Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Five important people you MUST know!

This is a follow-up post to Bahati Mabala's post Five Important People to Know posted 7 February 2010. Bahati’s post has a link to a Swahili article, which we’ve translated for our English speakers.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Five important people you MUST know!
Original Swahili article from www.bongocelebrity.com
Written by Jeff Msangi (5 Feb 2010)
Translated by Khairoon Abbas (9 Feb 2010)

Entrepreneurship is the new thing nowadays. Everyone’s talking about it. Maybe that’s because many of us realize that times have changed and that entrepreneurship is the right way to go, especially if you want real success in your life. In our current world of science of technology, there is a greater reliance on young people in furthering entrepreneurship.

Although young people may have the best intentions, they need to find new ways of dealing with some challenges along the way, such as how to deal with the kind of education taught in schools. Unfortunately, education that young people learn in school doesn’t teach them how to be self-employed. It doesn’t teach them how to be an entrepreneur once they graduate.

We are still in the colonial mind-frame. When you graduate, you are expected to find a job. Go around Dar-es-salaam and you will meet many educated young people, graduates from various universities and colleges, carrying their certificates and diplomas in their plastic bags, going from place to place, looking for employment. None of them think how to use the education they received in university to employ themselves. Why, you may ask? Well, that’s just the way it is.

The education they receive in school just doesn’t prepare them. You’ll meet an electric engineer who has never even changed a bulb! (I might have spiced it up a little, but there’s some truth to it!) You’ll meet someone who studied agriculture and the environment, but they may not know what a farm is! This is exactly what is wrong with our education. And the government needs to address this.

There are some young people who genuinely want to be entrepreneurs. They want to be self-employed. Today, we’ll look at how an arising entrepreneur can start his or her campaign. Have you heard that business nowadays is all about networking and knowing people? Well, so is entrepreneurship. It is very important to know who is who or where to go incase things don’t quite work out. I’m not talking about where to go to get or receive a little cut, not at all. But what I’m talking about is networking. Social networking sites like facebook, twitter, myspace and so forth, are good places to network. So, use it wisely.

It is important to build a good network if you want to be a wise entrepreneur, especially if you want to be successful. Remember, we aren’t just talking about exchanging business cards here, but rather, to know someone with the intention of helping each other. Remember, the word is to help “each other” and it’s not just about you receiving help.

Before listing the different ways of building one’s network, let me first tell you that the first secret of being an entrepreneur is preparation. Firstly, prepare yourself financially, educationally (what you learn in school and in the streets), different ways of doing business, and so forth. Secondly, be sure that you are deeply committed to what exactly it is that you want to do. Remember, don’t just be an entrepreneur because you saw someone do it.

Here are five people you need to know to build your network as an entrepreneur:

(1) Your Competitors: Business is competitive but it’s not a reason for hostility. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to really know your business competitors. Read their brochures, visit their websites, and know who their customers are and why they are their customers. Then, introduce yourself to your competitiors. I know you are asking yourself, introduce myself? Yes, introduce yourself. As I said earlier, they may be your competitors, but they aren’t your enemies. Your competitor can actually help you. He or she may be overwhelmed with their work that they may give you some of their work. That’s why you need to introduce yourself to them and build a good business relationship with them. But also, both of you are in the same kind of business and you are in the same sector. You don’t know what tomorrow holds. Also, if there is an organization or union of businesses of people in your field, be sure to be part of it.

(2) Members of the Media: Nowadays, there are many ways of communicating, from newspapers and TVs to radios and blogs. As entrepreneurs, it is crucial to know people who drive the media, especially those who are familiar with your field of work. It’s easy to get media coverage if journalists and media practitioners know what exactly it is that you as the entrepreneur are doing. Typically, when journalists start to investigate a topic or story, they first look at the ‘sources’ they have. Remember that getting frequent coverage about your work, leads people to remember you, to respect you and therefore, it will be easier for them to do business with you.

(3) Members of Non-governmental organizations: A wise entrepreneur is one who intends to help his or her community in one way or another. There are many business benefits of entrepreneurs who go back and help their communities. For instance, you may be eligible for some tax exemptions for doing so. But not only that, remember that people in a community that is well, not just health-wise and education-wise, are essentially your future consumers. That is why it is important to know people who lead non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Sponsor their various events. By doing so, you will be helping your community while also advertising your business. But remember to be wise. There are many NGOs nowadays so be sure to work with genuine ones, whose work is known and visible in your community.

(4) One or two lawyers: As an entrepreneur, you may need legal advise at any time. That’s why it is important to know one or two lawyers. We usually understand better when we talk to people who know because we are more comfortable with them. We can never know when we may need a lawyer. That’s why it is good to know a few lawyers just incase you may need their assistance somewhere down the line. Remember, I’m not talking about free assistance. But at least, by knowing some lawyers, you are bound to get some kind of discount and the comfort and relief of speaking to someone you know. Just imagine the freedom of meeting your lawyer friend for lunch, and conveniently asking him or her a legal question and getting the answer…for free!

(5) Some Political Key players: There is no business that is completely independent from the politics of a country. From getting business licenses and division of businesses, politics are always involved. That’s why it is important to know key players in the game, and in many cases, they are typically politicians. If you know some politicians in your field of work, it will be easier for you to spread your message, to share your complaints and also share your opinion about many things. It’s important to know the councilor, Member of Parliament, and minister in your community or wherever your business is located. Don’t lie to yourself and say “oh, I don’t want to involve myself with politicians.” As an entrepreneur, that is wrong and unwise.

In short, these are the important steps you should take should you be interested in being an entrepreneur. But as stated earlier, work hard and be prepared. That’s the secret for a successful foundation in your life. Knowing all kinds of important people is not enough. Your work should be your number one.

Jeff Msangi is the Chief Editor of www.bongocelebrity.com. You can reach him via email at makala (at) bongocelebrity (dot) com.

No comments:

Post a Comment