Must I first own a company to get the recognition associated with being a “successful entrepreneur”?
Whenever you talk about entrepreneurship, immediately you think of startups, starting from scratch, young ambitious companies, 1 man shows and that kind of thing. You rarely associate entrepreneurship with established companies that have been in existence for a long time making millions in turnover annually. In fact anyone who wears a suit and works for a big company is scowled for being a sellout.
True, those who work for established companies are very different from typical entrepreneurs; they tend to be risk averse preferring the safety of a salary of a 9 to 5. They claim that once you have a spouse and kids your priorities are different from those of a young university graduate with big dreams influenced by Mark Zuckerberg.
However this does not mean that the millions upon millions of us that are not running companies that we founded ourselves cannot get the satisfaction, recognition, financial reward and glamour that have mostly been associated with “successful entrepreneurs” – key word “successful” otherwise forget the millions and the glamour. After all effective managers require the same sets of skills as successful entrepreneurs to meet their business objectives.
It’s therefore fitting that the Americans coined the term “Intrapreneur” to define those who act, think and work like entrepreneurs within large corporations. I believe this was necessary to stimulate innovative or out of the box thinking required for corporations to survive in hyper competitive times.
Entrepreneurship requires risk taking, strong vision and self-belief, not being afraid of failure and in fact learning from it, innovation, creativity and initiative, all of which are qualities highly sought after by employers. Good companies actually reward these qualities by putting in place incentive schemes like bonuses to make sure that employees get a piece of the action. Come to think of it, if an Intrapreneur fails, he can still make the rent, but I don’t know about the entrepreneur. But if the entrepreneur succeeds, he gets to buy the house and then I don’t know about the Intrapreneur. Choose wisely!
Though the Rwandan corporate sector is growing fast, you get the sense that there’s not enough boldness in managers’ decision making. Being a prudent resource allocator does not mean you only go for the safe ideas. For instance middle managers have to stand up to top management and fight for their ideas and see them through just as successful entrepreneur s often do. They must own their initiatives and stop with “the boss told me so”. And so that in the end if they succeed, they do so confidently, and if they fail, they can still hold their heads high knowing where they failed and exactly what to correct next time.
Mark Mugarura is a columnist for Inspire Rwanda Magazine. This article was first published in the Inspire Rwanda magazine 3rd issue.