A forum was organised this Tuesday at the Greenwich University, where many young entrepreneurs around Mauritius gathered to consider the tools essential for a successful venture.
Leadership and entrepreneurship are intertwined
Rajendra Patil Hunma lectured on the overlapping of entrepreneurship and leadership. As he sees it, the word ‘leader’ has become a fashionable term today. In fact, there are many kinds of leaders: Those who are called leaders, those who called themselves leaders and finally, those who exercise leadership. “We tend to view only great men, the alpha male who is leading the group as a leader, a concept which is not accurate.
There are many other leaders around us who don’t have a title but who demonstrate the right qualities,” he said. Rajendra Patil gave a real life example to differentiate between the theoretical leader and the real life leader. “We can describe ‘swimming’ in three sentences but when put to task, it is totally different. If you don’t swim, you will drown and will not be able to save others,” he said.
For him, the meaning of leadership is influencing others to pursue a shared vision and is the art of mobilising others to want to struggle. He made it clear that leadership is an activity and not a status, which is exercised at all levels of the organisation or society and not just at the top. However, he specified not to confuse the word ‘leader’ with the titles of ‘Head’, ‘Boss’, ‘Minister’ and ‘Prime Minister’.
There are many people who died centuries ago but are leading even today. Rajendra specified the process of becoming a leader. “All these things start with self awareness, mindfulness. You have to know where you desire to build your road maps and where you want to go.” He listed some qualities of being both a leader and an entrepreneur, for example, honesty, forward looking, inspiring others, competence, intelligence, ambitious, cooperative, dependable and courageous.
An entrepreneur sometimes fails 10 times but succeeds the 11th time. You need to accept this fact. An entrepreneur is defined as self-employed, self-driven, and self-motivated. They have to be able to motivate themselves. To become a good entrepreneur, you must start by developing the qualities of self-leadership. It’s the practice before you engage in the business. “The word ‘leader’ is centred on change, that is the determination to make a difference in the universe,” he concluded.
The importance of networking
Shameerah Khoyratty, on her part, discussed business creation and development stimulating start-ups. She advised to make good use of technology tools, which are free. “I started my business with very little money but managed to make my business stand.
Through brochures and the internet, I was able to render myself visible to people, so that they may know who I am,” she narrates. In her opinion, a shy entrepreneur cannot progress. Networking is a must. “Without networking, I would not have been here to talk face to face. Make an attempt to meet people. Entrepreneurs can help other entrepreneurs by offering help,” she advises.
“Acquiring knowledge about doing business is also very important. This does not mean you’ve only to go to the university. Attend workshops, seminars or enrol into webinars. Learn about more business possibilities.”
Furthermore, there are many government bodies which you can consult before deciding to launch a start-up, such as the SMEDA, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Arts, the corporate and business registration departments, the National women entrepreneur council (NWEC) at Phoenix.
Learn from your failures
Gift Lubece, a South African youth whose businesses were run to the ground several times, narrated his past failures. According to him, great things never come from comfort but from problems. For every problem, there is a solution and hence a business opportunity. He used to be very poor and had to walk around a lot, as life was not easy. He started selling lemonade but this business failed. Then he started selling snacks. It failed, too.
“Still, I moved forward and not backward. I failed but surely learnt something from each failure. An entrepreneur is someone who sees a problem, works on it and finds a solution. We must start embracing the process needed to reach the top. It should not be an easy scheme to become rich overnight.”
Moreover, he cautioned young people to avoid bad habits if they want to succeed in business. “We spend so much time on the phone, far too many hours. Three hours per day, in a week it’s 21 hours, 84 hours per month and in a year it amounts to 1,008 hours. So much time wasted by just scrolling up and down on your mobile. Many people complain they don’t have time. Time is precious. No money can buy time. We must use it wisely for business purposes,” he enjoined.
Ahmad Fakuddeen Jilani
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