Provided by The South African SME Toolkit, an information portal for South African entrepreneurs.
The fact that the SME sector is a tough industry to break into does not seem to deter the average young entrepreneur. But are big ideas, determination, passion and the will to succeed enough to be truly successful or could your age and a lack of higher education be your downfall?
This generation of school-leavers is probably facing the greatest obstacle to entering the working world. High unemployment levels, lack of work experience and the high price of tertiary education means that more and more young people are trying to start their own businesses.
If you fall into this group, do you have what it takes to make it big? Anyone can become an entrepreneur, no matter what their age, background or education level. But what makes a truly successful entrepreneur?
The personal qualities of successful entrepreneurs
Most entrepreneurs have certain character traits that stand them in good stead for the rollercoaster ride that is running a small business. These include:
Savvy - Those who have made it to the top all seem to have intuitive good judgement when making business decisions. This goes further than just having the business degrees or diplomas. It's more about common sense and instinct, combined with the ability to learn from the past, look ahead and focus on tomorrow.
Drive: Successful entrepreneurs are highly motivated and they're not prepared to settle for second best. Coupled with that, is the confidence that they have both the ability to do so, and that if they don't necessarily have the skills, they'll make a plan to acquire them.
Hard workers: No matter how confident and passionate you are, your venture probably won't flourish if you're not willing to work harder than most.
Inability to accept the status quo: Where others see problems, the entrepreneur sees opportunity. They aren't afraid to take a calculated risk, even if that means standing alone. Therefore, they also have to be resourceful in order to find solutions to problems.
Strong leadership: It takes a skilled leader to run a small business, where there is often a lot of uncertainty and tough competition. In this intimate setting, their leadership abilities are constantly being scrutinised and tested.
Passion: An enthusiasm for what they are doing and their competitive nature gives would-be business tycoons energy that the rest of us would love to have.
Is education important?
Knowledge and skill are vital when it comes to running a lucrative small business. Yes, the passion, drive and confidence counts for alot, but if you don't have the know-how, you're going to struggle.
Having said that, a degree or MBA does not automatically guarantee you success either, so how you acquire the knowledge is probably less important.
When you start out, be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Once you've identified those weaknesses, start working on a plan to address them. This could mean asking an expert in the field to mentor you , finding quick courses you can do to give yourself some background or even hiring people who have the skills you lack and learning what you can from them.
Whether entrepreneurship is something you're born with or something you learn is debatable and opinions vary. From what we've seen in this article, it seems that it's a little bit of both.