The barriers, first to entry and then to growth, faced by young entrepreneurs especially in Africa are real and great in number. When faced with the many obstacles in their way, such as lack of business knowledge, experience, resources, finances, age bias etc. entrepreneurship support becomes a real need that most youth businesses cannot do without.
Entrepreneur support is the assistance given to entrepreneurs in bearing part of the weights and challenges of starting, running and growing a business, with a view to increase the chances of success for the entrepreneur. The support required will differ depending on the personal and business needs, strengths and weaknesses of the entrepreneur. It is important for the entrepreneur to not only identify their need for support, but the type of support they need to overcome their specific challenges.
The support available to entrepreneurs can be divided into four categories:
Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting
From task-based short term coaching engagement, longer-term personal development mentoring engagements to sector/function specific consulting engagements, young entrepreneurs are able to unlock the potential in their business, improve performance and accelerate their growth. These approaches, individually or combined, form part of many business incubation programmes and young entrepreneurs can gain access to the skills of qualified people who offer these services at a fraction of the cost or no cost at all. Whenever we want to start accessing money that is not ours, we have to understand the rules to build business by and make sure we follow them. Learn these rules and apply them to your business. This will open your business up to accessing this difficult and scarce support.
Access To Finance
For many entrepreneurs, the number one answer to what support they need is money. Financial support through debt, equity and grant funding is available to entrepreneurs to help them scale their business. We are very aware of the limited nature of financial support, especially to young entrepreneurs in Africa as financial institutions and private investors are still coming to the realisation of the capabilities of young entrepreneurs. However, this should not discourage any young entrepreneur from seeking financial support should they need it, it should rather, inspire them to work hard to get themselves investment ready.
Robert Kiyosaki said it best when he said, “The richest people in the world look for a build networks, everyone else looks for work”. The best entrepreneurs understand the need for strong networks to help them navigate business challenges, access different opportunities or make the entrepreneurial journey less lonely and they also spend time building these networks. These relationships can provide specific and personal support to entrepreneurs that most other support categories cannot. Young entrepreneurs should engage in entrepreneurial activities such as conferences, workshops, competitions, clubs, online communities etc. in an effort to build their networks.
The entrepreneur, as a leader of the venture, must have the necessary skills and knowledge to run and grow the business. Many business have failed for no other reason but the lack of these skills and knowledge. There are however, many organisations and tertiary institutions that offer short and long business courses and skills training to capacitate entrepreneurs. It is important for an entrepreneur to understand their own limitations and the needs of their business, and capacitate themselves and their employees to enable them to meet those needs. Training workshops, online courses and skills training, are but a few of the many ways entrepreneurs can use to upskill themselves.
The media plays a very important role in the entrepreneur support eco-system. By telling the stories of young entrepreneurs, they provide them with much needed publicity, inspire other young budding entrepreneurs and provide them with the credibility they need to access networks and resources they previously could not. Although, entrepreneurs cannot tell media houses what to write about them, they should take advantage of opportunities to have their stories told by engaging in public relations activities or seeking speaking engagements.
Many young entrepreneurs search for support too late, when the support interventions would be less effective. Don’t be that entrepreneur. Be proactive, be decisive and be intentional about solving the specific challenges your business faces. There are many private, non-profit and government organisations that provide support to entrepreneurs, take advantage of the help available to you.
A SWOT analysis may be your first step to figuring out your needs and the kind of support you need for your business. Click on the button below to download and complete your SWOT analysis.
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