Welcome to another week of financial learning.
I started an article on how graduates can prepare themselves efficiently for the competitive job market last week.
In the first part, I explained why graduates who intend to work in public and private organisations after school need to have competencies in communication, presentation, academic excellence as well as diversification of ideas.
The second leg of the discussion will hinge on ways graduates can start-up their own businesses right after school.
I read an insightful report by Forbes on why most graduates seek employment rather than self-employment after school.
In Deep Patel’s article titled ‘How Students Can Jump Straight from the Classroom to Successful Entrepreneurship’, he argued that this generation carries more debt than its predecessors, much of it in the form of student loans, which encourages them to seek steady paychecks rather than the risks of entrepreneurship.
The fear of business failure puts many graduates off the idea of entrepreneurship.
The plain truth is that not everyone will be successful at entrepreneurship.
However, with a convincing business idea that seeks to solve a societal problem, one can quickly rise through obstacles to own a good business.
Graduates who come out of school with good business plans should not be scared to implement them with the right system-support in the form of coaching and capital.
The business idea goes before capital, and not the other way round.
According to Patel, a college degree is more than a prerequisite to landing a traditional job; but for entrepreneurs it is an opportunity to learn real-world skills and start building a network of like-minded, well-studied people.
Entrepreneurship education has been around for more than 50 years, and is vital for the future economy.
According to The Guardian Report by Robert Philips in 2018, data showed that 4.7% of recent graduates are self-employed or freelance – with only 0.6% having actually started their own business.
This compares with 8.7% of the general population who have started a business in the last three years. So, why are bright young graduates deciding against setting up their own companies?
Fear of Failure!!
Having invested a lot of time and money in their education, graduates become risk-averse.
The truth of the matter is that starting a business is not always appealing when compared with a graduate job, since working on a business idea may require long hours and initial low pay.
Equally, many student entrepreneurship societies are sponsored by large corporations, which pick off potential entrepreneurs for themselves.
We have every opportunity to change the narrative today, with positioning and technology.
According to a European Commission report, students who take entrepreneurship modules and courses have improved communication, presentation, and team-working skills – and they are more likely to be employed and earning a higher salary.
Graduates need to invest in entrepreneurship courses and programmes, on and off-campus.
Seminars that sharpen your analytical skills should be the number-one focus for students.
The various universities in the country have a role to play in the grooming process of our graduates for the job market.
Practical themes such as budgets, taxation, basic bookkeeping, regulations on employing others – and even how to physically register a company, rather than the more academically interesting (and assessable) topics are necessary now!
Graduates who aspire to join the entrepreneurship train after school should prepare themselves with the following processes:
Have a Business Idea
Business is any commercial activity or a person’s regular profession engaged in to make income and profit.
The focus of your business idea should be to make income and profit, unless you want to run a Non-Profitmaking venture.
You cannot be successful as an entrepreneur without a business idea.
Your business idea should reflect your passion.
As an entrepreneur, the importance of doing work that brings you joy and fulfillment cannot be overstated.
In fact, an entrepreneur’s passion is key to ensuring that the business thrives.
“You have to do what you love to have a fulfilling career,” said John Tabis, founder and CEO of The Bouqs Company.
“You need to find a job or career path within a field that you are passionate about; then get in there quickly, dig in, learn and add value.”
Doing business becomes art with a skill at doing a specified thing; typically, one acquired through practice.
Having a business idea has become a major headache for most graduates.
In my humble view, the solution lies with the challenges we see and experience around us every day.
A good business idea with a possibility of success should have the following characteristics:
1. Solve an obvious societal problem
2. Identify a problem with its features 3. Have an identifiable target market
4. Be dynamic in nature
The business idea should locate a societal problem and offer solutions.
A good business idea brings up features with futuristic thinking, like technological gadgets.
The business idea should also have an identifiable target market i.e. customers.
Your target market should have no ambiguity!
Finally, the business idea should be dynamic in nature.
It must adapt to trends of the world, like electronic equipment.
The only way to know if what seems like a great idea can become a viable business is to do the research.
Take the time to study all the elements which goes into establishing your new business.
Build a Strong Business Plan
Anyone can build a business plan, but even most graduates fail to consider every factor involved in running a company.
A business plan will spell out mission and vision, marketing plan and strategies, competitor analyses, financial projections, etc.
If you fail to draw up a sustainable business plan, that business idea will not see the light of day.
The best plans account for the strengths of the founder, acknowledge weaknesses in the offering, and demonstrate a full understanding of the competitive landscape.
By following a guide, graduates can fine-tune their plans to stand tall beside proposals from established start-up successes.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should study their competition as if writing a research paper.
Most of the critical information for this task is available online through newsletters, email lists, and search-engine results.
By tracking competitors’ pipelines, students can project their own sales processes and anticipate challenges before they occur.
Find the Right Mentor
Professors and teachers in entrepreneurial programmes are always looking for talented, motivated students to mentor.
For young entrepreneurs, developing strong relationships with a few key mentors can make the difference between early struggles and rapid growth.
The world has moved on from face to face monitoring.
You can establish contact and go through mentoring virtually via YouTube videos, skype, WhatsApp calls, etc.
Not all mentors have to be billionaire CEOs.
“Nothing shortens a learning curve more than someone with been-there-done-that experience,” said Mark Babbitt, founder and CEO of YouTern.
“Graduates should find a stable of mentors and build mutually beneficial relationships,” he added!
Many are leaders of successful local companies, respected field experts, or popular consultants. Student accelerator programmes and networking events provide excellent opportunities for founders to share ideas with people who have been there before and start mutually beneficial relationships.
University students and recent graduates have a lot to worry about; but in the right environment, their dreams of starting new businesses can become reality.
From 18-year-old freshmen to adults returning to finish their education, the university provides a perfect opportunity for founders to give their companies a head-start.
Having the greatest business idea and plan without implementation is the greatest failure of life!
Learn to implement that business idea. You need to start on a smaller scale, and slowly.
You are perhaps venturing into a competitive space with ‘big fish’.
Learn to play your entry cards well while standing out.
No matter your level of capital, start now and reinvest your profit into the business.
The business will grow and take shape with time.
It has been a great two weeks of learning basic work field survival after graduation. The journey has just begun.
Get up, step out and make a change!!
I wish everyone a wonderful and memorable week!