Entrepreneurship, Business and Life!

Posts tagged ‘visionaries’

A county governors guide to creating jobs through entrepreneurship

So we now have county governments in Kenya. Most governors  state that youth employment, entrepreneurship and women empowerment are their top priorities.However, it seems that many counties do not have good  ideas on what to do with the groups mentioned above. Some are still struggling to figure out what do to with the county itself, so they do not have  time to think about entrepreneurship. Many have not been entrepreneurs.

I am here to help . Here is what they should task their county ministers who either handle the ministries of  industry, economic planning, youth matters or  the docket that has been tasked to develop a strategy for entrepreneurship. Here are some tips towards developing a county entrepreneurship strategy.

1. Analyse the county

Start by analysing what  assets, economic activities or  high potential sectors exist  that could present an opportunity to develop entrepreneurs . It could be agriculture, light manufacturing, mining or even services like tourism, financial services , hospitality etc. It could also be support services to your main activities which are lacking. for example, construction will always require food services close by . It could be unique products or services that your county can focus on due to its  geography,mining potential or cultural make up. Be sure to analyse the county’s history to pick out what the unique DNA of the county is. You will be surprised how something that has been a big weakness amongst your people could be turned into a globally attractive phenomenon. Oh , and crunch the economic numbers as you analyse your county.

2. Analyse the gaps

Clearly identify the gaps that are present and what the economic potential of closing those gaps could be . Also analyse the gaps present in skills , education or infrastructure for the industries identified . Those gaps in themselves could be opportunities. I hope that someone in Turkana is setting up an oil institute with practical intern-ships.

3. Define your county strategy

Once you are clear on where you are and what you have, you can now project into the future a strategy of how do develop the areas where gaps exist. You can develop a set of programs that address fundamental issues that will build up towards other higher level needs in future. Also be sure to build in some quick wins that will inspire and energize the county towards your plan.

4. Categorize

Make sure you categorise the entrepreneurs. Everyone seems to think that entrepreneurs are a homogeneous group and therefore they come up with a blanket plan towards all of them. I don’t understand this craze that governments have of  funding groups. I am yet to see an example of a great company in the world that was started by a group of 15 people. The norm is that  1 or 2 visionary individuals go ahead to build a team that helps them build a company. Fund individuals , not groups.

5. Develop programs

You can develop programs in line with your strategy like Small Business Development Centers,markets creation programs , capacity building programs, affirmative action procurement programs,subsidies , equity or debt funding, international linkages, investor matching or attraction, venture capital or angel investor programs, the list of potential programs is endless . You could also target partnerships abroad with other counties or regions that could be consumers of your products or services , or those that share similar goals with that of your county and hence they can help you build your entrepreneurs capacity. This is the point at which those  “benchmarking trips” can be converted into value adding trips,where you actually go to sign agreements rather than do a “shopping study tour”.

6. Track results (or  in government language , monitoring and evaluation)

Ensure you have a clear mechanism for tracking the success of your programs . Kindly note that how much money you have lent or given out is not a good measure of success. But focus more on how many jobs you have created, how much growth and wealth has been created as well as the return on the investment that the county has made . You can also start a program in a small way, which allows you to learn and grow it in future , becoming more and more effective with every step you take.

At the county government level, once your strategy is in place, you can focus on removing or lowering barriers  for your entrepreneurs. This is where you can develop policies that can help them address issues like  security,internet connectivity,   infrastructure, energy costs ,capital requirements ,red tape in your county ,market research amongst others that are beyond their individual reach but once done ,will benefit everyone. The list of barriers entrepreneurs encounter in a place like Kenya is long.

You can also set aside funds to set up Research and development  centers and  academic linkages   in institutions of learning. I still cant understand how Kenya has one of the best agricultural universities yet we still practice sub-optimal agriculture. There is a gap between our research, academicians and the market.

A final word to Governors and their teams , dream on behalf of your constituents.Move away from tokenism and focus on value addition and higher level opportunities  . Dont just be comfortable creating micro enterprises, dream of getting companies from your county listed on the NSE or even better NYSE! Dream of them going regional and global! Dream of your people not just setting up kiosks but growing them to be supermarkets and malls. Dream of your farmers selling branded products directly to markets abroad. Dream of setting up industries that are world re-known. Our soapstone carvings should be expensive monuments abroad, our bead work should be a globally competitive industry, our tourism can be more differentiated. And then don’t just dream, but execute.

A powerful vision is ALIVE!

Every entrepreneur begins with a vision of the future.  But there are a few who begin with a powerful vision. One that goes way beyond themselves and if brought to pass, would revolutionize how things are done in the industry, society, culture or economy. It would transform lives, change lifestyles, force people to adopt a new way of doing things that makes them wonder how they survived without you in the first place. They find it hard to imagine a life without you and what you put in place. This type of vision is for a select few, those who see things that others would only experience to believe that it’s possible.

This vision usually has a life of its own. And despite the fact that the vision bearer may think they own the vision, it actually owns them. And it goes through a life cycle.

A Powerful Vision usually begins with many excesses but goes through a period of refinement, where it strips away all the chaff and begins to rebuild itself. These excesses come in the form of exploitative business partners, expensive offices, impressive gadgets and machines, excess staff, and pretentious clients many of whom don’t believe in your product or services as it is. At this stage the Powerful Vision looks down at the vision bearer and says “The vision bearer is not ready to carry this vision, if they continue like this, the powerful vision will not come to pass”. The vision is wise enough to recognize that the initial configuration of the set up is bad for the vision. The vision at this point is usually driven by greed masked as change for society. Whilst the vision bearer may say they want things to be different, their primary objective may be to grow rich and wealthy and make a lot of money for themselves. But the Powerful Vision knows that this focus will destroy the vision bearer should it happen too soon. The Powerful vision usually sets out to straighten things out because it knows that the vision bearer is not ready or maybe the market is not ready. And this straightening of things will take time and test you, the vision bearer, to the core of your being. Setting you on a path of true soul searching and self awareness.

The powerful vision will systematically take you the vision bearer though a series of tests. It will strip away initial partners who were in it for quick or selfish gain without putting in any work. They will begin to fall out as soon as they realize it will not be an easy journey. Then it will ensure there isn’t enough money to sustain a lifestyle of careless spending. In the times of need you will have to get accustomed to careful spending, cost cutting and budgeting, many times unable to do things aligned to your greed. Your self esteem will be tested when all people around you seem to be doing better than you. It will strip away initial cheerleaders who begin to doubt your prowess as they walk away to pursue their own interests that put food on their table. They will get tired of giving themselves to your cause for no immediate return. It will strip away employees whom you thought would die for the company only to realize you are the only one willing to give everything for it to work. It will even strip away fake clients who only bought from you as a favour or because they are family or friends. They will begin to question the value that you sell and when they do not see it they will pull away.

All the stripping away leaves the vision bearer in a wilderness. All alone, tired, exhausted and burnt out with very little results to show for it. It is at this point that the vision bearer will begin to ask themselves tough questions about why they are really doing what they are doing. Was it for the money? Was it for change? Was it for all the above? Those with ill intention will either quit or resort to underhand dealings. Those with pure intentions, to create sustainable change, will affirm themselves with powerful answers that go beyond money making. They will remember the reason why and they will examine their hearts and realize that it was not just for the money. At this point, the Powerful vision will look down at the vision bearer and say “You are now ready to carry the powerful vision forward; your heart is in the right place”. At this point the vision only leaves room for true believers. And true believers set the foundation for greatness.

The powerful vision will open up the vision bearers mind to innovative ideas, creative solutions, new resources, new ideas for products and services, new markets that they had previously not seen. The powerful vision will enable the vision bearer to establish clarity and focus and know exactly what is required to take the vision forward, even if at this point the money is not streaming in bucket-loads yet. You the vision bearer will be energized, not by the big results but by the steady and consistent progress you make and the few believers that cheer you on. New clients, new partners, new employees, new suppliers, new stakeholders all aligned to the vision and the bearer’s values will be attracted slowly but surely. The wheel will begin to turn and results will begin to stream in. First a trickle, then a steam, then a river and eventually a waterfall. The vision will take off so powerfully at some point that the vision bearer will have to run to keep up with it. It will be like riding a bull that is charging forward without any prompting. First a small locality will feel the power of the vision, then it will be felt in the next village, then in the district and it will keep growing. The more powerful it is the more it is likely to reach far and wide, sometimes touching far corners of the world. Some are so powerful that they out live the vision bearer and grow even more after they leave us. At this point, the Powerful Vision will reward the vision bearer with much more than they had ever dreamed of. Money, satisfaction, recognition and a legacy. But most of all a refined character and a feeling of security in who they are and not what they have. They will not need to show off to others or be arrogant. Be prepared at this point for the unbelievers and cheerleaders to return, singing your praises and taking credit for getting you there.

All because the vision bearer was the only one sensitive enough to realize that something was very wrong with the world as it is today, and were willing to pay the price to give their lives to something that was going to change the world as it is. Because what we have today is the powerful vision of a vision bearer in the ancient days, and what we will have tomorrow will be the result of some powerful vision bearers of today.

Are you a vision bearer or living in the vision of another long gone? The lack of vision bearers today leaves us at the mercy of the greedy, negligent or archaic thinkers. Step forward oh you vision bearer!