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David White – Building impactful ecosystems for entrepreneurs and business leaders

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

There are many reasons why enterprises fail. The biggest perhaps being that setting up and managing a business in itself is enormously complex. It is complex for many reasons, which often include the inability many entrepreneurs and business leaders have of the importance of clearly defining aims, objectives and timeframes for the enterprise development, and then also not fully understanding the detail and responsibilities it takes to create an impactful and sustainable business.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders are now our frontline contributors, and their responsibility is the growth of our economy and being custodians of our nation’s prosperity. Our doctors and nurses held this responsibility during the initial impacts of Covid, and we are grateful for their enormous and selfless serve to our people. Entrepreneurs and business leaders need to now recognise their responsibility to contribute to better ways of serving customers, to creating engaged work environments, and ensuring the enterprise outcomes result in growth, development, and advancement. We as the business community need to create opportunity for new enterprise entrants in the market – to result in growth of our economy and the creation of employment.

UNIQUE

Entrepreneurs by definition are those unique individuals who set up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of making a profit. They are commonly seen as inventors, sources of new ideas, goods, services, and business processes.

The world since Covid has changed… we as the generation of this time, now have to focus on creating new means of ensuring our world’s growth, prosperity, and the sustainability of resources for new generations. This enormous task is to a large degree the responsibility of our new front-line workers, our entrepreneurs and business leaders.

There is little difference between entrepreneurs and business leaders, but for the purposes of this communication, we provide the distinction that entrepreneurs are active at the setup or S-Curve 1 level, while business leaders generally have matured their enterprises beyond this point to levels with higher standards of structure, quality assurance, governance, and profitability. Both entrepreneurs and business leaders have important roles to play in our “new generation economy”, and their work is critical in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

CREATIVE

Entrepreneurs tend to be more creative, as they move forward with their ideas and available resources, in pursuit of meeting customer wants, needs and preferences, while ensuring they meet their own enterprise survival criteria.

Business leaders are often in a stronger position for growth, expansion and servicing new opportunities in the market, and as such both entrepreneurs with their fresh approach to finding new solutions and business leaders with their structured processes and defined outcomes are essential to meet increasing demand for new and better ways to provide innovation and value creation, as well as ensuring continuity and sustainability in enterprise operations and delivery.

What does not exist at present in a concentrated form is an Ecosystem that defines steps for entrepreneurs and business leaders to follow to reach these higher ideals. The defining Ecosystem is likely to be “invented” by an entrepreneurial organisation that has experience and understanding of the business process, with its mindset less hampered by criteria as hurdle rate returns to investors, risk evasion, and defined standard operating procedures, and being more focused on the specific needs of growth through structure and opportunity. Existing ecosystems for entrepreneurs and business leaders do provide significant support, but not enough, and this is evident in the way we continue to see an alarming number of start-up failures, and less growth than desired from slightly more mature enterprises.

REVOLUTION

We need a revolution in business development and related support services if we want to feel the effects of a growing and thriving economy. We need a new and better approach to supporting entrepreneurs and business leaders so they can learn essential lessons needed in business, benefit from existing knowledge and learning curves, and in turn serve our communities, nations, and the world at large with better value for consumers and produce better effects on our environment and global society. We want entrepreneurs to be as much as possible unencumbered by the complex administration, reporting and compliance responsibilities in setting up and running an enterprise. We want them to be confident in their understanding of how a business should be managed and lead, and we want them to be supported and encouraged in their work each step of the way.

How we help entrepreneurs and business leaders is simple… well not so simple that just anyone can believe it possible to leave their current employment and set up a business entity, but certainly for those entrepreneurially and business minded people to help them understand better their responsibilities and manage their expectations of what is required to be a leader in business. Once a person has stepped forward into the role of being an entrepreneur or business leader, they need an ecosystem of support and encouragement to help them move their business forward.

ESSENTIAL

Support and encouragement are essential for each entrepreneur and business leader, and this relates to all levels of activity in business. Every entrepreneur needs self-belief, and rarely does this come without support and encouragement from family, friends, colleagues, customers, and mentors. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are different to contributors in other professions in that their minds jostle between inventing, creating the uncreated, and the business minded financial requirements to ensure their enterprise ongoing development and sustainability. Artists may be likened in a similar way, with their minds noticing outlines, colours, shadows and textures, and a musician’s mind forming melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Entrepreneurs are similar to artists and musicians, except that their minds are conditioned more to the confines of value creation and commercial opportunity.

Like artists and musicians needing to learn the basics of their art, entrepreneurs too need to learn that their idea creation although essential, is but a very small part of the ingredients needed to create a successful business. Entrepreneurs need foundational support, and a road map to follow to help them reach their destinations.

The four critical aspects of any aspiring entrepreneur and his/her enterprise are sufficient leadership providing direction, clarity and confidence, well-constructed functional areas of the business, an accurate definition of the desired outcomes, goals and objectives, and an engaged work environment where staff contributions help in driving the business forward. Marketing, sales, strategy, administration, systems, and quality control form part of the well-constructed functional foundation of the business.

SUPPORTS

An ecosystem supports entrepreneurs and business leaders through a well thought through formula for success based on entrepreneurs receiving guidance in the business structure needed to take their ideas to market. There are many great ideas that have not yet reached the market, and many small and large enterprises that have as yet not actualized or reached that point, we refer to as thriving. This is the mission and intention of the ecosystem concept. With a clearly defined ecosystem, more new entrant enterprises will be successful through the support received and exiting enterprises will benefit through new confidence and opportunities created.

Every entrepreneur’s first requirement is adopting a suitable mentor. I have been an entrepreneur for what I consider my entire life, and still look to those further ahead on the path, or those more knowledgeable and capable in specific areas for guidance. This never changes, as there are always people ahead of us in all forms of life, and always opportunity for us to learn and grow. Mentors come in different forms, fortunate are those entrepreneurs who through enterprise and supplier development transformation programmes, or them being able to afford a personal mentor on an ongoing basis, are able to receive insights, guidance, and an objective and qualified perspective. For those not able to draw in a personal mentor, there needs to be a continual commitment from them to gaining more knowledge and understanding to support them reaching their desired outcomes.

There are many ways to do this, including asking those more aware and knowledgeable than us for their advice and input, and we can research and gain information in myriad different ways. But, never to believe, not even for a moment, that we are self-capable and all knowing. This is simply never a consideration for an entrepreneur or business leader. We do not know everything and will not ever know everything. Mentors too do not know everything, and as such need to be carefully chosen to complement existing skills, knowledge and experience that exists in the enterprise.

DEFINING

The ecosystem for entrepreneurs and business leaders needs to include matters defining quality assurance processes to support the likely outcome of the enterprise’s desired aim and objectives, mentorship relationships that provide guidance in directing the business effectively, and to achieving high levels of sustainability through identification and introduction to new and potential markets. A successful enterprise has access to networks and resources, and these essential ingredients form part of a well-structured entrepreneur ecosystem.

In summary, we as entrepreneurs and business leaders need to recognise our role and responsibility as front-line workers charged with the responsibility of growing our businesses and the economy, and to realise also that we need to draw in mentors, quality assurance, and sustainability measures into our businesses to ensure we are putting our best foot forward in creating enterprises that meet value creation demands for customers, being structured suitably to be resilient to turbulent and unpredictable effects, and providing security and opportunity to staff, customers, suppliers, while ensuring that all stakeholders in the business have confidence in their relationship with the enterprise.

DRG, BusinessFit and the SA Chamber UK KZN Chapter have heard these calls, and we have developed an Ecosystem to help support and advance these objectives. Call us, we look forward to sharing our passion, knowledge, systems, and networks to support confidence and business development.

Contact David White,

T: +27 (0)31 767 0625


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