Friday, June 09, 2006

Be Your Boss

Be Your Boss

THE world has finally agreed in the words of Brian Tracy "that the primary source of value is no more land, and capital but knowledge, information and ideas." Thus, only business people with knowledge, with information and understanding will be the ones to prosper in the brave new world that has reduced the geographical boundaries lined between nations to a very chin line.
"The more one knows, the more one will be able to control events." This thought found in the works of 16th century philosopher, Francis Bacon, has never been truer than today.
Without doubt, the reasoning of Tracy and Bacon seems to be the underlying current behind the new wave of global glamour for entrepreneurship.
Generally, there appears to be, especially in developing economies of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, a global shift towards entrepreneurship, even as large-scale entities are failing and in many instances, in an irrecoverable manner. Thus the new breed of entrepreneurs is characterised by greater vigour in turning knowledge, information or ideas into profit.
These entrepreneurs are usually young people as GEM 2005 survey revealed that people in the 25 to 34 age bracket account for the highest level of entrepreneurial activity with a significant drop in the level of activity among those under 25 and above 44 years of age. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a joint research initiative to study the complex relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth. By conducting a solid research across many countries in the world, GEM provided an authoritative basis for understanding the key issues involved in global entrepreneurship.
With the need for development all over the world exacerbated, therefore, logging into the new entrepreneurial spirit is very urgent and profitable. Although, the entrepreneurial process is immensely complimented, involving an endless stream of trade-offs and variables, a practical framework to guide fledging entrepreneurs through the complexities of business venturing is largely lacking, hence the need for this programme.
However, being fully aware of the huge scope of the topic, I would suggest specific areas that will push individual entrepreneurs here towards the fulfilment of their entrepreneurial initiatives and ambitions.
These include the following:
(i) Identifying entrepreneurs.
(ii) Traits of entrepreneur.
(iii) Stages of an entrepreneurial venture.
(iv) Practical guide to venturing
(v) Advise for the plunging entrepreneur.
(b) Identifying Entrepreneurs
Several attempts have been made to define entrepreneurship using several yardsticks as well as viewing it from different perspectives, honestly there is no unique definition, but what is basic is that entrepreneurs are marked by a need for achievement, a need to see something they create and a need to be masters of their destiny.
They do not like structure or control and do not work well with others. They tend to be creative and persistent hence they clash in a number of ways with factors that made a mature organisation's work.
Entrepreneurs seek to be autonomous and do something different, but mature organisations have reporting systems and controls geared towards minimising deviation.
They have a high tolerance for uncertainty, but mature organisations try to promote efficient processing of information and decision by reducing uncertainty and ambiguity.
As innovators they tend to be independent and unstructured and do not value conformity; mature organisations breed interdependence and co-ordination through structures and specialisation.
Entrepreneurs see their success as primarily a function of their energy and efforts. They seek conditions that offer individual freedom, but mainstream managers see their effectiveness as a result of their ability to work with and influence others.
While entrepreneurs look to express their ideas and their individuality, mature organisations work to ensure consistent treatment of people through policies and procedures.
Invariably, entrepreneurs do not exhibit behaviours that fit a mature organisation. The conditions for entrepreneurship are antithetic to the success of mature organisations.
(c) Traits Of An Entrepreneur
While there are several traits, one major trait at the heart of entrepreneurship is the recognition of opportunities followed by the will and initiative to seize these opportunities.
Secondly, it is also closely related value creation. Most successfully entrepreneurs are opportunity focused.
Thirdly, they are also very good observers as these normally produce unique opportunities.
Entrepreneurs also exhibit a high propensity to start new ventures and a readiness to assume risks while some people need certainty and fail to take decisions whereas several indices of success are wrapped in uncertainties. Entrepreneurs fail to evaluate risks and subdue all indices under the excitement of their innovative ideas. A year of failure does not paralyse entrepreneurs as it does other types of people. In fact, they have gambling mentality. This trait-strong risk taking nature is the most overriding consistency found in the behaviours of all entrepreneurs. The ability to bet the farm on one's belief is fundamental to successful entrepreneurshp.
Finally, there is a general consensus that most entrepreneurs posses the following traits: Inno-visionary personality; autocratic-like a king; charismatic; inspirational leader; Competitive - winning is everything; confident - awesome self-esteem; Driven - result oriented; focused Goal oriented to a fault; mpatient - intolerant of mediocrity; Intuitive - right brain mentality; passionate- psychic and libidinal energy; persistence -persevering prevails; persuasive - Pre-eminent salesperson; rebellious - defies tradition; risk-taking; gambling mentality
Stages Of An Entrepreneurial Venture
This classification is important as it will assist in understanding the topic better. There are typically three stages of organisational development: start up, growth and maturity.
Stage 1: An entrepreneur launches a start-up company by doing nearly everything, including designing the product, financing the business, lining up customers, and delivering goods. Risk is high in this stage. The organisation structure is flat. Even as the firm grows and the owner hires help, roles and responsibilities remain loosely defined. The entrepreneur plans and controls the company while he or she gradually assigns operating duties to others.
Overall, the style is one of individualism, informal relationships and close attention to market place success.
Stage II: If the start-up organisation succeeds it, it then evolves into the growth stage as the entrepreneur adds employees, equipment and control methods hence hierarchy and division of labour become pronounced. Personal relationships give way to job definitions and formal reporting systems. Management looking to gain control of the mushrooming organisation starts to rely on more formal procedures. Close contact between the owner and customers may diminish and be replaced by the introduction of more formal marketing and sales definitions. The threat of failure decreases in stage if because the organisation has acquired a stable base. Now, management's tendency to avoid risk rises, thereby leading the business toward the next stage of development.
Stage III: The mature company starts experiencing slow growth because of increasing competition or a changed environment. Growth makes necessary complex budgeting and planning systems substantial increases in staff to handle administrative and reporting requirements and the greater value of business managers strive for stability and control to improve results, therefore they focus on strengthening the planning process and control systems.
The company again tends to focus on activities rather than results, developing more layers of hierarchy which slows its decision, making process.
Prolonged maturity leads to rigidity and sometimes rigour morths. There will be serious attempts at re-enacting the past entrepreneurial drive, but too many troubles impairing implementation.
(d) Practical Guide For Entrepreneurs
The major issues for the development of the entrepreneur are attempted here.
These include:
(a.)Choosing the appropriate business.
(b.) Quick check on the business feasibility.
(c)Marketing tips for the entrepreneur.
(c)Preparation of a thorough business plan.
Recognising Business Opportunity/Idea Generation
There are several methods to generate business idea. Below are some few examples:
(c.) Identifying human need
(d.) Assess skills and goals
(e.) Navigate the market
(f.) Trendspotting
(g.) Problem identification and solving
(h.) Purchase reports
(c)Perform A Quick Check On The Chosen Idea
Ask questions on the basic areas necessary for the success of the business venture. The basic areas are:
(i.) Technical/operation analysis of the venture
(j.) Market for the venture's product
(k.) Monetary issues
(l.) Management of the enterprise.
(c) Niche Market Identification And Tips
It is necessary for the entrepreneur to distinguish itself from other businesses in a crowded market place with superior goods and services. These can be done using the following strategies:
Defining core competency
Explore the market
Choose a specific customer focus
Choose a market focus
Identify a dominant need
Turn the need into a performance-specific offer
Size up the competition
Imagine the future
b. Preparation Of A Business Plan
i. Executive Summary
ii. The service/project description and the general industry scenario
iii. The market and marketing strategy
iv. The technical analysis and requirements of the venture
v. Investment cost determination and financing
vi. Financial analysis of the venture
vii. Project implementation scheduling
viii. Conclusion.
5.Advice For The Plunging Entrepreneur
a. Prioritise carefully.
b. Harness win-win. opportunities.
c. Make every Naira count.
d. Work with your market in mind.
e. Remember that management is more important than technology.
f. Invest in partnership that works.
g. Economise on administrative and regulatory capacity.
h. Use market instruments where possible.
i. Involve employees adequately
j. Syncrhonise the business. goal with the 'environment' from the start.
k. Be not detached from your structural source.
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will, according to Vince Lombardi.
Being excerpt from a paper delivered by Bamiyo at the FECA Entrepreneurs Seminar organised by Eastflair Consulting at Dover Hotel, Lekki, Lagos recently.
Prepared by Thomaseun Onih.

Life is all about what u call it

Please endeavour to go through this at your leisure time Its long but its worth the time.Got it from a friend.It helps us appreciate the fact that life is a gift and the best we can put back into it is to try and touch the lives of the everyday people we most times ignore.
Be Inspired to touch a life today

This is from a column (Segun Adeniyi) in one of the Nigerian dailies (This Day, March 3rd or so, 2006). I just feel like sharing it. I first read the story of the girl back in 2004.

Dear bro. Segun, good morning. Please it is only from you I can seek for this help. Please, I want to tell you that my mum is not feeling fine so I need your help. Even before I was coming to church this morning she had not taken anything because there is nothing with us, no money and no food. So I tried to tell her that I will inform you, may be you can help us for some money, so we can use to manage for her health. God bless you as you help, it's me (name withheld).
Given the state of the economy that has turned many otherwise respectable people into beggars, we all, from time to time, recieve these kinds of letters from friends, relations and sometimes the next-door neighbour. Of course, most often, the situation is not as grim as it is being painted. But the fact that someone would beg depicts a certain level of deprivation though one is also mindful of the fact that begging has become an industry in Lagos. That explains why when I received the foregoing letter in Church last Sunday morning, I tried to ask the brother who brought it to identify the sender. He pointed in the direction of about six well-dressed teenage girls and I concluded it must be one of those letters since none of the people I saw could have been going through the situation so described in the letter.The particular girl he pointed at happened to be active in church and she looked anything but hungry so I concluded that she probably needed money to buy GSM recharge card. By the way, buying a recharge card has become such a heavy burden for ladies nowadays that no lie is considered too big just to get 'credit'. Well, I called a friend's wife, Mrs. Ronke Kayode, to discuss with the girl to find out what her real problem was and I soon forgot about it. A disciplinarian, Mrs. Kayode detailed three men to follow the girl home to pray for the 'sick mother' and to take some money along just in case the tale happened to be true. By the time they came back, however, the reality hit us hard that we are really in trouble in this country.The home of this girl happened to be a dingy face-me-I-face-you room she shares with her mother and three other siblings in a part of Yaba generally regarded as a slum. The brothers who went said they could not stay beyond ten minutes in the place because they were almost suffocating in the room reeking with indescribable odour of poverty. The mother was indeed sick and she and her four children, including the girl, actually had nothing to eat. Having been abandoned by her husband, father of the children, she sells what they call 'paraga' (dry gin usually sold to local touts). The girl herself finished secondary school a year ago and without any prospect of further education, she has been looking for a job that is not there.I have had to worry about that girl since Sunday because if she could be facing that type of ordeal with the facade of all-is-well I see around her all the time, I wonder how many young people in our country today go about hungry and helpless. Yet from what we can see now, things can only get worse as real income shrinks against a rising population. This should be a serious challenge for all of us. Because if, for instance, a girl had not eaten and there was no prospect of how her family would feed, then chances are high that she would use what 'she has' to get what she needs. None should therefore wonder why prostitution has almost become a compulsory course on our campuses. Whether we want to admit it or not, there must be a nexus between the level of moral decay in the society and the seeming hopelessness of many of our young people. What makes our situation particularly sad is that young people are the hardest hit by poverty because it destroys the potentials for their physical, mental and intellectual development, all of which have terrible consequences for the future, especially when it is agreed that if a child's growth and development is stunted by poverty, this often becomes a lifelong handicap. And with poverty in many Nigerian homes today, what really does the future hold for us as a nation?...
When I wrote the foregoing lengthy piece on July 22, 2004, in my column titled My Mum is Sick and There's No Food..., I did it not to seek charity for the girl whose story I used to illustrate the message but rather to draw attention to the level of poverty within our society and to arouse the conscience of those in authority. My contention was, and still is, that most Nigerians see money and power as end in themselves and not as means to advance the development of the people. Incidentally, while the message was lost on those for whom it was meant, some people were touched by the story of the girl that they volunteered to help. Mr. Akin Malaolu invited me to his office and gave N20,000. My friend, Usman Umar, leveraged his position at MTN to secure for her a job that would have fetched N20,000 a month, so she could at least help to put food on the family table. But while it was still being processed, the JAMB result came out and the girl scored 259 marks, high enough a grade to get her admission into the University of Port Harcourt.I spoke to the Speaker of the River State House Assembly, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, on the possibility of his intervention in the girl’s education and he said I should remind him at the next meeting of the National Stakeholder Working Group of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) of which we are both members. Amaechi is a progressive-minded politician with a social conscience and my interactions with him in the last two years have reinforced my belief that there are indeed good people in government. Even while domiciled in Port Harcourt, he has been very active in NEITI work whereas his colleagues in National Assembly who reside in Abuja have not shown as much commitment.My plan was to persuade Amaechi to get the state government to take up the responsibility for the girl's education as an indigene. While he was, however, ready to help, it turned out that the girl actually hailed from Bayelsa state and that door closed. But notwithstanding, he still gave me N100,000 for her mother to start some little business while promising N50,000 for the girl, a promise he kept. But having decided that the Teens Unit of my church which I head would take up the education of the girl, I asked Amaechi whether he would be ready to support me financially if I needed assistance while the girl was in school and he answered in the affirmative. Meanwhile, I brought the money he gave me to church and handed over to my pastor (Niyi Ajibola) who detailed another pastor, Gbenga Olanlokun, to liaise with the girl's mother who became a member of the church and was thereafter being cared for by the parish. Meanwhile, the girl went to register at the University of Port-Harcourt and she also began a new life. A few weeks in school, however, she called me frantically that she gathered her mother was terribly sick and wanted to come home. She did and money was provided for her to take her mother to the hospital. The next day she came to my office crying. Her mother had been diagnosed as HIV positive. I was not surprised because given to the woman’s physical condition, it was almost too glaring she had full-blown AIDS. In all these troubles, I always marveled at the girl’s strength with the enormous burden she had to shoulder at age 18. With the development concerning her mother's health, Pastor Niyi had to detail a pleasant mother of another teenager, Mrs. Bunmi Utomi, as the woman's guardian and she was rather wonderful in the ways she related with the woman who, perhaps for a long time in her life, saw love. Her condition, however, taught me several lessons about life and in all my interactions with her, I was always conscious of the fact that she had but a short time to live.Of course, no one is sure whether he or she would live long or would die young but in her own case, long life was already out of the question. Eventually, last November, she succumbed to death. This was a fatal blow but the girl took it very stoically when she came from school. Fortunately, my Head of Department, Mrs. Folake Fajemisin of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), took a special interest in her and had become more of a mother to her.I most often reflected on the life of the girl with imagination that she would end up a success story, someone whose tale would inspire many young people that notwithstanding the hard knuckles of life, one could rise above adversity to become something. I had this conviction because even as young as she was, she already had an understanding of what it meant to bear her misfortune with exemplary grace. To me it was good that she could still dream and I was happy to be part of the story. I just felt that she was coming from a background of sheer hopelessness, the kind most of us see around us everyday now. I believe without any iota of doubt that a girl like that had a story to tell in future. You can then imagine my shock last Friday when my pastor called to say that he had bad news from the University of Port Harcourt: The girl and another student as well as the okada rider carrying them were all crushed to death by a trailer!At the time the news was broken to me, I was with my aged parents in Ilorin and when I broke down in tears they were quite naturally alarmed. After I had narrated the pathetic story, wondering why such calamity could befall such a girl, my mother, in trying to calm me down, said: "You are reacting like that because you are a small boy. If you live long enough, as we have, you will see more of such mysteries..."For almost an hour, I listened to an unsolicited sermon about life but that still did not take away the fact that a sudden, unexpected death like the girl's is usually harder to accept than an anticipated death for which we have had time to prepare. The circumstance of her death, which is rather cheap, also greatly complicates the grieving process. That perhaps explains why the last few days have for me been a rather sobering period because when an elderly person close to you dies, it is said that you lose a part of yesterday; but when you lose a young person for whom you cared, you lose a lot of tomorrow. The death of the girl has brought to me the futility of life and all our daily struggles. She obviously had dreams, having suffered deprivation through no fault of hers beyond the accident of birth. But then, we also had dreams for her, thinking of the endless possibilities of what she could do for her other siblings and perhaps even her run-away father. But all of these turned out as mere vanity of human wishes. Expectedly, it was an emotional period for all my teenagers in church last Sunday when the news was broken. Tears flowed freely but there was nothing we could do. The reality though is that whether we are young or old, poor or rich, powerful or powerless, beautiful or ugly, we would all answer the call of death at one unknown point in time. Death is, however, one thing people hardly want to talk about, even those of us who preoccupy our minds with making heaven. Yet, a reflection about death, which remains the most significant but often unconsidered variable in the cold calculations of those whose minds are forever fixated on acquiring ill-gotten wealth or perpetuating themselves in power, would help. Because it brings home the reality that there are situations for which we have no control. For the first time in years, I have in the last one week closed my mind to the happenings around me: The anti-democratic antics of Ibrahim Mantu and his third term orchestra, the roforofo Senate fight between Taliban Sule Yari Gandhi and Militant Lee Maeba, the rising political tension and the intermittent telephone calls from the Niger Delta MEND hostage takers. The loss of the girl at such a tender age and in that gruesome manner has indeed brought home the message in the poem by an anonymous author. I commend it to readers as I bid goodnight to Justina:
The clock of life is wound but once,And no man has the power,To tell just when the hands will stop,on what day or what hour.
Now is the only time you have,So live it with a will,Don't wait until tomorrow,The hands may then be still.