The playing field has changed, irreversibly. Jobs are not as readily available as the graduates coming out of colleges are. The gap is growing and will create a chasm too large to fill by government supported projects to create more jobs. A reality check is needed. Now.
This is where Entrepreneurship comes in.
Statistically, the SME sector accounts for a sizeable percentage of any economy. The World Bank states that SME’s represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. SMEs also contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies.
In Dubai alone, SME’s make up nearly 95% of all companies, employing 42% of the workforce and contributing around 40% to Dubai’s GDP. With these figures one cannot argue against the push for entrepreneurship.
The impact on any economy, given the above figures, is significant. It even helps the middle class grow, deepen & strengthen. With that in mind, pushing entrepreneurship becomes not only an urgent as well as a critical aspect, but one that requires a multi-pronged approach. Constraints and inefficiencies impact heavily on SME’s full potential & their performance is muted / stunted by several factors, but the critical ones are:
- The initial support: I have an idea. What do I do? What are the next steps? So many aspects to think about, including funding, business plans, product line, sales channels, customer segments, legal company formation, hiring etc.
Clarity and succinct presentation of one’s idea is key. Presenting an idea via a Business-plan is the norm. New developments in this arena have created simplicity and ease while providing depth and linkages between the elements. Some tools and approaches are mentioned below:
The business model canvas, the value proposition canvas, business plan generators, business & consulting toolkits that provide structure & depth etc. are all helping budding entrepreneurs. These tools provide direction / clarity / structure / focus and above all, the ability to understand and put things into perspective rather then leave them at the mercy of others. This incubation period can make or break a new venture. Support & handholding at this juncture, is critical.
- Availability of funding – options: This aspect is heavily impacted by the geographical divide. Funding lines, which are more readily available in the west, are not that common elsewhere. Angel investors, Banks that support startups, Venture Capitalists (VC’s), Peer-to-Peer funding, Crowdfunding, Merchant cash advances, Factoring, Strategic partner financing, Convertible debt and so on. A whole host of options and channels. These are over & above the traditional funding options of banks, family and friends or self-funding etc.
Government backing can also be initiated via grants & subsidies, tax holidays, setup support, non-profit community development finance institutions, incubators etc. Innumerable options, yet, in very limited quantities globally. Some markets have some or all of these and other markets don’t have most of these.
- Trying to do everything themselves: Entrepreneurs need to know their own strengths. If they are great in sales, Focus. Let others take care of the rest. If you’re good with creating new design or things, then create. If one gets sucked into the day to day, your edge is lost. Know your strengths and focus. For creatives the day-to-day operational running of the ship, hiring of people, accounts keeping, controls and monitoring of performance, decisions regarding pricing, which have a business impact etc. all distract. Although these aspects are not part of the “business” the creatives may assume they run, they form an integral part of its success. Providing them help in the areas they need it the most, would provide a breath of fresh air to them.
Removing barriers or roadblocks and providing options in each of the above areas would ignite the entrepreneurial ecosystem forcing the segment into overdrive. In turn, this impacts job creation, enhances GDP and creates ripple effects in myriad support industries that are part of each segments eco-system.
My personal experience setting up several companies as well as my experience as a consultant helping others setup or run effective entities has brought out these 3 key aspects that require attention. Although entrepreneurs suffer on multiple fronts, these are the 3 key & critical challenges, I feel, need focus.
May it be incubators, accelerators, or even enablers, they all amplify the potential and help them traverse the above mentioned 3 critical aspects providing the basis upon which they succeed. And, in their success, lies the success of nations.
Opinion Piece: Uzair Hassan CEO 3H Solutions Group firstname.lastname@example.org