Part 2: Applied Mentor-Coaching for Entrepreneurship Development
Let me confess: No one can develop an entrepreneur unless the candidate has entrepreneurship ingredients in them. So, we should stop telling people that we have funds or resources for them to become entrepreneurs and create jobs. Secondly, no person goes into business to create jobs. The creation of jobs is a product of the successful entrepreneur requiring talent (human resources) as part of building the capacity to meet the growth challenges. No entrepreneur will employ anyone if his/her business is not growing. That is the difference between profit based enterprise and a social welfare organization like non-profit organization. Even social welfare organizations must employ within their cost constraints. Any organization that does not have control on their cost structure will fail.
So, how do entrepreneurs come about? An entrepreneur has an eye for opportunities, which in most cases show up in a form of a problem or challenge to the society. He or she decides to establish an enterprise to solve such a problem. Those are kind of entrepreneurs we must support to grow through the following INTENTIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE stages (NB: this is based on my own experience, and is my own formulated entrepreneurship development stages);
Stage 1: IDEA GENERATION - as much as the opportunities become available at any time, potential entrepreneurs must be intentional on going into business. The idea generation stage is the foundation for all the subsequent stages of the entrepreneurship development journey. Anyone can participate in a number of interventions aimed at idea generation. It requires participants to be observant, connected with their environment, be active members of their communities, identify the problems and challenges facing the society that can be solved through entrepreneurship, understand the law of abundance, have the ability to suspend the doing for time being, be fully present in the thinking moments, avoid entertaining the thoughts about what cannot be done, have faith that what can be imagined can be done, allow one to go divergent and then converge into few truly crazy powerful ideas, etc. Then few ideas must be taken to the next stage for further development. Avoid transitioning too many ideas development stage, for it is impossible that all the ideas can be important. At this stage you are not yet sure if the ideas are going to work or not. Avoid over-excitement and sharing your ideas with the public yet. It is risky to do that so early. You may psychologically bind yourself to ideas you may want to discard later, and find it difficult to let the public know that you are no longer with your original ideas.
Stage 2: IDEA DEVELOPMENT - This involves researching and benchmarking the few ideas you have selected and transitioned to this stage. This may involve consulting professional and industry bodies to check if they have members already running similar businesses you would like to establish. Do not be discouraged if you find some already existing businesses. You are still to do market research later. These existing enterprises may not be meeting the needs of your future target market. Be protective of your intellectual property as you engage with many stakeholders. During this stage it is advisable to have everyone you are engaging with sign non-disclosure agreement with you. You want to be comfortable that your unique ideas that you worked hard to generated and developed are not stolen from you. Once you have established the uniqueness and relevance of your ideas you must register them as your intellectual property with your country’s relevant authorities. There are countries that are known for high number of intellectual property filing. This is a basis for the competitiveness of your country. It is the citizens of the country that make it competitive by actively participating in ideas generation, development, and filing of intellectual property. Now that you have registered your ideas as an intellectual property the next logical stage is to convert them into a business concept.
Stage 3: CONCEPT FORMULATION - your idea is now a registered intellectual property and you are free to openly formulate the concept of your business. This is the most enjoyable stage of the entrepreneurship development journey. You are forgiven to go wild and dream crazy concepts. That is what entrepreneurship is all about. You do not have to be restrictive to yourself because you are not yet committing any actions and resources. You are still engaging in the thinking mode, although in a more structured and purposeful manner. You know the idea you want to migrate into a business concept, and the society problems (and challenges) you want to solve through entrepreneurship. I highly recommend that you write a lot at this stage. Add to the title of each document that you are producing versions or editions numbers. Never destroy any document just because it does no longer look relevant after you have written it. You made an effort to reduce your idea to a document and you do not want to regret later. The documents that seem not useful today may be so in the future. They may become important part of your company history and archives. Your successors and children would be informed by what you captured in documents in the future. That is part of knowledge management and archiving. Be advised to use technology and keep all your documents (and records) in secured cloud storages. It will be heart-breaking to lose your ideas and documents with your stolen laptop or hard-drive that crashed. I have heard of such horrible stories of people losing many years of hard work in this manner. You will never be able to reproduce such documents again, because at any point in time (and every day) your energy and motivation levels are different.
Stage 4: CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT - the concept you have formulated must now be developed and transformed further. That way it is brought closer to informing the business model development. This includes the identification of the sector in which you want to locate your future business. Which target markets do you want to serve? Are you planning to sell goods (products), services, or provide solutions? Are you going to develop, produce or buy & sell, or distribute? You will need a lot of imagination and facts to answer all these questions. Avoid any guess work as you may miss great opportunities to build strong foundation for your future business model. Many intentional entrepreneurs are not afraid of spending money in consulting experts, mentors, and coaches at this stage. Finding a professional entrepreneurship development mentor-coach may be a good idea at this (and next stages).
Stage 5: BUSINESS MODEL DEVELOPMENT (Markets, Services, Products and Solutions) - You are now entering the most challenging stage of your entrepreneurship development journey. There is no right or wrong business model. That is why every business is unique and reflects the ambitions of its founder. The main objective of the business model is to deliver the establishment intent and meets the demands of the clients as envisaged by the founder.
Stage 6: DEVELOPING STRATEGY-LED CULTURE - To continue delivering on the founder’s intent and growing the business through all the intentional entrepreneurship development life cycle stages, the management and leadership executives are expected to develop corporate strategy. Most successful enterprises are strategy led, i.e. each financial year kicks off with purposeful strategic planning sessions, followed by mid-year strategy reviews, and close the year with strategy progress reviews (and reports). Maintaining such strategy led culture will ensure business continuity and continuous growth of the organization.
Stage 7: DEVELOPING ORGANISATION STRUCTURE (NOW AND FUTURE) - the saying goes, STRUCTURE FOLLOWS STRATEGY. That is so true. Developing the corporate and operating structure of your new enterprise must not be just about creating blocks and adding names of people to them. You must interrogate the relevance of each block and how it responses to the strategic objectives of the business. Have a long-term organisation structure development orientation in anticipation of the future demands of each stage that your business is going to go through. The implementation of such well developed structure is almost like the implementation of the corporate strategy of the organization. Rather temper with your operations than corporate organization structure, especially if the corporate strategy was based on its founding intent. The word corporate sounds too big for the emerging entrepreneurs. That should not be the case. It has nothing to do with the size of your enterprise. It all suggests the non-operations organization structure that follows the founder’s vision and must accommodate the future growth demands of the enterprise.
Stage 8: ENTERPRISE INTRODUCTION (plus IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT & BRANDING) - We can now say welcome to the world of the entrepreneurs. If you have done everything to the book this stage is supposed to be the most fulfilling. There is no any other happiest moment than seeing one’s idea becoming a reality. We expect this stage to be as long as possible. The enterprise must not be subjected to the demands it is not ready to handle. A lot of learning is still to take place. Other people who were not there in the early stages are going to join and they would need to be inducted into the organization’s culture. You have not even created or experienced such a culture. Do not rush to introduce new members of the organization. Focus on the development of the identity and brand of the enterprise. It is difficult to grow your business without a brand. Today it is expected that the identity development will include the registration of the domain, website, social media accounts, logo, and colour scheme. Many markets are present both physically and on cyberspace. Make your enterprise present on internet and be active on social media platforms. That will accelerate its growth beyond imagination. To avoid suffocating your business deliver complex products, services, and solutions through subcontractors or in partnership with the established enterprises. Avoid being over excited for winning many clients quicker as it may stretch your business’ capacity beyond its limits. That would be the beginning of failures you do not want your brand to be associated with. Guard and protect your young enterprise. Allow it to grow progressively.
Stage 9: ENTERING AND STAYING IN GROWTH PHASE - This is the stage every entrepreneur wants to attain in their original form. Very few enterprises enter growth stage intact. They either would have changed their models, structures, products and service offerings, etc. The enterprise is now counted among the industry players and others look up to it for best practices. We, however, do not want this growth stage to be short-lived. It must be sustained for as long as it is possible.
Stage 10: MATURITY (AND PROLONGING THE STAGE) - a matured enterprise is an authority in the market through research, introduction of new products, services, solutions, and it is highly competitive. It sets trends and other enterprises follow. It collaborates with the best in class and is not ignored by industry players. All stakeholders, serious investors, best talent, cutting-edge suppliers, and financially strong clients want to be associated with the enterprise. This is the time to start thinking about diversification, exploring future trends, and expanding into foreign markets. It is clear that such organizations outgrow their founders, who are advised to be willing to let go, and allow new generation to take over from them. They remain with the legacy and historical mantle of having established an institution. That is the gift to the nation, heritage to their children and grand-children. There is nothing to lose for founders who allow their enterprises to outlive them. If we all embrace this thinking and mindset nations will continue to grow and contribute to a better world. It all starts at the country level. This is how many brands became truly global.
Stage 11: RENEWAL OR DECLINE - it is easy to get to the top but difficult to remain there. The entrepreneurs are advised not to wait until their enterprises experience decline. Their management and leadership executives must be preoccupied with business continuity initiatives and sustainability programmes of the enterprise. This includes renewal to avoid decline and closure. The most painful thing for any executive is to be responsible for the closure of any company. You do not want to be associated with such a failure. The recent failure and closure of one of Britain’s oldest travel company, Thomas Cook, is painful for even people who had nothing to do with it.
END: - I hope that this part 2 of the series, APPLIED MENTOR-COACHING FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT, was educational and you are looking forward to part 3.
ABOUT SAM TSIMA: The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of COMETSA GoC International (Pty) Ltd, specialists in mentorship, coaching, advisory, networks, holistic human capital, management and leadership development consulting. You may contact Sam Tsima and COMETSA at cell. +27 72 376 7503; email: callcentre@Cometsa-GoC.com; or visit our website: http://www.Cometsa-GoC.com