Thursday, June 16, 2011

What I learnt about Mastering Entrepreneurship

2 weeks ago I attended a very enlightening workshop entitled Mastering Entrepreneurship. The event which was sponsored by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) was intended to expose accountants to the idea of making the transition from employee to employer. Being one of them, I have perfect knowledge of the difficulty that accountants have with taking on risk in an uncertain world. You see in our world everything is ordered and logical, every credit has a corresponding debit, rules are made to be followed, particularly rules that have been refined over years by wiser greyer heads than our own. Not surprisingly the room was packed to the rafters with curious souls who all wanted to hear from the seasoned entrepreneurs who made presentations, all hoping against hope that they will be transformed miraculously from a timid bean counter into a brash swashbuckling wheeler-dealer.

What it takes to Succeed in Business

The presentations were captivating, with speakers like PMS’s Joanne Mwangi and Adopt-a-light’s Esther Passaris, taking time to highlight the high and the lows of their growth as business owners. My personal favorite though was the candid talk given by
the Craft Silicon’s youthful CEO Kamal Budhabatti. Kamal (I find it hard to refer to him as Mr. Budhabatti, have you seen the guy…) did not come with a prepared speech, he just stood there and told us in 12 minutes flat how he started off, right down to the little white lie they told in order to seal their first deal. In a nutshell, the harsh realities of what it takes to succeed in business were laid bare. These are some of them in no particular order
  • Add value – your business should be centered on adding value to your customer’s lives. If your business’ Raison d'ĂȘtre is merely to enrich you then don’t even bother. Making money is what happens when you provide goods and services that customers can’t live without.
  • Team, Team, Team! – It doesn’t matter how good your idea is, it will fail if you can’t surround yourself with good people who believe in the idea as much as you do. Take charge of early recruitment yourself and know when to make the decision to use shareholders equity to snag the ideal CTO. Interestingly Kamal said that at Craft Silicon, staff welfare comes first in i.e. happy staff will keep customers happy
  • Believe in yourself – if you start second guessing yourself, then it is unlikely that your business will survive the turbulent early days and external pressure from nay-sayers
  • Be persistent – keep at it, don’t give up. If it’s financing you need, keep banging on doors until you get it.
  • Be flexible – your business operates in and is affected by the environment. Keep abreast with developments in the economic, social and legal spheres and be prepared to tweak your strategy to reap maximum benefit. Your ability to respond quickly to opportunities and threats could make the difference between a good year and an average year.
  • Don’t get cocky – keep your eyes open, don’t get complacent, it doesn’t matter how good your business is doing, take time to try and understand what other businesses are doing, figure out where they are coming from, what their angles is, understand where they may/may not have an edge and look for areas of potential synergy/conflict.

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