Fostering the Spirit of Entrepreneurship – What Qualities Should Namibian Entrepreneurs Embody?

IS an entrepreneur necessarily someone who owns a business or can it also be someone who manages the business on behalf of hisher family? In my opinion an entrepreneur is an individual who owns a business. However, there are many entrepreneurs who started off managing the businesses of either a family member or friend. Through managing the businesses of others they developed essential skills or traits that enabled them to start a business of their own. This can happen across all sectors – be it in hospitality management, carpentry or running a farm.

Think about the number of young Namibians who started off as subsistence farmers and eventually, when their parents passed on, continue to manage the farm and even go further and become commercial farmers. Somewhere, somehow along their life’s journey these people have been observing their parents consciously or subconsciously and they developed essential traits that made them who they are today. This brings us closer to the qualitiestraits that Namibian entrepreneurs should embody.

Most young people observe over the years what their family members or role models are doing as farmers. They are very curious about the lives of others and they generate their best ideas from them. I have a cousin who did not finish high school, but I think he closely observed what our uncle was doing as a farmer. Trust me, he was a keen observer of my uncle, as I see him today applying the traits he learned from my uncle. The second trait that Namibian entrepreneurs should embody is “simply believing that you are creative”. You need to accept that you are creative.

Imagine as an owner of a company, a CEO or director in a governmental organisation, you have doubts about the creative ability of your company – it will not help at all. If you have any doubts about yourself and your organization’s abilities – Mr Nick Fearson has one important observation: We often assume that those who work at the frontline are dumb. These people can raise a family of 10 on a N$2 000 monthly income. How many high-profile workers or business owners in Namibia can do that? Thus never ever underestimate the creative ability of anyone, including yourself. We are all somehow in the top 50 percent of something, even if it means raising a family of 10 on a N$2 000 monthly salary.

Walt Disney Company, one of the most creative companies of the 20th Century, had some important thoughts that strike at the heart of this trait. I quote Mr Disney: “Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that cannot be scaled by someone who knows the secret of making dreams come true.”

Another trait that Namibian entrepreneurs should embody is that we need to understand and think about the creative process itself. Start off by thinking about and studying other successful entrepreneurs in the country. Try picking up some books or newspaper articles about some creative people in Namibia.

Finally, to fully develop your traits of creativity we will look at the four-step creative process. They are preparation, incubation, inspiration and verification. Notice that inspiration is the third step not the first step. There are a lot of other things we need to do before we need to be inspired. Let me break it down for you. Imagine you are baking a cake. First you add the ingredients, let it bake, the timer goes off and you take the cake out of the oven and eat it. To be successful as an entrepreneur you need 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. Next we will look closely at this four-step creative process and link it closely to innovation.

Dr Wilfred Isak April is a Unam graduate and holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship (New Zealand). He lectures in Leadership, Organizational Behaviour and Entrepreneurship at the University of Namibia.

Source : New Era