless, a strategic plan or a business plan is important because:
- It gives a clear picture on the desired future state which could be three or any specified period
- It is a management tool - a guide for activities that are necessary to achieve specific objectives.
- It helps in identifying target customers (or target communities in the case of a strategic plan for a puplic organization) and what they need
- Required resources and how these can be mobilized are documented.
- It serves as a persuasive tool for getting financial support e.g from informal or formal sources
- Inherent risks and mitigation measures are identified in advance
Kotler (2000) pointed out that people have the capacity to address hunger and diseases in the world. This is so because it has been observed that each person has the potential to be creative, which is the ability to view ideas or objects in a different perspective and that problems are opportunities for change (Boulden, 2002). One of the ways of thinking creatively to identify business opportunities is to investigate the challenges that face people in a particular area. On the basis of the identified challenges and on the basis of various talents that different individual persons have, it is possible that different individuals can initiate and manage different businesses that are focused on addressing the many existing challenges in different communities. To illustrate different view points that can bring about creative ideas an analogy is used in the box below.
An analogy illustration Suppose we write number 6 on a piece of paper. The paper is then placed on a table with two people seated facing the piece of paper directly from two different sides of the table and the piece of paper is between them. Who is correct when one of them says the number is six while the other person says it is nine? Likewise, number 3 is written on a piece of paper and placed on a table. Four people get seated, each person in a different side of the table. If they are asked to give an answer on what they see, who among them gives the correct answer of the number that is seen on the paper? Is it 3, an E, m, w; could it be a sign of a forked jembe?
The analogy in the box is a simple illustration on the implication that there can be as many solutions to problems as there are different people who are involved in solving the problems. This is due to the fact that each person has the ability to look at the problem from a different perspective. In other words, nobody has a wrong idea in solving a problem. If an environment exists to encourages the implementation of even the crazy ideas that some people think will not work, probably, those are the
best solutions to our challenges in the society. This does not, by all means, rule out the fact that some ideas do not bring out the desired results. Nevertheless, there is need for a conducive environment for creativity in solving problems. Robbins, Judge, and Sanghi (2010) cited Amabile to have outlined three components for encouraging creativity:
2.3 Positive attitudes
It has been explained that an attitude is a state of tendency to respond in a particular way which is learnt throughout a person’s life during socialization process and that there is no limit to attitudes (Mullin, 2016). It is not enough to discover a business opportunity that is aligned to a person’s talents. A positive attitude towards opportunities is critical to success. Unfortunately, the environment in which a person lives may not be conducive. Discouraging words come from the people who are close to that person such as parents, sisters, brothers, teachers, and friends. This calls for proper care to be taken in regard to bringing up children because, what they learn from the people they interact with on daily basis has a long-term impact on their attitudes.
Robbins, Judge, and Sanghi (2010) argue that attitudes are complex but researchers assume there are three components which are: cognitive; affective; and behavioral. They explain that cognitive component basically is about describing the way things are such as saying “I am angry about my low salary“. Affective component expands the statement “I am angry about my low salary“ to be emotional or a feeling like “I dislike the person who makes the decision to pay me a low salary“. The third component is intentional and is about behaving in a particular way such as “I will resign and look for some other work“.
Having a positive attitude towards unpleasant things, enhances the development of other qualities in amazing ways. For instance, a person may have a poor pay; but this situation can be looked at in a different perspective. The person is learning some skills that can be applied at unexpected events or other jobs later in life. The situation can be also looked at in the form of the poor pay, that despite the challenge, some little savings can be made for future investment. A person can use simple ways to turn negative attitudes into positive attitudes, such as using encouraging words rather using discouraging words such as saying, “in this job, there are good skills that I will learn; but also I will make some little savings to enable me to start a small business in future“.
2.4. Willingness to take risks
There are inherent risks in any business. This does not apply to businesses only. It is part of life generally. A risk has been explained to refer to a chance for adverse consequences or loss taking place (Field & Keller, 2006). However, it is appreciated that without taking the initiative to start a business due to the fear of the inherent risks, the potential for rewards or success is avoided also. The adverse consequences for in regard to inaction are of equal measure with the perceived risks or even worse. Risk taking, however, must be worthy the effort and it must be a calculated risk. If no farming is done, for example, there will be no food at all. However, comparing the action of planting with the hope that there is a chance to harvest and the inaction state for fear of crop failure, taking action is better than the inaction state. Inherent risks need to be assessed and appropriate measures to mitigate against them be put in place. For example, a dairy farmer is faced with a chance for a dairy cow dying. An insurance cover is one of the options to mitigate against such a risk. Similarly, the risk of inadequate rainfall face farmers; but they can mitigate against this by identifying other sources of water for irrigation to supplement the inadequate rainfall. This calls for a clear vision, as it is mentioned in number 2.1, because the potential rewards that are related to a particular course of action serve as a motivating factor for perseverance and for the courage that is gathered to undertake business activities regardless of the inherent risks. The fact that risks are identified, it is a reason for people to identify ways of minimizing the impact when they occur.
2.5 Failure as a learning point
When a business fails or a particular course of action does not bring out the expected results, a positive stand on this should be taken as part of the process for success. In Japan, “Ganbatte Kudasai” is a saying which literally means never give up, try harder, do your best, which is a saying that has helped Japanese people to develop a strong commitment to work due to the fact that, as children grow up, an attitude for a strong desire to succeed is imparted as part of their lifestyle (Steers & Nardon, 2006). There is, therefore, need to appreciate that failure has potential to help people in learning some important points that can propel them to wonderful success levels. The world is full of great role models who can be emulated. Edison Thomas and Henry Ford, for example, are some of these role models as the former is known to have a record of failing for more than 10,000 times before eventually succeeding in perfecting incandescent electric light bulb while the latter is said to have managed to produce an engine with eight cylinders despite his engineers thinking the assignment was an “impossible“ dream (Hill, 2003).
2.6 Hard work at individual level and in teamwork
Peter Drucker points out that knowledge in entrepreneurship comes from practice (Mohanty, 2005). To sustain our efforts in working hard, however, each person is advised to identify the kind of work that he or she will be passionate about because there is no boredom in doing what one loves most (Hill, 2003). In addition it is always desirable to identify like-mined people so as to be able to work as a team. Teamwork is about bringing two or more people and motivating them to achieve a specified objective because an organized team has been found to have the ability to achieve better results than individuals working separately (Reynolds, 1994). It is, therefore, important for each member of a team to respect the other team members and more so in a family unit because, as it is explained, support from family members and friends is a critical factor to success (Hisrich, Peters & Shepherd, 2005).
2.7. Working in a Smart Manner
There are myths that a good education will lead to great opportunities (Chambers, 1983). However, Harper (1984) argued that a good education such as a postgraduate degree is not a guarantee to employment and questioned most school curricula which did not prepare children in their early years to so that they can be aware of the need to create their own jobs, as it was done in the United States of America. The importance of knowledge borders on the need for the identification of what products or services that customers demand and the necessary skills that are required to ensure customer needs are well met. Once customer needs are clear, deliberate efforts should be made to provide them at the required levels in terms of quantities, quality and time. As earlier stated, necessary skills need to be acquired to avoid poor quality work.
It is necessary also to appreciate the meaning of quality. This concept is not easily measured or quantified as it has been looked at in terms of meeting the needs of customers with a bearing to customer satisfaction and by extension profits in a business (Reynolds, 1994; Kotler & Keller, 2009). Reynolds (1994) advice
that to attract and retain customers, every step, including a synergy in teamwork, must be carefully and in a smart way carried out to add value to the customer. For example, a good meal in a plate on the table of a customer cannot be as good if some ingredient was purchased when it was already rotten or if a well-produced farm produce gets rotten in a storage facility before a good chef takes it for preparation to be a meal.
Whether a person is employed or self employed, skills must be relevant to customer needs. There is, therefore, need to facilitate the youth and other members of vulnerable communities to acquire skills that will enable them to work in a smart way. This is quite a challenge worldwide. Three decades ago, it was observed that small scale businesses failed to develop due to bad policies which should have been abolished altogether (Harper, 1984). In recent times, a mismatch between skills learnt in educational institutions and labour force market demand still exist. This is the main reason for a campaign for companies and education institutions to work together in developing and implementing curricula for relevant skills (Bahl, & Dietzen, 2019).
2.8 Internal locus control
Boone and Kurtz ( 2000) points out that entrepreneurs have internal locus control which they explain as a strong belief that they can chart their fate by taking full responsibility for success or failure rather blaming others or thinking of luck or fate. Further information indicate that resources such as people, money and time are are scarce and therefore, there is need to value them, in particular, time which is at the disposal to everybody for twenty four hours; but this resource cannot be saved, rather, it should be used efficiently in order to get any benefits from it (International Labour Organization, 1982). Good practices that emphasize on internal locus control in developed countries propel those countries to great socio-economic development levels. Good policies are not only formulated, they are well executed which has enhanced discipline in the use of resources by both leaders and citizens in the developed countries with a positive result that high levels of socio-economic development is a reality.
3.0 Conclusion remarks
It is here stated that if a good measure of mentoring is done and a positive line of thinking is ingrained in a person’s belief system, the qualities of an entrepreneur can be developed and applied by any person whether employed or self-employed. Opportunities abound in many sectors such as health, information and agriculture, to mention but a few. In the health sector, they can be in the form of public or private clinics, chemists, X-Ray and laboratory facilities to address diseases. They can also be in the form of the production of protective gear or environment cleaning services to prevent infections. In the information sector, opportunities include, among others, computer cyber cafes, web site designing and hosting, and the development of a number of software applications for access to information and knowledge.
To address hunger and income for farmers, opportunities in the agriculture sector, among others are: shops for various farm inputs; farmers growing various crops based on market needs; and the provision of a number of services to enhance production and marketing of farm produce. Employees in the government and non-government agencies, private companies and even individual persons can, therefore, develop and practice qualities of an entrepreneur. This has great potential to identify and utilize opportunities that are in abundance exist. Each person whether employed or self employed, therefore, has unlimited opportunities to do something worthwhile to contribute towards improved livelihoods for communities. As for the unemployed persons the opportunities also exist and developing the mentioned qualities of an entrepreneur is a step towards job creation. Be encouraged.
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