Uganda is undoubtedly one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor(GEM). It has one of the highest percentages of youth who either own or co-own businesses. Day after day start-ups keeps popping up. It’s no question of debate that Uganda’s population is rich in young vibrant entrepreneurs who constantly come up with innovative ideas to set up businesses. Owing to that, you would expect the country to have a prosperous economy. However, devices like GDP, income per capita, and other indicators of economic progress say otherwise. From a low-income status to a debt to GDP ratio almost hitting the fifty percent mark, not to mention the ever-increasing rates of youth unemployment, the economic atmosphere looks somewhat bleak and this is why. Despite the fact that most start businesses, only a very small percent stay long enough to see their fifth birthday, very few entrepreneurs follow through with their startups.
Among the factors that contribute to the high rates of collapsing start-ups, one would mention, inadequate capital, unfavorable lending rates, unfavorable tax policies, small indigenous markets to mention but a few. Much as the effect of these factors, can’t be ignored, there is also a factor that plays a very vital role in the premature demise of various start-ups, it’s the mentality and mindset of prospective entrepreneurs. Mindset is everything, it determines whether an entrepreneur will stay committed whether they will walk through the thick and thin, persist through the inevitable risks, uncertainties, and occasional failures that entails entrepreneurship.
Much as some enter entrepreneurship with the proper motivation and mindset, others are usually lured into entrepreneurship because they are attracted to the glitter, the financial independence, the “your boss” kind of lifestyle. At least that is what is portrayed as what entails entrepreneurship. That is why most people venture into entrepreneurship with that false light of working only when you want, generating income even in your bed in a sound slumber, going for vacations at any time of the year, parting on a Monday. That is what young people think entrepreneurship is and when they enter into the actual entrepreneurship world with all those unrealistic expectations, they can’t last.
So what are these misconceptions that young people think to entail entrepreneurship?
- An entrepreneur is their boss.
People think, as an entrepreneur, you get to call the shots when you want, do things how you want. In actual sense, an entrepreneur has a boss, the boss is the customer. Without the customer, the entrepreneur is nothing hence what the customer thinks and what they say about your business affects it directly. Most people are egomaniacs and detest taking orders, being beneath a higher authority, sometimes even taking constructive criticism. They start a business thinking they are their own boss but soon realize that if they don’t humbly adhere to the customer’s specific needs and requirements, their efforts are futile and their business doomed to fail. Before entering entrepreneurship, you have to learn humility as a virtue, treat every customer with the utmost respect regardless of who they are. You also have to be docile, take constructive criticism in good faith and learn what you don’t know. It’s even worse when an entrepreneur grows into something as big as a multi-million company. There you have a board of directors to answer to so you have a boss, one that can at any time fire you from a business you started yourself. Steve Jobs, one of the most iconic figures in the technology and entrepreneurship field was at one point fired from his own company, one he had started from his garage.
- It takes a few months to see a profit.
Most people know it takes time to grow a business but very few appreciate how long it actually takes. Remember that common paradox employment seekers fall victim to, “you need the experience to get a job, and you need a job to get experience.” Well, it even affects entrepreneurs. People rarely buy from a newbie in the business. Sometimes it’s due to customer loyalty to a specific brand, but other times its just pure skepticism, regardless of whether your product is better or not. That is why despite marketing research and advertising, you simply need time to get customers. For the really lucky ones, it takes a few months, but in actual sense, it usually takes even years before an entrepreneur can even sniff a profit. This is the point when the business is making losses, but it’s a point when you get to learn how the production processes work and how to optimize them. You get relevant contacts and build a network that will come in handy in the near future. At this point is also when you build your niche, establish which production line you want to set up, which one you would want to specialize in and which one to drop. You also get to establish your clientele, your target market, their needs, and your financial ability. Millennials are usually obsessed with instant gratification, something that will make them an instant millionaire and put them on the front page of 30 under 30. However, this is rarely the case. The only successful entrepreneurs are those that are in it for the long haul.
- Entrepreneurs work fewer hours than common employees.
This is by far the biggest myth of all. First off, building a business from scratch is the hardest part and any legitimate entrepreneur can attest to that fact. The initial ignition required to get that big break, that breakeven point takes patient hard work and resilience. Darren Hardy in his book, “the compound effect” compares it to trying to push a merry go round which is it rest, the greatest amount of energy is expended at the initial push. Or for anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle knows that the first peddle is perhaps the hardest to push to give the bicycle that initial push. Even a rocket burns the bigger part of its fuel at the initial lift-off just to achieve escape velocity and break free from the gravity of the earth. A person going into entrepreneurship should get ready to give it their all just to get their business afloat. This means long endless hours of toiling while getting peanuts. Unfortunately, those that opt for entrepreneurship in a bid to escape long hours of work end up hopping off the cooking pot and diving face-first into the fire. But the good news is that when the big break comes your way and the business finally takes off, it gets easier. That is when you have loyal customers, credible debtors, reliable creditors, and a strong brand name.
- Entrepreneurs have more freedom compared to employees.
People detest nine to five office jobs because they feel restricted and enslaved to a cubical, staring at a monitor for an average of eight hours straight. Such people venture into entrepreneurship expecting complete freedom to go to work at whatever time you please and also leave when you feel like it. Contrary to this, entrepreneurship may in most cases be even more restrictive than normal jobs, only this time you have to hold yourself accountable, lest you fail at your business. The competitive nature of entrepreneurship makes it hard to sleep at night knowing your competitor is probably perfecting his product and will steal your customers anytime soon. It even becomes harder to sleep knowing it’s your money on the line. It’s no surprise that the boss reports to work first and leaves last. Sometimes you have to take work home. Fine, you can decide to take your business with a bit more laxity, but the price is hefty. Not a mere suspension or demotion like an employee but it’s your own money and potentially losing your business.
- Your business can run without you.
The assumption that it’s as easy as setting up the business and letting it make money even when you sleep is also a myth. The idea that you can just set the business on autopilot and go for that two-month vacation in the middle of the year couldn’t be any farther from the truth. On the contrary, it demands at most time and attention, for supervision, management, and so forth. You can’t simply trust anyone with your business in their hands. People get greedy, ambitious, and soon begin stealing from you. No one is trustworthy, not even your own family. Since you can only trust yourself with your own business, it necessitates that you are always there to monitor and supervise it.
Those are a few misconceptions that push young people to blindly venture into entrepreneurship. If these points make entrepreneurship a bit less attractive than it seems, that is because it’s the truth, and luring youth into the perceived glamour while leaving out these essential facts is futile. That tragic realization of the actual hardships that entail entrepreneurship as a painful smack of a reality check. Much as encouraging young people into entrepreneurship is a noble cause that may be in a bid to tackle high rates of youth unemployment, it is very important to nurture the right mindsets that will produce quality entrepreneurs. Humility, patience, and resilience, discipline, and work ethic are the foundation of a good entrepreneur. “A house exposed to the weather ought to have a good foundation.” Ryan Holiday.