A new perspective on shut doors. Perhaps they create new opportunities

If Opportunity doesn’t knock build a door.” – Milton Berle

An entrepreneur by nature,  is not something that I consider myself to be, but the direction that the world is taking has caused me to think more about what entrepreneurship really means and what it really takes to conceptualise, start and most critically sustain a successful business.

In a 2018 Power FM interview, well known South African, rising business mogul and motivator Vusi Thembakwayo, alluded to the possibility that starting a business and being an entrepreneur are not synonymous. It seems two very different hats need to be put on, to successfully play each stage of the entrepreneurship game.

Let us look at some definitions of Entrepreneurship from trusted dictionaries (emphasis mine):

  • The Oxford Learners Dictionary: ​the activity of making money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks.
  • The Cambridge dictionary: skill in starting a new business, especially when this involves seeing new opportunities
  • The Business Dictionary: The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.

These definitions are clearly not identical and that in itself, is an expression of the varying perspectives and understandings of this thing called “entrepreneurship”. Some key words/principles in these definitions however jump out at me:

  • Ability
  • Attitude
  • Opportunity
  • Profitability
  • Risk-taking

All these seem to be key markers on the business roadmap, with the ability to determine success or failure. One common thread that runs through all our definitions seems to be the understanding that you are not in business until you complement an existing feature, or fulfil a need/gap, in the market. When you cease to do either of the above – you are no longer in business ….  in terms of that service or product.
This, however, has no bearing on the opportunity that constantly exists to find or complement another, new need in the market

This principle governs everyone’s work, whether owning, leading, or serving in a business. Everyone needs to be enterprising in one way or another, to stay in business.

At C4G, we have already come to understand that we need to stay close to the business development support community’s adaptations as well as the changes to the shape of the small business environment,  in order to understand and implement the changes or additions to measurement metrics in order to be relevant and successful in our offering to the ecosystem. We do not have to be out of business – we need to re-align our business to the demand – how do we now successfully measure impact?

In the retail environment, we see that the many of the small, sit-in or collection-only restaurant businesses just did not manage to survive the almost three-month-long lull forced by the first two levels and of lockdown in South Africa. But it was not always for lack of ability, but for lack of adaptability. Other similar businesses, like some of our small, local sit-in fast food shops, added delivery to their offering and no doubt to some of their employees’ job descriptions and were up and running again as soon as delivery was allowed.

Being enterprising has less to do with sharp business plans and more to do with relevant, agile strategies, that, like palm trees in a storm, will bend as low as the strong wind may push them, but refuse to be uprooted!

Nomsa Langa,

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