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Dream beyond subsistence entrepreneurship

All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible. — Orison Swett Marden


As companies continue to down-scale or close, many people are joining the informal business sector in order to earn a living. Policymakers are even talking of the Zimbabwean economic model having shifted from being driven by big industry to being driven by small business.

The 2012 FinScope MSME survey commission by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operatives Development revealed that there are around 3,5 million micro, small and medium sized businesses in Zimbabwe. These employ a total of 6,4 million people, including the owners. Clearly that is a significant number considering the country’s total population of 13 million people.

One fact about the MSME sector is that the majority of the players are subsistence entrepreneurs. In crude terms, they are merely concerned about their survival and are tiny businesses that are unlikely to grow or create new jobs.

In contrast, there is a second group of entrepreneurs that is called transformational. Although a considerably smaller group, they strive for growth, build larger businesses and provide relatively secure employment opportunities for others. They are the catalysts of innovation, job creation, productivity, competitiveness and economic growth. I think policymakers would get much better results if they target policies and resources towards these transformational entrepreneurs who are more likely to create sustainable and productive employment and are the true engines of economic growth.

This does not mean that subsistence entrepreneurs cannot shift to being transformational. They can if they put their mind to it. They should start dreaming beyond subsistence and survival. They should dream big, as the quote above says.

Set big and clear goals

Successful entrepreneurs start with clear goals of where they want to take their businesses. The bigger your goal, the higher you will reach. Do not limit yourself; your mind is so powerful and resourceful that it will think of ways to achieve whatever you set yourself to do.

According to international business and success coach and author Brian Tracy, goals are crucial to success. “The one thing I’ve discovered in over 30 years of researching success patterns is that a person of average intelligence who has the ability to set clear goals, and has the discipline to maintain a goal-achieving mindset is 90% more likely to succeed than a genius without a plan,” said Brian Tracy.

Your goal in business can be defined in terms of the employment you wan to create; you might say you want build a company that will employ 200 people by December 2016. You could set your target in terms of revenues, number of branches you will be operating from or net profit. The goal has to be very specific; if it is vague you will not know whether or not you are reaching it.

Of course if your goal is very big it might sound impossible. Liberian President and the first female elected head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

The best way to tackle big goals is to break them up into manageable pieces, like when you are eating a pizza. Create a roadmap, with sub-goals that must be achieved along the way to the main goal. The roadmap could be spaced over yearly, half-yearly or quarterly periods. There must be specific measurable metrics for each period so you can ensure that you are on track.

Regularly review your performance, making adjustments where necessary or improving on previous successes. Celebrating small successes can be a big motivator and will keep you focused on achieving the next step of your goal. Read your goals daily and take action to move a step towards achieving it.

Equip yourself for success

Some entrepreneurs remain small because they are not equipped for growth and success. The research cited at the beginning of this article revealed that most subsistence entrepreneurs went into business without undertaking any form of training in business management.

You cannot expect to succeed in any field through trial and error. If you seriously want to graduate from subsistence to transformational entrepreneurship you need to acquire the essential skills that will enable you to plan and manage your business professionally. You can attend a seminar or workshop that dispenses the particular knowledge you need. You can also read books on specific business subjects or make use of online courses to acquire skills such as business planning, financial management, marketing, managing people and how to use modern technology.

With clear goals and the right knowledge and skills, nothing can stop you from building a truly transformational business that will create wealth for you and contribute to national development.

Please free to send me your feedback. Send me an email at my address shown below. Until next week, best wishes in accelerating your growth.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email: chichonip@smebusinesslink.com. You can also visit: http://smebusinesslink.com.

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