ENTREPRENEURS:…How different are they and what lessons can we draw from them?

Abdul-Fatahi Abdulai Kambala (PhD)

Most graduates in Ghana are whishing and waiting for readymade jobs, local or foreign assistance and praying fewer challenges instead of whishing and searching for wisdom to cope with the system. They want to be employed in offices to sign and push documents about instead of getting their hands dirty to earn income from their own initiatives.

Development in entrepreneurship research has recently evolved from the hind side of both neoclassical and conventional economic theories, now assuming a centre stage in contemporary economic development theory. The current development has since been responsible for a massive economic development interest in the concept and has given the needed recognition to the role of entrepreneurs as coordinators of factors of production and innovators in every economy. It will not be out of place to conclude that today’s economic development focus has turned on theories of entrepreneurship, small to medium-size business development and job creation.

Of late, a lot of writers have tried to tell the origin of the term ‘entrepreneur’ and offered various definitions. Nonetheless, all we know is that entrepreneurs are people who are: among other things, alert to profitable opportunities, people who bring change; in most cases with technology, and above all, game changers. We also know that entrepreneurs create economic entities with novelty of products or services and processes, largely with significant differences from what exists in the market. They do this through creativity, invention, innovation and even imitation, all in the mist of constrains, uncertainties and scarce resources, which make them unique in their own right. Noticeably, there is equally a debate among writers as to whether entrepreneurs are born or nurtured.

Self-education and self-believe

It is neither here nor there; however, one thing is certain to us about entrepreneurs. There are well educated, knowledgeable and usually develop special skills that give them the urge to act strategically at stated times and places to take advantage of knowledge gap and information asymmetry in society. They do this through self-education with specialised knowledge to be able to stand out even in competitive markets. Due to targeted knowledge search obtained through self-education, they gain some particular insights not actually possessed by other members of society.

Entrepreneurs have specific reasons for learning, and developing their minds. Thus, to create value and jobs, solve social problems, harness resources for wealth creation, and to foster economic growth and development. They believe in developing their minds to be better than existing systems to make thing better and do not wait for systems to get better. They know they cannot create time, but can create value. They believe in creating opportunities to implement their ideas instead of waiting for them. They do not just chase money but believe that the world rewards those who furnish it with new ideas, thus; with creativity and innovation.

Confidence and determination

Entrepreneurs in their minds are contrarians who neither follow easy crowds nor seek to always maintain the status quo, hence most people in society have little understanding of how they do things and can sometimes fall out with them for being deviants and arrogant. They think outside the box and disrupt existing norms to create new ones for ideal entrepreneurial practices in pursuit of success through creativity and innovation. They always set themselves high expectations; go to where stakes are high and where the pressure to perform is high. Again, they know that just above average performance gives just above average income. As creatures of enterprise, they develop themselves for better results. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers who lead the fight against unemployment and static economic growth in every country.

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Thinking, talks and action

In a nutshell, entrepreneurs think, talk and act differently from the rest of society. They think of issues that frustrate people and the society as a whole. They are concerned about individual and social needs and gaps that exist, which only a few can do something about. In their minds, the society is sick and needs to be fixed all the time. Also, entrepreneurs always think that prosperity and success are birth rights of every human being and due to their special skills they are predisposed to claim them without questions, fear or intimidation. That is not all; entrepreneurs do not engage in fruitless talks and discussions nor succumb to any argument or suggestions that do not lead them to prosperity and success. They do not associate with people or groups which do not believe and talk about human growth and progress, and above all when they meet, it is all about newness, innovation, wealth creation and human success. At last, one significant attribute of entrepreneurs worth mentioning is that they believe in bridging the gap between knowledge and action and will always somehow appear at the “wrong” side of the masses to achieve beyond average performance. They are not just revolutionaries but are performers and actors who put into practice what they conceive in their minds for the benefit of the economy; things most people will conceive but will never act upon for even their own liberation from poverty and misery.

Achievement habit

Changes have been happening over the worlds since the .com bubble up to the turn of the 21 Century and our young ones should try to be instruments of the changes rather than victims. Victimhood is self-inflicting, self-limiting and a self-perpetuating cycle that must not be condoned any more as we have done for years. Everyone has all the reasons for non-performance – why we are not doing well, but repeating our disadvantages over and over for empathy do not change our situation what so ever. Successful people develop and use their minds for events and achieve results, examples of which abound. What I know is that things can change if we want to and we have to change our habits. Habit begin to change when perception begin to change. Most graduates in Ghana are whishing and waiting for readymade jobs, local or foreign assistance and praying for fewer challenges instead of whishing and searching for wisdom to cope with the system. They want to be employed in only offices to sign and push documents about instead of getting their hands dirty to earn income from their own initiatives. Most graduates do not develop themselves and their minds towards self-employment and entrepreneurship to generate viable business ideas, become self-reliant and contribute to economic growth and development. They even stop reading after their final examination leading to the decay of their brains, knowing that continued pursuit of specialised knowledge is the way of success.

Lessons and call to action for results

A lot of lessons can be drawn from above with regards to our graduate unemployment situation in Ghana. To start with, we have to stop lip services and hit the nail on the head. In actual fact, change and performance come from within and not from outside. If our youth can take responsibility for being unemployed or their inactions for their current state, it will do us a great service as a nation. I must state that completing a school is only an indicating that one has gone through a rigorous academic course outline, accredited for the acquisition of a standard knowledge as a fulfilment of the requirement of a said award. Emphatically, what are significant here is how have the minds of our certificated graduates been developed and what do they become. With this, we should begin to question if the faculties of their minds have really been so developed to such an extent that they may acquire what they want in life without violating the rights of others. How ready are they for the harsh system? How prepare are they for the daily hassle? How practically fortified are they for the economy? Are they better than the economy or the economy is still better than them? Can they create their own systems if they are unable to fit in the larger one? Are they trained to create opportunities by virtue of the curriculum design? Finally, can they create and add value to society independently and not sit and wait for white-collar jobs which are not forth coming?

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Possible ways forward

If answers to most of these questions are no, I advise we sit up and think again as to what we want as a people then go back to the drawing board, and I can only take this opportunity to hint the affected group. Thus, gone are the days when graduates from our traditional universities came out with readymade jobs and with numerous benefits that were attached to their various roles and responsibilities without any struggle. Also, gone are the days when universities’ roles were just to educate the workforce and conduct basic research. Surprisingly, despite the dramatic shift in paradigm in the role of universities of late, most of our universities are still producing graduates intended to fill the sort of gaps that existed in the last century industry. Seriously speaking, our entire education system and curriculum design need a re-think to encourage creativity and innovation. Any system put in place should reward imagination and independence of the faculties of the mind in and outside classrooms and lecture theatres. Practical and vocational training should be enhanced to engage in brilliant idea generation for incubation in our schools and universities. Business accelerators must also be put on the drawing board to help well incubated start-ups to grow to succeed, move on to sustain themselves and create more jobs. Finally, every student should be made to gain some form of entrepreneurial skills and be able to generate business ideas, write a business plan and model to fit well in industry. This can happen if educators, educationists and tertiary institutions in Ghana collaborate with industries to understand each other’s needs.

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The author is a consultant in entrepreneurship and business development, an expert in university-industry interaction and knowledge transfer for innovation. He is also a co-author for two textbooks: Financial Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth in Emerging Nations, and Innovation and Social Capital in Organisational Ecosystems. Contact: Email: 00233545581420; fatahi507@yahoo.com

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